Vish Gain speaks to Huckletree’s Gabriela Hersham and Web3 expert Pete Townsend about the co-working provider’s latest hub in the heart of London.
Situated where Twitter once had its European HQ, Huckletree D2 has inhabited Dublin’s Academy building since it launched in Ireland just over five years ago.
Since then, it has provided co-working and office spaces to more than 200 start-ups and businesses, including big names such as fintech challenger Starling Bank, Irish cybersecurity start-up Tines and Kinzen, which was recently acquired by Spotify.
Now, with 2023 just around the corner, UK-based Huckletree is getting ready for its latest location on London’s iconic Oxford Street. What’s more, Huckletree’s seventh hub across the UK and Ireland will focus on the emerging area of Web3 and other related technologies.
“As a business we’re very much for the innovation community in general, and so we’ve always looked at the wider macro picture and kept our eyes on the most significant trends,” Gabriela Hersham, Huckletree’s co-founder and CEO, told SiliconRepublic.com.
“There’s a lot of feelings about Web3 – positive and negative – but you can’t ignore the fact that it is pretty explosive and that in some way, shape or form, will very likely impact our lives on an ongoing basis. So we definitely wanted to be involved and build a space to support that.”
‘Real appetite to gather in physical places’
In early 2023, Huckletree’s two-storey 22,000 sq ft central London hub will open its doors to entrepreneurs, engineers and investors looking to build the future of the web.
And while Web3 technologies such as blockchain, decentralisation and crypto have been around for a while, Hersham thinks the Oxford Street hub comes at an opportune time as a nascent industry is really starting to develop.
“I think during these critical early moments is a really good time for ecosystems and communities to be built to really support that kind of ideation, and to help build structures and networks that help support that innovation thinking,” she added.
“We’re also seeing, within the Web3 space in general, that there is a real appetite to gather in physical places.”
To spearhead Huckletree’s push for Web3 technologies at the new Oxford Street hub, the company has brought a leading expert in this space on board as an ambassador – Techstars managing director Pete Townsend.
Having led the Launchpool Web3 Techstars Accelerator in Dublin earlier this year, Townsend is no stranger to Huckletree and is optimistic about the future of Web3 technologies.
“We hosted the first Techstars Web3 accelerator in Huckletree in Dublin in 2022 – and it was a fantastic experience. There’s such an energy and buzz and vibrancy about the place. And it was the perfect home for us,” he told SiliconRepublic.com.
“Running a hybrid programme, which meant that you bring people in for two weeks at the beginning of the programme, then you go remote for nine weeks and then you bring people back for two weeks, the most important thing is to create those magic moments between the all the different teams.”
A space for experts and newbies alike
Townsend, who moderated a panel discussion on the future of Web3 at Silicon Republic’s Future Human event earlier this year, also thinks that while Huckletree has been a great help for his Web3 accelerator, the new hub won’t be full of just Web3 die-hards.
“The plan is to being able to leverage all of the energy and momentum that Huckletree have built up in the start-up space, particularly around Web2, and bring people into the Web3 space,” he said.
“At the same time, I don’t think that [the Oxford Street hub] is going to be populated by ‘Web3 heads’. I think that’s going to be populated by a lot of people who are also curious about Web3 and how can they leverage some of those technologies for the benefit of their customers.”
But with controversy impacting the crypto market recently and digital currencies seeing sharp drops, is this is good time to invest in the Web3 space? Hersham shares some of Townsend’s optimism in this regard, arguing that the industry deserves attention.
“How I would rationalise that is that every industry has its highs and lows. Like if you look at the traditional stock market, it rises, it falls on a weekly basis, that’s the way it is. So I would liken that to crypto in that way,” she said.
“I also think that because it is so nascent, there are lots of big ideas, and some will stick and some won’t. But my intuition is really telling me that it’s here to stay, and that in some way, shape, or form over the next five years or a decade, Web3 will play a very meaningful role in our in our daily lives.”
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