Natasha Guerra tells The Times: 'What I Learnt...'

Runway East

12th March 2024

Natasha Guerra, CEO of Runway East, spoke to Richard Tyler at The Times about her decade of running the company. She speaks about how she initially borrowed £100k against her flat to start the business:

"It was our first proper building and things don’t always go to plan. When I took the money out I didn’t really think that I might not get it back. I was 26 and quite naive. I thought I’d just borrow the money and pay it back in a few years and it would be no problem.

We had made a load of assumptions about the business model and a lot of them were wrong.

We started to see the strain of running out of cash. It dawned on me that I might not be able to pay the money back."

Natasha goes on to talk about the differences between the tech industry, which is more reliant on venture capital funding, and the property industry. She also mentions focusing on how cash flows through the business:

"On the customer side, what has made a difference is being really on top of when people are paying, how they are paying. Those things are sometimes given less attention.

Every month we are looking at our numbers and thinking about how we can optimise them."

Natasha continues by talking about how not raising funds since the initial borrowing has forced Runway East to be an outlier in the flexible office market. She mentions the importance of getting the model right before scaling, and using a profit share model to ensure a shared risk/shared reward strategy with landlords.

"We now work in partnership with landlords where we both invest capital in the project and then both have a profit share model. When things are going great, the landlord is making more income than they would otherwise, and when things are tougher the landlord is making less income. That means we can ride downturns much more successfully than people on a leaseholder model."

She finishes by giving the advice she would share with her younger self, looking at other ways of treating cash, customers and structuring the business model.

Don’t think of finance as something you outsource. Really focus on having good reporting, that you understand your numbers and challenge your assumptions."

You can read the full piece at The Times (paywall).