I met Marcus at the European Coworking Conference 2015 in Milan. His project immediately caught my attention. He was kind of creating what we were creating here in Klitmøller. The main difference is that his space, ALPEAN, is located in Flims Laax in the Swiss Alps, two hours southeast of Zurich. The place was earlier known only to very few outside of Switzerland, but now is quickly climbing the list of favored ski resorts. I'm pleased to present Marcus's story.
Q: What is your story, your background?
A: I grew up in Basel, a lovely town [in the] north of Switzerland. I preferred playing different sports, sleeping through school lessons, and eating during breaks.
After high school, I focused all my energy on martial arts. I wanted to be Bruce Lee. After several bouts of serious lower back pain, I gave up; I turned to skiing. A skiing accident brought me down to earth—at least for a short period. The subsequent rehabilitation developed my interest in physical therapy. I returned to school to become a physiotherapist.
After finishing my degree I worked in different clinics and for the international Scott Downhill team as a physiotherapist. At a certain point, I wanted to settle down and decided to open a rehabilitation clinic in Laax. I also started offering group training. In 2008, I developed and kickstarted the event series, Kick the Vik. It's a 3-day Laax mountain hut happening in the winter.
Q: What came before your decision to create a coworking space?
A: Running my clinic and being the main driving force behind Kick the Vik, I led a rather versatile and busy life. At the time, my flat looked like an office-jungle. I needed a place separate from my home where I could work, meet people, share projects and drink good coffee. In July 2015, I was offered a chance to buy an old restaurant. I did and later renovated the place. I opened the doors to ALPEAN 2nd of January, 2016.
Q: What kind of space have you created?
A: We have 220m2 of office space. It includes a bar with three bookable tables for small groups. We have a lounge, workbenches, and seven ergonomic tables with adjustable height. We also installed a PS4 and beamer for gaming and video sessions. We just installed the electronic locks and therefore offer 24-hour entry.
Q: What's your day-to-day role at the space?
A: I'm the private owner of the place; I rent it to ALPEAN. I'm responsible for the daily operations.
Q: How is the space different from other coworking spaces?
A: The space is 300m away from a top skiing resort. In the summer, it's the best place for mountain biking. There is a bus stop 100m away and a small shop, which is open from 7:00 - 22:00. For city people, it might be not special, but for mountain resorts, it is.
Q: Why should I (definitely) visit your space?
A: Well, if you love being active in nature – especially skiing or mountain biking, if you love spending time and working with likeminded people, ALPEAN is the place for you. The people at my place are helpful and open-minded, and the coffee is (damn) good.
Q: Where do you see your space in five years?
A: It might be different depending on the experience we get in the next few months, so I don't want to say too much now.
Q: Do you have any advice for people who want to create a coworking space?
A: As a greenhorn, I'm still experimenting, but I would say this: Define how you want to handle the noises in your space. That means telling your coworkers they better not do a longer phone call or make facilities that'll make it possible to have long conversations without interrupting others.
Thanks a lot, Marcus. Coworking and skiing most certainly could be our next adventure.