We have come to the next story about other coworking spaces that you can visit and be a part of for a longer or shorter period. This one is told by Iva Kosović and is about a new initiative in Zadar in Croatia. I met Iva during a coworking tour in Lisbon. We quickly got into a conversation about COIN, which is the project she's passionate about. Iva is a member of the project team who's task is to successfully implement the project and to ensure further development of the Zadar coworking community even after the project ends.
Q: Tell me about the coworking space you are creating – when/how did it all begin?
A: From January 2012 until June 2013, the Association of Trades and Crafts Zadar, in partnership with 12 European organisations, has implemented an EU project called Coworking under the Leonardo da Vinci programme. The aim of the project was to produce a comprehensive toolkit of documents/means to serve as propellants for all European contexts considering the coworking option. As one of the partners, ATC Zadar gained appropriate insight and perspective of the coworking concept and implemented many different activities in cooperation with European, national, and regional partners in order to promote it and empower the coworking initiative at a regional level. At that point, the new local partnership started to build, and project partners were included in a new EU project conceptualization. On 14 July 2014, a grant contract was signed, and the project "Coworking Zadar – Innovation through Collaboration" has begun. The project will enable us to create a new coworking space in 2015.
Q: Why are you creating a coworking space – what do you expect to get out of it?
A: The main objectives of the project are to increase the competitiveness of the micro SME-s and create jobs through self-employment. The project intends to assist and support the development and expansion of the micro enterprises into the small-sized enterprise category. These things will be done by offering lower costs related to infrastructure and other support services (such as education and social events) that would help with their financial sustainability.
Q: What is your main value proposition (i.e. why is your space awesome)?
A: The coworking space will be called COIN – coworking industries. It will be a place tailored to its users' needs. Also, we could say that our extra plus is our city's geographical location. Considering the direction Zadar tourism is headed in and the fact that COIN will be the first coworking space in the Croatian part of the Adriatic Coast, we are planning to become a ''base'' for everyone coming to town who is in need of a space in which to (net)work.
Q: Who is your primary user?
A: Our target groups are micro enterprises (existing and potential micro enterprises providing intellectual services, job seekers, freelancers, etc.), the local coworking community, coworking space hosts, SME support providers, and European coworking champions (subjects championing a coworking cause – initiators, developers, promoters, providers). Our final beneficiaries are resident and non-resident micro enterprises, business travellers, the global coworking community, the local community, project partners, and business incubators.
Q: How is the space different from other coworking spaces?
A: Our biggest difference is more technical and relates to the very beginning of the founding of the space. Since the "Coworking Zadar" project team consists of people from partner institutions (the City of Zadar, the Association of Crafts and Trades, the Development Agency of Zadar County, Zadar County, and the Croatian Chamber of Economy), what could be the difference from other (mostly private) coworking spaces (especially whose owners we've met in Lisbon) is our institutional background. However, this is not a bad situation. In fact, so far we have experienced more advantages than disadvantages from this "difference."
Q: In your mind, what is your biggest challenge?
A: In Croatia, there are only a few coworking spaces (in the capital, Zagreb and Osijek), but lately, coworking initiatives all across the country have arisen. Informing and raising awareness about the coworking concept is one of our biggest challenges. In that sense, we maintain a high level of communication with our experienced "coworking colleagues," and we have included them in various activities foreseen in the project.
Q: What's your take on a solution (if you have one)?
A: Since the beginning of the project in June 2014, we have had many different events (jelly, coworking breakfast, and education) in order to spread the word about the project, to get close to our potential users, and to create our coworking community. In a few days, we plan to visit coworking spaces in Zagreb and Osijek with our future hosts and users so they too can see directly what coworking is all about.
Q: Where do you see your space in 5 - 10 years?
A: We are doing our best to make COIN "The place" for networking in Zadar, enabling all freelancers, entrepreneurs, tourists, and other users to come and work (or have have a meeting or a conversation). Also, our goal is for COIN to be a space that will be self-sustainable through memberships and sponsorships. EU project ''Coworking Zadar'' ends with the end of 2015, but, nevertheless, we are hoping COIN will become an important and unavoidable dot on the Europe coworking map in the future.
Q: Bonus: How do you envision coworking (in Croatia) in 10 - 20 years?
A: We envision COIN becoming the central place for fostering SMEs in the region and a meeting place of different professions and creative persons.
Thanks Iva – next stop Croatia :-)!