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Co-working space opens its doors in city centre

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A new family-run co-working space inspired by a hub in the French Alps has been officially opened in Preston. Society1, in Cross Street, Preston, has been opened by husband and wife team Catarina and Brendan King and Catarina’s brother Chris Ruppert. Spread across three floors, Society1 offers boardrooms, hot desking and workshop space. It was officially opened by Edwin Booth at a launch event on March 29. 

The building, which was once the Alpenhof restaurant, owned by Chris and Catarina’s parents, has been transformed into a modern work space, complete with quirky design features.

The trio had talked about opening a co-working space for some time, as Chris runs a similar concept in the French Alps called The Ski Locker and when the building became vacant last year they decided to take the plunge. Since its opening in February, 14 members have already signed up to use the space, from a range of different sectors. 

The business has also been offering free day passes for people to experience the venue – and are targeting those who work from home or on the road, and freelance workers who don’t have an office.

Catarina said: “The response so far has been great, everybody who has been in has been so impressed and people can use this exactly as they want it, we’re really flexible and want to create a community here. “We aren’t a business centre, we’re a co-working space and it’s about making this space everybody else’s not just ours. “It feels like there’s a lot of exciting things happening in Preston at the moment and we’re excited to be a part of that.” 

The trio has been supported by Boost; Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub and its Growth Support Programme – a programme designed to help entrepreneurs develop business plans and grow their enterprises.

The fully-funded Growth Support Programme, delivered by Winning Pitch and Enterprise4all, provides help to develop a personal action plan, Lean Launchpad sessions outlining key principles for developing a new business and one-to-one coaching support for business owners. Boost; Lancashire Business Growth Hub is led by the Lancashire LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) and Lancashire County Council, and supported by funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The team attended the Lean Launchpad series of workshops over two days where they completed a business model and outlined their vision – following this support they went on to open their new venture. Brendan said: “I’m really glad we found out about Boost at the point we did, before we got going, we learnt a lot and found it a great help.

“Now it’s about getting people out there into the mindset that co-working is an option, it’s here and it is available.” Chris added: “The lean start-up programme helped us to re-focus and ask the right questions about what we’re doing. It can be easy to get carried away when setting up a business.” 

 Amin Vepari, operations director at Enterprise4all, said: “The Society1 team are a great example of people who have knowledge and experience of business, but know they need to test out an idea and take a step back to refocus in the early stages to make sure it’s a success.

“We’re thrilled to have been able to support them in getting this venture off the ground and it’s also pleasing to hear that a number of other businesses supported by Boost are making the most of this hub. “Our support doesn’t end here and Catarina and Brendan will also receive further coaching where required over time. Various partners within Boost are championing this facility and will support it by using the venue for networking and working.” 

To mark the official opening, Society1 is giving one lucky winner a chance to win a prize package worth £10,000 including 12 months’ desk space at Society1 and lots more from business card printing to accounting support and marketing and sales consultancy advice.

To register your interest visit: www.society1.co.uk/competition 

The closing date is June 30. Boost has received £3.8m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding   


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