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A Co-Working Space fit for a Family - Startacus interviews Third Door...
by Startacus Admin
I love the concept behind the Co-Working space Third Door.
As any parent knows, working from home, with children by your side can be tough going, both for you, and your children. Third Door is a flexible co-working space, coupled with an inhouse nursery. The more you say it out loud the more it seems to make sense really. With this in mind, Startacus contacted Shazia Mustafa, Co-Founder of Third Door to find out a little more about how exactly Third Door came about and more generally the Co-Working startup scene...
Hi there Shazia, can you start by talking about how Third Door came about?
A friend and I got together to brainstorm ideas for a business, but as both of us had babies with us, we found it very difficult. I wished there was somewhere we could go to work productively for a few hours, knowing that our children were being well looked after. And that's when the idea hit me - to create a flexible workspace with onsite childcare, operated on a flexible basis.
I discussed the idea with my husband Yusuf, who was studying for an MBA, and we agreed he'd base his dissertation on it. After receiving a distinction for it, we realised we were on to something. I decided to take voluntary redundancy from my employer and despite being pregnant with my son, I worked on making Third Door a reality right up to the night he was born. We launched Third Door when my son was six months old. We have been trading now for just over two years and are looking to open our second site at the moment.
How have you found the last two years of operations, and did parents buy into what your space was about straight away?
The last two years have been quite a journey and a huge learning curve. We have several members who have used both our workhub and nursery since we first opened, and we are so grateful to our loyal customers. Some parents 'get it' straight away, even without visiting; others realise the benefits once they've come in for a trial. We've learnt lots along the way but our vision is still on track although our business has evolved over time with our learnings.
How does the co-working space support flexible working?
Our co-working space is flexible, understanding that our members do not need an office for fixed days every week or every day. We know some days people need to work from home or from a cafe. Third Door provides a productive work environment with all the amenities you need from a professional workspace. Additionally we offer workshops and seminars as well as building relationships with partners that can help our customer base of professional working parents/freelancers.
Do you think government does enough to support working parents and flexible working?
If I am honest, I'm not sure! The changes to legislation and childcare vouchers are a positive for employed parents, however as most of our members are self-employed and freelance it doesn't necessarily apply to them. There seems to be a lot of talk about childcare, flexible working, and working parents but its difficult to see what's actually being done. It's small businesses like Third Door that are actually acting to implement services to help parents strive for that work/life balance.
From your time as Co Founder of Third Door, what is your experience and impression of the UK self starter scene?
As an entrepreneurial business woman, I have been amazed what a different world it is to being employed versus self-starter! I definitely think it is easier to be employed: regular salary and hours versus not taking out a salary and working harder and for longer hours than you've ever imagined. Saying that, the joy of bringing alive from what was a seed of an idea to a fully fledged business with happy customers is an amazing feeling which I wouldn't change for the world!
I think there is a lot of activity and advice out there for people wanting to set up their own business, but it isn't in one place, and there does't seem to much for growing businesses. As an employer, I have been amazed at how little rights one has as an employer versus being an employee. The Government does need to address this for small businesses, it's very expensive to hire people, and as well growing your business you have to think about ensuring all your processes are correct. More should be done to help small businesses in London with business rates, HMRC and PAYE.
And any plans to develop the Workhub / Nursery concept elsewhere!?
Yes, we are finalising our business plan and are in the early stages of speaking with potential investors. Our ambitious plans for Third Door are to take it nationally, and hopefully abroad as well.
We wish Shazia and all the team all the best going forward and thank you Shazia for your time in answering our questions.