Workspace of the issue: Platf9rm

Brighton and Hove is a city of vibrant art, an exciting nightlife scene, and an eccentric personality. The city is also the second- highest ranking startup city in the UK, just behind the capital.

Within this beautiful city, Platf9rm operates, providing workspaces for those in need of a place between work and home, where they can get their heads down and focus on innovations.

Jessica Samson, General Manager of Platf9rm, discussed with Startups Magazine what makes Platf9rm so special.

Platf9rm – what makes it different?

There are quite a few workspaces in Brighton and Hove now, but Platf9rm was one of the first in the city, starting up in 2016. Samson commented: “Our most important quality is community. We are big on connecting people and providing events and moments for people to serendipitously encounter each other. It’s something that we really pride ourselves on.”

This community approach to a workspace makes the place so inviting and helps foster bright, new ideas. Samson mentioned: “I watch it happen every day, where people who have sat on the same table together for a week, suddenly begin collaborating and working with each other.”

Platf9rm is a workspace that fosters a community spirit and feels close to members and sees ideas grow from just that, an idea, to a fully- fledged business.

Vision and Purpose

Platf9rm started out with a mission, and that was to make Brighton and Hove the place to be. Not too long ago, Brighton and Hove was a commuter hub, and Platf9rm wanted to entice Brighton talent to remain in the city and find a place to work where they lived.

“There were a lot of people travelling up to London and our purpose was very much of keeping the talent of Brighton in Brighton, and I would say that seven years on, that has really happened,” commented Samson.

Platf9rm has recently been examining its ‘why.’ She explained: “It’s this ‘make work wonderful’ purpose that we have talked about and the

work-life balance of people looking after their mojo. The purpose now is to continue championing the community of Platf9rm and Brighton and Hove, and letting people be aware of what is going on and being a part of something bigger.”

Why do startups and founders use Platf9rm?

“It’s a very kind place to be and it seems to attract kind people,” Samson beamed. “There’s a relaxed but focused energy in Platf9rm.

“There's that prefabricated buzz that they get by just taking an office with us. There are already people to chat to and mingle, there's a community that people don't have to necessarily work to create, and it becomes part of their own culture. I think a lot of it is also Brighton independent. I think what we have is really special and I think you can feel it the moment you walk in.”

The two offices

Platf9rm has two workspaces, one in Brighton and one in Hove. These workspaces are vibrant, buzzing places to work where community is prioritised, and members are cherished.

When asked about whether there were any plans for expansion, Samson was on the fence: “Thinking longer term, we would love to expand to different areas, probably all along the south coast. But I do think there's a challenge in that. What is so special about Platf9rm is that it’s so embedded in the city that we wouldn't want to just copy and paste and attempt to replicate this in a different city because it probably wouldn't work as well.

“I think you need a team that is kind of obsessed with the space that you're creating. The whole team just loves Brighton, and everything about it, so I think to expand you have to be really careful not to dilute the power of the city that you're in, whilst also creating this middle space where you can come and have fun but also get your head down when needed.”

The best bit of running a workspace

The job of running of workspace is a very rewarding one. When asked what her opinion of the best part of running a workspace is, Samson said: “For me, it’s being surrounded by such a mix of careers and niches and getting to learn from people around the space depending on what they're doing. We have anything from sunglasses makers to notaries and I feel like a part of all of their worlds. I think getting to know people in a professional capacity like that and feeling proud of their achievements is my favourite part.

“The majority of people that join Platf9rm are either fresh to Brighton, or in a new situation in their life like they've just moved house, or they just left a company or they've left their relationship, and they’re looking to create this friendship network that will also help them in their day to day and watching those friendships develop is amazing. We've had Platf9rm babies, we’ve had Platf9rm weddings, we’ve had Platf9rm everything, and I think it is really special to be part of so many people’s big milestones.”

This truly reflects the workspace’s community approach. Those who have a hand in running and making the workplace what it is have become involved in the lives of members, and witness their triumphs and successes from the outside. From that, running a workplace makes successes feel like they’re also those of the workspace as that is where these ideas were born and came to life, and are now in the world succeeding.

What does the future hold?

Platf9rm is already doing such a great job and has grown so much since its conception back in 2016, so what is next for the workspace?

“The next iteration of Platf9rm now that we’re established is probably leaning into people’s wellbeing. Especially for founders who have got to a point where they aren’t sure where they want to go with their business, or they’re running out of steam, or burned out and looking after their health wanting to be surrounded by other people in the same situation, to give them the oomph to keep going,” Samson commented.

“Retreats are a big buzzword at the moment, but we want to create spaces for people to step away from the office. We want to look beyond the walls of Platf9rm, whatever that looks like. I think as we take on more space, for me, it becomes really important that the members start to be a part of that journey. It's really important not to dilute the community element.”

This article originally appeared in the November/December issue of Startups Magazine. Click here to subscribe