Tugboats drift by, planes swoop above, shiny new towers tower above old bridges; the view from iZettle’s riverside office is an impressive example of what a London workspace can offer. The Swedish tech company, that’s commerce tools have transformed accepting payments and managing point-of-sale for small businesses, moved into its new office in June.
Kontor pushed iZettle’s boundaries to find the growing team their perfect space to grow. We quiz Andy Forsyth, global sales operations manager, about the process.
IZettle is a global company; how many staff do you have?
IZettle employs close to 500 people worldwide. Our headquarters are in Stockholm and we have offices in Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Berlin, Sao Paulo, Mexico and London. The UK arm of the business was founded in 2012.
Where did you start in London?
In 2012 in a serviced office about the size of this rug for eight people! Then in 2013 we moved into our first own space, an office for 16 people in Victoria. We wanted our own lease so we could fully control the space. The company is very driven by brand and culture, so we needed to have a space with our own identity right down to how every part looks, the products we use and so on.
Why did you decide to move?
We needed more space. We’re now 37 people, but briefly we were still in a space for 16 people. I haven’t had a chair since November! We can go up to 60 in this space, and we’ll probably get there.
What were you looking for?
We came from an office with a fantastic view and light, so we wanted to maintain that, which I think we’ve achieved! We have people coming from all over the place, so we needed to be as accessible.
In fact, this isn’t the most logical location for us. A lot of people come from south west London which isn’t straightforward, but when we saw the space, the potential overruled the logic. I didn’t think this location would work at all – when Gavin set up the initial meeting I didn’t bother to go. But then Nina (who is on maternity leave) called and said ‘you’ve missed out’, so I had a look. Within a week we were negotiating heads of terms.
What was the space like when you arrived?
The main benefit of taking our own lease is that we were given a blank canvas. Of course, it’s inevitably not completely blank as buildings have their limitations such as where the meeting rooms needed to be to work with the space, but we can control the space completely.
For fit out, we tendered to four different design companies. We wanted to work with a designer who could see that their initial design might not be right first time. We wanted a very open conversation and to collaborate on all decisions.
Why did you decide to work with an agency such as Kontor?
There is a group of four or five of us who helped to manage this move to the new office space. As you can see from our job titles – sales lead, partner manager and so on – the search was on top of already busy jobs. So it meant we were in need of some support and help from someone who knew what they were doing with this process and could help to limit the impact on our normal jobs and areas of responsibilities.
Kontor are great. We were looking for someone who could understand the brief and our limitations, but could find interesting spaces that challenged the brief. Gavin quickly found three spaces that all fitted the bill – but they all pushed our boundaries as well. We would never have looked at this office without the encouragement of Kontor, and that conversation has ended up with us sitting here now.
What’s the best thing about this office?
Sitting here, looking out over the river. I have breakfast here every morning and it’s constantly changing, buildings going up, boats passing by. Sitting and staring out for just five or ten minutes is a very relaxing break.
What advice would you give to another business searching for space?
Avoid being too narrow minded. I chose not to come to the first viewing here because I thought it was a waste of my time. What you have in mind might not be what you want. Also, when we looked at this space it had a raised metal floor and was totally white, so use your imagination.
What’s next for iZettle?
We’ve just come out of a period of swift growth in the number of people in the UK team – this time last year we were less than 10 people in London. So now is a time of stabilisation and integration. The Edinburgh office only opened about two weeks before this one. Now we’re here, this space is brilliant and we want to maximise it over several years to come.