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90Min & Minute Media talk to Kontor about finding their perfect space

90min’s new office absolutely wins on location: overlooking Liverpool Street Station, it’s seconds from the underground and a short walk from Spitalfields, Shoreditch and the City. It is also in a listed building – go back a few years and you might be surprised to find such a forward thinking digital publishing company replete with film studio in such a location.

90min is a global football media and technology company, which produces content to be distributed across social media channels. With 60m monthly users across web, mobile and social, the company is expanding fast.

Kontor helped 90min to find their first own workspace this year. The search was certainly not quick and grew more complicated as the team continued to expand. We chat to Duncan McMonagle, SVP Partnerships, and Kata Wielgus who headed up the search.

90min is part of Minute Media, which started in Tel Aviv – where else does 90min have offices?
Duncan: Tel Aviv is our spiritual home. We have about 35 people in New York, three or four in Singapore, a studio in Manila and remote people around the world, working in specific cities such as Los Angeles and Tokyo. That’s a lot of time zones – no one sleeps!

How long has the brand been operating in London?
Duncan: About three years now. We started as two or three people in a borrowed office in Soho, grew to 12 people in the first year and within 18 months were searching for an office space.

We looked in Soho initially, but the problem was that by the time we found a space we liked, we were outbid, by which point the team had grown and we had to start the search again. By the time we were 30 people, an office in Soho was just too expensive.

While looking, we took an office in WeWork Chancery Lane. Initially, this was for 16 people, but we grew so fast we got three more offices, one for people, one for a studio and one for content work. It didn’t work very well being spread out in different offices – you couldn’t really chat.

So, room to grow was a number one priority for your office search?
Kata: Absolutely. We’re 36 people here now and we’ve got space to add more.

Duncan: We’ve just done our 2018 planning and we expect to add another ten or 15 people by the end of next year.

What other priorities did you have?
Kata: Proximity to a station – even five minutes was too far. Here we’re above an entrance to Liverpool Street which is great.

Duncan: I wanted a space that would allow me to throw a ball from my desk at anyone in the company – it doesn’t happen often, but the option is there!

What about location – you initially wanted Soho but you ended up near Liverpool Street?
Duncan: There’s always a trade-off – could we find a cool space in a handy location that we could afford? We did want Soho as we’re a start-up media business, but WeWork in Chancery Lane was handy. We found that area wasn’t as dynamic as we wanted, which is why we went further east. Here, the area is really buzzing.

What was the space like when you arrived?
Kata: It was a blank canvas, we’ve made it our own. Now we have glass fronted meetings rooms, the soundproof studio, a great kitchen area, our own art and branding on the walls. We used our in-house designers – they came up with some bold ideas that I had to process somehow!

Duncan: It was a collaborative project really, the whole company contributed. Kata and the designers created the vision, but members from each department gave their insights.

How has the workspace impacted the team?
Kata: It’s made a huge improvement to everyone’s morale. People have lunch together at the long table, we squeeze on! Everyone’s relaxed and talks more, which boosts productivity.

Duncan: WeWork was great but it wasn’t home. We wanted a place where we could hang our own pictures, establish our own culture. This is perfect. The pool table in the middle has been a particular success. I didn’t know if people would use it, but everyone does.

How did you find the office search?
Kata: Much easier with Kontor’s help. I met with other property companies, but Kontor is different – they’re diligent, they really know the market and understood our brief. Jack was very patient; he didn’t try to push us into any inappropriate properties. It made a difference that he really got to know what we do as a company and showed us what we were looking for.

Did you encounter any problems?
Kata: Only to do with fit out! We decided we wanted two freestanding phone booths for calls. We ordered them from Hong Kong, waited three months for them to arrive and then, because we’re in a listed building with no cargo lift, we couldn’t get them up the stairs!

Duncan: It was such a shame. They were even in 90min bright orange!

Do you have any advice for another fast-growing company looking for an office?
Kata: The number of desks you can fit in is the most important thing. Go for the biggest size you can. Also, the more specific you can make the brief the better – but you have to know where to compromise.

Duncan: We started out wanting brick walls and a concrete floor – I think this floor is vinyl and the walls are white! You need to realise what you can do to make it work. This place absolutely ticks the boxes for location, convenience and size.

Now you’re here, what’s next for 90min?
Duncan: Global domination! We started out wanting to be the biggest digital publisher in the football world, we’ve done that and now we’re aiming to be the biggest in sport. Next year we’ll extend beyond that further. We’ve got a platform that really gives people a voice and we want to open it up.

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