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Restaurant Industry News speaks with Callum McPherson, founder of Occupyd

Talk us through the inspiration behind this new online Marketplace Occupyd

It was during my time in a previous role where I was seeking properties and speaking to landlords, tenants and commercial agents that I identified a big gap in the industry. Aside from being old fashioned and generally lagging behind the residential property industry, it was clear that the commercial property world served the agents better than the actual occupiers of space. With surveyors taking a 10% fee for their time, they are much more interested in large floor plate offices or warehouses than they are spaces for SMEs and micro-business. A use case that I frequently observed whilst at Moto Stable was small and microbusinesses sharing space, joiners sub-letting their units to furniture makers, wholesale bakers subletting their kitchens to caterers. This end of the market is woefully underserved by the traditional commercial property market and is where Occupyd was built to operate.

Today, Occupyd is a first-of-its-kind online marketplace that connects businesses and individuals searching for workspace with companies looking to monetise their extra capacity. We’re driven to make life a little easier by facilitating relationships between businesses on the hunt for workspace, and those that have extra capacity, so they can help each other out and continue to grow.

We talk about the ‘hidden market’ – something which is already there, but people are unaware of. Monetising after-hours capacity, which would otherwise be empty, or renting out supplementary workspace could be a goldmine for some companies. Many of us are sitting on something valuable – we just don’t know it.

Occupyd offers businesses a simple way to maximise their income in what is a very challenging part of the economy – owning physical premises in big cities. These proprietors will have either been missing out on this additional income, or managing the timely process themselves. 

How can this directly help businesses within the hospitality sector?

Occupyd’s vision is to make physical space more accessible and less burdensome for businesses regardless of sector, size or location – and the hospitality industry is a huge focus of ours.

When a hospitality business signs up, all they need to do is create a profile and field enquiries from interested parties. Occupyd does all the marketing and platform development so space owners can kick back and watch the bookings roll in. Once they reach a deal and accept a tenant, the money will be deposited into their bank account, so no need to issue or chase invoices. 

Here’s how it works: a cafe, for example, that closes its doors at 3pm each day can advertise its kitchen space on Occupyd for small businesses or entrepreneurs who cater to the evening market. This provides out-of-hours income for the owner – during a time when it’s needed most – and cuts down the financial responsibility for the occupant. 

Taking a five or 10 year lease on a building, paying a hefty deposit and having access to it 24 / 7 is not what most SMEs and microbusinesses want or can afford. We give them access to space in prime locations, when and where they need it, so they don’t have to pay for more than they require. Not only do we save them money on space, but also equipment such as ovens and mixers, which would otherwise have to be bought. Occupyd makes it infinitely easier to get started in business, test your concept and expand.

What’s next for the business?

Occupyd has become well established in 2020 and our immediate goals are to continue growing our user base and enter the US market with an immediate focus on New York City.

The middle part of 2020 has been all about kitchen space, given the explosion in demand from delivery operators during the pandemic. As more and more types of venues open up, Occupyd is growing in new areas with salons in particular signing up to the platform in droves. In addition to this we also have therapy rooms, offices as well as studios and other types of spaces. Occupyd is very much a multi-vertical platform, intended to be used by anyone requiring access to flexible work-space.

How did you realise that there was a need for this, in this ‘new normal’ way of life?

One of the main things we as business owners have all learned during this difficult period is the importance of flexibility. Things change all of the time, but the rate of change has been rapid over the last nine months and the businesses that have been able to adapt quickly have managed to mitigate many of the challenges. 

Occupyd exists to help businesses access space when and where they need it. We’ve been adamant for a long time that long leases are dead and small businesses need flexibility, which is where we come in. On the other side of our market is businesses who have space but perhaps now find themselves tied to more than they previously needed. We give these businesses an opportunity to monetise the underutilised space which in the new normal could be extremely valuable.

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