COIN will become an important and unavoidable dot on the Europe coworking map

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 :-)! 

Mutinerie: sharing values is the most important part

Coworking as a concept is only 10 years old. This post is one in a series of posts where I interview people I have met. They belong to coworking spaces in Denmark as well as in the rest of Europe and the world. Hopefully, the series will teach us something about the coworking movement. 

The first interview is with William Van Den Broek. I got in touch with William via Morgane Parma, whom I met when I participated in the Coworking Europe Conference 2014 in Lisbon. Morgane is a visual communication designer and a member of Mutinerie. William is the cofounder of Mutinerie in Paris. Here are his answers:

A: What is Mutinerie? 

Q: Mutinerie is a community of independent workers: entrepreneurs, start-ups, and freelancers based in Paris. The headquarters of Mutinerie is a coworking space of 400 square meters in the northeast of the city. We have about 200 active members. Some of them work nearly every day from the place, and others come only a few days per month. Mutinerie hosts and organises events, workshops, and celebrations. Mutinerie has various goals and no limits!

Q: When/how did it all begin? 

A: Mutinerie was initiated by three brothers and a playground friend who decided, one day in September 2010, to gather independent workers in a place where it would be nice to work, think, and live. After four months of hard work, Mutinerie opened its doors in early March 2012.

Q: What is a ‘Mutin’? 

A: A mutin means a mutineer. A mutin is a member of our community—a guy or a girl who decided, one fine day, to become self-employed and chose what he or she wanted to do with his or her life. He or she is a developer, designer, architect, journalist, translator, consultant, artist, or whatever he or she wants to be. Mutinerie is glad to have a huge diversity of skills. Sharing values is the most important part. Being able to share common goods with others and to trust and respect fellow coworkers is key to building a micro-society in which good things can bloom.


Q. How is Mutinerie different from other coworking spaces? 

A: We don't try so hard to be different; we just try to be good! The first thing was to find good people and to work hard to deliver a good quality of service. At the same time, we have high expectations of what is a community of coworkers. Coworkers are not in Mutinerie to show off or promote their stuff. There is an authentic atmosphere with authentic people who are able to trust each other. We managed to find a good balance between core coworkers, others who come here more rarely, and travellers. Doing so, Mutinerie remains an open community with strong relations between members. At Mutinerie, you will always have someone to welcome you and explain how things work in the community. The result is that ideas and relationships can grow strong quickly. 

Q: What is Coworking Rural (Mutinerie Village)? 

A: It is a coworking/co-living space lost in the middle of Le Perche, a French region located 140 km west of Paris. The farmhouse stands alone in a little valley surrounded by forests, grasslands, and a little river. As many coworkers can often work remotely, we thought it could be nice to offer a place where you can mix work and nature! The Village was born last summer after a major renovation of the old farmhouse. It includes a hostel, a coworking space, a maker space, and a permacultural kitchen garden.

Q: How are the rural and urban locations of Mutinerie connected? 

A: Mutinerie Village is a kind of countryside house for our coworkers and for the freelancers of Paris. Our little maker space in the Village creates another reason for you to go to our urban Mutinerie and craft things you need. We also organise workshops, parties, and celebrations at Mutinerie Village with our community from Paris.

Q: Where will Mutinerie be in 5-10 years? 

A: We have always said that Mutinerie is more a movement than a facility. Our motto means "Free Together" and sums up our main goal: connecting independent people and free minds. In terms of coworking spaces, a new Mutinerie is brewing in the south of Paris, and another space will open in June! If we prove our ability to develop new spaces, we will continue to open spaces in Paris. That said, operating in the heart of a serendipity machine like Mutinerie also means that a lot of unexpected things will cross our path and change it…

Q: Bonus: How do you envision coworking in 10-20 years? 

A: Ten-twenty years is really far away, and considering the rapid changes in our societies, predictions are a bit dangerous! Yet, some figures are still pretty explicit. When Mutinerie was launched three years ago, there were about 1,000 spaces all over the world, and, today, we are reaching 6,000! The number of coworking spaces has nearly doubled every year for the past six years, and we don't really see why the pace would slow down in the coming years.

Some studies have predicted that the number of self-employed people will exceed the number of office employees in a decade or so in most western countries. It is the beginning of a revolution in the ways in which we work and organize societies! Yet, I'm not describing a shining future where everyone is free, wealthy, and happy. Being independent is an exciting but dangerous adventure. Big companies are still able to offer protection, security in terms of revenue, and social interactions. Coworking mitigates the dangers facing a society of self-employed individuals. It enables people to be independent and free without being isolated.

Thank you William and Morgane – #JeSuisCharlie 

Fundraising (#moneystillmatters#)

To ensure the future of the project - the transition from paper work to actual bricks in a house - we initiated the funding of a MZ building concurrently with the research work. Earlier in the process than initially expected business models were to be made in order to consult lawyers and accountants on the economic sustainability of a built MZ. We soon realized that the most important fundament for the process of actually constructing a MZ was the founding of an economic operators association. The role of the association is to hold the ownership of the building as well as being in charge of the rental responsibilities. To establish an economic operators association you need 300.000 non-refundable Danish krones, a set of statutes (including the appointing of directors or board members) and some well described fund purposes. To full-fill these requirements we set out to find some stakeholders or other interested parties - among many in the network of the MZ monitoring group. Due to lack of time in the pilot project we approached professional fundraisers regarding the actual fundraising of the MZ building. Together we outlined a top3priority list of the MZ funding possibilities, appointing the working holiday concept as priority 1, the sustainable and architectonic innovative building as priority 2, and the inter-Scandinavian perspectives and potentials as priority 3. So far a dialogue between Realdania and the MZ project has been initiated.

Sharing the concept

Before shipping off the initial fund applications back in December 2012, we decided to get some authoritative declarations of interest. What kind of institutions could benefit from our project and deliver something in return? We approached Knowledge Center of Coastal Tourism, Vaeksthus Copenhagen, Nordic Surfers and The Municipality of Thisted and they all agreed to get involved on a monitoring level, supporting the project and its purpose. After many months of waiting for the pieces to fall into place, we finally had our first monitoring group session on June 11th. The workshop primarily revolved around a thorough MZ presentation and the topic of the cross-institutional and cross-regional potentials of the project. Some of the data is confidential and will not be posted here, but the overall outcome was a positive consensus on the necessity of exploring the collaboration between Bornholm (Vaeksthus Copenhagen), Varberg (Nordic Surfers), The Municipality of Thisted and the MZ project in Klitmøller (unfortunately Knowledge Center of Coastal Tourism had to cancel).