On 15th April 2002, a small Midlands-based office brokerage firm received an enquiry from its very first client – a start-up recruitment company seeking office space in the Thames Valley region.
Today, eight years on, that same brokerage firm – officebroker.com – is now generating over 60,000 global enquiries every year from offices in Tamworth, London, Dallas, Perth and Dubai.
officebroker.com has grown phenomenally since its first enquiry in 2002. From humble beginnings as a small start-up company to the global enterprise it has become today, officebroker.com has become a market leader in the provision of serviced office space to the business world.
But in the early days officebroker.com faced numerous problems that almost spelled the end of the company. The venture was self-funded by founder Jim Venables (pictured) and business partner Andy Haywood, and there was no financial support from banks at the time.
“Andy and I used our salary and savings to fund the early stages of officebroker.com,” comments Jim. “There were no bank loans – we did what we could.”
The company faced several cash-flow problems in the first few months of trading. But with the combined experienced of Jim and Andy, who previously ran their own successful recruitment company, and the sheer determination of Jo Davey – who has been with the company since day one – officebroker.com overcame the first difficult months and soon established successful roots in the industry.
Jo (pictured), who initially handled enquiries for officebroker.com, recalls how the early processes differed from today.
“It was a nightmare!” she says. “It was all manual – I had blue, red and green folders which I used to organise the different enquiries. It was basically a paper trail.”
At the time, the staff force consisted of Jim, Andy, Jo, and part-time IT worker Neil, who is now the IT Manager. As the business grew, an electronic system was created which enabled the enquiries to be logged and helped to speed up the process, and a year after the first enquiry, additional staff had joined in response to the growing number of enquiries.
“Back then we handled around 2,000 enquiries in our first year of trading,” said Jim. “Now, we handle several thousand every month, in excess of 60,000 a year, and we have close to 100 staff globally. We have certainly come a long way since our first enquiry!”