Seedstars, which runs different events and activities including Seedstars World Competition and Seedstars Summit across many countries, is acquiring Cape Town-based co-working space Spin Street House through its physical co-working arm Seedspace. It is believed to be a perfect fusion of ideas, rather than just another financial transaction.
The Spin Street house has been an original name in the co-working space business in Cape Town. Founded by Nathan Heller and Gareth Pearson in 2015, the co-working space has been a place for more than just an office. In a conversation with WeeTracker, Nathan told that the idea of co-working had been brewing up in his mind for close to a decade. He brought the idea to test in 2009 with ‘The Hub’ Cape Town, where he started to put his skills of community building to use.
The concept did not see much success, for which, Nathan explained that the choice of location wasn’t great and that it was a concept ahead of its time in Cape Town. After traveling extensively to the European countries, Nathan built on his idea and once again launched a co-working space called ‘Twenty-Fifty,’ just above the famous ‘Truth Coffee’ in 2013. By this time people had warmed up to the idea of co-working spaces, community building and the idea of shared resources.
The place soon grew big with more than 50 members and left the founders with no choice but to have a space that could accommodate the growing demand. This move led to the foundation of what we see today at Church Square, The Spin Street House in 2015. Nathan with great affection said that he used his experience as a carpenter in renovating the building to make it snug and welcoming for their members.
He added, “when Gareth and I discovered our new home in Spin Street and decided to move as a DIY project, officially opening as Spin Street House, we invited the whole community to move with us and had a more than 200% positive response rate. It was a strong vote of confidence in our vision and an enjoyable period in the business.”
Late in the same year, he came in contact with the Seedstars team who were looking for partners in the Cape Town market. Over the years of engagement, he realized that the DNA’s were incredibly aligned with building the community.
“For a long time, we’ve been active in the Cape Town ecosystem, organizing our Seedstars World startup pitch competition and engaging with ecosystem actors like Spin Street House, which played a vital role in our settlement in the city. Now, by fusing this local hub with Seedspace globally we aim to consolidate our activities in Cape Town and South Africa, providing the local ecosystem not just with a space, but also access to a robust international community” stated Romulo Navarrete, Head of Operations at Seedspace, who continues by saying “Spin Street House has been a major player in the industry for many years and has enabled a solid community around it. Being community focused just like Seedspace, it made great sense that we joined forces to provide a greater impact to the members as well as adding Cape Town to the Seedspace global map”.
Post the development, Seedspace will now have eight hubs: two in Geneva, Switzerland (La Chevillarde and La Praille); one in Lagos, Nigeria; another one in Abidjan, Ivory Coast; one in Cape Town, South Africa; two in Colombia (Bogota and Medellin), and one in Cairo, Egypt.
2018 is a crucial year for Seedspace as the brand is taking a new strategic direction: more than just a coworking space, the entrepreneurs based at Seedspace will have access to the largest community of changemakers in emerging markets worldwide. This community, which Seedstars has been building for the past 5 years, includes different stakeholders from investors to mentors, incubators, accelerators, governmental entities and others.
“We aim to have 15 hubs around the world by the end of 2018,” adds Romulo Navarrete. “This expansion is pivotal so that we can bring more impact to local ecosystems while interconnecting the different locations, creating access to an international community of entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, and corporates interested in innovation.”
The growing demand for co-working spaces has seen many new names coming in the market, (Check out our comprehensive list of co-working spaces in Cape Town and Nairobi) leading to competition and pricing game. These spaces are contributing to the availability of a lot of choices to entrepreneurs, who are growing in number consistently. It appears that seasonality is also a contributor to occupancy of the space which often affects the operations.
On what lies ahead for the players in the co-working space, Nathan said, “I believe we are reaching somewhat of a premature saturation where there is a strong trend towards industry growth but in a relatively immature market, i.e., not yet enough coworking customers for the growth in a number of spaces locally. Globally we have seen a huge movement towards coworking as ‘the new normal,’ and as long as co-working spaces continue to offer unique and exciting services for the market, there will always be space for more. Healthy competition is differentiating your offering, and not being a copycat. Cape Town is only at the beginning of this curve. “