Category Archives: Ecosystem

Takeways from the Austin Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) – A view from Europe

Early march, I had the chance to attend the Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC 2012) in Austin. It was my second Coworking conference in the capital city of Texas.

Just as with the Coworking Europe conference last year in Berlin, this year’s US conference, wonderfully organised by Liz Elam (Link Coworking), more than doubled in size.

This is one clue, among others, of the strong rise of the coworking tide on both sides of the Atlantic.

Before flying to Austin, I made a stop in New York City and in Philadelphia, where I  had the chance to visit a number of spaces included the legendary IndyHall (masterminded by Alex).

I came back with a strengthened conviction that coworking is in a early childhood and that the adult age seems always more promissing.

My vision of the coworking physiology has evolved a little bit, though. Here are some noticeable facts from the conference and my trip to the US, I come back with :

1. A clear coming expansion of the US Coworking scene

A big portion of the attending crowd made the journey to Austin with plans to open up coworking space in the coming months. This means that on top of the 500+ coworking spaces already up and running in the US, hundreds more are  incubating and should come in the daylight in the coming months.

Besides, we won’t forget that one big  third of existing coworking spaces consider to open a second location  (cfr Deskmag). This put the expected number of coworking spaces to open their doors soon even higher.

2.  Bigger independent players are entering the coworking game

Coworking brands are emerging. Already established names, such as NextSpace, WeWork or others are growing in visibility. Meanwhile, new players  have entered the playing field . They don’t hide their ambition to build networks of coworking spaces on a national level, neither. They are ready to invest what is needed to achieve this goal. 

Grind is an interesting example, on that regard. The coworking space company, which started out with a location on Park Avenue, in New York City, plans to open other spaces in the US. In Austin, Grind invested in Coworking tent (picture) just in front of the Convention Center during the SXSW Interactive conference. SXSW is likely the biggest annual gathering in the world of the hyper-networked entrepreneurs’ generation. Taken into account the price of a piece of land, so closed from the conference’s heart, we may assume that Grind’s expansion plans are proportionally as high.

To me, it’s a good news for the coworking scene. With a rising professionalism, size and ambition, coworking will receive a greater respect from traditional players (corporations, banks, urban planners, …). This is good for the “cause”…

3. The real estate industry don’t get it yet

At GCUC 2012, I was requested to moderate the panel on Coworking and Real Estate. Having good relationships with landlords is critical for coworking space owners, as we discussed with the other panelists. However, the real estate people are still far from understanding the earthquake coworking and other flexible office models could become for their regular business.

Brian McMahon, from YourOffice Agent (a Los Angeles based advisory firm), asked how many people in the GCUC audience were real estate brokers. No one in the room raised his/her hand. “That’s a shame for the real estate industry”, rightly stated Brian, who claims that coworking is the natural future of the office real estate business, as companies will operate on a always more decentralised way, digitally and physically.

I’m almost sure the same question in Europe wouldn’t have raised more hands.

4. The liability of using the Coworking word in an unproper way

Most of us (people active in the coworking field) experience the growing opportunistic usage of the term “coworking” by traditional operators in the office, shared office, business centers or executive suites business. This is blurring the lines for users who may understand coworking just as  facility provision, whereas, as we agree, the coworking offering is not about desks and chairs but it’s about a human experience, connections with others, care and services.

This is a big challenge, both in Europe and in the US.

However, one of the my takeaway from NYC and Austin is that, maybe, the time has come for a broader, more open understanding of the coworking “community” experience.

Yes, some “business centers” like platforms, although not offering open spaces or hot desking for their members (no, not really), work on and support the development of a real community feeling between their tenants.

I had a very interesting discussion with Ray Lindenberg, on that regard, the “community manager” (a.o.) of Select Office, in New York. At Select Office, I saw  people “high-fiving” with one another. I saw 60+ year old executives in suit and with a tie around the neck working next to 20 something startups owners  wearing jeans and sneakers. Ray and his team have created a trans-generational and trans-style platform. Though, yes, the space, operating since the early 90’s, is mostly made out of private offices…

So, as we experience in Europe, coworking is diverse. Maybe even more than we think. Our vision could be too narrow, so far. But that’s what is fascinating with such a strong, walls breaking, still very young movement. My feeling is that we don’t know yet where the boundaries are and where the coworking experience will carry us to.

5. We can shake Europe and build local ecosystems using a network of coworking spaces, just as in NYC

The new breed of startup entrepreneurs and innovators is giving New York’s economy a boost. The Silicon Alley is getting closer in comparison with the West Coast’s Silicon Valley. As we discussed with Tony Bacigalupo, from New Work City, the NYC tech startup boom fuels the fast expansion of the coworking spaces offering there. All the coworking spaces I have seen in the Big Apple are almost full. Some have put waiting lists in place… Coworking spaces and associated concepts – such as General Assembly, which is a mix of a coworking space and of an incubator, planning an extension soon – are partly supporting, physically, this growing ecosystem.

The question is to see if all these new open, flexible, community driven facilities for nomad, freelance workers, innovators, intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs will support the connection between non-tech profiles…

Based on what I have seen at Grind, WeWork, New Work City, IndyHall, LooseCubes, Select Office +  Link Coworking or Conjonctured, in Texas,  in my opinion, there is no doubt about that.

So, the lesson from my European perspective is that coworking spaces can work as pillars to support the development of local innovative/entrepreneurial ecosystems, both in tech and non-tech areas.

So, just as most of our European countries try to figure out which magic trick can eventually unlock Europe’s entrepreneurial and innovation potential, authorities and business people on this side of the Atlantic should carefully and seriously consider what already exist on the European coworking scene and learn from the North-American experience how to push the dynamic forward.

Jean-Yves Huwart, Coworking Europe conference organiser and Global Enterprise founder


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.


38 cities (from 14 different countries) are taking part in the European Jelly Week

Almost 40 cities, from 14 different countries, so far, are taking part in the first European Jelly Week (updated figures).

A message from Anni Roolfs, from Coworking Wuppertal, initiator of the first European Jelly week :

Hi Coworkers all over Europe,

Let’s push the coworking spirit in 2011. In your city. In your
country. On an international level.
We start with the First European Jelly Week from 17.-23.1. Look at
the Google Map and Etherpad who is *already participating:*…

— Vienna: Hub Vienna
— Namur: AWT Building
— Brussels 1: The Hub
— Brussels 2: BetaGroup Coworking. Signup here:
— Louvain-La-Neuve near Brussels: Alternative Business Center
— Anwerp: BurooZ
— Turnhout
— Prague: TheWorks Jelly
— London: The Cube
— Telford: Enterprise HQ
— Ironbridge: Shropshire Jelly
— Paris: coworking for social entrepreneurs and social business activist
— Paris : Soleilles cowork;
— Paris : freestyle jelly (mobilité – nouvelle orga du travail – consommation collaborative) – vendredi 21 14h lieu à confirmer. for more info
— Dijon: Les Docks Numériques
— Lille: CoworkingLille
— Haguenau (67): GreenIvory, the whole team is welcoming you on the 18th.
— Strasbourg (67): CPPlex, 17 rue des magasins 67000 Strasbourg. Catch Yann for more details.
— Nice
— Wuppertal: Coworking Wuppertal @ Rakete:
— Münster: produktivhaus
— Köln: Gasmotorenfabrik
— Stuttgart: Coworking0711
— Dresden: LockSchuppen/ CoWorking Dresden e.V.
[could be in a museum, or elsewhere] (RalfLippold)
— Leipzig: Le Space
— Berlin: Yorck52 – Coworking-Space und veganes Bio-Café
— Berlin: Studio70 –
— Dortmund – Coworking Dortmund
— Düsseldorf: Coworking Space GarageBilk
— Darmstadt: COWO 21
— Athens: Jelly Greece feat. Colab Workspace
— Dublin: AMWorks Dublin
— Cowo Milano/Lambrate –
— Vilnius: Hub Vilnius Coworking
— The Hague: Nomadz Coworking
— Madrid: utopic_US. Usina de Transformación Creativa –
— Madrid: Working Space Madrid
— Tokyo : Pax Coworking
Not yet in the Google Map, but willing to participate. Please sign also up
in the google map and put the name of your place and country on this list:
M O R E   I N F O R M A T I O N S

about the jelly week and the participants:!/event.php?eid=179549945394185!/home.php?sk=group_113509915379940&ap=1
Anni Roolf
Are there any other places and communities *jumping on in the last
minute?* Participating is simple: Put your place, date and program
into Google Map and Etherpad.

Everybody is invited to come to all of the events! Let’s explore the
european coworking community! And let’s push your local coworking
community at the same time!

*What will happen during the jelly week? *There are places who are
organizing a one day or a even a one week event. Some places are
also creating a program with speeches, workshops and coworking
dinners. If you have ideas to connect the participating locations in
Europe, put them also in the Etherpad!

Best wishes, Anni

PS: This idea was born on the First European Coworking Conference in
November in Brussels. It’s only a first step to create a strong
international network …

Take part in the first European Jelly week (January 17-23th)

Anni Roolf from Wuppertal is initiating the first European Jelly week in the third week of January 2011. It’s a great idea. So far, three spots have been put on the map. Sure, there will be many more !

What about you ? Will you take part in this kind of big Jelly/coworking European “flashmob” like ?

Here is what Anni tells about it :

Everybody is invited to start a jelly at his place in this week
and to invite coworkers from all over Europe. Let’s take action to push local coworking initiatives and the european coworking community!

Jelly is a casual working event. People are coming together (in a person’s home, a coffee shop, or an office) to work for the day. Bring a laptop (or whatever you need to get your work done) and a friendly disposition.

The event’s Facebook point is here.

And don’t forget  to spot your Jelly on the European Jelly week’s map
COWORKING EUROPE 2011 // Jelly Week 17.-23.1. all over Europe auf einer größeren Karte anzeigen

Two simple ways to build the community in a coworking space : ask and promote !

Nice post published on the global coworking blog :

Coworking is not just about freelancers sharing desks, chairs, and wi-fi. It’s about connections, interactions, conversations, collaborations. In a word, coworking is about community. Independents working together is a testament to how coworking both fosters and sustains community. And you can help build community by doing two simple things: ask and promote.

1. Ask
Believe it or not, if you ask someone for help in a way that’s respectful of their time and knowledge, you’ll probably make their day! What better way to build community than recognizing the awesomeness in others? […]

2. Promote

[…] We’re not talkin’ about smarmy self-promotion. Oh no. We’re talking about promoting others. As you grow your own business, you can contribute to your coworking community by helping to promote others—in small and big ways. […]

Read the all post here