Flexible work spaces help tackle isolation, says founder of Avenue HQ Matthew Kennedy

Open: From left, Matthew Kennedy, CEO of Avenue HQ, Caroline Pullich,  Barclays, and Luke Roberts, operations director at Avenue HQ.
Open: From left, Matthew Kennedy, CEO of Avenue HQ, Caroline Pullich, Barclays, and Luke Roberts, operations director at Avenue HQ.
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Co-working spaces are not only good for encouraging businesses to collaborate but also helping start-up entrepreneurs deal with a feeling of isolation, according to the founder of a new flexible workspace in Leeds.

Avenue HQ, which launched in Leeds in December, has partnered with Barclays bank to help the city’s growing community of entrepreneurs.

The flexible workspace will be supported by the bank’s Eagle Labs incubator programme, which supports businesses looking to grow and scale up.

Matthew Kennedy, founder and CEO of Avenue HQ, told The Yorkshire Post: “Co-working spaces offer a different way of working. It’s a very inclusive way of working and a very connected way of working.

“When you start a business, usually you’re on your own at first. One of the reasons why so many businesses fail early on is due to isolation experienced by the entrepreneur who founded it.

“The beauty of co-working spaces is you’ve got so many different companies working from there. They almost become your adopted colleagues. One of the main things people lose when they do go and start a business is the companionship of colleagues.”

Caroline Pullich, Barclays head of SME in Yorkshire, says that co-working spaces are “absolutely critical” because they enable businesses to collaborate, widen their networks and build their confidence.

The Leeds city centre space will house over 300 businesses and provide a combination of co-working space and private offices.

Avenue HQ in Leeds is split across five floors. It also has large event spaces and several meeting rooms available to members, as well as a coffee shop and a rooftop bar, both open to the public.

Mr Kennedy said the building is already 70 per cent full. He added that Avenue HQ is offering a variety of flexible membership packages.

The concept is based on Avenue HQ’s successful launch in Liverpool two years ago, where it also partnered with Eagle Labs.

Ms Pullich said Barclays will have specialist managers “permanently in residence” at the building signposting entrepreneurs to relevant advice and support.

“It’s open to all businesses of all sizes,” she added. “It’s open to all industries as well.”

The site will also offer access to key technology to entrepreneurs, she added.

Avenue HQ is also looking at opening a second site in it’s home city of Liverpool. The first site in Liverpool sold “very quickly”, Mr Kennedy said.

However, Mr Kennedy says Leeds is also a key location for the business.

He said: “Leeds is just a brilliant city. It’s absolutely thriving. There’s so much going on with business, small businesses as well. Channel 4 has chosen to go there. It shows the strength of Leeds. We’re really pleased to get into Leeds in the right area at the right time.”

Mr Kennedy wants the office space in Leeds to become a melting pot for different businesses coming together.

He said: “What we try and make sure is that we’re not sector or size specific. We really want it to be a melting pot for anybody to come and use the facility.”

Leeds is already home to several co-working spaces, which have set an “amazing precedent”, according to the founder of Avenue HQ.

Mr Kennedy believes that Avenue HQ venue can be used in many different ways from hospitality to seminars.