Ideas Hub, Chelmsford

Business mind, creative heart


Name of business: Ideas Hub
Creator: Leonie Ramondt
Years in business: 3 (since 22.09. 2012)
Specialty: supporting business ideas and creative ventures from all walks of life
Location: Chelmsford
Reach: Local
Key to success: Focus on who you are now and what you want to achieve
Greatest asset: Volunteers and location (a lovely view to the park over the river Chelmer)

The context

They’ve just opened but the meeting is at full swing. At the table in the back of the room business advisor is talking to an aspiring entrepreneur about her business plan. I am eavesdropping. They are talking about projections and the real cost of an event. Unexpected fees can really kill the cashflow, especially in the early stages, when businesses are working hard to gain momentum.

The role of this place is to facilitate growth by providing space to work and guidance on how to make it more productive. After hours this venue welcomes artists, poets, Magic: The Gathering players. It’s a very funky space. This is Ideas Hub, Chelmsford and I talk to Caroline Taplin, who is the programme coordinator.

The hub

I’ve heard about this place a while ago but last week was my first visit. Let me tell you, if you are a start-up looking for a meeting space or just a desk and a wi-fi to help you get your content out there, get yourself to the Ideas Hub. It’s a shame spaces like this in Essex are few and far between. Funky décor (even in the loo!), fast internet (…even in the loo…), coffee and access to support if you need it is exactly what micro-businesses need to move them up the scale of development.

The people

Unfortunately, it seems to be Chelmsford best kept secret, as not too many people know about it. I hope this article will help them spread the word as I am really rooting for this venture. They are waiting to receive a charity status, which will help with the paperwork and possibly funding. But even now it is clear that their biggest strength is the team. All volunteers; they decorated the place and they are the ingredient that brings it to life: open, welcoming, supportive.

The ideas

I can see a need for this kind of space. I am going to use it myself as an office-on-the-go or a meeting space. But their vision reaches beyond obvious practical applications for the hub.

“Colchester fashioned itself as a creative city and London is a business centre. We see Chelmsford as a hub for creative businesses.” – says Caroline Taplin, Programme Coordinator. They help businesses from all walks of life. Whether you are a start-up looking for advice on business plan or medium-sized business that hit a rough patch and needs support in reigniting their vision or strategy, this is a place you should turn to. The past is the past, they look at where you are and who you are today, and help you figure out a better tomorrow. Be prepared for honest assessment though, as they sport advice that helps make real change.

If you are prepared to achieve something good, go to 1-4 Market Square, High Chelmer.

Why Ideas Hub is my brand hero:

They are who they want to help. They want to support creative business and they are a creative space that is funding itself. They want to do it in an ethical way (their café sells ethically sourced snacks). They have a big vision of reinventing this corner of Chelmsford into a Soho space with Google vibe. They want to build a culture. I believe they’ve already started.

My lessons from this conversation:

– having a product and a logo is not enough, the next challenge for them is get their name out there
– aim at creating a culture is great for your brand
– choose your team wisely: working together they will become best ambassadors your brand, divided they will turn into a capricious committee

Further reading from the Ideas Hub:

Study Google as a business. The vibe, the culture, the service.

Elements of a strong brand:
  • culture
  • people believing in one goal
  • truth


…they did not express any one single motto, but when I now think about my day at the hub, I just think: it can be done.

Simon, Memory, Alison and Peter one of Ideas Hub's volunteer hosting teams [source:]

Simon, Memory, Alison and Peter one of Ideas Hub’s volunteer hosting teams [source:]

Find out more about the Ideas Hub:

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