Networking and Organic Connections
I first came to GROW in the early days when it was a ‘pop-up’ co-working space, attending a series of skills development workshops. It was very convenient; I could hot desk for the day, attend events and arrange client meetings, all in one place!
I’ve spent nine years networking, approximately one day per week, attending business groups and events to build the profile of Studio 18. It can be time consuming, but working from GROW means connections are made naturally, just being part of the community.
It was a pleasant surprise to find familiar faces from the networking scene converging at GROW. I had previously met Antonia (Antonia Taylor PR) and Mark Mason (Design Thinking & part-time Community Manager at GROW), which is how I met Louize Clarke (founder, GROW and ConnectTVT).
My first piece of work for Louize was to design marketing collateral for GROW, followed by ConnectTVT’s ‘Festival of Digital Disruption 2016’. The next project was ConnectTVT's rebrand and launches of ConnectTVT initiative ’50 Game Changers 2016’ & ’50 Game Changers 2017’. I have also rebranded Louize’s digital skills company, Indigo Loop.
Connections and Opportunities
Since joining GROW I’ve been invited to collaborate on a large project bid led by Design Thinking and through this collaboration, met Joe Kay (Enswarm). Joe asked me to re-design Enswarm’s website user experience.
Joe introduced me to Mat Rule (Tocabot) at the GROW Summer Social and that led to the design and development of the Tocabot website. Another similar example is Sitemorse; a casual conversation led to a small holding page project.
Mark also made an introduction to a training company which resulted in Studio 18 rebranding their website, marketing and training collateral. They made a further introduction!
Strong Community Support
An intangible, but extremely valuable element in taking part at GROW is support from the community. Whether it’s a ‘quick question’ or a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ from co-workers, it can save a lot of time and expense.
Because of the diverse mix of co-workers, whether in a similar line of work or completely different industry, there’s a wealth of knowledge. Gregor Spowart (Mass Media Design), a full service digital design agency, sits just opposite and it’s been helpful to bounce ideas and questions with someone in the same line of work.
I needed to make a decision whether to stay on the VAT flat rate scheme. A quick conversation with Nicky Gentle (NG Bookkeeping) and Rachel Eden (Holy Brook Associates) resulted in help to draft a letter and a confident decision to withdraw from the scheme. It saved an immense amount of effort working out what to do and how to do it.
When the budget was announced, chats with Nicky, Rachel and Sean Hackemann (SME Web Accountants) were very helpful to understand the implications.
Proximity, when working on projects with clients and collaborators at GROW, is very helpful getting things done! You can ask questions face to face; no emails or scheduling calls for sign off, responses are in real time! It works for both.
Future Plans and Flexibility
I’d like to evolve Studio 18 and imagine doing that by joining forces with ‘another “John”’; someone who enjoys what they do and has their own network, possibly a web developer. Meeting a compatible, like-minded start-up has a good chance of happening somewhere like GROW.
In future I’d consider employing an apprentice and GROW is an ideal place to do that; it’s easy to scale up (and back down) when you need extra desks. It’s a great environment and more interesting being part of a wider community, rather than being alone or two people isolated in a room.
There’s a feel-good factor and reassuring balance between being social and being productive. If you have a problem, there’s always someone to bounce off, have a coffee and clear your head. You can walk away from your desk, make a tea, have a break. It’s more stimulating than being at home, but more professional, with more home comforts, than a coffee shop!
GROW is an ideal space to meet diverse, like-minded people in an informal, relaxed way. I would recommend any start-up to come to GROW and get involved. Real connections are made and opportunities present themselves organically, simply being here. Being at GROW has been instrumental in building the exposure, credibility and reputation of Studio 18, providing a great environment to develop my business and plan for the future!