Croydon Digital community profile: TMRW
We kick off our new series profiling great Croydon digital businesses with a visit to TMRW, South London's largest coworking space.
One of the coolest members of our tech community has just turned 3. If you haven’t been to TMRW before, don’t worry. We’ll be launching our first ever Croydon Digital Eats – Lunch and Networking on Thursday 8th August at the venue, so come join us to see what the fuss is all about.
We spoke to Marcela, TMRW’s Community Manager.
What is TMRW?
TMRW is South London’s largest coworking space for tech, digital and creative companies. We provide around 350+ desks and are home to 79 businesses and 230 people today.
Our management team is made of entrepreneurs, not property managers, so we help our members flourish; together we have built 11 businesses, have 1 IPO, 3 exits and a bunch of failures under our belt – so we’re good at giving real-life, no-BS advice to our members on how to get business to grow.
That puts us in a sweet spot that most other coworking or office spaces can’t provide: a cool space AND true business growth support and mentorship for in-house businesses. To achieve that we give our members (who ask for it, some are already profitable and fast growing and don’t need us any longer) advisory time, focused business clinics, introduction to investors and industrial giants, and other industry connections.
We also have an event space that can host up to 350 people, where we cater for corporate clients such as EDF Energy, The Bodyshop and Superdrug, and local creative and charity events that we support eg fashion shows, music festivals, art shows, Quiz Nights, even Croydon’s Rock Festival. We also host regular talks around business and tech and have recently launched TMRW Sessions, a showcase of Brit School’s new up and coming talent.
Finally, we’re also behind the twice award-winning Byte Cafe that serves healthy, hand made, vegetarian and vegan meals (it’s OK, we have cheeky options too). I’ve been eating at Byte pretty much every day since I started working here three years ago, and I still look forward to it!
What were the highs of the last 3 years?
We’re quite proud of what we’ve built here so far. We have a thriving community that, unlike all others, truly feels like a family AND also steadily generates new business for our members.
In 2018 we tracked 60 contracts and over £250,000 of trades having been exchanged between TMRW members, and those numbers are going up each month. It’s the one thing I’m the proudest about; many workspaces just talk about ‘Community’ but it’s hollow – ours makes money for our members, real cash. Some members have turned over more than the rent they’ve paid just through the contacts and introductions they got from us.
My second high point is seeing some of our members reach their dreams, turning their early stage startups into fast growing scale-ups. Supporting and helping them get there is the reason why TMRW exists.
In three years we have actively helped four members raise investment (touch wood, the fifth company is just about to announce something big) . This is big news – when we came in there had been no institutional venture capital money invested into Croydon’s tech scene, and we turned this around, with prestigious VC funds.
To give you a few examples: we’ve helped Alliapp, a mobile NHS-approved app that can find your allergy triggers and give accurate readings, raise two rounds of investment (I can’t disclose numbers yet, sorry!). They’ve been with us since our second month open and it’s fantastic to see them thrive.
Another one is Rotaready, a Cloud-based staff scheduling system, that started with us when they were a team of 3 and are now 17; we’ve helped them raise £500k, bringing in some high end angels investors and institutional capital.
We also saw some huge growth from Connected Space who went from 8 staff to 38 in the 13 months they spent here at TMRW, and are working with AOS (rebranding to Sparca), a true ground-breaking innovation company that went from 2 to 10 staff here at TMRW, now expanding to the US.
And what were the lows?
We’re still fighting the negative perception that surrounds Croydon. Despite the numerous positive changes we see happening in the Borough each week, people are still cautious. The Westfield project being massively delayed hasn’t helped, with confidence in a ‘new Croydon’ staying low. We’ve also had to deal with train delay disasters, strikes and crime. But we’re proud of our roots and are happy to be pioneers in this new phase of Croydon.
Have you seen any weird startup ideas in your time at TMRW?
Yes, although nothing specific comes to mind at the moment. I’ve heard many companies with ideas that, to me, didn’t sound promising or achievable. The problems are usually a combination of either un-existing or super crowded markets, poor business models or ideas that are not scalable. If they end up becoming TMRW members we try to guide them in a better direction.
Favourite thing about Croydon?
The fast, constant change. Croydon hasn’t stood still since the day I first came here, three years ago. At the time the entire area we’re in, on the High Street, was boarded up (physically, literally) and our current building was empty; there really wasn’t much going on around us. But we’re now neighbours to Limitless VR (a virtual reality games bar), Ludoquist (a board games bar), very much part of a true Coffee Quarter; gyms and bars have opened up all around us and the High Street is buzzing again.
My favourite bar has to be The Joker, with its great drinks selection and amazing food. Croydon’s regeneration is still in its early days but it’s really exciting to be and feel part of it.
What needs to happen to Croydon to become a vibrant tech ecosystem?
To fuel Croydon’s economic growth we badly need that promised Westfield project so it can generate jobs and establish the Borough as a viable shopping destination for residents and businesses. A strong tech ecosystem needs:
- entrepreneurs (of course),
- government support
- good quality education (specially good engineering training)
- infrastructure (great wifi, coworking spaces, etc)
- smart capital (investors that will bring money, experience and contacts)
TMRW is here to provide the last two. Once we can show that startups can grow and draw investment here, the rest of London will give Croydon the credibility it deserves.
Recommended business book?
Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos
The hard thing about hard things, by Ben Horowitz.
Apple or Android?
Apple all the way
Milk Chocolate or Dark Chocolate?
Who would you invite to our upcoming lunch event at TMRW?
Paul Graham, co-founder of Y-Combinator and brilliant tech mind.