Monthly Archives: February 2011

Idea for promoting a coworking space : “Define the person/business you want to attract”

Jeannine Van der Linden runs Kamer52, a coworking space located in Oosterhout, in The Netherlands.

A few days ago, on the Coworking Google Group, Mike Nguyen, from New Haven, was looking for some inspiration to promote is coworking space. Among others, Jeaninne gave a very insightful answer we are happy to share on this blog. Here it is :

I don’t know how it is Stateside these days but in the
Netherlands it seems that half the nation is a coach —  somebody made a joke in my presence last week that coach is just another word for unemployed.  So the competition is fierce.

I happen to know a coach, he really is a coach.  His name is Roland Wijnen.  He just put up a page on his website called “About You”. Right next to the tab for “About me” which everybody has.  And on that
page he describes his client.  Here’s the webpage:

I thought it was a great idea, and nicely done.  I also think something like this could help your space very much, both online and offline.  Define the person/business you want to attract, define what
makes you different, and hammer that.

Be inviting to those people. People need to hear something seven times on average before they remember it.  When they hear coworking in your area they probably do think about the other space and figure you are more or less like
that.  So your best move is to talk about the ways in which you are not like that while talking about what you actually are […]

[…] There is a parable about shoe stores in Dutch, which amounts to this: one shoe store in a town cannot make any money.  Two shoe stores in a town can do well.  With three shoe stores, people start coming to your town from other towns to buy shoes and everybody is making money.

In my experience this is profoundly true, and if the shoe stores can work together at all, the effect is multiplied.



Citizen Space (R.I.P.) : is there a life cycle for coworking spaces ?

“Two things: 1) Citizen Space’s lease is up for renewal. 2) We’ve been operating at about 50% capacity for several months now.

If we could fill all our desks this week, we’d have the resources to continue with a month-to-month lease. But as it stands right now, a difficult decision is upon us. We have, of course, batted around many, many options for moving forward…”

That’s how, last week, the Citizen Space in San Francisco announced the likely end of one of the coworking movement’s pionneer…

In 2005, when no one had ever heard of the existence of shared spaces for entrepreneurs and freelances, Citizen Space (with others) coined the term coworking and developped this brand new approach.

“When you put interesting people in the same place, usually, interesting things happen”, resonated as the value proposition of coworking.

Since then, hundreds of coworking spaces have germinated all over the world. Often, Citizen Space was mentioned as a reference model.

Belgium, for instance, was no exception.

In may 2009, during a trip to SF, we were invited by an acquaintance, Candide Kemmler, to visit a very exciting place where freelances and startup could get in touch with the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. Arriving from Brussels, I remember the first impression I got while entering the space : “Hey,how can they stay all day in this windowless warehouse ?” Then we had the lunch with some of the members who told us how good it was to be part of such an energetic community. I’m not sure we mentioned the term coworking, then.

Back to Europe, we kept in mind this experience. When The Hub opened,
a few months later, we started to enjoy the reality of coworking. We
could say : we have this space now in Brussels. Look what they
achieved with the Citizen Space in San Francisco, the Walhalla of

Some 20 months later, six coworking spaces have opened in Belgium. As many
are incubating. The same story is heard in Germany, France and other European countries. Citizen Space inspired people in Brazil or China, as well.

Citizen space is not the only coworking model we can find in the
community. But it’s a symbol. And the end of a symbol is never a good news, even for a booming community such as the coworking community today. It raises question about what failed… and what can this experience can teach us about how to run a coworking space on the longer run.

The Coworking community is certainly self supporting, today (even Google is trying out some kind of coworking, now). However, we are looking forward to learn more from the Citizen Space’ experience.

Should we take into account a new dimension while building up a coworking project : the life cycle of a coworking space ?

Jean-Yves Huwart
Coworking Europe 2010 conference

Pay a visit to Sektor5, coworking in Vienna

Jelly in Prague, during the European Jelly week