Agathe Cury and Martin de Fleurian set up House of Greenland, a creative video agency, from their living room in early 2015. For the first few months, full timers and freelancers had to come to their place to work, which made the sofas quite crowded. Since then, they have moved to a rented office, employ four staff and have their sites set firmly on the future of the company.
Early on, Agathe and Martin secured a place on the Camden Collective’s accelerator programme: a three week intensive course that provided an opportunity to understand the value of their business proposition, refine their business model and work with experienced professionals and mentors willing to share their knowledge and all important contacts. The support they received whilst on this programme was, for them, a game changer. Not only did it result in an opportunity to rent an office space at the Collective Temperance Hospital, it made them think decisively about the future of their company and the direction in which they wanted to take it.
Agathe explained how the support they had received through the accelerator programme had enabled them to tackle some tough business decisions, particularly in relation to staff. As a result, they now have a clear focus on the type of people they are looking to employ and where any prospective employee will fit within the company. They are also able to make their own position clear from the outset, learning to trust their instincts when hiring: “If there’s a doubt, there’s no doubt.” The company now employs six staff, including family, friends, former colleagues and interns.
Agathe and Martin credit their current office space for much of their ability to grow the company; even the rustic décor suits their image and has helped them attract larger corporate clients. The use of communal meeting rooms means they can easily meet with clients and freelancers alike, and provides additional space during busy periods. The peer network and sense of community has also provided them with much needed support and has offered them opportunities they would not otherwise have had. This has included the opportunity to create a film featuring another company also operating out of the workspace.
Outside of the workspace they have a widening support network and explain that starting their business in London has helped them to be a part of a growing creative industry. Looking forward, the opportunities to collaborate and the willingness of likeminded professionals to offer guidance and support mean that House of Greenland plan to stay in the city as their business grows. When asked if they planned to stay in the workspace for the foreseeable future, Agathe described how, although the Collective had offered a considerable boost to their business, and while they are not ready to move on just yet, it would not be helpful to the business or the workspace if they were to stay put indefinitely.
“At some point we are going to have to graduate from here and there are examples of people who have done it and are still a part of the community. That is the point of these spaces.”
A good work-life balance is important. The pair have a young daughter, which Martin says has given them an amazing focus to run their company and concentrate on key tasks while still being able to leave the office and spend evenings as a family, although admittedly this hasn’t always been easy. The couple have an undoubted passion for their work and a clear focus on where they plan to take their business in the future. Learning to focus on key tasks and deadlines, and outsourcing time consuming tasks has allowed them to concentrate on their clients’ needs, and on top of that, the support they have received through being a part of the Collective has resulted in their business growing more quickly than they could have anticipated.
“…being here means that any question you have, another business had it two months ago, [the Hubs Managers] know about it. So they put you in touch with them. When you start a company it is already distracting. You get emails from everywhere. You have to manage all the tiny bits and bobs before you get to do what you started your company to do. If you are managing an office on top of that, it is absolutely impossible. You just don’t get any work done. So being in a managed place is super-helpful.”