Inside London’s First Bitcoin Co-Working Space

Emily Spaven
Sep 14, 2014 at 10:40 UTC
Updated Oct 31, 2014 at 17:01 UTC

A unique co-working space has launched in east London, offering digital currency companies the opportunity to work side-by-side in an environment designed to promote growth and innovation.

Called T15B, the space is currently occupied by staff members of seven cryptocurrency-focused companies, including bitcoin trading platform BTC.sx and Australian bitcoin wallet and exchange CoinJar.

Co-founded by Pamir Gelenbe and his wife Gulnar Hasnain, who are behind the bitcoin events series CoinSummit, T15B is located close to London’s tech hub – the so-called ‘Silicon Roundabout.

The space accommodates a corner of the 2,300sq/m office occupied by launch sponsor BoldRocket, which offers support to technology companies.

The décor is very stereotypically east London – exposed brickwork, bare light fittings and visible pipes on the ceiling, paired with clean lines and a few stand-out features such as a ‘green wall’ (an entire wall covered in live plants) and a large orange rocket sculpture.

Gelenbe said he looked at a few venues in the city, but the BoldRocket office really stood out as a place in which creativity would be bolstered.

Nurturing digital currency innovation

Gelenbe’s aim for T15B is to offer a home for the best virtual currency entrepreneurs in Europe, creating an informal network of help and support.

“I believe that we all end up outperforming when we surround ourselves with great, inspiring people,” he added.

Gelenbe explained there are currently 18 people in the space, including members of Coinometrics, Proof of Work Media, XBTerminal, Bullion Bitcoin and Coinscrum.

He’s looking to increase these numbers, but isn’t willing to let just anyone join. He explained:

“We don’t want to compromise on quality. We have a selection committee and review applications on a rolling basis. We are looking for serious entrepreneurs and individuals who have demonstrated their commitment to the virtual currency space.”

Click below to view a gallery of pictures of T15B.

Motivation

Joe Lee, founder and CEO of BTC.sx, has been in the space since the beginning of this month having outgrown two Google TechHub offices.

“Being surrounded by people working to disrupt the world of finance, through bitcoin, is incredibly motivating,” he said.

Lee added he is enjoying working alongside other entrepreneurs that display an “incredible amount of talent and knowledge”.

He believes London could become a world hub of bitcoin innovation due to its lengthy reputation as the finance capital of the world.

“From an entrepreneur’s perspective, when a majority of the talent you are working with comes with financial services experience, you cannot fail to believe that London is going to be a city to watch out for,” Lee explained.

Aleks Nowak, co-founder of XBTerminal, which helps businesses accept payment in bitcoin, agrees:

“We have several of the best bitcoin startups based here now, the Bank of England and government seem to be changing polices to support the growth. We are in a very strong position to succeed.”

Mentoring

Gelenbe has co-founded a number of companies and is currently a partner at Hummingbird Ventures, a firm that has invested in bitcoin companies including Kraken as well as a number of other technology businesses.

He insisted he doesn’t consider T15B a business venture, and is more interested in using the space to boost Europe-based cryptocurrency developments. With this in mind, Gelenbe has a very hands-on role in the office, acting as a mentor to the companies working there.

“For me, this is an experiment. It’s a community initiative that might succeed, but also might fail, we just have to wait and see,” he said.

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