Desk Union ...We’re Lovin’ it

Desk Union ...We’re Lovin’ it

BQ dropped in to the Desk Union’s buzzing upstairs space in the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Georgian offices in Edinburgh. Ian LeBruce of Cappuccino Ads was able to show us around and introduce the emerging businesses. Photographs by Kevin Gibson.

It’s rather incongruous to see so many start-ups in the grand surrounding of Scotland’s biggest bank. But the magic appears to be working.

Ian LeBruce, the managing director of Cappuccino Ads, is the brains behind portable advertising on the ubiquitous coffee cups. The coffee shops get free bio-degradable cups. With three billion cups set to be consumed by 2018 – that’s massive potential, particularly when you’re typically holding the warm receptacle for up to 20 minutes, and likely to read the messages on the side.

He’s also one of scores of young companies emerging in this vibrant new space in Scotland’s capital. So, firstly, how is his business?

“It’s going very well for us. We’ve got two new campaigns going out today for Teapot Trust and Sense Scotland with another five lined up for the next few months. The coffee body scrub side project is going well and we’re hoping to see it in spas across Edinburgh soon” says Ian, as he takes BQ on a tour of the Desk Union space.

“We’re gearing up for a huge Edinburgh Fringe Festival and a lot of the work going forward will be focused on that. It’s the busiest month of the year for us and requires a lot of planning!

One of the campaigns we have lined up is for Enterprise Campus, something close to home as I’m still involved in the academic world when I find some spare time.”

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Can you tell BQ about this amazing prime office space in central Edinburgh?
“The space has been provided by RBS and is run by Desk Union, who operate co-working spaces on behalf of corporate organisations. We’re loving working from here. Firstly, the location is amazing – right in the heart of Edinburgh – and the grandeur of the surroundings are very impressive to
our clients.“

Who’s been the driver for making this such a buzzing place?
“The main driving force is Victoria Arnold, the chief executive officer of Desk Union. I’ve known her for a few years and she is amazing. I’m very impressed with the environment that she and the team have created here. When we graduated through the Entrepreneurial Spark process, Desk Union was the logical place to come as it keeps the collaborative community vibe going plus it’s flexible enough to meet the needs of our growing business.

We’ve worked closely with a few of the members in the space before, namely We Are The Future and Big Noodle and are looking forward to working with others too!“

Ian explained the co-working space has been driven by Vicky, working closely with Chris Wilson, managing director for the RBS branch and private banking for Scotland RBS.

“Chris and Victoria share a passion for this emerging community, working in collaboration and growing the UK’s small business community. We’re all grateful to the bank for having such foresight. A lot of the current members have joined through recommendations from ourselves too.

Can you tell us more about the businesses in Desk Union?
“There are now more than 70 members at Desk Union. Alongside We Are The Future
& Big Noodle, we also have Sharkdog, Churchill House School of English, Klozers and LoCa Lab to name but a few. It’s a really diverse business community which adds to the friendly atmosphere and opportunities for collaboration.

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How do you interact in this evolving community?
“We have a serendipity map on the wall showing some of the connections between members, with several companies based here sharing clients and networks. Desk Union have done really well at creating a homely environment that encourages us to interact over a cup of coffee [Editor: in a Cappuccino Ads cup we hope!].

They also host regular events – both formal and social – that bring the community together in a positive way. Being surrounded by like-minded people creates a really positive environment.

What have you learned building Cappuccino Ads as an emerging Scottish businesses?
“Increase your network as much as possible: co-working spaces like this are great for that. Take opportunities when they present themselves and get comfortable being uncomfortable,” he says.

Can you define the mood of the firms in Desk Union?
“Excited and full of energy!”

Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
“We love visitors, so pop in and say hello!”