Fulltime HEL: Episode 16 - HUB13
The past couple of months have changed my needs. Going to Swedish class every day means I don’t need a coworking space to write or record from. I’m still writing and recording, but my focus isn’t on making a living out of them. Not that I don’t want to, but I’m required to go to class. And for now the kitchen table is enough for me.
That doesn’t mean this podcast isn’t still concerned with coworking spaces. And while I may be unique in my refocusing on my Swedish lessons others don’t have that to dissuade them from going to a co-working spot. What does dissuade people is probably pants. Having to wear pants is a burden that public places or at least the weather imposes on you in Finland. Though this week’s guest may not phrase it that way.
It’s hard to get over free. And nothing is more free and freeing than sitting at home… without pants Or it’s supposed to be. But as I’ve mentioned before, if I’m home then I feel the pressure to accomplish chores. And who wants work to be a chore.
Running a co-working space is work though, and sometimes that includes chores, or at least marketing and running events. But before that…
Welcome to episode 16 of Fulltime HEL, the podcast about startups, entrepreneurs, freelancers and co-working spaces in Helsinki, Finland. I’m your host Gregory Pellechi.
On this episode, HUB 13, Helsinki’s chief co-working company.
Helsinki is an interesting city to try an operate a co-working space in, and one that’s supposed to make money. For one, there’s Mushrooming, which freely connects those looking to share a space. More on that can be found in episode 3 of Fulltime HEL. The city libraries offer plenty of free space and in most neighborhoods too. Then there’s Startup Sauna providing more free space. On top of it all the city provides free Wifi, so come summer you can just work from a park.
To tell me why one should use a co-working space, or more correctly his space, I spoke with Ola Sundell of HUB13.
The environment of any work space, whether it’s at home, in a library or an office is undoubtedly important. Isn’t that why so much is invested by Startups in creating not just a culture that promotes new ideas and work but a space that facilitates the same. The problem there is what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another.
The author Jonathan Frazen reportedly dons two pains of ear plugs and works in a silent office. I could never do that. For one it would be boring. Two, I need some stimulation, at least some mild background noise. Birds chirping, traffic driving by or music, even the TV helps me work. What doesn’t help, the cat. Hell I’m pretty sure you can hear him in the background of most episodes.
No you don’t get a prize for identifying which. Because all you’re doing is highlighting my failures.
Failure is an interesting thing for startups, because it’s more often than not just a signal to pivot or reorganize. But running a co-working space it’s not so much about pivoting but adjusting, because the business is still going to be the same. It’s about space.
You’re probably asking yourself, “How do you scale a business that’s set in a predefined space?” Or for that matter how do you do something different when Helsinki already offers so much free space?
Occupying two floors of a building conveniently located downtown and right next to the university library, HUB13 has certainly started large. They also have a second space in conjunction with Yle the state broadcaster in the Pasila area of Helsinki. And a new competitor recently opened called Mothership of Work, which is in downtown as well.
HUB13 from my couple of experiences attending events or conducting interviews does strike a good balance for an office space. There are plenty of public areas that are conducive to interaction and creating a culture or hosting events. While also private offices and meeting rooms for those times that you need some distance. Which more often than not a lot of the free offerings in Helsinki can’t provide.
The kitchen table may be ideal for some, or simply enough for others. But when you think about it, living in a city, confined to apartments means people don’t have the space to tinker, explore or engineer new ideas like they may in a garage or the shed. Space is at a premium in Helsinki, and so seeking larger more open surroundings or ones more conducive to work makes sense. Just don’t expect anyone to start commuting to their summer cabins. Those are strictly no-work zones.
And if Ola is correct, and co-working spaces are recession proof then with all the cuts to universities and other industries happening in Finland, HUB13’s business is likely to boom. And maybe it already has.
Who knows, maybe in the future I’ll be recording and editing these podcasts from HUB13 or one of its competitors. But until then, I’m just going to stick to my kitchen table, the cat, and the chance to remind you that I may not be wearing pants.
With that lovely thought in your head, stay tuned for more Fulltime HEL. On the next episode, Demos Helsinki, a think tank turning thought into action.
Fulltime HEL was produced by me, Gregory Pellechi. Music for the show is courtesy of Chris Zabriskie.