Seb Royle on creating PLATF9RM and the excitement of the unknown << Back
I got my first graduate job in 1993 and since then I’ve worked all over the world; London, New York and good old Lanarkshire. I’ve spent huge parts of my life commuting to work via plane, train and automobile and, whilst I can’t claim that all my travelling time was put to productive use, the concept for PLATF9RM came to me during this downtime.
Let me explain: a few years ago, waiting at Brighton station for yet another London Bridge red-eye, I wondered if there was another way for Brighton’s new breed of business.
Brighton has the highest concentration of creative small to medium-sized business in the country. It’s a haven for freelancers, entrepreneurs and one-(wo)man bands; a 21st-century update of the city’s heritage as a bohemian outpost. But there’s no workspace in the city that’s built with these digital nomads in mind, that knows the value they place in flexibility, collaboration and embracing the unknown on a daily basis. I thought if I could create a place that catered to their needs, then Brighton as a whole would benefit.
Brighton station has eight platforms, eight ways; I knew was looking for a ninth and I knew I couldn’t be alone. Hence, PLATF9RM was born.
We started work in 2015 and launched in November 2016, offering 24/7 opening, private offices and a flexible co-working space for Brighton’s growing businesses. From the start, the team was absolutely key to our project. Early in the project, my wife Jo and I welcomed Olga and Emily to the team and they have been intrinsic in our rapid growth.
Our target was to open two spaces within 12 months and (at time of writing and with me vociferously tapping every piece of timber within arm’s length) we’re on target. Our first location was at
Tower Point, on North Road in the heart of the North Laine. Floor 6 came first and, despite a couple of hairy opening weeks where we waited patiently by the door with seemingly nobody coming through, word spread and gradually the offices and desks filled up.
Helped along by our monthly social events, and no doubt by the refreshments we supplied at them, the roots of a community were borne. But we had no time to rest on our laurels and pushed on with Floor 5. Despite being styled with the contemporary PLATF9RM flair that we developed with local design firm We Like Today, we introduced subtle differences; an event space, a quiet working area, semi-private booths, a punch bag in the kitchen for those looking to expel the rage of chasing yet another late invoice…
We’ve grown from zero to 250 co-workers so far, and are on target for 500 by the end of 2017.
We’re now embarking on our biggest challenge of all; a redevelopment of 12,000sq ft of Hove’s iconic, Brutalist Town Hall which will, we hope, transform us from millennial workspace into a creative lifestyle hub. As well as a kitchen there’ll be a far wider range of social events to add to those we currently provide. Members will have the opportunity to move between the sites and the focus will be on connecting people, and harnessing the collaborative skills of Brighton’s uniquely talented creative community.
For me, the great excitement is the mystery of what’s still to come. Outwardly I might look like I know what’s happening but inside? Everything’s unknown. Every day I meet someone new, someone with a skill I don’t have but whose passion excites me about this journey we’re on. And you know the best bit? I don’t even have to leave the city. My commuting days are done.
Thanks to Seb Royle for providing this blog. PLATF9RM are a collaborative meet and work space in central Brighton and Hove Town Hall. Find out more at https://www.platf9rm.com/