Business Start-Up Hub Community Grows!
A business start-up hub established in part of a former Army barracks is already benefiting a host of companies and is set for expansion after just six months.
There are now 10 companies working out of Aldershot Enterprise Centre in the old officers’ mess in the Hampshire home of the British Army.
A real business community is growing fast as companies ranging from electronics and engineering to design and printing take space.
Businesses there have been singing the praises of the centre, in the impressive former Mandora Barracks, and urging others to join them.
Mike Darby, director of design, print and digital marketing agency Kixx Limited, said: “There is a great mix of skills and services available here. This will undoubtedly improve as the centre grows”.
Ryan Smith, of Kraken Print and Design, said: “It is fantastic for me and there is a proper little community here.”
And electronics specialist Bob Beattie of Southern Assemblies, the centre’s first occupant last October, added: “It is the best thing I have ever done. It is a beautiful setting and professionally run.”
The business and enterprise centre for civilian entrepreneurs and the military community to launch and develop their own businesses in North Hampshire has 30 offices in an 8,000-sq-ft Victorian brick building close to Aldershot town centre – with room for possible expansion.
It is operated by the not-for-profit business support company WSX Enterprise, with support from local authorities, and has low-cost serviced offices ranging from 150 sq ft to more than 1,000 sq ft available, as well as five ‘hot desks’.
Prices range from as little as £30 a week – with no utility bills or business rate charges – with access to development workshops, networking breakfasts and mentoring available to clients.
WSX Enterprise Chief Executive Peter Grant said: “The centre provides affordable, flexible and serviced office space. As well as our civilian clients, our centre is here to help military personnel, veterans, reservists and others to turn their business ideas into reality.”
To enquire about office space at Mandora House, which is run day-to-day by the Army charity Enterprising Office, call 0800 30 77 008.
Mike Darby, director of design, print and digital marketing agency Kixx Limited, said:
“It is very nice at the centre. A major benefit of being here is the great mix of skills and services available to be utilised.
“Sometimes there is no need to look outside. This aspect can only get better when the Centre grows. It is all about relationships.”
Mr Darby said his three-man firm, which specialises in work for holiday and residential park homes, moved in after the centre was recommended to him.
Ryan Smith set up one-man firm Kraken Print and Design after 13 years of working for a print firm. He said he discovered Aldershot Enterprise Centre after a recommendation in a Facebook posting and set up in February.
He said: “It is fantastic for me and there is a proper little community here. Everyone is willing to help and nothing is too much trouble for manager Lorna Oldham.”
Mr Smith, who is hoping to expand and take on staff, said he was impressed by the low overheads and no business rates offered by the centre – as well as seminars and a mentoring scheme.
High quality audio electronics specialists Mellow Acoustics, owned by Tim Mellow and Philip Trevelyan, moved to the centre in May after three years working from their homes.
Mr Trevelyan said: “We were looking for more space, to be able to work together more easily and a place to bring clients.
“It is difficult to get the flexibility we have here anywhere else. The rent is reasonable, everything is included, and we are on a one-month rolling contract with the ability to move easily to a bigger room if we want to expand.”
Mr Mellow added: “It is very good value for money, especially for businesses just starting up. There are training rooms available and plenty of facilities – and this is also a building so full of character.”
Bob Beattie, Director of Farnborough-based circuit board specialist Southern Assemblies, was the first person to move into the centre last October, after previously working at home.
He said: “It is the best thing I have ever done. It is a beautiful setting and gives me a much more professional feel. It has definitely impressed my clients. I started with a ‘hot desk’ and then moved into the room – and I can easily expand as the business grows.”