Stuck in town and looking for somewhere to do a couple of hours work, confused as to where has the friendliest staff, reliable wifi or richest coffee? Well, interface designer and app developer Alasdair Monk has come to the recuse by way of Let’s Meet and Work. Now launched in London and New York, we spoke to him to find out more.
Hi Al. Can you tell us where the idea came from?
A couple of years ago when I was a student at Reading University, there was a sheet of A4 blue-tacked to the wall of the library with a printed list of places on campus that had wifi. After months of people scrawling on it, it became somewhat of a gospel of decent places to work. When I moved to London, I started working three days a week at digital agency With Associates, but always wanted to keep doing freelance work with the rest of my time. I found myself at a loose end on my days off, desperately wanting a London version of that tatty but priceless piece of paper from uni.
How long did it take to design and build?
I’ve toyed around with the idea of a web app based upon the idea for the last few months, but found myself over-analysing it so much that I could never boil it down to a simple enough idea. A few weeks back, I decided that I would just make something, as quickly as possible and with as little fuss. Using a collection of free tools provided by Google, I got the first version up in little under an hour with just five cafés that I loved. I’ve designed and built complicated web applications in the past, but this was definitely my favourite way to begin a project on the web.
You launched the New York version yesterday, have you got plans for future cities?
I deliberately wanted to start small and get London ‘right’ before exploring anywhere else, but since the huge surge of interest, I’ve begun thinking about how to expand. New York was an obvious next step as their creative scene feels very similar to London’s, but I’m undecided as to where to go next.
How does the submission process work and how do you know who to trust?
I wanted to keep submissions as straightforward as possible. Specifically, this meant eliminating the register/sign in process and making all submissions anonymous through a simple Google form which feeds a spreadsheet. When a submission comes through, I vet it straight away on how well the review is written and how much information is provided. If it all looks good, I’ll put it on the site on a trial basis until I actually get to check it out in person. 99 per cent of the time, the places I visit that people recommend are great, but I have taken a few places down that weren’t up to scratch.
If you could head off to work anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I’d like to take a bit of a hiatus from London at some point, but I have no idea where. I hear Copenhagen is nice? Somewhere with snow for half the year would be ideal. In the long run, I’d love to help set up some free co-working spaces in London. I’ve seen a couple of spaces in New York offering free wifi and desk space to freelancers and entrepreneurs, but nowhere in London yet.