Pier Paolo Mucelli is the Founder and CEO of eOffice located in London, England. Mr. Mucelli founded eOffice in 2002 to provide high-tech office environments for small businesses and start-ups. Within the eOffice centers there are clients renting office space, meeting rooms as well as virtual clients who utilize remote services such as phone support.
Prior to your starting eOffice, you had a very successful career in medical device sales. I am interested to learn why you left that industry to become the founder of eOffice?
When moving back to London after several years stationed in Asia, I struggled to find cool office space on flexible terms, well located and connecting fast growing business in a dynamic environment. The dot-com boom inspired me to set up a funky, cool concept of ready-made workplace for modern and highly connected business professionals.
Since your start in 2002, how many eOffice locations are there now?
We own or manage 4 centres in the UK and in addition we run a large international network of independent business centres operators in over 100 locations worldwide.
Approximately how many clients do these centers serve?
Around 1,000 clients in our UK centres
When did you start offering virtual office services? Has it always been part of your product offerings or did it develop later?
The virtual office services was introduced only few days after opening the first centre in 2002, because of increasing demand from remote workers and/or small business operating from out-of-city-centre locations and requiring central city addresses and touch down centres.
I am curious from your perspective when did virtual office services become an accepted alternative to renting office space in Europe?
With the growth of flexible working methods and increased connectivity (initially mobile telephony and internet and now smart phones and wi-fi / 3-4G data access) this is a growing trend since the mid 5ies (2005) and a common practice.
When I interviewed one of your counterparts in the United States, Kate McDonough from the Waterfield Business Center, she mentioned that many of her virtual clients were international companies looking to do business in the US. Do you find that many of your virtual clients are international companies looking to do business in the country where your eOffice is located?
In our experience the ratio is 25% international and 75% national.
What kind of services or support do you provide local startups or foreign-based companies who are eOffice clients?
We focus on the provision of office space related services (full time and part time space, meeting space), we add IT services (internet, videoconferencing, VOIP services) and administrative services (company formation, mail and phone services) and finally networking events, including mentoring with our associated marketing partners.
I read that eOffice organizes for its clients something called Net Thursday events, tell me about these networking events?
This is becoming increasingly a key element in our marketing strategy and product offering as the workplace is increasingly the place where you gain contacts and knowledge, rather than simply get access to voice and data (you can get that from home or on the road). Net Thursday is an opportunity to network with like minded individuals and also get some additional knowledge from outside speakers and companies.
We recently became connected on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, so I know that you are a fan of social media tools. How effective have you found social media marketing in developing new business? Or do you find these tools are more useful in promoting the eOffice brand versus bringing in new clients?
While search engines in my opinion are still bringing more relevant traffic and qualified leads to our business, the role of social media is rapidly increasing as more often our clients are referred to our services from their contacts/friends, either directly or indirectly via social media channels. The interconnection of these networks, large followers, ease of use, third party applications (videos, pictures, podcasts etc) and increasingly interactivity, makes them a very important part of any marketing strategies for a growing company nowdays.
By the way, I noticed that you have surpassed 30,000 LinkedIn contacts. I think that it will take me some time before I threaten to surpass that mark! On a more serious note, I see that you have developed something called the eOffice Community Toolbar which can increase your LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter connections. What can you tell me about this toolbar?
I reached 30,000 connections in Linkedin as I decided to use the site for contact building in large scale rather than targeted followers (which is not necessarily a good choice for everybody) and LinkedIn was quick to impose a connection limit back in 2007. The toolbar is a new ‘gadget’ as a branding experiment, and not sure about the impact yet.
In my research, I discovered that one of your goals is to become involved in establishing business hubs to foster development in less fortunate areas. Mind sharing your thoughts on this subject?
Certainly, I have read about interesting projects in less fortunate regions where added internet connectivity benefited the local community, and I would like to get involved in similar projects in future, leverage our knowledge in the workplace and contact base. Emerging countries are however catching up quickly and the definition of less fortunate area is becoming blur (companies in Mumbai and Shanghai may bring technology and progress to Detroit and Birmingham, UK, not viceversa…).
What other interests or activities are you involved in?
eOffice is a small business but that keeps me rather busy at the moment, not much spare time, when I can I like to travel and do sports.
To read more about Pier Paolo Mucelli click here.