In 2018, my co-founder Lucy Minton and I launched Kitt as a new contender in the commercial real estate industry, leading the way for bespoke managed offices. We’re guided by creativity, culture and employee wellbeing which is at the heart of our designs. Kitt is transforming the office-leasing experience by providing serviced space for a monthly fee that is designed entirely around the needs of the business that will be using it.
We work with exciting and vibrant brands to understand their needs, from nurturing culture to optimising performance and boosting creativity. Our expert in-house design team will create a tailored design, and through state-of-the-art virtual reality, businesses actually see what their office will look like before they move in. This service also supports landlords, empowering them to meet the changing needs of each individual tenant.
How did you come up with the idea for the company?
Lucy Minton and I worked together at JustPark and oversaw a successful pivot of the business. We went from two people to over 100 within a very short time and we found ourselves struggling with office space. Co-working wasn’t a viable option for us due to the risk of losing company culture, the heavy price tag and lack of our own branding on the door.
We decided to lease our own office, however, the journey was unnecessarily complicated and took us nine months from the offer being accepted to getting the staff into the space. The fit-out wasn’t the design we’d hoped for and there was a lack of responsibility for running the space, leading to an unproductive office that didn’t reflect our vision and values.
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Kitt was born as a solution that didn’t yet exist to solve our problems. It was a product we would have bought ourselves – a fully managed space designed and built around our brand and business.
What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?
It can be incredibly daunting to start a business and it’s important to surround yourself with advisors and friends that you know you can rely on. The likelihood of startup success is much higher when it’s created by co-founders instead of a solo founder.
It’s also important to understand that the transition from working in another company to founding your own can be tricky at the very beginning. In another company, you’re adding value to an existing product that is already ‘known’. Starting your own business, it’s so important from the outset to know exactly what your product is when you don’t have clients or customers yet and are still learning the ropes.
It challenges you on a weekly basis and having the support from a co-founder helps you to stay focused. Someone who compliments your skillset, challenges your thinking, is up when you’re down, and will stick by you to the bitter end are essential for the emotional rollercoaster of the first couple of years.
What can we hope to see from Kitt in the future?
We’re on a mission to lead our industry out the other side of what is an existential crisis. The underlying assumptions of workspace have been shaken, which is what the industry needs.
A good office is just not good enough anymore, businesses are going to need an office worth leaving home for. Up until now, whilst there had been the beginnings of disruption in the industry, this had happened in a way that was not scalable. For the office industry to be fixed, landlords have to transition away from being building owners who are asset-focused, and move towards being business owners that are customer-centric.
The Kitt platform gives them the ability to do this, by offering their empty office units as stunning workspace products, built around the businesses they want to attract.
The coronavirus pandemic has massively accelerated our footprint with landlords and has also opened up demand from much larger companies that would have previously considered traditional leases.
The traction we saw at the start of September was very reassuring and gives us lots to be excited about once people are encouraged back to work again. We have the backing, the team, the model and a unique window of time within which we can transform how the commercial property industry works at a foundational level.