Member of The Week

Member of the Week - Katie Blake

Introducing new member Katie Blake; Globe Trotter, Yoga Teacher, Expert Networker and Founder of Luxury Travel Consultancy Nelumbo Travel.

So Katie, you used to work for a travel agents and have since decided to be a freelance travel consultant - what made you pursue that line of work?

Travelling and exploring is in my blood and very much a part of who I am. I started my career in sales and enjoyed talking to people and the buzz of getting them excited about what they were buying but I needed to be passionate about what I was selling too. After 4 years selling IT and event space and a year travelling the world (after that stereotypical breakup too!) I realised that I not only enjoy travelling personally but could also make into a career. I worked for two different travel companies, both big and small over the course of 5 years and then decided to set up on my own, so here I am today, ready to take on the world… literally!

Where is the most amazing place you have been sent to for work?

One of my most memorable experiences would have to be when I went trekking into the rainforest on the Indonesian side of Borneo to see the endangered orang-utan. The sounds of the rainforest were unlike anything I had ever heard before, from humming to buzzing to chirping from howler monkeys, birds and insects. Ear plugs are advised if you are a light sleeper!

I woke early, was served freshly made banana pancakes and travelled into the rainforest with my guide, in search for the orang-utans. As we approached one of the feeding grounds, we suddenly spotted them. Seeing these magnificent mammals took my breath away. We stopped and admired them for an hour or so before heading back to the boat. Orang-utans can only be witnessed in the wild in just three places in the world and so seeing them was an incredibly special experience, one that I will never forget.

I bet you often hear ‘your job is incredible; you’re paid to travel’ but I imagine it’s hard graft too?

I do feel lucky to do what I do but like every job, it comes with its challenges. As you are sending clients all over the world, sometimes you have to speak to your ground handlers in the wee hours of the morning or evening to ensure your clients are having the best experience. When you are sent away, you aren’t also lounging by the pool either, you are up and about inspecting hotels, creating partnerships and new experiences from the early morning until the late evening. It can also take weeks to put some more complex itineraries together, but those are the ones I love the most! The positives definitely outweigh the negatives!

Katie Blake MOTW.jpg

So you also trained as a yoga teacher in Goa (Kate’s first yoga session at PLATF9RM is this Thursday the 8th!) - how was that as an experience?

I have to admit, I thought I was going to be relaxing for a month in India, with a couple of hours of yoga, but it was hard graft! Yoga Teacher Training was both mentally and physically challenging. You break down barriers to allow yourself to live a freer life which in the end is incredibly liberating! Taking it home is difficult… Whilst it was challenging, it allowed me to just focus purely on myself, which is something we all rarely get to do. Yoga has also improved both my body and my mind but it is a practice that you have to do consistently to see results. Come and see the benefits for yourself on Thursday mornings at 7.30am.

I hear you’ve been doing a lot of swimming since moving down. Do you enjoy living by the sea?

I moved down to Brighton after living in London for 11 years and could not be happier. Not only do I enjoy living by the sea (and I know this may sound cheesy), I am finally living the life I had only dreamt about on all those long commutes. I swim each week with a lovely group of girls (please join us if you fancy it), I get to see my wonderful grandma for lunch who lives around the corner, my sister and her cute Cockapoo Coco regularly, and I have already made some lovely and welcoming friends who are all so wonderful and inspiring! I guess my answer in short is YES!

Jess McCleave recently took you on a bit of a pub crawl showing you the best watering holes in Brighton. Have you found your favourite spot yet?

Haha, I think we need to go out again Jess as I am still yet to discover it but I love a good wine bar!

Do you feel like you have settled in Brighton and at PLATF9RM?

I have now been here for three months and am starting to feel pretty settled. I think setting up your own business can be a time of excitement and also unease but I feel I have a great support system around me and PLATF9RM has been a big part of that so thank you!

What’s your favourite thing about PLATF9RM? - apart from chatting?!

I do love chatting, thanks Jess! I love that I get to meet other entrepreneurs and people doing all sorts of incredible and fascinating things! Everyone has a different story to tell! Each time I come in, I meet someone new and am always greeted with a smile! I am also getting a little obsessed with the food in the cafe, which is dangerous..those wraps made by the amazing Amy!! Oh and Friday drinks are fun too

We’ve all become very fond of Coco, is he available for cuddle hire?

I will have to ask my twin as it is her dog (even though I feel like he is mine), but you can always come for a dog walk with me or come for a cuddle when he is with me in the coworking space. He is like a big teddy bear and will definitely put a smile on your face!

Thank you Katie!

If you want to be a member at our space, get in touch for a tour and trial.

Member of the Week - Sarah Bagg

Our latest Member of the Week is Sarah Bagg, who is an integral part of TOR Systems Ltd, as well as a keen runner in the Brighton & Hove area and creative spirit, who you may have met at Artist's Open House! A big advoctae for remote working she feels right at home in PLATF9RM, so who wouldn't be more perfect to interview!

Firstly enlighten us as to what you do for TOR Systems Ltd?

TOR Systems develops ticketing software for galleries, museums, theme parks etc, basically any type of visitor attraction. It’s a small company so my role covers many different areas but in short I manage our current client accounts, sales, as well as marketing.

Previous to this role I spent about 20 years in the Visitor Attractions and Hospitality industry, managing a bar when I was just 23, then Head of Operations at Vinopolis (which was a wine attraction and events business in London), as well as managing the Stadium Tours and Museum at Chelsea Football Club. So I’ve had a pretty varied career so far!

What are the key things you enjoy about living and working in Brighton?

I love the freedom and autonomy I have within my job. It allows me scope to try out ideas and actually see those ideas have a positive impact on the business, which is so much harder to influence in a larger company.

Because our customers are all over the UK, I get to see lots of the country that I probably wouldn’t venture to otherwise. I love travelling and meeting new people, and this job offers loads of variety, which is one thing I really need to keep me interested in any type of role.

One of the reasons why I moved back to Brighton last year, is that I felt I needed a big Brighton hug! What I mean by that is that I needed to feel part of a community, which is one of the reasons why I love being a member of PLATF9RM. As well as co working, I have joined a running club and I’m part of the artist open house community, all of which has helped me settle back into life here!

I like the fact that Brighton can’t ever be described as beige, and is accepting of anyone. I was always the black sheep of the family, so I like the fact that Brighton allows you to be who you want to be without the pressure of necessarily conforming to what everyone else is doing.

I wanted to ask you about your interest in life coaching - did you embark on a life coaching course? Have you considered becoming a coach?

Yes, I have recently started a diploma in life coaching, something that has interested me for a long time. I was first coached when I was about 24 and again the year before last and I honestly can’t tell you how helpful both times have been to my career and life.

I don’t know where the course will take me, at the moment I’m just enjoying learning something new and want to see how it naturally develops, I guess lets just watch this space!


So you’re a keen runner, can you recommend any main clubs/events that aspiring runners can take part of in Brighton?

Yes I love the benefits of running, the physical side of things are pretty obvious, but for me it’s more than just that. A run totally sorts my head out when I’m busy with work, or if I have anything that’s troubling me.

There are lots of running clubs in the area, but when I moved back to Brighton I was looking for a club that wasn’t a serious athletics club and I heard about Hove Hornets. It’s a family run running club, which has been great for me, in terms of meeting new people, having others to run with and introducing me to areas of Brighton and the surrounding area that I didn’t know before.

Through the running club, I have been introduced to Park Run. When I can, I take part in Hove Park Run, which is such an amazing concept and Brighton is lucky enough to have 4!! (Hove Park, Hove Prom, Preston Park and Bevendean.)

For anyone thinking about starting running, Park run is a great opportunity, which is for any ability, so no one cares about how fast/slow you are. If you are thinking about starting running and don’t mind an early morning, why not give RUN 5.30 a go, which I did this week. It was great to see Brighton whilst everyone (well almost everyone) was sleeping!

Who is the person that most inspires you in your life?

On a personal level, it’s definitely my mum, she’s totally incredible. A force of nature, almost 77 and always on the go. When I managed teams in previous roles I would joke that I would have 10 of my Mum in my team if I could as she has such an amazing work ethic and is so diligent in everything she does.

There are so many people that inspire me, I don’t think I could name a just a few specifics here, but I think it’s important for me to be just as inspired by ‘real people’, not just those in the media!

What is the greatest adventure you’ve been on so far?

I definitely would say when I went travelling on my own when I was 21. Obviously it’s a totally different ball game travelling now, but when I went no-one had mobiles, and thankfully there was no social media! (wow I sound like I’m about 50 - thankfully I’m not!) Although the destination doesn’t necessarily seem that adventurous now, the fact I had booked a ticket to Australia, with a stopover in Bangkok, with no other fixed plan I was truly on my own... When I arrived in Bangkok I went to domestic departures bought an internal ticket to Koh Samui and then the adventure began!

20 years later it’s one of the best decisions I ever made, travelling solo was ace!

Having read your article on flexible working it seems like coworking is working well for you. Do you think more and more businesses will be inclined to offer a more flexible approach to working because of the benefits it can have for employees?

Definitely, so much progress is being made. Just this week it was debated in Parliament.

I think it has real benefits for employees and employers, but I think it’s important if you’re offered the option to work from home to consider how it might impact on your mental health and ensure you make changes to support this.

Are you attending any of our events this summer?

I would have liked to attend the event on WordPress at Tower Point, but I had to be in London for meetings, so it would be great if some of these events were scheduled again at Hove.

I’m sure I’ll be at the Social, but i’m not so sure my volley skills are up to much!

If you were to imagine your ideal coworking set up, money no object (out-there ideas welcome) what would it include?

Considering PLATF9RM is such a young company, I think it’s doing a great job.

I think community is really important to me, so as much as the way it looks and feels is important to me, I think the people are at the heart of a good co working space, just as it is in a good company. But if I could add anything to enhance it would probably be to build on the social side, as it’s so much easier to get to know members when you’re not in work mode!

So how about old school things like a pinball machine, pool table, table tennis, juke box, regular pub style quizzes, local sussex wine tastings, cocktail masterclasses etc etc.

Thank you Sarah!

If you want to be a member at our space, get in touch for a tour and trial.

Member of the Week - Steven Fisher

Introducing Steven Fisher, Managing Director of Kingfisher Electrics, PLATF9RM's in-house electrician and one of our newest members. Hello Steven!

So Steven, you’ve been an electrician for 17 years now. What made you pursue it as a career and when did you decide to run your own company?

After returning back from 12 months of backpacking around Australia, New Zealand and Thailand I decided to get a trade with the idea that it would allow me to travel more and work wherever I went.

5 years later I was qualified but working abroad was no longer an ambition of mine but I did enjoy the work. No day is the same and that keeps things interesting.

I'd always been too scared to take the leap and run my own business but when the company I worked for went into liquidation I was presented with a fantastic opportunity.

Jobs and customers were already there plus my ex boss helped introduce me to some great contacts.

Having just become a father of two; myself and my fiance Victoria thought it was worth a shot. If it went well it would be brilliant for us as a family for obvious reasons. Thankfully everything has gone well so far!


Do you have any disaster stories from your career that you’re allowed to share?

When I was an apprentice, I managed to put my foot through a customers ceiling. He was a 6′4″ policeman. Luckily he was very understanding and didn’t thump or arrest me!

I see you work with your brother as your second hand man. How is employing a sibling?

He was my apprentice for a short period of time but he has actually changed careers since. We definitely had some difficult moments but are still on good terms!

What is your favourite outside of work past-time?

If it's a nice sunny day then playing golf with a few of the chaps can be extremely pleasurable!

What are you most looking forward to this summer?

The sunshine! Everything seems better in the Summer. And if I can get childcare; Pride is always a fun weekend.

How long have you been in Brighton and how does it compare to other places you’ve lived?

Originally I'm a South Londoner, I've lived in Isleworth, Clapham Junction and Haywards Heath. Nothing compares to Hove for me, I love it. I even drink Earl Grey these days. I'm proper posh now.


When did you join PLATF9RM?

About 4 months ago.

What motivated you to Cowork?

I needed somewhere local with good parking at a reasonable price. It’s healthy to not bring my work home with me. The PLATF9RM offices are gorgeous and everyone is really friendly. It was a no brainer.

Are you attending any of our events over the next few weeks?

If I'm honest I haven't planned to but am always open to a bit of networking.

Thank you Steven!

If you want to be a member at our space, get in touch for a tour and trial.

Member of the Week - Frazer Stokes

This week we have Frazer Stokes, the friendly face and Founder of WasteBuild, a business he started from scratch after finding his passion in wanting to help the enviroment and improving climate change, as well as an avid halloumi fan.

Hello and congratulations on being Member of the Week! According to your LinkedIn, you founded WasteBuild exactly a year ago, what is WasteBuild?

WasteBuild is an exhibition and conference for architects, engineers, designers and developers who want to do something about the climate emergency! Construction accounts for around 50% of all raw materials consumed and over 20% of waste going to landfill. When I started reading into it, I was amazed there was no event tackling this, so I launched WasteBuild - the first international event for the construction industry that is dedicated to accelerating the transition towards a circular and regenerative built environment.

You’ve surpassed the typically bumpy passage of time that every new business has to endure - the one year mark! How has the last twelve months treated you? What has been the most difficult or scary part?

Like a roller coaster! And I wouldn't say I'm through it yet. Given the lead time required to launch an event of this scale from scratch the first WasteBuild event isn't until this December in Amsterdam. The most difficult part, (and there are many) I would say is prioritising and knowing when to delegate. I want to do everything myself and I want it done yesterday... but that often means I waste my time on things I could delegate and the overall project suffers!


What’s next on WasteBuild’s horizon?

See above 👆 I need to get in some sales support - so any offers let me know! Also of course the build up to the event in December is really picking up now (again need additional resource) so all efforts are focused there!

You’ve been at PLATF9RM for nearly as long as WasteBuild has been established, how have you found it here?

PLATF9RM has been essential for WasteBuild in this first year. I love everything about it, the community, the environment, the staff! Amazing for me as a small business to have access to these facilities both for the day to day stuff but also to be able to use it for events and welcome clients and suppliers. Instant credibility which is so important for a launch.

Similarly, you’ve spent almost as much time at Tower Point as you have at Hove Town Hall, which one is your favourite?

Both are great! I tend to use Tower Point when I have other meetings in Brighton or when visitors from out of town are coming to see me. I love Hove Town Hall though, it's closer to home and also the facilities, especially now with The Grounds open, are amazing and really work for me personally and the business.

What are the benefits in co-working spaces for a company such as yours?

There are the practical things like wifi, printing, tea/coffee etc but also the community that comes along with PLATF9RM is incredible. I've lost count of the amount of really amazing people I've met and important business conversations I've had as a result of people overhearing me on the phone explaining the event to someone, and asking to find out more!

If you could transmute into any other animal, and back into Frazer again, at will - which animal would you pick?

Any animal... A sea turtle. I'd swim around trying to teach my mates the difference between plastic bags and jelly fish. Unfortunately not easy for us sea turtles to tell the difference! Also my daughter once came home from school talking about being a perseverance turtle... definitely a quality needed to launch a business!

If the world didn’t need saving, and money was no object, what would you fill your hours with?

I would fill my hours with... love, laughter, great memories and anticipation for more to come. And halloumi!

If you had to have one of your five senses robbed from you, which one would you sacrifice?

Five senses... Don't you mean six? I'd probably do away with telepathy, it can be a burden sometimes anyway :)

Thank you Frazer!

If you want to be a member at our space, get in touch for a tour and trial.