Kaniyet Rayev completed his BSc in Management at Cass Business School in 2016. He’s since followed his entrepreneurial instincts to create a startup around an idea that came to him while studying for his final exams.
His company, Haus Spaces, is a new gig economy working space concept that transforms closed restaurants into swanky working spaces during the daytime. The entrepreneur, originally from the Kyrgyz Republic, is now looking to take the company out of its pilot launch, grow the membership and expand across London.
Provided he can make it a success in London, he sees the opportunity to spread the concept to other cities internationally and is using the skills honed at Cass to make this growth happen.
How did the idea for Haus Spaces come about?
Having spent a long time preparing for my exams I was so fed up with libraries that I began to work in coffee shops. At the time, I was working on a different project, an Airbnb for Experiences, but Airbnb was apparently working on a similar concept at the same time and launched last November.
It wasn't time lost however, as after the months of work I’d done in different coffee shops around London I realized that there were so many convenient spaces that could be used as workplaces. After some struggles and research, I started working to create Haus.
Why restaurants and not other working spaces?
The unique thing about restaurants is that they are already designed to bring people together, so we focus on this type of property. I would prefer to have two or three great restaurants in the same area of London as partners, rather than having multiple, not so suitable locations across the city.
We are also very choosy with who we will partner with. We have criteria in terms of interior, chair ergonomics, lighting, smell, size and air conditioning etcetera, before we will partner with a company and restaurants tend to prioritize the same things. Customer experience is essential for our success.
How have you built up the brand so far?
In the beginning, we used Facebook groups and some paid marketing, but from then on it has mainly been word of mouth.
Our target market is mainly small startups in their early stages, self-employed people and freelancers. We also have some organizations who partner with us to bring people into our space.
We are in the pilot launch phase at the moment and have partnered with Sway in Covent Garden, but as we move forward we'll be expanding our membership and bringing in more partners.
Why did you choose to study a BSc in Management at Cass?
I chose it for two reasons. Firstly, I’ve always been interested in business and there’s always been an entrepreneurial spirit inside me. Even as a teenager in Kazakhstan I used to import fingerboards from Moscow and then sell them in my school.
Secondly, I’d always wanted to study abroad and as my sister was already studying in London it was an obvious choice.
Initially I was planning to apply for an economics degree. However, after doing a year-long foundation course, I found it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. What I liked about the management course however, is that it combined both a creative side, through marketing and advertising, and an analytical side through finance with operations.
After researching a variety of schools, I felt I fit with Cass the most. It was more entrepreneurial as well as being a top performer – it was a no brainer really.
How has Cass helped you develop as an entrepreneur?
I had two compulsory courses per year with six optional modules. This allowed me to study a wide range of fields from finance and marketing to operations. I even studied programming for a while.
Being the sole founder of my company means that I had to wear a lot of different hats and really use a wide variety of skills. The diverse education at Cass has enabled me to forge my own path without seeking outside help.