Hubble’s Tushar Agarwal on How Technology is Transforming Flexible Workspace

Newly funded Hubble, a London-based digital workspace platform, has grown exponentially since co-founder Tushar Agarwal took to the stage at BCA Conference in 2014.

London-based digital workspace platform Hubble recently secured £1.2 million in new funding - an impressive feat for a company that’s just three years old.

BCA Members may remember Hubble from BCA Conference 2014. In May that year, Hubble was a fresh-faced startup known as Spacious, and CEO Tushar Agarwal took to the stage a mere 4 months after launching his venture alongside co-founder Tom Watson.

“At that point we had been running for a few months and we had no funding - it was just Tom and I plus one intern,” Tushar explained in a phone interview with the BCA. “Now, we have a team of 20 full-time employees.”

It’s an impressive transformation in a short amount of time, and it’s yet another example of the growth opportunities within the UK flexible space industry.

But even in a healthy market that’s developing rapidly, growth isn’t guaranteed. As any entrepreneur knows, transforming an idea into a viable business takes drive, dedication and the ability to spot emerging opportunities. It’s even more challenging when those opportunities appear to move against the tide.

Back in 2014, Tushar found it “difficult to differentiate” from existing serviced office brokers.

“During the Conference, we had a lot of questions around our fee structure and how Hubble, or Spacious as we were known then, is different to a regular broker.

Tushar Agarwal speaking at BCA Conference 2014

“We set out to enhance the experience for workspace clients using technology, to provide a self-serve platform that would enable clients to find and rent space on a flexible basis. That’s our key differentiator.

“But at that point our website was very basic, and because our fees were similar to other brokers we were effectively tarred with the same brush.”

Data-driven marketplace

The team have spent the past three years differentiating their approach and materialising their vision of developing a smart technology platform.

Today, their solution provides an online data-driven marketplace that aggregates shared desk space, coworking and serviced space. To date, Hubble has signed over 35,000 businesses and, thanks to a platform that includes 32,000 desks spanning 2,500 London offices (a far cry from the 50 offices they had in 2014), that figure continues to climb.

Yet, rather than focusing on building their platform with new desks and workspaces, Hubble’s growth vision is characteristically tech-focused. Hubble is aiming to become “the world’s first technology-driven, Artificial Intelligence commercial property broker”.

Getting there means harnessing “deep-learning data” and developing technology that automates and enhances workspace transactions. This year, their vision received a major boost to the tune of £1.2 million in new funding.

Asked what the achievement means for Hubble, Tushar responded: “To us, fundraising is not an achievement. It demonstrates that we have people who share our belief both in ourselves and in what we believe the industry will become. It has given us the fuel to get to where we want to go.”

Tushar believes that in part of the market, the role of the traditional flexible workspace broker will be replaced by smart technology.

However, in the same way that travel customers book holidays online but choose to discuss more bespoke travel arrangements face-to-face, there will always be a need for human customer service in the flexible workspace industry.

Virtual Reality Tours

Crucial to the team’s vision is the online user experience, which relies on high quality content. “We use professional photography for every workspace and Virtual Reality Tours to help clients visualise their business in the space. We’re also very transparent about costs. We include specific information on pricing, right down to extra costs for broadband.”

This transparency, he argues, means Hubble’s conversion rates are “much higher than traditional brokers” because it reduces the time-consuming and often negative effect of “blind viewings”.

“What we’ve pioneered is a huge push for transparency and a self-serve platform,” he added. Indeed, it’s this technology-focused approach that’s attracting both investors and huge demand from clients, and enabling the company to grow further.

“Around half of our team are software engineers. We all have a diverse range of backgrounds, from huge tech companies, to strategy, to consulting; one of our employees came from Google. Everyone is bringing a different perspective to an industry that traditionally has the same type of people from similar backgrounds.

“Nothing would have been achieved without the team that we’ve built. We’re proud of our diversity. It helps us think differently and build a new future for the industry.”

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