Kev Moss is 40. He’s tall, doesn’t wear a suit and works in what he calls “transmedia.” Kev moved from London having sold his previous business (“a digital agency”) to WPP, a global company employing over 140,000 people across 2,400 offices in more than 100 companies.
Suffice it to say that Kev had enough money to move away from the big smoke and settle in the countryside while running his new business, Play This Next from IndyCube, a flexible working space open to anyone with £10 and a laptop.
“When I started working at IndyCube it was a really interesting way for me to grow the business without owning an office. I didn’t need an office full time as I was only here two days a week,” Moss says as he sits in a big leather armchair in the breakout area of IndyCube. “I got involved in IndyCube as an easy way to work – my business partner is in London and she works at home but this gave us an office and the ITV studio gives you a little bit of klout in the media business, a registered company address.”
Today, a rather overcast July day, the cavernous office which is in a deliciously modernist building that provokes a love/hate reaction from anyone who sees it, is entertaining four workers: one pair and two sole workers.
“It’s a big space and filling it is a really interesting challenge and it’s a case of finding the right type of people who want to work in a coworking space,” he says of the space which has, on an average day, between 7 and 10 people working in it although it holds 40 desks.
“Being outside of Cardiff is and interesting challenge and trying to work out which people will be working in IndyCube. We want to foster a sense of community interest. We want to help companies and engender a way to grow their business or freelance activities,” he continues, highlighting the problem that is always on the lips of the startup community in Cardiff (“It’s too far!”).
Coworking spaces are traditionally very trendy with breakout rooms and meeting rooms available for booking, free WiFi and, most importantly for the target demographic of web entrepreneurs and freelancers, free coffee on tap.
Here IndyCube ticks all the boxes. There are three meeting rooms of varying sizes and a spacious area of leather sofas and coffee tables with a generous smattering of potted plants and magazines as well as a communal kitchen with a drip filter coffee machine.
However, where IndyCube differs from more traditional coworking spaces around the world is the demographic using the space, the ways in which that clientele makes use of the space and the fact that it’s a community interest company – not trying to make a profit.
“Because of its location a lot of people think we’re a media company. That’s actually not true and we get quite a lot of companies who come here in fact. We get quite a lot of accountants, business orientated companies, technology companies. Barenaked ruby developers work here. Myself. We’ve got sound engineers to use it as a base. Marketeers. It’s a really wide range of people,” Moss reels off a list when asked what kind of people use the office. “By working here, I’ve met my accountant and there’s a real crossover of businesses. It would be easy for me because I work in the creative industry to focus just on that. It’s about fostering business rather than a certain industry sector.”
Not only are the residents of IndyCube different from those drinking copious amounts of latte in trendy coworking studios around the world, but calling them residents is also misleading.
Some of the language that the startup community uses is confusing. Here’s a quick guide to some of the terms in this article in case you’re feeling lost.
Transmedia – Finding ways of telling a story across a wide variety of platforms. For example, an e-book might contain a trail of Twitter messages to create the feeling of a game.
Coworking – People from many different businesses and entreprises (often only one or two people in workforce size) coming together to share the cost of office rent while also using the opportunity to use eachothers abilities to build a multi-platform idea.
Ruby Developers – Ruby is the most prevalent web development language for startup companies. It is a very flexible but powerful way to build a ‘program’ that is able to run online. Some of the websites you use most will be built using Ruby.
“Barenaked aren’t here today but they use the office and freelance at home, coming together two days a week in IndyCube, working together and do as much as they can do. Then they go away and work and then come back together,” he explains, “That’s brilliant. People are using the space to do business differently. They can run their business smartly and I’d love more companies to do that. We also see people in small one or two people companies who have been working separately but come together for a couple of days.”
This is interesting. Here a whole new image of coworking in Cardiff is painted. The culture which IndyCube has built is one of cooperation but also individualism. If you’re a small business, you don’t have to pay the £500 that you might pay for an office big enough to hold two developers and laptops for one month.
Certainly in the case of Barenaked, who Moss mentions a lot, the decision to work at IndyCube for one or two days a week is a wise choice. Making progress individually throughout the week and collating their work over the space of 48 hours in a physical meeting.
Moss is, naturally, a big fan of working at IndyCube. Not least for the benefits which include good coffee, a cafeteria, a creche. and a reduced rate on swimming and health centre access at the Copthorne hotel just across the way.
IndyCube, says Moss won’t be looking to the city centre in the future, but to provide a ‘stepping stone’ for those wanting to work near Cardiff.
IndyCube presents a brilliant model for the increasing number of people looking to find the best solution to coworking in Cardiff. A simple Google search will reveal that people are looking to connect to eachother.
Perhaps the coming months will see a tipping point in interest and a group of people getting together to rent a city centre space and begin their own search for the coworking dream: free coffee, great people and flexible working.