Mark Hooper trained initially as an accountant, and spent years in jobs where he felt unfulfilled. Through founding indycube, he was able to give himself a place to set up his own business. Eventually, indycube became a brand all if its own where like-minded business people were able to come together.
indycube is currently a growing community of coworkers in the South Wales area, which offers professional office environments for all people, as and when it is needed. Peer advice and support, networking, learning, socialising and even new business opportunities – these are just some of the benefits many find of being part of indycube.
Nick Lewis met Mark one day at Indycube Tondu to find out more about the concept. Nick found Mark very happy with Indycube’s progress, a lot of which can be attributed to Mark’s ongoing belief in the power of passion, connectivity and communication.
Nick Lewis (NL): In a sentence, how would you describe indycube to those new to the concept?
Mark Hooper (MH): indycube is a coworking space provider, based in Wales – we enable freelancers and micro-businesses to escape the coffee shop and back bedroom and work in a professional office environment alongside others.
Working for yourself needn’t mean working by yourself.
NL: What prompted you to set up indycube?
MH: I wanted to create a space where people could work alongside each other, for the benefit of themselves and their fellow coworkers.
I firmly believe that being around other people who can help you out is the key to a great business. Indycube is testament to this; a huge number of our clients work with each other in mutually beneficial ways, simply because they’ve taken the time to say ‘hello.’
NL: How many indycube sites were there originally? How many are there now and where are they?
MH: We started on St. David’s Day 2010 in Culverhouse Cross, Cardiff; it was the original home of indycube.
Now we have spaces in Cardiff Central, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff Castle Quarter, Cwmbran, Ebbw Vale, Garndiffaith, Llandovery, Merthyr, Newport, Swansea, Port Talbot, Narberth and Tondu, with more locations in the pipeline.
NL: Is there an indycube ethos?
MH: We’re a social enterprise (community interest company), and are focused on developing an ‘ecosystem’ where businesses in Wales can be brought together and flourish.
NL: How does indycube differ from other co-working spaces? indycube recently appeared in a BBC Radio 4 documentary about co-working, and your set-up seemed more friendly and open than the comparable spaces in East London that also featured in the programme.
MH: We’re an incredibly open community. We welcome any newcomers, whether they come on a one-off, one-day basis, or use us as their regular office space. I think this flexibility sets us apart.
All our spaces are open; coworkers sit side by side so that they are able to communicate rather than feel shielded by office divisions.
NL: Was there any particular reason why indycube was set up in South Wales?
MH: I was brought up in South Wales, and came back to the area with the intention of finding a way of contributing something back to the community I grew up in.
I’ve been fortunate enough to expand throughout South Wales, into the valleys, and then (potentially) all around Wales and beyond!
NL: I’ve worked a couple of different indycubes across South Wales, and I’ve noticed that each indycube has a different character. Do you set out to create different dynamics at different indycubes or is this something that happens organically?
MH: Given that I believe in the value of human capital, and the energy our clients bring to the different spaces, I’d say that each location’s ‘character’ is created by the people who work there.
We encourage our coworkers to make the offices their own. For example, last year we had an architect with us who designed a whole new layout for our space in Cardiff Central. I’d call this organic engineering, or maybe laziness on my part!
NL: Nick Lewis Communications has greatly benefited from partnerships made at Indycube Tondu; can you tell us about other examples of collaborative work going on between companies based at the same indycube?
MH: One example is our resident blogger, Mari. Through connections made at indycube, she has found writing work with Cardiff-based training company, Steps Training, with skin care company Natural Dermatology, and with some of our Indycube Ventures clients.
NL: Do you see any online communities emerging from indycube? For example, do many indycube attendees or companies collaborate online as well as share the same physical space?
MH: We use Twitter a lot to communicate but the majority of collaboration and community feel tends to happen within the office.
NL: What is the best way for people to follow and interact with indycube using the various social networks?
NL: What makes an ideal indycube location?
MH: indycube is all about people. Anywhere where people can come together is right for us! We have offices all over the place, and these all differ, but there’s something special about each location.
NL: How can someone with some free space set up an indycube? Do people approach you with suitable spaces and locations, or do you seek them out?
MH: At the moment we’re looking to expand, so if anyone has any ideas regarding where they’d like to see an indycube, feel free to contact any of our team, either through the website, email or via social media.
NL: Can anyone attend an indycube? Is there any kind of induction process?
MH: Anyone who wants to work around others and leave the loneliness of the spare room at home behind is welcome.
You can book via our website, or come along on a free day pass initially if you just want to try it out.
NL: What’s next for Indycube?
We’re currently in the process of expanding our locations, with potential offices popping up all over the Welsh coast!
Hopefully, in future we will continue to connect people, fuel young entrepreneurs and inspire passion in new businesses.
To find out more about Indycube, visit their website: http://indycube.com/.