Friday, 4 May 2012

Highspeed DEAL can become a Hi-Tech hub

Recently Charlie Elphicke MP wrote a very good article about his ambition to make DEAL a high-speed town with better communication links and high tech jobs to compliment the highspeed rail service. Recently you may have noticed some new green boxes appearing on street corners! These are high-speed broadband cabinets and BT are currently rolling out FTTC (fibre optic broadband to the cabinet) which puts DEAL in the forefront of next gen technology.

Quite rightly Charlie wrote about the huge benefit that the Hadlow project would bring to DEAL and desperately needed well paid high tech jobs. The other day fellow DEAL and HS1 patron @horacebat tweeted me a great idea about having a remote office centre with video conference, fast broadband etc in DEAL where commuters could hot desk from. This then got me thinking... I bet like myself a lot of commuters from DEAL are working in tech centric jobs and would find a remote office centre useful so they can sometimes work locally. But why stop at that... local businesses and start-ups would also probably find this an invaluable service.

All of sudden you have got local start-ups and businesses networking with London IT professionals helping them prosper and grow and with a bit of luck a high tech hub emerges in DEAL, an East Kent satellite of London's Silicone Tech City. I am convinced we already have a wealth of IT innovators living in DEAL and that will only increase as our high performing academy school and the technology school in SANDWICH continue to thrive.

I would love to get some views on this so please comment if you have an opinion, idea or experience of hot desking.


  1. I think Deal is perfectly placed communications, technology, skill and transport wise to have a remote working set up.

    I'm lucky enough to have the ability to work from home on a regular basis, but would welcome the ability to have a local office in Deal which would have all the benefits of being in an office, without having to get up at 5:30am!

    I wonder how many other people would be interested in a communal office which could be used on an occasional basis at a reasonable price.


  2. I'm in ecommerce and work 3-4 days a week from home, which is now Deal. I'd certainly be interested in a meeting of my IT, design & ecommerce neighbours. Who knows where it might lead?

  3. Hi James

    Thats a very interesting idea, thanks for bringing the post to my attention via Twitter!

    It's a concept that deserves exploring. The key ingredients we looked for when opening Fruitworks Coworking in Canterbury were:

    - An existing startup & freelance community large enough to support the lease payments
    - A *social* startup & freelance community, which is a different thing
    - Connectivity to London
    - Internet connectivity
    - Affordable space (prime A1 space with high spec interiors will never financially work for coworking)
    - A confirmation of interest in the idea

    The last point was the most crucial. I did a lot of work at local networking events, and then started building a mailing list, and did a lot on twitter. By the time we opened, we already had 10 or so people who wanted to sign up.

    My advice would be to run some "Popup Coworking" sessions and organically grow the idea from there. Steps to do this would be:

    1) Promote the idea at networking events, twitter, blogs, fellow deal bloggers
    2) Find a venue that's willing to play ball. A local coffee shop (an independent would be best) and agree with them a weekly time slot, wifi and maybe a little 'package deal' like get a coffee, muffin, wifi for £5
    3) Start turning up and start coworking!

    Don't lose heart if your first session gets only 1 or 2 people, or none at all! The idea of getting work done together is something that takes education and experience before people 'get it' but once they do, word of mouth is your biggest ally! Soon you should be getting attendance of ~10 people to each weekly slot (from a total pool of about 30). Coworking tends to be rul of 1:3 for us - for every person you see in the space at any one time, there's another 2 members outside the space.

    When you get that attendance of ~10 people each week, a pool of about 30 total attendees, and a mailing list of around 50, then you're in a good position to start looking for a suitable office space to create a dedicated Coworking space!

    I'd love to keep updated on your progress. For more info on Popup coworking, checkout Jelly -

    (Although personally we found it a lot easier to explain as 'Popup Coworking' as Jelly isn't really a well known brand)

    Good luck
    Liam Gooding

  4. definitely up for that idea. we need more hotdesking areas!