Edinburgh “Airbnb for business” increases by 850%

SCOTTISH ‘Airbnb for business’ company Occupyd has hailed 850% growth during the coronavirus pandemic after receiving £ 1.2million in bookings on the platform in the past year.

The Edinburgh-based company caters to a number of industries across the UK including hospitality, hair and beauty salons, as well as workshops, photography studios and event spaces.

As part of the system, a cafe that closes at 3 p.m. each day, for example, can advertise its kitchen space on Occupyd for small businesses or entrepreneurs who operate for the evening market.

Callum McPherson, the founder of the company, said this provides after-hours income for the owner and reduces the financial liability of the occupant.

Mr McPherson, who has a fintech background and has already started a motorcycle storage business, said he moved to fill a gap he felt agencies might not be targeting in the small business market .

“What I have found is that for small businesses and start-ups it is actually very difficult to find and acquire a suitable space, especially a small space,” he said. declared.

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“It was when I was talking to a carpenter who had a workshop in Edinburgh and he sublet his workshop to an upholsterer, furniture maker and luthier, and they each pay their around £ 200 a month, which more or less took care of the rent and the landlord was perfectly happy as they had the tenant there with a good income.

“Then I’ve seen it happen in other industries, with food companies sharing production kitchens and obviously you have hairdressers for example, where a lot of hairdressers are actually freelance and rent chairs, and beauticians rent the basement or back room for treatments. It’s a lot more common than you might think. ”

He continued, “The idea I had at the time as I was trying to grow my business was whether there is some sort of Airbnb-like model for commercial real estate.

“What really interested me were the spaces to which an investment is attached. Commercial kitchens are a very good example. If you are starting a food business say you want to do Deliveroo for example do you have £ 50,000-100,000 to set up a kitchen probably not but many companies have already done so and are not using them to full capacity.

The platform connects businesses to premises.

He said space doesn’t need to be typically associated with such hires. Mr McPherson said: “I was in one of the big football stadiums in Edinburgh last week, they have huge, state-of-the-art kitchen facilities. We are talking about bringing them to market.

“The same is the churches, they have these great facilities and equipment to use, schools, cafes that close at 3pm, you can hire them out for the evening, as well as pubs, all kinds of buildings.”

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Mr McPherson said it was in 2019 that he ‘took it to the next level’, raised £ 600,000 and ‘built the product and started validating the market, building the team and building the business”.

The timing of the coronavirus crisis has allowed the company to help others settle down. “We were fortunate to have chosen this particular kitchen market as our beachhead, the first market to enter, but in the future we want to be present in the real estate landscape of all small businesses.

“However, we chose the kitchens first and with the pandemic we weren’t there for very long, but the boom in food delivery got even stronger so there was more demand for food delivery services. food delivery while the supply of these services, restaurants, was shutting down en masse. So we have established a good relationship with Deliveroo and Uber Eats and we are creating more supply for them.

“We are enabling food businesses to start where they would otherwise find tough obstacles to overcome. ”

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