Ep 40: William Stokes

Creating Co-space, the shared workplace for businesses, with William Stokes

Joint Founder and CEO of Co-Space, William Stokes, left an 8-year career in chemical and construction engineering to get into property development.

In just five years in the property sector, William has gone from commercial-to-residential development to creating coworking spaces built around functionality and design.

William joins me in this episode and shares:

  • Why he went straight into commercial-to-residential property development at the beginning
  • His original business plan and how he adapted it over time
  • A key lesson he has learned in the last few years

In this episode we discuss:

00:44               Introduction to William Stokes

02:08               How William got into commercial-to-residential property development

05:24               William on meeting his business partner, Alistair

06:39               William talks about the original business plan he mapped out and how it’s changed

08:57               Building a site in Reading that’s ten times bigger than the Lincoln site

12:28               William talks about fit-out works for the Reading site

  • Office fit-out works vs apartment fit-out works [13:21]
  • What design team is William using for the Reading fit-out? [13:50]
  • How William chooses a design team for fit-out works [14:31]
  • Reasons why a quote might be high [15:30]

17:21              Talking about the business model: How William approaches funding

  • Where does the backend valuation come from? [21:22]

23:11               William shares key lesson he has learned in the last few years

26:42               William talks about having difficulties with reading and how audiobooks transformed his life

29:08               How William maintains focus using his “management journal”

  • “I’m a big believer in time blocking” [30:49]
  • You have to adapt time blocking — William shares hilarious story of when he told his partner, Jess, that she’d have to block it in the diary if she wanted to spend time with him [32:26]

 Quick Juice Questions

33:40   What do you look for in an investment, and why?

“I’m going to attack this from both sides.

The first side is on the deals we typically lease. The most key (requirement) is who’s going to be our landlord because the reality is we’re going to be in bed with that person for the next ten years.

On the buildings that we are looking to buy, it’s all about the area, the deal, the amount it’s going to cost to refurbish it, and what the backend value is going to likely be. But, also, whom can we speak to in that area, whom do we know?”

34:55   Where should someone start if they are new to property?

“If I were starting day one again with nothing, I would do two things.

The first thing is I would find somebody who’s already experienced and see what I could bring to the table. […] So, what does that person need? Is there a gap that I could fill?

The second thing is, […] I’d probably look at HMOs or flips.”

38:37   What most inspires you? When and where are you most inspired?

“From a business point of view, the thing that inspires me is the fact that we are trying to change that people work. We are trying to bring the London vibe to a regional location.

There’s certain people that inspire me — Elon Musk [39:22], Nikola Tesla.

40:01   Which book has inspired you and changed your thinking the most?

“One of my all-time favourite books is called The Upstarts. It’s all about the early days of Uber, Airbnb, … When you start to realise all the things these guys were doing in the background, it was crazy.”

41:37   If there’s one last bit of Executive Juice you can share for people who want to get to the top of their property game, what would it be?

“Always have a vision. And always bring yourself back to the vision.”


  • A lot of what we do when we go into a location is we meet with the council and we go, “Where’s your area of regeneration?”
  • “You’ve got to get (A) a lot of uplift and (B) be pretty secure in terms of the covenant and what you think you can get on the backend valuation .”
  • It’s easier to get out of an asset you own than an asset you lease.

On having difficulty reading

  • “I always felt like I was behind because I can’t read to save my life. I try and read every night, and I read so slow. It was about 2014 when I actually started to get into audiobooks. I started to realise that, actually, I’m not terrible at learning. I’m terrible at reading and taking it in, but listening to audible books in the car, I’m great at. […] And in 2016, I did over a hundred books in a year.”


  • “The problems you’re having, somebody else has already had them. All you need to do is figure out who those people are, get advice from them.”

Connect with William Stokes

Books mentioned

Resources Mentioned

For more information on books talked about and other links go to the executivejuice.com website and feel free to contact us at info@executivejuice.com with any feedback you may have!