Tech co-working space Runway East is expanding to four further sites this year as it aims to become a ‘backbone’ for the UK's tech economy.

The firm currently has three hubs in London and a fourth site in Bristol, with the aim to support scale-ups outside of the capital.

The team of 30 now supports over 200 business across its portfolio, providing different levels of flexible membership, member events and connections to investors.

“We plan to become a backbone for the UK's tech economy and expand to all the major tech hubs in the country,” CEO Natasha Guerra told BusinessCloud.

“I think one of the big challenges about starting a business outside of London is that as a country we're quite London-centric, so we tend to focus a lot of our resources and energy on London.

“That is something that is massively changing, the internet is connecting people all over the place and a lot of cities around the UK have the potential to become global cities.

“When people think about the UK they don't just think of London, they'll start to think of Manchester, Bristol and other places too.”

Runway East office

Runway East - London Bridge

Guerra said the initial idea for the business came from wanting companies to share their journey with each other and form connections in the ‘lonely’ world of running a start-up.

“You’re getting hundreds of no’s before you get a yes from investors, so having a peer group to share those challenges with and get support from is first and foremost,” she said.

The entrepreneur said the uncertainty over Brexit wasn’t helping but refused to overstate its impact.

“I think if you're an entrepreneur running a business, on your list of reasons not to start a company is about 300 things,” she explained.

“Brexit is somewhere on there, it's definitely not at number one, it's probably not number 300, but you're facing so many challenges every day that I don't think it's a reason that can put someone off from starting a business.

“There's a 99 per cent chance that your business won't succeed, you've already got a one in 100 odds of making it work. I think what it is doing is making people more likely to make decisions.”

Runway East meeting

The firm originally started a hub in Hackney in 2014 before opening a second in Moorgate in 2015.

“I think consumers are getting a lot more demanding and expecting a lot more from co-working spaces which I think is a good thing as people are having to massively improve their service and offering level,” she said.

“We’re a bit like Starbucks - before Starbucks, everyone was fine paying 50p for a bad coffee, now everyone wants a Mocha Frappuccino with a caramel twist. What we understand is that this is where you spend all day, let's make it amazing.”