Coworking is booming globally with a growth rate of 22%. Then why are we still behind on coworking in North-West Europe and especially in Germany? “There is a difference in growth looking at coworking concepts. Flexible leasing contracts in the USA make 25% of the market share in London that’s 18% while in the Netherlands that’s 3% and in Germany even only 1%”, says Tribes founder Eduard Schaepman.
Yet for a startup, where changes are happening quickly in the first few years, flexible concepts of working are essential. The companies can be growing fast while conditions are altered all the time which makes it hard to find a workspace that fits the needs of the team. However coworking is not a concept exclusively startups and freelancer can benefit from: corporates with deadlocked processes can tank up some much needed creativity that is floating around in spaces that are packed with young entrepreneurs and the spirit of innovation.
Eduard Schaepman, founder of Tribes, lives for the coworking concept. Starting his career in the e-business, he worked his way into the real estate sector after declaring e-business dead with his book “E-business – the hype is over”. He is a person that you will most likely not forget once you’ve seen him. Just like the Tribes workspaces, he has a unique character and his checkered suits, of which he has over 40 hanging in is closet, are as stylish as the locations designed in the themes of different nomadic tribes of the world. In 2014 he started his own business combining the concept of coworking with stylish designs and the desire to make people feel at home in workspaces. We talked to him about his company, his plans and him as a person in very inspiring interview.
How did you become the person you are today?
“I first worked in the Internet business until 2003. I was a CEO for Euroshell. Later I wrote a book called “e-business: the hype is over”. At that time I already felt that the trend is going back to the physical world. Afterwards I joined the company Regus, where I was asked to build up and look after their Benelux market. I was there for 10 years overlooking the strategy for the benelux countries, making sure the company would remain innovative. This included the development of new products like netspaces, virtual offices and the community center. I loved working for the company but at that time Chalet Group asked me to manage their portfolio of buildings. So instead of being on the site of renting buildings, I was on the other site as an owner, a very big owner in the Netherlands with a portfolio of more than one billion. So this was an offer I couldn’t refuse. They asked me to sell this portfolio within 3 years and I actually managed it in 2 years time.”
How did you develop the idea behind Tribes?
“Well, at first the concept was called faceplace as a reference to facebook but then at the same time I had an investigation of the roots of my own family and found out that my family was related to shepherds. From that point I wanted to know more about our people and I realized that a lot of dutch people were moving around the world and that there were still 34 nomadic tribes moving around. So with that background and my portfolio sold, I said I’m gonna set up my own concept based on those tribes. In our modern world we are moving more and more around. So we are becoming nomadics again while we have the technology, the tablets, the smartphones, the laptops, etc. to push and pull information from anywhere to everyplace.
So I thought what if work was no longer situated in one place? Which was the initial thought of building tribes; to build a flexible solution for working spaces. But I also thought that the concept should not only be flexible because the mind needs to travel to be creative. Moreover I felt that people who travel a lot are not so creative anymore because they become very busy and see a lot of different hotels and offices but they all look the same and they never see the culture of the countries they travel to. So I became very creative with the concept of nomadic tribes in our locations and try to bring those cultures into the buildings.”
What is most important for people to feel comfortable in an office?
“Most people feel comfortable at home. So what we are trying to do is making our buildings the peoples home only a little bit more perfect. For example, people have pictures of their travels on the walls at home and we hang up pictures of the tribes who are travelling. We also look at the colours we use for the design in our buildings and how it affects people. The wellbeing in general, is important to us. A person is healthy by good food, physical movement and relaxing sleep. A healthy person who is in balance will also perform better at work. So we try to benefit those needs at our locations. We see our buildings as a place where people can be comfortable balanced and healthy.”
Waht is the reason you are always seen in your checkered suits?
“I love checkered suits and I have been wearing them for a long time now, even before we started Tribes. It later became part of our marketing strategy at Tribes. In marketing it helps to show the person behind the company; which is what we are doing. The suits are part of myself and and additionally it makes people recognize me. Therefore it is very helpful for branding and also networking. My suits are part of the branding now.”
Is coworking in Germany different than it is in the Netherlands?
“There is a difference between german and dutch cultures that affects how they work. If you look at Germans, you see that they are more structured, they are better in planning, they are better in organizing and they are more efficient. When you look at the dutch labour force you’ll find them very creative and innovative but less structured and less efficient. But in the end both cultures combined can benefit from those differences. And the combination works out to be pretty cool!”
Thank a lot for this exciting story, Eduard! We are looking forward to new locations of Tribes in Germany.
Beautiful meeting spaces and lounges of Tribes in Düsseldorf are already available for booking on our platform. Just try it for yourself!
Interview: Jennifer Morabbi Fotos: Polina Polovets