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Five questions for: Jemma Phibbs, co-director, School Space

School Space is an “Airbnb for schools” that allows schools to remain focused on education.

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Jemma Phibbs, co-director, School Space

What does your company do?

Schools need money. Communities need space. School Space solves these problems by partnering with schools to rent out their facilities in the evenings and weekends to community groups, generating funds for education. We are an "Airbnb for schools", if you like, but we manage the operations for the school too, so that they can remain focused on education.

What has been your company's greatest achievement so far?

It will always be hiring our first team member knowing that I was able to build something bigger than myself. I also think that every day we have little achievements as a company or individually. To remain motivated I try and celebrate the small things as well as the big milestones from automating a new process (even if that can seem pretty boring to some) to having our first coding club as a customer.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Managing people when starting a business so young. Myself and my co-founder James were 17 when we began the company, and 20 when we hired our first full-timer. Now we're 24 and have 50 people on the payroll. Because we had no real work (or arguably life) experience, we had to learn everything on the fly. I think I've become a better manager of people the more I can empathise with where they're coming from, so it was hard to do that having never had a boss myself.

What are your plans to hit targets this year?

Our targets are many and varied, and the plans to hit them all involve a lot of hard work. They're based on working with more schools, filling them with customers and ensuring that both sides (and our team) are happy, and we're providing the most value we can. The key things I will personally have to focus on include setting the vision, keeping money in the bank and hiring the best people. It sounds pretty basic, but it's so easy to lose sight of that with everything else we have on.

What's the one piece of advice you'd give fellow entrepreneurs?

The more I learn, the more I think the key to everything is good communication. Also, always ask for advice. You'll never know everything and there are always amazing people willing to help.

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