OTC was born when we moved into our new home on the corner of London road and Bain St. The story to how we got there is quite the remarkable one.
That search took them across the entire city and over a year and a half of searching. There were so many moments where they got close to finding a property but always at the last minute something fell through. This is a story repeated by so many social enterprises and start ups looking to find somewhere suitable and sustainable for them to grow.
One day a friend came to their small office they were renting temporarily for a cuppa. While chit chatting she mentioned she had been chatting to a guy in a bar the night before. She had been talking about some of the projects she is involved in and he had apparently mentioned he knew lots of people in the East End with empty spaces. Matt and Denis wondered if it was worth following up such a claim to see if it was true. Having had so much disappointment so far, a random conversation from some guy in a bar wasn’t much to pin your hopes to but if they had learned anything it was to never miss any potential opportunity.
After some negotiations eventually a viewing was set up. Matt and Denis were both incredibly sceptical about the whole affair. Having seen the condition of some properties in the area and been let down before, no-one was holding their breath. Meanwhile the landlord agent had similar low expectations in setting up a viewing of a 5 storey goliath building in massive disrepair for only 2 small artist ‘hippy’ types.
This lowering of expectations from all sides meant that the initial viewing was very honest. No-one was trying to sell anything, in fact quite the opposite. In the end this brought us to the end of an almost 2 year search for the perfect home for our projects to coexist and flourish.
We had little to no money other that small pockets we had saved up to get us by the first couple months but from the outset, the swell of support and donations of materials and furniture we got was immense. We partnered with other social enterprises like Radiant and Brighter who provided some amazing help from some fantastic refugees. We had donations from universities, other charities and locals in the area.
Somehow we made it through our first 6 months and applying for some capital grants and loans to begin renovating the largely derelict building. We were keen not to use any council or public funds at this point. We decided we wanted to remain as autonomous as possible. We wanted to prove that with a small initial injection we could become self sustainable in a short period of time.
Soon we had fantastic business support from Jobs and Business and Just Enterprise who helped us formulate a business plan and marketing strategy. Eventually we gained investment support from Resilient Scotland. This part grant, part loan has financed the much needed repairs we needed to undertake in order to make the place safe and accessible to all.
Now on our 1 year anniversary we thank every single person and organisation that has helped us to get this far and thrive so much in such a short space of time. We are well on our way to becoming completely financially sustainable. We are close to having completed the design of our event space, relaxation station, conference room, workshop and open space, cafe, office space, studios and so much more.
Thinking back over the year, sometimes you just know some things were just meant to happen.
Thank you to every volunteer, advisor and donation.
We exist thanks to you.
OTC is you.