May 30th 2017

How a start-up seed accelerator outgrew two dedicated desks at The POD and took up private office space at OCFI.

Kenda is based at Oxford Centre for Innovation (OCFI) located in the heart of the city centre. The company is a start-up seed accelerator and is in the process of developing its own apps, soon to be available from iTunes, as well as offering finance to help others with new and innovative ideas.

Oliver El Zein, General Manager of Kenda explains how two men in a living room, and a business idea have quickly transformed to become a growing technology company about to launch apps on the Apple App Store.

Facebook found our home

Kenda started with a few ideas and became a business in July 2016 with two of us working from our living rooms. We soon realised that an office was needed in the centre of Oxford. The location was an important factor for us personally as well as professionally.

We began the search for an office and quickly discovered that finding one in the city centre was going to be a tougher challenge than we had first thought. I first discovered the POD, located within Oxford Centre For Innovation (OCFI) via a Facebook ad and became one of the first people to sign-up for two dedicated workspaces within a shared office. We moved in during September 2016.

The POD is ideal for start-ups or people who are self-employed as it provides a unique opportunity to have a dedicated desk with office services, or people can just use it as a drop-in workspace. We initially signed up to two desks, as we felt by the time we got a third employee, we would likely require a new office. We continued to work with freelance developers in China and India and I’m pleased to say we are now in the position of being able to recruit for a fourth team member, a back-end developer. This means we have outgrown the POD!

After our last experience, I tentatively began a search for an office elsewhere in Oxford before space became available at OCFI and found that the office search was proving much more difficult than initially expected. Fortunately, private office space became available at OCFI so we haven’t needed to move premises and have now taken our own office within the centre.

If space hadn’t become available, our back-up plan was another Oxford Innovation managed centre, One St. Aldates. We always hoped that we would be able to stay within the Oxford Innovation family, not only because the quality of office and support, but also because we have built a brilliant relationship with Centre Director, Margaret Hewitt, and her team.

"The POD is ideal for start-ups or people who are self-employed as it provides a unique opportunity to have a dedicated desk with office services, or people can just use it as a drop-in workspace."

Oliver El Zein - General Manager, Kenda

From POD to the App Store

Our initial move to The POD was our first step in developing Kenda as a business and allowed us to recruit our first employee.

I’m excited to say that we now have three apps in development. The first is RVU, a review based app, that allows people to instantly share their thoughts and images of a restaurant, café or bar. The app already launched on the App Store, although we are currently ironing out a few technical issues for the next version. Other apps in development include ‘MyWealthMAP’ which aims at getting users great shopping deals on the high street and ‘CostCloud’, a sharing community that will enable users to unlock discounts.

The development of these apps is a priority for the business and is the main reason we are now recruiting for a back-end developer. We can’t wait to welcome our fourth team member to our private office within OCFI, as they will play a significant role in helping to drive our apps forward.

Seeding Growth

In addition to our own apps, Kenda is also about helping fellow innovators. We know how difficult it is to get developments off the ground and we would like to take away some of headaches by offering finance and an incubator service. People don’t need a whistle and bells business plan, the idea and a demo should be enough.

We hope to hear from other innovators in Oxford soon and couldn’t think of a better place to be based than OCFI.

January 28th 2020



October 15th 2019

My interview with Vitaccess Founder & CEO Dr Mark Larkin

Vitaccess have been based here at Oxford Centre for Innovation (OCFI) for nearly two years and, during that time, have seen steep growth. Read on and meet Vitaccess’ CEO and founder, Dr Mark Larkin.

April 17th 2018

Head-to-head with Clare Lerway at Consultant Connect

Consultant Connect, a second-floor resident of OCFI, has developed a business idea that is dramatically reducing NHS costs. We spoke to Clare Lerway, Account Manager, to find out more…