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Spacehop your way to a great work space
by Startacus Admin
For freelancers, sole traders, and early-stage startups without a permanent place to work, there is a perpetual struggle- the struggle of finding somewhere to work.
‘But there are coffee shops and park benches aplenty!’ I hear you say… hardly what we’d call an ideal solution when all you want is somewhere quiet and comfortable to work.
This is where the team at Spacehop reckon they can lend a hand.
We have a chat with co-founder Luke Eastwood about his innovative platform that offers would-be remote workers, and interesting alternative.
Hi Luke, first off can you tell us a little bit about Spacehop - who is it for and what does it do?
Spacehop is an online platform connecting homeowners to business people. It offers freelance professionals and small businesses a greater choice when choosing a place to work, helping them find their ideal home-office space. Through our website ‘hoppers’ (guests) can book affordable workspace in other people’s homes during the day, giving homeowners the opportunity to rent out spaces in their home that would otherwise go unutilised. We want to make office space both more affordable and flexible but also provide working environments that are tailored to what people want and need.
What were some of the prevalent challenges in finding appropriate office space that encouraged you guys to create Spacehop?
The idea was sparked out of our own experience and frustration with finding suitable spaces to work in. No office space currently exists that is designed specifically to enable work that is convenient, flexible and affordable so Spacehop was born out of our desire to create this kind of space.
We’re guessing that many people may probably feel a tad awkward about going into a total stranger's home to work - How would you encourage someone who was feeling like this to take the leap and go for it?
Hosts on Spacehop are generally very warm and welcoming people. They kind of have to be otherwise they’ll be poorly reviewed and won’t receive any booking requests in the future. Checking out their profile will usually put your mind at ease as reviews are overwhelmingly positive. It’s a great way to meet new and interesting people in beautiful spaces. A lot of the time the host will head to work in the morning and leave keys out for hoppers so you can choose a space where you don’t have to meet the host if you are so inclined!
What are some of the benefits which can be gained by the people who rent out their homes as office space?
Spacehop is a great way for homeowners to earn a bit of extra money but also to make the most of spaces in their homes that would otherwise be left empty and unused throughout the day. Some of our hosts really enjoy the social aspect of welcoming new interesting people to their home along with regular hoppers who they would now consider friends! We hope to run some community blogs on how Spacehop users have met each other whilst using the service and then went on to collaborate on different projects together.
As part of the sharing economy, what would you say are some of the major challenges facing businesses like yours, and how are you planning to mitigate some of the risks involved?
Getting insurance was a major hurdle which we had to overcome as we knew security was a primary concern for many homeowners. We have secured a policy that covers theft and damage of contents.
Securing investment has been another big step for us. The stress of being unsuccessful on Crowdcube and the elation of finding private investment a few days later was also pretty memorable.
It would be impossible to talk about this, or indeed the sharing economy as a whole, without addressing the issue of security. Can you give us an overview of some of the procedures that you guys have put in place to protect people using your service?
Ensuring security for homeowners has been essential. The insurance policy we’ve secured is pretty groundbreaking in itself as most insurers wouldn’t entertain cover for a “stranger” entering your home. Our group insurance policy with Hiscox covers every homeowner signed up with Spacehop. We also use trust and safety tools including stringent ID verification. The reviews system creates a bit of a self-regulating community as well. If you misbehave somewhere then everyone will know about it when they read reviews on your profile. Our booking system uses Payline to make the booking and payment process efficient, simple and safe.
I think sites like Airbnb have more issues than us as a result of stag dos and other bookings that perhaps have a greater likelihood of causing trouble! Our site is only used by professionals for work purposes during the day so we don’t have to deal with as many issues.
Shifting the focus slightly, which marketing techniques have the team found to be most efficient in encouraging uptake of the service, and are there any emerging marketing opportunities that you guys are particularly interested in?
We believe the best way to market our service has been through the power of word of mouth. With a limited marketing budget we have had to rely on hoppers and hosts having positive experiences and telling their network about it. So far this has worked pretty well and our growth week to week is something we are happy about. In the not-too-distant future we would like to allocate a larger budget to marketing and we have some pretty exciting ideas lined up.
Is there anything that members of the Startacus community can do to help you in your mission?
As we are now operating across the UK we need to get people renting out and booking spaces in new areas. It would be great if the Startacus community could help us connect with new people and reach the audience in Northern Ireland so that we can feed the Spacehop concept into this part of the UK. Homeowners can expect to make a reasonable second income if they have a nice space in a good location!
Thanks for chat Luke and best of luck with growing Spacehop.
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