In 2007 I was looking for a new office space and, being the only UK employee of my firm RedMonk, the only way to do it was to co-work. Traditional serviced offices are not conducive to work, and include absurdly high service charges. I found a cheap space above a pub in Hoxton, with help from Hackney Council, and asked Matt Biddulph to join me there. Matt had cofounded Dopplr and moved in. Shortly afterwards James Stewart and Matt Patterson took another office next door.
In 2008 Dopplr outgrew the space and moved to Moo’s offices on Old Street. Shortly afterwards Matt came up with the self-deprecatory and wonderfully British “Silicon Roundabout”. The FT picked up on the meme, and there RedMonk was, listed as one of the 11 companies defining a new economic cluster. Shortly afterwards the Evening Standard published the map, and things went went a bit mad after that. You should read Matt on How Silicon Roundabout really got started. Everything was in place, but Matt gave it a name.
Shortly afterwards James and Matt (yes these names occur a LOT in Shoreditch) moved to a new, dilapidated place on Scrutton Street, EC2. One move later and we were in the building across the street. Then came another “exit” – James Stewart and James Weiner left to form the Alpha Gov team, shaking up government IT under the aegis of the Cabinet Office in what is now called the Government Digital Service. The common threads here were co-working and talent. The impact of this team on UK government IT is significant. Shoreditch startup culture has infected Whitehall – entrenched suppliers watch out.
Who was going to take on the lease when James became a civil servant? Certainly not me with my natural genius for admin. So into the breach stepped Jonathan and Josh of J&J. I breathed a sigh of relief that I didn’t need to move. But when the top floor of the building became available, I chivvied the guys to take than on as coworking space, and so Shoreditch Works was born.