May 2017

Ahoy! Berlin works on accommodating freelancers and corporations

Ahoy! Berlin is a Berlin based space for coworking and innovation. The more than 4.000 m2 big space host now freelancers as well as sartups and corporations.

Hi Stéphanie, can you introduce the Ahoy! Berlin project? What is it about?

Our main goal is to create a dynamic yet sustainable community where people have the freedom to collaborate, to explore and to have fun. We stand behind the main 5 shared coworking values – community, openness, collaboration, mutual help and equality, but we added another one – well-being. 

As a second concept line we have the nautical theme which is implemented in every detail in Ahoy. It likens the new startup economy to the open sea with it’s strong currents and unpredictable weather. Ahoy serves to help budding startups and freelancers steer clear of potential pitfalls by connecting them to a wider community of possible collaborators and investors via Tech Berlin sister companies Openers and Tech Open Air while also offering additional services like event management and legal advice.

Ahoy started as fairly small space and scaled up rapidly. Was it the founders’ plans to go this way?

Ahoy! was founded in December 2011 by Nikita Roshkow and Nikolas Woischnik. The first location was in Charlottenburg and was only 400 m2. Over the years, the space grew up to 1700 m2. As a result of this natural and organic growth in September 2015 Ahoy moved to a new location, which currently has over 4200 sqm spread over 3 floors.

Thе scale up wasn’t by accident, but it also wasn’t strictly planned. Our expansion was a result of hard work, willingness to develop the coworking concept, team members’ devotion and community strength.
In December 2015 we opened our second location in Sao Paulo with 450 m2. It’s managed by Felippe Burratini who is an Ahoy! Berlin Alumni. This is a perfect example of the way how the coworking synergy works. 

How receptive was the Landlord to accompany this process?

He helped us a lot in our recent growth in the last year – from the moment we moved to our current location until now, we expanded from only 1 floor to 3 floors. Even now the landlord constantly keeps us in a loop for potential new buildings.

Ahoy hosts some bigger companies. What are corporations looking for in a coworking space ?

According to our observations and regular feedback we get from our corporate community members we know that there are 5 main reasons:

  • To establish themselves quickly in a new city or a new market
  • To reduce costs and risk of new projects
  • To get closer to startups and entrepreneurs
  • To acquire more autonomy
  • To recruit new talents

Is the social and community dimension important in their choice, or do corporation’s employees in your space keep themselves aside as an island in the space?

The companies that use team offices often stay together in groups. Nevertheless, many of the interactions and collaborations between them and the other community members happen in very informal, chill and friendly atmosphere, while having a coffee, a lunch or a drink after work in our open cafe area. That’s the moment when the best ideas are born. The phenomenon known as “serendipity”.

Isn’t the flexibility and offered scalability a sufficient a value proposition for bigger organisations within you space?

It’s not only the space, the services and the possibilities to grow within the space that attract the bigger organisations. It’s also about the social interaction and the access o a professionally diverse community.

Do you work on mingling actively all of your tenants/members, including those working as employees for a company ?

Yes, we do work on that – we organise various community events:

  • community breakfasts;
  • captain’s’ lunches, strictly focused on bringing together the CEOs of the companies at Ahoy;
  • skills exchange;
  • drinks after work;
  • yoga classes
  • German classes.

We also facilitate the process of professional interaction by connecting our members based on the fields they work in. In order to foster the community development we use internal communication channels where they can introduce themselves and approach the other members.

What are the main differences between individual members with respect to the level of engagement with the rest of the community?

I’d say that the level of involvement and engagement in the community depends more on personal traits like collectivism and extraversion than on the type of membership. We have community members from big companies that are actively involved in the community and freelancers who prefer to stay on their own.

Desks VS offices ?

For us it is important to have them both – we offer fix and flex desks, as well as team offices. We’re striving to meet the needs of the freelancers, the startups and the corporations.

Are you working on hosting more corporations in the future ? 

We are open to everyone who want to join our space and become part of our community. At the same time we’re trying to keep the balance between freelancers, startups and corporations. We believe that this is the only way we can preserve the community diversity – the aspect that makes the coworking idea so appealing.

Do you see a new level of openness in bringing employees from other departments ?

More and more corporations are open to send entire teams and departments to coworking spaces. However, the process of making that decision still takes more time and it often goes through the several rounds of approbation. There is often as much internal negotiation as there is with the coworking operators. Managers need to convince their superiors and their employees of the value of such spaces.

However, once a corporation embraced that change, the trend spread easily through the entire company.

Do you think medium-size and big companies could outsource a big part of their office and facility management to bigger coworking spaces in the future ?

We’ve seen it’s already happening – from having an office in a coworking space to renting entire buildings managed by coworking companies, corporations are now switching to another way of perceiving the working process.


Ahoy! Berlin will be a speaker at the upcoming Coworking Europe 2017 conference in Dublin.

“Coworking can help emerging countries to diversify their economy” – The Address (Algiers)

Marouan Aoudia is an Algerian national, born and educated in the US. During 10 years, he worked in the corporate world before shifting towards the entrepreneurial world, end of 2015, armed with a long list of projects among which to open a coworking space in Algeria : The Address.

Hello Marouan. Could you introduce yourself as well as The Address project?

I was introduced to coworking for the first time on April 2015 during a visit to the US, and I immediately thought about seeing this concept into Algeria.  Along with my strategic partners Majda and Chouaib, we worked on the concept, activities, and the general branding of the space.  The Address was born on Feb 2016 as the 1st coworking space in the country.  It is located in the capital, Algiers, and in area that has multiple options of public transportation for ease of reach.  The Address is approximately 250 m2 big in surface.  Our vision is to create an environment that embraces the notion of connection, collaboration, and creation among the members. We welcomed members from diverse sectors and backgrounds, some just starting out in their entrepreneurial journey and others are established professionals that require a work space while in Algiers.  This mix of backgrounds and experience level is what makes The Address a unique space I believe.

What are the reasons Coworking can thrive in Algeria, according to you?

As for any service proposition, to be successful, it needs first and foremost to solve a real problem that exists. Coworking solves an issue that many entrepreneurs and independent professionals are facing in Algeria : the lack of affordable space where they can work, a place to receive potential clients, an opportunity to connect and network with peers, ability to establish their commercial license without important capital requirements. Coworking put simply tackled all these problematic and it allowed many people to take their 1st step towards establishing their projects with just a small capital, establish a commercial license and be connected with fellow members as support system.

According to you, coworking can help emerging countries such as Algeria to diversify their economy. Can you elaborate ?

Marouane Aoudia

Currently Algeria is tapping into its foreign reserves just to maintain economic stability after witnessing the massive drop in oil prices, a resource that historically served as the main economic contributor.  Faced with the situation on hand, we have no choice but to diversity and develop other sectors of the economy.  As previously stated, Coworking in Algeria plays an important role in creating an environment that supports the development of a startup scene and the entrepreneurial landscape in general.  We are seeing a new stream of startups being founded at Coworking spaces that eventually graduate to standalone businesses as they scale up their operations. The numbers are out there, in many economies around the world SMEs contributes the heavily in to nation’s GDP figures and employment sector.  Again, Coworking is the 1st step towards that journey, the starting point in a chain of business development that will see a small startup become an valuable economic contributor.     

Coworking is the 1st step towards that journey, the starting point in a chain of business development that will see a small startup become an valuable economic contributor.

Coworking communities can become connection hubs between entrepreneurs from emerging and developed economies. How can we achieve that better?

Definitely, coworking spaces from across regions and continents once connected can serve as the ambassador’s of the world in their respective countries.  Once this has been achieved, we can start working on an array of projects whether its digital in nature or anything else that is both relevant and of added value.  Coworking owners have the capacity to engage the members, influencers, and local community towards a common initiative.  It is worth noting that idea aside the most challenging part in these sorts of grand scale initiatives is the quality of execution and sustainability. On the profitability side, Coworking spaces can again collectively seek funding from international organizations in return of the value that these projects can bring home.

What can we say about the Algerian digital ecosystem and how coworking can help?

The digital ecosystem in Algeria is lagging behind even when looking at it from the perspective of North Africa region.  It is hindered by two main issues, the low speed and at times unreliable internet connection and the lack of structured e-payment system.  So we have an infrastructure issue more than anything. 

There is a lot of interest among youth for everything related to digital world and Coworking spaces are serving as platforms connecting the community members by organizing seminars, events (SW: cfr Algeria Startup Altitude, for instance), workshops, and trainings related to it.   As the infrastructural issues are resolved, Coworking will be playing more of an active role in initiating   

Does the coworking working model speaks also to SME’s or bigger companies, or is too early in the country?

At The Address we already have a number of SME clients.  These are clients where the HQ are based outside of Algiers but still have strong client base in the city.  We offer them special corporate packages that would allow them the use the space when visiting and more importantly we offered them virtual office service by serving their client base administratively on commercial transactions.   We also host corporate evening events at the space for themes that speaks to youth and entrepreneurship.

The Address is settled in a “Commercial Centre”. Why is this location appropriate for a coworking space would you say ?

We are located in hybrid building that has a mall, commercial offices, governmental agencies, and residential studios.  The center offers many advantages.  First, the center has 1000 free parking spaces, a luxury that you will not find elsewhere in the city where parking is a major issue.  Second, the center offer security 24/7 allowing us the run evening events without any fear for safety.  Third, our clients and Coworking members appreciate the services that the commercial center has to offer in terms of food court, catering, dry cleaner, gym, among other things that makes life just a bit easier.

In Europe or in the US, we hear more and more about “dying” shopping malls. Can coworking save “commercial centres” ?

A dying garden needs to be rejuvenated.  The way to do it is to remove the dead plants and inject new seeds that can break ground and foster.  Dying infrastructure is no different; if malls are dying they can be converted to a mix of commercial offices, innovation hubs, art galleries,…the economic cycle will always see concepts that will seize to exit in the expense of new fresh initiatives, our role is to adjust accordingly.       

What are your main challenges and hopes?

As a Coworking space owner the challenge is to continue to promote the concept and build awareness, get better traction and create greater demand to sustain operations.  A year and half into our existence, we have taken great strides towards that goal and have adopted well to meet the demand of our community and corporate clients.

At a macro level, I hope we will see more initiatives in Algeria from private sector that goes towards the development of our young human resources.  Emerging countries have abundance of talented youth that are never given the proper mentoring, resources, and opportunity to excel.  More often than not, they opt to travel to Europe, US, and there they develop into influential figures and contributors to their adopted nation.  We need start to start paving a road for their success while they are here.