Finding a coworking space that’s right for you can seem like a near-impossible task. You have to judge an entire community of people from one quick tour – and decide if it’s the type of environment you can work in.
But what if you could cowork from an empty restaurant table? Able to work in peace, enjoy a coffee and watch the world go by?
Enter Mitchel White, co-founder of coworking startup FlexTable.
At 21 he founded his own marketing company, LeftMedia, and now he’s taking on the world of coworking.
We chatted to Mitchel about how FlexTable works, getting your first freelance gig and practising what you preach.
Could you start by telling us a little bit about what FlexTable is?
FlexTable is a flexible coworking startup.
We’re focused on providing freelancers and startups with an affordable space to work with like-minded people.
We connect underutilised hospitality spaces who would otherwise be quiet during daytime hours with freelancers looking for somewhere to work and connect in business.
Our app will connect FlexTablers using AI – making it easy for freelancers/startups to connect and network.
How did the idea of FlexTable come to you?
For years I was a freelancer and couldn’t find the right space to work from.
Working from home meant I had a cat trying to swipe glasses of water and pens from my desk while I worked. The alternative was working in coffee shops which I found hard to work in – they were so noisy and distracting. I really don’t want to hear what Shaniqua said about Shannon on Facebook whilst I’m trying to work.
When I eventually decided to take the plunge and get an office/coworking space they were so expensive.
I was working with my now business partner in FlexTable on my other business, LeftMedia, and he’d had the idea to find other places for us to work in together. We started researching places that would work and the idea of approaching restaurants came about – what started as a place for us to work in ourselves turned into a business that could help others with the same problems we had.
What’s the main appeal of FlexTable for freelancers?
Connecting with people.
The hardest thing for freelancers is often finding their next gig or finding work in competitive markets. By working from a space where they know other people there are in the same boat and can support them.
The spaces we choose to be FlexTable venues also set a great impression for potential clients when hosting meetings.
We should live in a world where our work and results we achieve speak for themselves but sometimes things like workspaces add more credibility.
Besides that – it’s a much more cost effective coworking option for freelancers.
Can you explain a bit about your role as LeftMedia’s Founder and managing director?
I decided to set up LeftMedia as an agency in 2014 after a few years freelancing. I employed my first employee and we moved into an office space in Manchester. It was scary aged 21.
In the four years since then, a lot had happened. Mostly good. I grew the team to 5 and we grew year on year before being diagnosed with HIV in 2016 – I needed to take some time out and the business took a little bit of a downturn but we survived and since the business has continued to thrive.
In 2018, I took the decision to get rid of our office and the team started working remotely – practising what I preach with FlexTable and promoting collaborative working in shared workspace. This year has been our most profitable and seen the fasted growing revenue rate since we started.
What are some of the biggest obstacles you had to overcome as a freelancer and how did you do so?
The main obstacle was probably getting my first gigs as a designer/marketer. Without clients it’s hard to get in front of potential customers. To get around it, I did work for free/ridiculously low fees – to build that portfolio.
The second challenge was what felt like rebuilding my entire client base once I was able to start charging a rate that I felt more comfortable with and my work deserved. The clients I took on at the beginning weren’t willing to pay these new prices and I couldn’t afford to serve them at the fees I used to offer. I had to eat!
However, it was a lot easier to rebuild a client base with a strong portfolio of case studies and work.
What would your advice to freelancers be?
Surround yourself with people that support you.
Whilst being a freelancer can be amazing, it can also be lonely and hard at times. By surrounding yourself with a network of other freelancers, friends and family who have understand the choice you’ve made to work for yourself – you can call upon them when you need to for support.
It’s easier to try to be everything to everyone. Focus on what you’re really good at and do that consistently. When I focused on specific services to a specific audience my business took off a lot quicker.
If you’re having a rough day, what’s your go-to motto?
Nothing is permanent. Tomorrow can be different. If it isn’t and you’re having more rough days than not, you know that something needs to change. Do something about it.