Who are you?
My name’s Vijay Kannan, I’m an undergraduate Marketing & Management student at the University of Leeds, spending a Year in Industry working at General Electric Healthcare in the global marketing team.
Having been a professional cricketer back in India, where I’m from, and having read a bit about places like England and Australia, I’d always wanted to experience studying and living in new environments. I was excited to move to the South of England for a year, and London’s been brilliant.
How did you come to live at The Collective Old Oak?
I stumbled across The Collective website whilst looking at properties, houses and flat shares in London. The way The Collective positioned its places was appealing- particularly to the marketer in me. The Collective Old Oak really attracted me – the facilities and everything that’s included – you don’t even need to step out the building to get so much!
When I was looking for places with a larger group living there, The Collective was consistently popping up.
I never even came for a tour as I was based in Leeds, but I’m so happy about the way it turned out! I booked my room 10 days before moving in and the sales process was easy and quick.
How is The Collective as an entry point to London?
I think it’s the best way to experience London, first timer or seasoned Londoner!
In a metropolis, it’s easy to feel isolated and lonely, going to things on your own if you don’t know anyone initially. But here you step right into a community, where everyone is keen to make friends and share the experience of living in this city together.
I live in an ensuite room (twodio) with another, so straight away I had someone to interact with. In the communal spaces like the kitchens, everything is designed to meet people easily.
Coming to London on your own can be intimidating if you don’t know anyone but here you have a safe environment where you can meet some interesting people and friends. The events here are fantastic - you can just pop into the lobby for instance and it’s always buzzing. I love that accessibility; all the experiences are brought to your doorstep.
What was it like meeting your neighbour?
He’s an American entrepreneur, so it was interesting to meet someone from that part of the world. The Collective community team use a matching system to match people based on interests and other preferences, rather than a random selection, which helps. I met people on my floor too pretty much right away.
Had you heard of co-living before?
I’ve heard of ones in Manhattan and San Francisco, but none here in England. It shows this is away from the norm- The Collective doesn’t need to try too hard to be different, the product sells itself!
Do you think co-living is something that would appeal to a lot of people?
Definitely! Culturally, my guess is something about Britishness doesn’t translate to knowing neighbours in quite the same way as somewhere like America (Lewis: In fact, our head community manager Ed wrote about this not too long ago), but I think that’s changing. It’s a great chance for locals, and internationals as well, looking to be know each other in a casual environment. If this could be scaled up in London and other cities in the world, it would be a great solution.
How would you describe the community at The Collective Old Oak?
It’s such a diverse set of backgrounds, during my first week I met entrepreneurs, people who’d switched from corporate jobs, dropped out of uni and started their own ventures, or are in uni and are working like me. Whatever I was looking for, there’s someone who’s doing it. The different cultures as well, this Saturday there’s a Japanese pot luck and it’s amazing for mingling and getting to know people. It’s an intelligent and fun-loving community, everyone who comes here buys into the concept and they get the fact that it is about sharing and understanding each other too.
You talked a little bit about events, what have you been to?
I regularly attend Friday BBQs and drinks by the canal, Chance Encounter comes along every now & again with potential new members being invited. There are movie nights, a TV show every Monday (it’s Billions right now), HIIT sessions, and talks from Leaders + Disrupters which are all great fun.
Do you find you use the spaces if you’re working in the week?
I do use most of the spaces and the fact that I work works to my advantage as I can pop in whenever I want. Being able to use the library and work late into the night if needed, or a spa/sauna to relax at end of the day is handy. It’s nice to have access to these facilities 24/7 without the travel. Also, as I don’t have time to organise my home the way I’d like to, it’s good to have the cleaning done and sheets changed fortnightly when you come home, leaving time for socialising or work.
What’s your favourite space?
The Roof Terrace during sunsets is a great spot. I use it to Skype with mates or catch up for a drink if the sun’s out. The Canal is a lovely spot for community events. The Secret Garden is a neat space too, Sofar Sounds did a gig there recently and it was the perfect spot.
What’s great about London?
It’s cosmopolitan nature- being a massively important city globally, you experience so many cultures in just one day- and when coupled with the rich history and traditions of the place it’s a dream combination.
What are your plans after graduating?
I’m keen on working for a creative company or marketing agency, particularly in service industries like sports and hospitality. I’d also love to experience working and living somewhere like Australia, and explore those countries. The Collective’s great for that- when you’re immersed in your field of work, there’s a danger of stagnating mentally. I’m not an entrepreneur but I’m fascinated by their stories and perspectives. Here I have access to their lifestyle and thought process and I’ve networked with people who have done some amazing things in my field as well. I wouldn’t have had that opportunity anywhere else.
You get a fresh perspective and an outsider’s idea of what you do. Having that stimulus through those interesting conversations, those sparks of ideas stop you from thinking the same thoughts and doing the same things, and actually helps you grow and hopefully improve!