So you’ve got your Next Great Idea for a data science startup that’s going to change the world. There’s a diverse number of paths you could take- incubators, accelerators, hiring a cheap office space- but one option we hear less about is coworking. We recently spoke to William van den Broek, one of the Co-Founders of the Mutinerie coworking spaces in Paris, about why he sees coworking as “the future of work”.
1. Tell us more about you and your company.
Mutinerie is a community of independent workers; entrepreneurs, startupers and freelancers based in Paris. Our headquarters is a coworking space of 400 square meters in the north-east of the city.
We are about 160 active members. Some of those work in our space almost every day, and others only come in a few days per month. Our patrons are developers, designers, architects, journalists, translators, consultants, artists- the list goes on. Mutinerie is glad to have a huge diversity of skills. Sharing values is the most important part. Being able to share commons goals and principles with others, trusting and respoecting each other are the keys to build the micro society in which good things can bloom.
We also host and organizes events, workshops and celebrations. Mutinerie has many goals and no limits!
2. Why do you think coworking spaces have become so popular in recent years?
Because the way we work is changing at a very rapid pace, and coworking spaces represent the future of work.
When Mutinerie started, 3 years ago, there were about 1,000 coworking spaces all over the world. Today, that number is closer to 6,000. The number of coworking spaces has nearly doubled year-on-year for the past six years, and we don’t foresee that slowing down in the coming years.
Some studies have predicted that the number of self-employed will exceed the number of employees in a decade our so for most of western countries. It is the beginning of a revolution in our ways of working and organizing our societies. But 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 and security in terms of revenues and social interactions. Coworking prevents the dangers of a society of self-employed. It enables people to be independent, and free, yet not isolated.
3. What do you think are the main benefits of using coworking spaces over traditional office spaces for new tech startups, and freelance tech professionals?
In most coworking spaces, you’ll have both peers (people sharing similar skills and goals with you) and be around people with complementary profiles. Startups are always seeking skills and talents- they need developers, designers, translators… It’s easy to find freelancers with these skills in the coworking environment. It’s not merely “contact”- it’s seeing how these people work every day, and building trust with them.
Coworking spaces allows startuppers to be very flexible, which is good because you don’t really know if tomorrow, you’ll need to employ three more people or if your project will collapse. Coworking spaces transform fixed costs into variable costs.
4. What differentiates your space from other coworking spaces?
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. But at the same time, we have high expectations on what is a community of coworkers. Coworkers are not in Mutinerie to show off or promote their own stuff. There is an authentic atmosphere, with authentic people who trust each other.
We managed to find a good balance between core coworkers, more infrequent patrons and travelers. Doing so, Mutinerie remains an open community with strong relations between members.
At Mutinerie, you will always have someone welcoming you and explaining how things work within the community. The result is that ideas and relationships can grow quick and strong.
5. Tell us about some of your patrons working in the data science/ tech field.
We had seen coworkers using data to rethink the way we do architecture or the way we organize our cities. I’ve been initiated with Parametric architecture and Smart cities, using our new knowledge of the flows (of people, goods, cars etc.) to optimize everything.
6. You’re organising a hackathon in March; tell us more about that.
Yes, we are organizing our third Hack/make the Bank event the 27th of March (the 10th edition of the Hack the Bank events) Developers, designers and members of the financial services industry will come together for 48 hours of brainstorming and software creation. We are very excited to see what attendees can come up with.
7. Have you previously held any other hackathons? What problems/challenges did they address?
We organized and hosted quite a lot of hackathons. It’s the kind of format in which we believe a lot because it is very action-oriented, it gathers smart people and it focuses on general interest.
You find the people first and projects come latter. That’s the opposite of a normal company where the project comes before the men … And the outcome is high.
After a 3-day hackathon, you can have the basis of one intelligent, open source project able to solve problems. And maybe you’ll meet other people sharing interests and skills with whom you can latter start a long-term collaboration.
8. What’s in store for Mutinerie in 2015?
The opening of another space in the south of Paris! We found another great spot to dwell in, a magnificent 800 square meter building in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. It will open in the beginning of June.
We are already planning a lot of events, formation and celebration in Paris as well as in Mutinerie Village, a rural coworking space with accommodations in the countryside.
You can follow our adventure on Facebook, Twitter and our weekly newsletter. And of course, feel free to visit us in Paris if you need a place to work for a few days.
(Image credit: Mutinerie)
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