A Physical Space in a Virtual World: Coworking in Valencia

When some people lose their jobs they look for another company to give them one; others study the market and reinvent themselves.

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Coworking represents a growing trend in a world where more and more people are running businesses without the inconvenience of premises. However, on the occasions where it is useful to use an office, Coworking is the solution that business people and entrepreneurs are taking advantage of all over the world.

A clear example of this was presented to me the first time I entered Coworking Valencia, where I came across German Telecommunications engineer Wolfgang Kriesling from Munich, whose office is his laptop, and who spends a lot of time, as do his colleagues and collaborators, travelling the world, and each time looking up the local Coworking from which to do whatever it is telecommunications engineers do in that language without frontiers that we mere mortals ‘shruggle’ to understand.

The second time I went there I met Nenad Furtula, another international IT wizard, this time recently arrived from Vancouver, Canada, expressing his amazement at how friendly Valencian people are and how easy it is to get around the city.

Wolfgang was quick to praise Rosa Montesa’s project, which turns out to be more than just office space to let; in fact her goal is to turn it into a hub, where dynamic people can get together and exploit their common interests from different perspectives and let their synergies do the rest.

For this reason she generously encourages NGOs to take advantage of her space, and while I was there the first time six young people from different walks of life and 5 different countries were learning about a new NGO in Valencia, before going off to pursue their own careers.

Rosa’s philosophy is that if she can attract good professionals to her premises, then clients (and income) will follow, and she is already developing a diverse portfolio of collaborators who seek out her services for a wide variety of reasons.

Some want a place to sign a contract, others to present a new product or organise a wine (or even a whisky) tasting, others want to make an advertisement or documentary without having to build a costly set, or simply hold a meeting while on a business trip in a discrete place that isn’t a hotel foyer.

Coworking Valencia, situated centrally in Calle Maestro Gozalbo 23, came about when Rosa was laid off after working for 17 years for Alitalia. Instead of crying into her spaghetti, she realised that she could and should create her own job and invested her savings in transforming her father’s old warehouse into a series of multi-functional, multi-purpose, well equipped rooms that can adapt to the needs of her clients. They even have a small kitchen and a tiny outside patio to take a breather from the costly business of making a fortune.

coworkingTwo years of hard work, in which she rolled up her sleeves and did a large part of the physical work herself, were rewarded when Valencia Town Hall awarded her one of their nurturing grants for new business projects.

It’s easy to sense that her clients quickly become friends, almost family, and rarely go away without having made another useful contact for future ventures. Once she knows what you do, Rosa will quickly suggest half a dozen names of people you should meet and suddenly your project has taken on new life.

The fact is that Rosa believes in individuals, and feels that the future belongs to special individuals with drive and talent, while large cumbersome companies take a back seat. Having said that, her project feels like home and her clients act like family, which shouldn’t surprise anyone, as she has five brothers and two children of her own.

Another project that she is still working on is a platform by which teachers and students can give and receive recognition for their work and give more vitality to their experience than cold words on a formal CV. The project is provisionally called ‘Learners Passport’ because for Rosa, learning is like travelling and you need a passport to get where you want to go.

She is also planning to set up weekly thematic days, in which people with a common interest can get together and share experience and knowledge, getting away from the old idea of networking as merely handing out business cards and selling your own idea, and moving more towards a genuine sharing of ideas and energies. Those workshops and talks that work well would later be repeated in English.

Whatever your plans or interests, there is no better way to recharge your batteries and go away regenerated than to attend her events and to talk to Rosa, enthusiasm by any other name.

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