B. Amsterdam // Start up booster

Of course we’re curious. 18.000 m2 start-up and coworking space is a lot. A lot. Together with Chantal Smeyers, who’s one of the founders of coworking space ‘De Werkfabriek’ in The Hague, I hit the road to go to Amsterdam. B. Amsterdam; battery cage for starting entrepreneurs or inspiring nursery for the new economy?

If you have ever designed a coworking space or office, you can image how hard and important it is to create an inspiring and – at the same time – functional work environment. Creating a place that matches the needs of the members and workers is key. How many members do you need to fill up 18.000 m2 and how to meet all their needs and wishes? How to create a sense of community?

B. Amsterdam // The Style Office

B. Amsterdam // The Style Office

B. Amsterdam // The Style Office

Facts on B. //

Enthusiastic host Dieuwke van Buren understands our questions and is willing to fill in the blanks…

“B. Amsterdam is a new concept located in the former IBM headquarters in Slotervaart (outside ‘de ring’). It used to be a true ‘typewriter factory’. The complex was empty for a long time and part of it belongs to Post NL. Luckily – and to the pleasure of many workers in Amsterdam – the owner and real estate developer/co-founder Bas van Veggel had a vision and decided to develop the space into a centre of innovation. In collaboration with Ricardo van Loenen and Guus Meulendijks, also co-founders, the complex has become a city in a building, where people come to work, do sports, eat, organize events and even live.”

“The building is developed floor by floor and the expansion is a matter of doing by learning. The founders had a basic idea about the space when they started. We have the time and possibilities to follow the needs of our growing group of members. We develop B. organically. We started with a big coffee-, coworking- and meeting space and now we are expanding to bigger offices on the other floors.”

We hope that doesn’t mean this expressive city in a city will become a traditional office building in the end, but that seems not the case. Dieuwke shows us around. The energy is vibrant and creative and the atmosphere remains open, in spite of the bigger companies who move in and have their own m2.

B. Amsterdam // The Style Office

B. Amsterdam // The Style Office

B. Amsterdam // The Style Office

Suits & social //

At B. you will find an interesting mix of individual entrepreneurs, start ups, small businesses and corporates. Many corporates move to B. for their events and meetings, but some have become active members of the community. Heineken created a meeting and brainstorm space at B., called Freddy’s, a zone to challenge new ideas. And also IBM is back: they opened up an innovation space for start ups and software developers.

The once expired ‘back to the eighties’ building is the place to be for corporates who try to reinvent themselves and creative & social entrepreneurs, exploring new business models. And nowadays simple concrete walls, scrap wood and vintage furniture create an inspiring enough setting to innovate…

“The fun thing is, we all work together here. The context creates openness and is challenging to all who use it. Also, the government is very active in supporting this place. We couldn’t have reached this success without the participation of the municipality of Amsterdam.”

B. Amsterdam // The Style Office

B. Amsterdam // The Style Office

B. Amsterdam // The Style Office

B. Amsterdam // The Style Office

Coworking lessons //

Some coworking lessons we got out of this inspiring visit and talk with Dieuwke:

The community building is essential. That’s the fundament of the action, creation and of successful entrepreneurship and membership. So, actively invest in it. Keep asking questions, make sure people feel at home, show them the ways, share the unofficial rules, try to connect people. Make sure the coworking network adds value to their business. “Because B. is big we start investing in sub communities. It’s difficult to create a feeling of belonging in a group of hundreds of people”, Dieuwke adds.

A good way to feed the community aspect is to facilitate lunch and events. But also try to create a buddy system in which less experienced entrepreneurs are coached by more experienced once. Of course in most coworking spaces and especially in B. you can find a lot of accelerator- and incubator programs and initiatives. This could be your selection criterion when finding a matching coworking hub for your venture.

Put the members first when you grow your ecosystem. Facilitate their growth from start up to scale up. Follow the changing needs of your members and be willing to make changes in the facilities if needed. Also make sure members can express their own identity. They are the heroes of the coworking space, not the founders.

Try to cooperate with the neighbourhood and municipality. A coworking space can have a really cool and central function in an area and can often contribute to urban and economic development. A nice way to create social return. At B. people meet to do sports, have a coffee or chat. B. made the area of Slotervaart more lively.

Just go //

When to visit B.? Whenever you are in the mood to meet other inspiring entrepreneurs or want to get an idea of what the coworking scene is about. You can go over to have a coffee and taste a day of coworking. B. is a hospitable place. And very soon you can have lunch at the ‘urban farming dakpark’ on the rooftop garden, which opens its doors this summer. You can even have a meeting on the roof and be inspired by the view of Amsterdam…

B. Amsterdam // The Style Office

B. Amsterdam // The Style Office

B. Amsterdam // The Style Office

More details // www.b.amsterdam

Tekst // Rosan Gompers
Pictures  // B. 

 

The Style Office is a storytelling magazine on urban work- & lifestyle aimed at the next generation creatives & entrepreneurs. We love to share ideas and stories on new ways of working and creative entrepreneurship AND we love to inspire you on a great work- and lifestyle // hashtag #designyourlife // read more about us and learn what we can do for you. We’d love to meet you!

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