It started as a charitable venture – with the wish to help community spaces make use of their venues which otherwise stood idle and more often than not collected dust. Edward Poland and Will Swannell, the speechwriter and the teacher, had a solution in mind. Similar to many other startup ideas, theirs also took shape at a local pub. The friends and co-founders started Hire Space – a venue hiring platform.
Soon after the launch the co-founders saw the potential of their idea – Hire Space could grow into a sustainable business generating revenue. Now the business makes returns by charging commission whenever a booking goes through. “We are on a mission to become the world’s leading marketplace in every major city on the map,” says Nick Larkins, Head of Operations and People, who also stresses how quickly the team is growing. In October 2015, the team consisted of 15 Hire Spacers with 6 of them being Venue Experts; in six months the size of the staff has more than doubled. Now the team occupies their stylish office in one of the Biscuit Factory units located in Bermondsey, South London.
Who are the Venue Experts? “They are the ones who know the best venues, have great relationships with the bigger event groups and what is more – they are the first in town to know about the opening of the new cool spaces before Time Out or any other blog!” Nick explains. Whether it is a birthday party, wedding or corporate gathering, finding an appropriate venue is stressful and time-consuming, “we are here to make your experience of booking a venue as easy and quick as possible,” he adds.
What’s your favourite part about your role?
It’s a great experience to be able to visit some of the coolest venues in London, but what I love about my job the most is to be able to work with the team which is not just disrupting the venue hiring market but improving the experience for the people who are looking to book an event and make it memorable.
What’s your top tip for talent looking to kickstart their career?
A lot of people talk about standing out from the crowd with your CV or writing relevant cover letters, but my top advice for talent is to be really authentic and understand why they want to be hired for that particular role. You might be applying for several jobs, sending four or five different applications; if you keep them all similar, you will get four or five rejections.
Spend time on understanding why you’re applying. It’s not only about researching the company you are applying to.
I had applicants who could tell me every single bit about what Hire Space has done in the last six months, but it won’t really count without a clear understanding of why they did apply to a specific role. When I know that they comprehend why are they applying, I know they are passionate about doing that role and that they are excited about it – that is what actually matters.
You’ve recently added five people to your team, how hard it is to manage a growing team?
There are lots of obvious challenges – like remembering their names, roles, showing where the fire exits are… Seriously though, it is important to communicate to people your culture and the vision of the company – where you are heading to and where they fit into this. We have five core values at Hire Space that the new hires along with the entire team should follow. Be positively ambitious – we want someone who is determined to drive the result, someone looking to achieve something measurable. Teamwork is another important value – we need people who are keen to help others and work efficiently as part of the team. You should also be action orientated – you have to be able to strategize and identify what needs to be done first to achieve your goal. We need someone who is able to adapt to change – startup environment changes very quickly and you should feel comfortable changing with it. Lastly, we want someone who is constantly striving to improve themselves.
What’s the biggest value you hold in Talent?
Authenticity. You can give a really good interview answer, but I’ve probably heard it before. Where do you want to be in five years time is a bit of a boring question. I’d rather find out about you as a person, what are you passionate about, what makes you get up in the morning. If you want to make me interested – start with being yourself.
Anything crazy about Hire Space that not everyone knows? Any perks?
Every day is crazy. We have a six-foot office bear, who gives motivational quotes. He is our spiritual leader! Well, what could be a better perk than visiting London’s coolest venues on the daily basis? In addition, we get invited to showcases which are closed for public. You get to see London from lots of different perspectives. All those amazing venues… You simply get to put yourself in others’ shoes and that is pretty cool.
Hire Space is currently hiring for a number of roles. What should be the ultimate ambition of anyone willing to join your team?
Your ambition should be to explore London, get to know what London has to offer event-wise. Also, be ready to be part of something that is growing. You should be willing to suggest ideas, contribute to the success of something and what is even more important – think differently. We are looking for individuals passionate about meeting interesting people, able to ask questions and ready to listen. We want everyone who is part of the team to be active.
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