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.

How Are Modern Businesses And Industries Using VR?

You might not know it yet but VR is creeping into all aspects of our lives. Businesses are leading the way, with industries like construction and medical using it to train better and work more efficiently. Sam Watts is Director of Immersive Technologies at the Brighton-based Make Real; they create a wide range of VR products and experiences for companies small and large, including Lloyd’s Bank, EDF and Mcdonald’s. We called him to discuss this brave new world and the often mind-boggling ways companies are embracing this technology.


Hey Sam. VR is still uncharted territory for many businesses. How much of your job is managing expectations?

There’s a lot of that but it’s also really important to find valid use cases. There’s been a lot of hype around VR and some people just want to tick off that particular type of innovation. For us it’s crucial that the market and user base continues to grow, but that we ensure the content we create is a valid use for VR.

Oculus Quest [a successor to Facebook-owned VR headset Oculus Rift]has now been released. How much difference will this make to VR adoption?

It makes a huge difference as it removes some barriers to entrance that typically put people off. Beforehand you needed a high-end PC or laptop to run a headset and you needed external sensors for the full VR experience. So there was a lot of clutter and cables. But now the computer is in the headset and it has inside-out tracking – cameras on the headset that are constantly scanning the geometry of the surroundings to determine its position in the world whilst tracking the hand controllers – so it’s all ready to go.


VR is regularly used as a training tool, isn’t it?

The most obvious training use of VR is the ability to place people in a world that is representative of a sector or aspect, but the training can be carried out safely because there’s no danger of them hurting themselves. This could be a nuclear reactor, say, or a construction site. It also saves money because you don’t have to interrupt day-to-day work with people training onsite. You can also add an element of consistency because the experience is the same each time. People will need onsite training eventually but you will be able to reach a base level quicker.

And what about meetings?

Global companies will often spend a lot of money flying regional heads of office to meetings. That’s a lot of costs, a lot of time and high environmental impact. So there’s applications – like rumii or ENGAGE – where you can don your headset, join a private room and have your 3-D avatar represent you in a meeting with people from across the world. With the available head, hand and individual finger tracking, you start to recognize people in VR from their natural movements and the nuances of their subconscious gestures.

Presumably one day this could be used in schools?

Yes, it could be education-focused for schools. Everyone could go, say, into a 3-D model of the Great Pyramid.

What other industries could utilize it?

Architects have and the visualization of buildings from 2-D to 3-D has been commonplace. It’s a natural progression from reading something on a screen to actually stepping into that building. You can do everything at 1:1 scale so you can understand where the design might not work. The light might be cut off in a certain way or the overall aesthetic – the feeling you’re trying to create when someone enters the building – isn’t achieved.

If we’re walking around buildings, could estate agents use it?

Yes, you can create a 3-D scan of a house or building and visit from an office rather than having to meet people every time


The ability to view someone else’s environment could also be a powerful tool for change?

Absolutely. You can put an individual in someone else’s shoes and help them understand their viewpoint and position. It can help us all to be more accepting of each other’s beliefs and situations.

And what about the medical industry ?

Also, cadavers are expensive so VR can enable trainee doctors nurses to get some training before working on actual bodies. Again it’s about getting to that base level of knowledge.

How much must we be aware of people’s physical and emotional safety when using VR?

It’s a powerful sensation: giving up your sight and sound and touch, to a degree, in this simulated environment. It’s very important that if there’s strong messages or themes that you make people aware of potential triggers. You have to verbalize everything and you need a safe space because the person in the VR could be walking around flailing their arms and not aware of their surroundings – they might end up punching someone else in the head!

That’s no good to anyone. Thanks Sam!

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9 Best Places to Play In Brighton

It’s all fun and games in Brighton this July, with the return of annual games conference Develop:Brighton, and PLATF9RM’s very first sports day taking place at the end of the month. You don’t have to be a professional gamer or an amateur athlete to get stuck into some organised fun this month, though. Here are 9 of our favourite places to play in Brighton.

Lose yourself to VR at the World's End

If you’re on a pub crawl, don’t stop at the World’s End. Once you’re in, you’ll never want to leave. Grab your craft beer and take over one of the four player virtual reality booths or the remote control racetrack downstairs, then head upstairs to get lost in the fully equipped retro gaming arcade or go head to head in a 10-seater group racing experience. The World’s End is a mighty landmark of the Brighton game scene.

*Top tip – enjoy unlimited VR on Wednesdays!

Picture Credit: Instagram worldsend_btn

Picture Credit: Instagram worldsend_btn

Gear up for the Toad championships at the Hand in Hand

Toad in the Hole, or ‘Toad’ as it’s affectionately known amongst players, is the most loved pub game you’ve never heard of. The idea of repeatedly chucking a brass coin at a hole in the centre of a lead topped table might not sound very appealing right now – but a few beer-fuelled games in at the Hand in Hand in Kemptown and you’ll be hooked. Perhaps you’ll even decide to get a team together to enter the UK league that competes at the world championships in Lewes each year. There are three divisions in the league involving around 21 teams, so it’s time to get practicing!

Try your hand at TRIBE Urban Axe Throwing

Ever met a dedicated axe thrower? In Brighton, you might have! The Brighton-based pros at TRIBE are currently building their first indoor axe throwing venue, where you’ll be able to satisfy your inner warrior on the regular. In the meantime, you can sink some bullseyes at one of the team’s pop up events across the UK, or even bring TRIBE into your office for a team building day! SLING. SINK. REPEAT.

Picture Credit: Instagram tribeaxethrowing

Picture Credit: Instagram tribeaxethrowing

Mess around on the beach at LoadingBrighton

When the sun’s out and you’re feeling playful, get yourself down to LoadingBrighton. Located on the seafront close to the pier, with a huge selection of new and retro board and video games to choose from and a menu of Vietnamese treats for when you get peckish, this is an ideal place to while away an afternoon.

Get your adrenaline pumping at Pier Pressure

There are a whole range of great escape rooms to choose from in Brighton, but being right around the corner from us at PLATF9RM, Pier Pressure is the perfect place to let off some steam after work. In just 60 minutes, you and your team must solve a series of puzzles that will lead you to your big escape.

Choose your teammates carefully. You’ll need logical thinkers; eagle-eyed observers; lightening fast reactors; wordsmiths; mathematicians; expert communicators; and even someone with a keen eye for colour! Are you ready?

Photo Credit: PLATF9RM

Photo Credit: PLATF9RM

Perfect your throw at Brighton and Hove Petanque Club

Is there a more onomatopoeic word than ‘Petanque’? If you don’t know what we mean, head down to the Peace Statue on Brighton seafront (near the Meeting Place café) to hear the sound of the metal balls as they gently collide on the perfectly maintained Petanque (aka Boules) terrain.

The rules of Petanque are easy to learn. The challenge is in mastering your throw. Give this friendly game a go and you’ll find it’s surprisingly addictive!

The club plays on Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm all year round and Wednesdays from 6pm in the summer. It welcomes members of all ages and experience.

Putt alongside a neon T-Rex at GLOBALLS

GLOBALLS is the indoor crazy golf metropolis bringing a new level of crazy to Brighton’s fun loving community. Glow-in-the-dark dinosaurs and jungle animals watch on as you putt your way through the Jurassic or tropical jungle themed courses, lit by neon lights. If you visit at Christmas or Halloween, expect some special neon guests!

Image Credit: DayOutWithTheKids

Image Credit: DayOutWithTheKids

Get silly at home with friends

If you play games at home, you’ve got to check out Gamely’s range of hilarious family friendly card games. Set up in a sunshiney spot in the garden and get stuck into Randomise, ‘a mash-up of classic games like Charades, Articulate and Pictionary with a huge dollop of randomness’; Soundiculous, ‘the game of ridiculous sounds that asks you to beep, cheep, grunt, howl and laugh your way to glory!’; or the Pretender, ‘a hilarious social deduction game of mini-charades, bluffing and suspicion that will make you laugh and get you thinking creatively’! Best of all, Gamely’s office is right here in PLATF9RM, so you’re supporting your community every time you buy a game.

You can get your hands on a Gamely card game here:

Kick back with a coffee and a board game at the Grounds

We’re so excited to announce that the Grounds will soon be opening at weekends! While we’ll be welcoming weekend workers, we understand the importance of taking the time to switch off, too. Please get in touch with your best board game recommendations so that we can stock up!

Photo Credit: PLATF9RM

Photo Credit: PLATF9RM

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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.