A Week in My Life: David Walter, Founder, Use Space Manchester
David Walter is founder of Use Space Manchester, a new co-working hub in Ardwick, Manchester. He's also the founder of creative content agency Seventy7, which has studios in Manchester, London and Mumbai.
Here he takes us through a week in his working life.
As someone who has spent my entire adult life in the creative industry, I love the fact that creativity can continue to surprise you almost every day and in so many different ways. Most recently I've found myself surrounded - literally - by the creative process of baking, and this morning I wake to the beeping sound of the first of many delivery trucks. It reverses down the driveway of our home with another load of ingredients for Buzzy Bee Bakery, the start-up business my two daughters have taken to scale during lockdown.
Knowing how tempted I’ll be to try the product later, and trust me it’s pretty difficult to resist, I consider a four-mile run, but then swiftly decide against it – maybe tomorrow!
After a breakfast of Nespresso coffee and morn flakes (which were originally ground within the mill of our current habitat) festooned with fresh berries, I log on to the Financial Times and become thoroughly depressed by the state of the world. It’s too much too early, so I swiftly switch over to global trends forecasters LS:N to inspire the creative side of my brain. Use.Space subscribed to a team membership at the beginning of the year and we’ve found it to be a truly inspiring resource.
I’ve decided to stay at the mill today and so get ready for a 10.30 Zoom call with the Use.Space team as we try to decipher what is working best re organic and paid activity. Results seem to sit somewhere between money and the dark arts.
I love unravelling the digital world, but still enjoy the feel of print, and after our call I pick up a copy of Creative Review where an article featuring FKA Twiggs has caught my eye – the images are brilliant and represent a whole new way of making art from music and lifestyle.
The afternoon is filled with research around the new office environment, its implications for our future ways of working, and its impact on the directions we will take with Use.Space, making it even better for our coworking community.
The day finishes with a stroll round the mill pond before sitting down with the family to eat. I wonder at the lack of trails in the air and the lack of passing traffic. As much as I enjoy the silence, I really look forward to the world waking up again.
It’s DPS that wakes us this morning – not chocolate this time, but a delivery of garden roses that herald the start of the day. My wife Susan has turned the outdoor space into a wilderness of flowers which inevitably end up being used as a backdrop for Buzzy Bee social media shoots. Creativity is blooming.
I take the Tesla into Manchester, a journey that now takes only 45 minutes, instead of 1.5 hours.
The car is probably the most extraordinary investment in future tech i’ve ever made, and it’s now stuttered into life after all the glitches were sorted out over a period of months. Nothing’s perfect, not even the brainchild of Elon Musk.
Arriving at Use.Space I say hello to the contractors working on site – they’ve almost finished installing the new glazing to the warehouse area, ahead of a new business moving in next month.
I also say hi to some of our community members before getting together with the team to discuss progress on the three new business pillars we are introducing to the Use.Space offering. Exciting announcements on this coming soon!
Decisions made and actions agreed, I head home for a weekly ‘Moscow Relief’ Zoom meeting with a group of close friends. On the call there’s Stuart (an international banker living in Moscow) Rory (ex no.3 at RBS) and Michael (The Food Doctor), plus one or two others. As usual, we discuss the perplexing world we now inhabit, and the new areas of discovery.
One of the new pillars of our business will be Use.Invest, and I dedicate the entire day to planning this sector of the business.
This highly complex offer of support and investment really takes time to navigate, and installing the infrastructure with so many different options available (angel, accelerators, private & government) is a challenging undertaking. Ultimately the goal is to help younger entrepreneurs and maturing businesses realise their potential with honest dialogue from a philanthropic base.
I finish the day with the latest podcast from by The Lancet, and it’s refreshing to get the facts without the political overtones. Not the best bedtime listening but getting a true perspective on the current crisis certainly helps.
Bright and early into Manchester and I meet with the Project Manager to sign-off on the warehouse redevelopment, ahead of our new client (BGFG) taking occupancy of the space for their ever-growing team. For me it’s been a substantial investment, but a worthwhile one that will significantly enhance the dynamic of Use.Space.
Next I check-in with our Community Manager, Sam Harratt, to discuss new membership enquiries. We’ve seen a real uptake recently, and with people looking to readdress their work life balance the enquiries are an exciting mix of individuals and small companies looking for the right kind of coworking home.
The first draft of our new Inclusion & Diversity policy is real for review this morning. We’re proud to include key messages from the UN’s 2030 Agenda, which is in complete contradiction with a certain President of the United States, who has a mindset to undermine the strong foundations that the previous administration had put into place.
Our new website launches in a couple of weeks and I feel the usual mix of excitement and trepidation when these initiatives come to fruition. Use.Space Strategic Director John Whalley and I meet to discuss the launch, and review all of the key messages and content that John has been putting together for each pillar. Exciting times ahead!
Lunch is a vegan burger with Mark Wools, founder of VistaVenus. As an investor, I’m fascinated by the journey of this brand and its ‘alternative universe’ that’s being created here at Use.Space. The mix of people and businesses in our space is amazing, there’s something different everywhere you look. Gaming, fashion, copywriting, digital marketing, design, philanthropy, accountancy, photography, the list goes on (and on and on we hope).
As the week winds down, and after scoping out locations to install electric vehicle charging points in the Use.space car park, I head home to a house filled with even more cookies, brookies and brownies all being prepared for the Monday postal drop.