I think that he is perfectly right: for obvious reasons, this site is limited to Italian-speaking people, and even if I’m trying hard to have a global conversation on coworking/nomadic working issues on our social network, I guess that being a foreign visitor on this site is quite a frustrating experience.
So, let me answer Patrick, who has been so kind to email me about it, and any other English-speaking visitor.
Coworking Project by Cowo is an idea that came to our mind after a year of coworking at Monkey Business, our company.
Basically, we just made up a “starting kit” for whoever wanted to do the same; in fact people from many parts of Italy have been calling us a lot, asking for how-to advice and possibilities to enter an affiliation program.
Our idea was clear from the beginning:
Since no one knows about coworking, if we will be able to develop a network of spaces, we will join forces in helping the market to wake up, and discover this option.
The more of us there will be, the better: we will all broaden our market base, cumulating word of mouth marketing and sharing knowledge.
At this point, a clarification is needed: Coworking Project is a sustainable idea, which means (to us, at least) something that helps people live better.
“To live better” doesn’t mean making money only. “To live better” means meeting talented people, doing something interesting and making money.
It’s a difference that fits right in the picture, because we feel that the project can only be successful as long as it has a strong cooperative flavour to it, otherwise we don’t think any community will ever grow (and we all know how important is community in building any coworking effort).
I personally believe that this asset is also a strong business factor, in our suffering economies, but that is something that we will eventually find out in the future.
What we are trying to create is a strong group of people interested in smart working solutions, something able to help young entrepreneurs in the starting-up phase of their companies, places where it’s fun and interesting to go and – last but not least – smart comfort zones for travellers.
Coworking Project fundamentals:
- red “Cowo” registered logo
- low prices (our desks are available from 200 euros per month, and every space in the project agree not to go over 300 euros per month)
- flexibility – easy come, easy go (free drop-in also encouraged)
- friendly environment, interesting people, online and offline networking/conversation
What we give to “affiliates” is:
- knowledge base concerning legal aspects, taxes etc
- use of registered logo
- written agreement to use with coworkers (written by a lawyer, considering nightmarish Italian burocracy)
- a dedicated web page in this blog
- some printed material for self-promotion
- discounts in hotels of the Camplus Group (seven cities in Italy)
What we ask them is:
- one of more workstations available
- wifi connection
- daily presence in the office
- collaborative and professional environment
- network-oriented attitude
- care to give a high-quality service
- fee of 100 euros per 1 year
This way, with no traditional marketing involved but with word of mouth only (plus an unexpected, massive dose of media attention), we have created a network of 10
27 57 (and growing) coworking spaces in three thirteen thirty-four Italian cities, in the short span of three months ten months two years [updated june 2011].
One last thing worth mentioning, maybe, could be our attention to the nomadic crowd, the people who are always between planes, trains, taxis, and meetings.
We would like the Cowo network to be their comfort place, somewhere to go in the spare time between meetings, maybe just to relax, or do emails, in a friendly environment (whoever worked in an Italian bar or train station will appreciate, I know this).
That’s the reason why we offer free drop-in to whoever calls us in advance.
This is pretty much all there is to know.
Of course it’s all very experimental, so if you are about to ask “where we’ll go for now” I can only say “we are thinking about it”, and when I say “we” I mean a group of coworking-space owners, coworkers, friends and connections, both online and in real life. Check the NomadWork site to get an idea, and let me know what you think.
To keep in touch with us, pick your poison (that’s Tjis Teulings’ line):
…and if you are ever in Milano, come have coffee and a chat at Cowo, in Via Ventura 3!