Croydon is home to a growing number of excellent co-working spaces, which cater for businesses in all shapes and sizes, from freelancers to fully-fledged companies, and are tailored to various different business sectors. In her quest to find the perfect-fit co-working space, our guest writer Grace Robinson starts a Croydonist series looking at some of the borough’s different hubs. Here Grace talks to TMRW.
TMRW celebrated its third birthday this June. Marcela the community manager, who’s been there since the beginning, sat down to tell me about the last three years as a pioneering co-working space in Croydon.
‘It has been the most crazy journey, for me at least. Interesting and challenging at the same time.’ says Marcela.
TMRW offers co-working space, fixed desks and private offices which 231 members and 79 companies call home. The residents at TMRW are a healthy mix from the tech, digital and creative sectors. They range from all levels, including freelancers, scale-ups, SMEs and a company over 18 staff.
Marcela and her team, headed up by tech start-up aficionado, Francois Mazoudier, are so proud to be operating in up and coming Croydon.
‘What we have learnt is the power of bringing people together,’ Marcela tells me. Fostering a self-sustainable community is intrinsic to everything they do at TMRW. As the community manager, welcoming and connecting people is second nature to Marcela. However, she takes building a community a step further by encouraging members to forge their own links and continue the organic growth of a thriving ecosystem. Providing the foundations for members to grow and connect amongst themselves is really important. Once initial introductions are made between members, it’s the culture at TMRW for members to self-organise collaborations and events. There are regular meetups for members, such as the community lunch which happens every Wednesday with or without the TMRW staff.
Marcela said TMRW aims to ‘shift people’s perceptions of what a co-working space is. We generate value beyond desks and chairs.’ The hub hosts 7–12 events per month, for members as well as the public. There are plenty of social meetups exclusive to members held at the hub or out in the local area, such as movie, videogame, wine and beer tasting nights. The team has previously hosted pub crawls and bake-off trials, and members are also encouraged to suggest ideas for future events. There are fixed monthly and weekly get togethers where members can bond, find out what’s going on and share business ideas, advice and comradery, such as the casual community breakfast.
Marcela describes how TMRW want to ‘move away from the glamour talk of tech.’ And instead provide realistic and practical facilities and resources to support and develop their members and their businesses.
Cultivating self-development, reflection and successful businesses are at the heart of TMRW’s spirit. The Ask Me Anything informal ‘no mic, no stage’ event series, invites serial entrepreneurs, CEOs, investors, VCs and dynamic thinkers for raw and open discussion at TMRW’s long table. This is a free event open to all, which provides a relaxed environment to listen to and ask questions with the guest speaker, discussing failure, challenges and success. The speaker list has so far been graced with names like venture capital and Deliveroo investor Fred Destin, venture capital founder, Frederic Court, Anne de Kerckhove (CEO of Freespee) and Candy Crush king Stephane Kurgan.
Taking care of wellbeing and mindfulness has not been forgotten with yoga classes on offer every Thursday, for members and non-members. It’s TMRW’s mission to be a part of the wider South London community and ‘avoid being a bubble in the middle of Croydon.’ They achieve this by hosting events such as music nights showcasing rising stars of the nearby BRIT School and gifting their event space to local people and organisations. The hub also swears by utilising the wealth of services and resources on their doorstep. Such as procuring ingredients from nearby Surrey Street market for their public café Byte, using local suppliers for things like T-shirts and furniture and hiring from diverse home-grown talent for their team.
Marcela and team are evidently passionate about the diversity within their space. ‘Innovation comes from diversity,’ she says. The co-working space is a hive of activity where many businesses and freelancers have employed each other’s services. Last year there were 60 contracts worth a value of £250K between members alone.
At TMRW, who you meet is just as important as the environment itself. It’s a place where challenges and learning shortcuts are shared. Founder Francois Mazoudier works closely with members to offer his expert advice gathered from 20+ years in the tech, media and telecom world, building 8 companies and an extensive network of industry authorities and investors. He currently mentors several of the resident companies.
There are lots of success stories from the TMRW decks, such as Rotaready scheduling software. With the help of TMRW, Rotaready were able to raise half a million pounds to develop their business. TMRW has now had to remove a wall to accommodate their team office, which has grown from three people to 18.
There is an element of selection for TMRW’s members – the managerial team are well aware of disruptive businesses who are looking to join for a short period of time and pitch their products or services to other members. They want their space to be a comfortable and safe space for all, so they welcome people who subscribe to their values, are interested in long term relationships and growing together. TMRW have a Slack Channel where members can easily converse.
The motto at the co-working space is ‘Look after yourself, each other and the space.’ The staff team are confident that members ‘use their best judgement.’ There are no hard rules – the space is all about people taking responsibility to ensure they are considering the other members and staff.
What’s next for TMRW? There are plenty of exciting happenings on the horizon at TMRW. Marcela and Francois are creating a ‘Pitch School’ teaching how to pitch for investment and attune your voice to be heard by the right people. There is a collaboration with the Danish Embassy, offering education on operating within the UK’s mature eco-system for Danish startups. A new phase for community between members is also being rolled out which involves getting members to be even more active and exchange skills.
Posted by guest writer Grace Robinson. Photos courtesy of TMRW, except ‘Yo Croydon’ photo which is by the Croydonist.
Read Grace’s first piece in the Croydonist series on our borough’s co-working spaces below:
Nexus Croydon, Next stop the world
Grace runs her virtual PA agency from Croydon. She is a Southeast Asia expert who loves travel and new experiences in CR0 and beyond.