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This London startup wants to encourage people to ‘work near home’ and got £3M funding for that

Image credits: Patch

The future of work has been discussed in several articles, research studies, and predictions. Post-pandemic, the world is still in the early stages of returning to work and implementing hybrid models. 

In response to the demand for flexible coworking, Patch, a UK-based company, has recently raised £3 million in funding to accelerate its mission of bringing community-driven “neighbourhood workspaces” to every high street in the country. To date, the London-based company has raised £4 million in funding. 

From VCs, and angels to high street stalwarts 

The funding came from JamJar Investments, the fund launched by the founders of Innocent Smoothies, along with Blue Wire Capital, Vectr7 Investment Partners, Active Partners (investors behind Soho House), and Triple Point Ventures.

The latest funding round also included investment from several high street stalwarts and angels, including: 

  • Peter Roberts (founder of PureGym) 
  • Emma Woods (former CEO of Wagamama) 
  • Jeremy Sanders (co-founder of Coco di Mama) 
  • Wendy Becker (former CEO of Jack Wills)
  • Matt Clifford (CEO of Entrepreneur First
  • Simon Murdoch (founder of Episode 1) 
  • Zoe Jervier Hewitt (Sequoia’s Talent Director for Europe)
  • Caroline Plumb OBE (founder of Fluidly and CEO of Gravita UK)

Targets 100 sites

The investment will enable Patch to expand its network of spaces, with two new locations set to launch in the summer of 2023 in Twickenham and High Wycombe. 

Patch says more launches are on cards for 2023 and beyond, with the team aiming to open up to 100 sites in the coming years. The UK company will also deploy the capital to expand its team. 

New additions to the team include former VP for Blackrock Jessi Haymon Gorlov as Head of Property, The Gentlemen Baristas’ Ben Newton as Head of Operations, and James Connop, former Commercial Director at Soho House, as CFO.

Inspired by challenges faced by young working parents

Founded by Freddie Fforde in 2020, Patch aims to transform empty or neglected local buildings into innovative, design-led community spaces on local high streets where the public can work, meet and discover local initiatives.

Before starting Patch, he worked in early-stage high-growth startups and most interestingly as a founder and employee with the ‘talent investor’ Entrepreneur First. 

“The founding idea is simple – that opportunities are not evenly accessible to all talented people in the country, because we have assumed for so long that co-locating in city offices is a necessary precondition to success,” says Fforde to TFN.

Freddie started Patch inspired by the challenges faced by young working parents, who couldn’t access opportunities to re-enter work as they moved further out of cities.

Why ‘work near home’?

The UK company offers accessible and inspiring places to work for freelancers, SMEs, working parents, and hybrid workers and also acts as a community hub for local cultural events and creative initiatives such as podcast recordings, networking events, pottery workshops, and maker’s markets.

Patch aims to breathe new life into Britain’s ailing high streets and empower communities to rediscover the community spirit and pride that binds and strengthens local areas.

Next steps?

Patch Twickenham, which is set to open this summer, will be launched in partnership with the BIG South London programme, a South London-wide initiative to promote knowledge-based economic growth in the area. 

Located at 42 York Street, the new hub is supported by the local council. It will include a 2,000 sq ft public access space on the ground floor and a locally-run cafe, pop-up retail space, and public library.

In High Wycombe, Patch is revitalising a historic former library, which will house a workspace and community hub inspired by the building’s 1930s features. 

This dynamic and accessible space will be available for everyone in the local area. 

Patch employs around nine people and is hiring new site teams in Twickenham and High Wycombe.

Throwing light on the diversity aspect, Freddie says “Our company is majority female, including at management level, and includes people of colour and different ethnic and religious backgrounds. Our investors are 30% female, and 60% from under-represented groups overall.”

Jon Wright at JamJar Investments, comments, “There has never been a more important time to support and nurture our local communities. Work and home need no longer be mutually exclusive concepts, and while remote working helped bring them closer together during the pandemic, we now have the opportunity to add community into the equation too.” 

“Patch is leading the charge on this by unlocking access to flexible working, collaboration, and community in one place. By bringing this to the local high street, they are breathing new life back into local economies, while supporting people to work near home and re-engage with the places they live. We are looking forward to supporting Freddie and his fantastic team as they further their mission to bring flexible, community-driven working to every UK high street,” concludes Wright.

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