What better way to break the ice at a client meeting than hosting it in an old operating theatre? Or to spark visionary ideas at a brainstorm than taking over a church?

Such spaces are the specialty of Headbox, a new online marketplace for ‘creative and inspiring’ meeting venues in London. Connecting businesses with owners, it promises to be the Airbnb of the event world, offering up over 1,000 sites across London for meetings, photoshoots, product launches and dinners.

‘Booking an off-site meeting space has historically been a really painful process,’ says founder Andrew Needham, former CEO of insight consultancy Face & Pulsar. ‘It involves trawling endless websites, lots of phone calls and mountains of paperwork. Listings sites are protective of their locations so they’re not a marketplace – the choice is limited.’

Headbox cuts out the ‘middle man’. ‘When you let the hosts and guests connect, you can unleash much more space.’

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Tanner Warehouse, SE1

Nowhere is this more necessary than in London, where the battle for square footage rages on a daily basis. Yet many of our buildings sit empty at certain times of day.

Headbox could change all this.

Owners can make additional revenue by leasing out their venues during the hours they lie vacant. A theatre, for example, can act as a meeting spot during the day, while a coffee shop can moonlight as a site for a press launch.

‘When you start to think about space differently, suddenly your imagination is opened up,’ says Needham. ‘London’s buildings can have so many uses. If owners start to give them new applications, it could change the whole price point for meeting spaces.’

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The gallery at The Old Bank of England

Headbox launched last week at a party inside the City’s Art Deco Banking Hall and has already raised £1.2m in seed funding.

Like its digital counterparts Airbnb and Appear Here, which connects landlords of empty commercial spaces with retailers looking for pop-up venues, Headbox could help us use our urban spaces more efficiently. Not to mention spawn some inspiring meetings along the way.

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