The Cape Town chapter of Rise – the global, fintech-focused innovation hub created by Barclays – is currently offering hotdesk memberships to relevant investors, fintech entrepreneurs, start-ups, students, innovators and industry specialists.
“We’re always proactively initiating conversations that might spark collaborations. Be that here, or with counterparts in our sister sites in New York, Tel Aviv, London, Manchester, Vilnius or Mumbai.”
The Mother City is not short of a co-working space or twenty.
But from the first welcoming “hello” in the Scandi styled reception, Rise, situated in the city’s hipster heart on the 5th floor of the Woodstock Exchange, establishes itself in a different league to most. (Triple A, you could say…)
The energy is refreshingly tech 2.0: investors and bankers in shirts and suits seamlessly mingle with founders in slops and shorts.
Talking to the smart minds at their laptops, it is clear that most believe a hotdesk at Rise to be a priceless investment in professional networking – one that frequently pays dividends.
For Andrew Katzwinkel, founder of Africa’s first ‘lay-buy’ travel platform FOMOTravel, a huge draw is the intelligent internal and external matchmaking fundamental to the culture, which has proven “crucial” for exposure to investors and accelerating his business.
“The entrepreneurs and team all muck in and help each other out, shaping business models, sharing contacts and ideas,” says ecosystem manager, Camilla Swart. “We’re always proactively initiating conversations that might spark collaborations. Be that here, or with counterparts in our sister sites in New York, Tel Aviv, London, Manchester, Vilnius or Mumbai.”
A scratch-off wall map asks, ‘Where on Earth Have you Been?’ – Rise’s knowing nod to a key strength: its parentage and the resultant global connectivity and exposure it can leverage to help scale businesses.
On site hackathons, talks, industry events and visits ensure there’s a constant stream of fresh life and thought leadership injected by developers, investors and influencers.
Strolling around, you might find the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond (he visited in December), the boss of a multi-million dollar US private equity fund checking out the talent, or a brilliant cohort of TechStars, from the affiliated three month Barclays Accelerator programme.
“I don’t usually like co-working environments, as I find it hard to get stuff done,” says Justin Nothling, an app developer and fintech entrepreneur who splits his time between Cape Town, Berlin and Chiang Mai. “But here, I’m very productive. Plus, if I have an important meeting, it’s an office I can feel proud of.”
The prerequisite hallmarks, like faultless wifi and artisanal coffee, rub shoulders with African contemporary design touches. Bold art and jaw-dropping Table Mountain views convey the feel of an on trend member’s club for entrepreneurs.
The home-away-from-home experience also extends to flexible opening hours: you can swipe in 24/7.
Tech founder and R-Labs alumni Nathaniel Wagner finds it essential to be able to work “right through the night” to meet deadlines, staying sharp by throwing in an occasional PS4 marathon on the giant screen in the 65-person auditorium.
By day, though, in the light, airy space and state of the art meeting rooms, a calm sense of industry pervades, along with a feeling that, here, the future of financial services is being written, one line of code at a time.
Karl Carter, founder of SnakeNation (a platform for diverse creatives to promote and monetise their art via cryptocurrencies) finds both inspiration and solutions in being surrounded by the careful mix of experts and rising stars of African innovation.
“It opened our minds,” he says.
And soon, possibly, yours too.