überlin

überlin Coworking – End of an Era

by James Glazebrook

We have some sad news – in about a month’s time, we are going close the doors on the überlin coworking space. Our landlord has decided to sell off the building, including the beautiful space that’s been our shared office, photo studio and workshop/party space for nearly two years. We’ve given a lot of thought to starting again in another space, but with demanding day jobs that we love, we know we can’t spare the time and attention another coworking business would need to thrive.

We’re super-grateful for everything we got out of this experience while it lasted. We’ve learned a lot, met a lot of great people, had some great times, and seen them produce a lot of great work. And we’ve benefitted from the help, skills and support of a lovely bunch of people, including family and friends, old and new. We’ve said specific thankyous before, and always missed out people, so let’s just say that you know who you are. If you were at all involved in helping to create the space, make it a success, or keeping us sane while we struggled with the extra work we’d given ourselves, then we will always be grateful. There’d be no überlin without ü! *sniff*

PS this means that Zoë is on the hunt for somewhere to shoot. If you have any leads on commercial spaces, or shared photo studios, drop her an email. Thanks!

A Year of Coworking: What We’ve Learned

by James Glazebrook

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Happy birthday to us! It’s been a year since we opened the doors to the überlin coworking space, and we’ve learned a lot in the past twelve months. What started as a dream of turning our online community into something tangible has become a bricks-and-mortar reality, an actual business, a space where great things happen, and one with potential for even more awesomeness.

It’s been rewarding, but it hasn’t always been easy. We thought we’d share our experiences, which should be of interest to anyone who’s thinking of starting something, be it a coworking space or any other kind of enterprise. Hope this helps!

Keep it simple
When we first opened our doors, we experimented with flex desks and day rates – until we worked out that we just aren’t big enough to accommodate everyone’s specific needs. We also tried to rent out our downstairs to event organisers, or photographers who wanted to use Zoë’s studio, but the extra income wasn’t worth the disruption to our coworkers.

Now we’re really clear about what überlin is – a coworking space that offers full-time fixed desks, and a private photo studio that doubles as a space in which to host our own workshops. We’re always open to new ideas about how to use our facilities, but we’re focused on being a space where our close community can do its best work.

Not (just) a place for expats
This blog brings us into contact with Berlin’s somewhat transient international community, so we just assumed (but didn’t intend) that ours would be a space for expats, by expats. We were pleasantly surprised to find that, from the very start, actual Germans (even Berliners!) wanted to join as coworkers.

We’ve maintained a nice mix of about 50% Germans and 50% other – people from all over the world who benefit from Deutsch Dienstag practice and just being around native speakers who know how the country works. As an added bonus, our neighbours seem to be into what we’re doing, and some have even rented desks here!

Location, location, location
We always we knew we had a great location – a minute’s walk from Schönleinstrasse on the U8, 10 minutes to Kotti (and the U1) in one direction, and 10 to Hermannplatz (U7) in the other. But what we didn’t appreciate is just how local people like their office spaces to be.

Most of our current coworkers live in Kreuzberg or neighbouring Neukölln, a handful are based in our beloved Graefekiez, and one even lives on the same street! It seems that, in Berlin at least, people love a coworking space they can walk to.

A big empty überlin, this time last year

Be selective
A year ago, we were pretty desperate to fill desks. We had rent to pay, other costs to cover, and our egos on the line, so we let pretty much anyone who was interested rent desk space. That included people who wanted to be in desks part time, wanted to share them with others, only planned to be around for a month – or, for a host of other reasons, just weren’t right for us.

Now we have enough people in place, and enough desk capacity that we don’t have to be stressed about being full all the time. That affords us the luxury of being really selective about who we let join the space, so we pick people we like, who we think will get on with our other coworkers, and are into the idea of sharing – space, ideas and doggy cuddles 😉

This is probably the biggest lesson we’ve learned: pick your coworkers, don’t let them pick you.

Un-break the internet
Forget desks, chairs, doors or a roof – the most important thing in a coworking space is fast, reliable internet. We had some serious teething problems that it took us a while to sort out, even with the help of an expert. But now we have lightning-fast wifi that’s accessible from anywhere in our space – a must-have for an office of any kind.

How to shop at IKEA like a boss

Do It Yourself…
When you run your own small business, you learn how to do everything for yourself. Coworking space managers are often glorified janitors, so we’ve earned our black belts in IKEA construction, unblocked sinks and done so much DIY we’re practically German! But as well as the practical stuff, we’ve learned about accounting, marketing, community management, customer service, tech support… and found people to help with the things that we can’t teach ourselves.

…but know when to ask for help
We couldn’t have done any of this without the help of a wonderful bunch of people. At the risk of getting all awards-speechy, we’d like to thank:
WelanceMorganJoelDanilo for the advice and expertise;
Lavinia and Karin for the business support;
Kathy and Judith for the invaluable interior design input, Olli for branding our space and Dan for building us beautiful custom furniture;
Everyone who came to and helped out at our official opening party;
Expath and Ray for running our workshops;
All of our coworkers, past and present, and all of our friends and family for the support.

Here’s to a great year of coworking, and hopefully many more!

We currently have a few desks open in our coworking space. If you’re interested in joining our little community, check out the full details here, or drop us an email.  We look forward to hearing from you!

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überlin: a virtual tour

by James Glazebrook

In Germany, Google are like vampires – you have to let them in. The Street View of our Kiez may be so blurry you feel the need for a cataract check,  but now we have an awesome, interactive 360° tour of the inside of our space. And all because we because we invited, not exactly Google, but the people from Innenpanoramafoto, to come and shoot the interior of the überlin coworking space and photo studio.

Now available in Google Maps, and embedded above, is our new virtual tour. Have a click around and explore our space, where the only blurry bits are our faces. Easter egg: see if you can find where Olive is hiding!

Coconat – a workation retreat

by James Glazebrook

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Photo by: Nadja Bülow

We thought we were pretty hot shit when we opened our coworking space, but now it seems that everyone with a spare corner of desk is renting it out to someone else! It seems like the real next big thing is “workations”, which allow you to get away for a while and work in beautiful, natural and usually remote surroundings.

That’s why we were stoked to hear that some friends are planning to open Coconat in the Brandenburg countryside, just an hour outside of Berlin. They’ve found a unique rural property in an old brick-making village, and they’re working to convert it into a work/live space with indoor and outdoor meeting areas, wireless internet, a kitchen serving shared meals, a fire pit and a sauna. We know where we’ll be spending our summers!

The founders of Coconat are now running a crowdfunding campaign to help bring the 1870s villa, which was once a DDR hotel and holiday camp with a forested park, into the digital age. The opening and proof-of-concept phase begins this summer season, in July. If you have some money to spare, are good with your hands, or are just curious to learn more about this inspiring project, check out Coconat on VisionBakery. Help make this dream workplace a reality!

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Photo by: Nadja Bülow

Olive at Work

by James Glazebrook

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The company I work for asked me to share a photo of my desk, as part of a blog post giving “a small glimpse into our team — one built on a wonderful mix of cultures, interests, and personalities.” And, because no personality is more wonderful than Olive’s we thought we’d pop her in the photo. So, for no real reason, here’s an image of our unofficial office manager sitting at the Chef’s table in our coworking space. If you want to check out my colleagues’ workspaces in Basecamp’s Chicago office, their home, their Airstream RV (!), you can check those out here.

Five months of coworking: An überlin update

by James Glazebrook

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It’s hard to believe that our coworking space has already been open for five months! It seems like just yesterday that we announced our new venture and started collecting furniture, equipment and, most importantly, awesome people with which to fill our space. We’ve kept things pretty quiet since our super-successful opening party, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy. Zoë, myself, and the wonderful community we’ve gathered around ourselves, have been plugging away, producing, promoting and photographing awesome stuff from within our converted biscuit factory.

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Here are just a few of the great things to come out of the überlin coworking space and studio in its first five months:

  • Berlin Besetzt, an interactive map showing the development of Berlin’s squatting scene, a work in progress by developer Eike
  • Cumulus Diaries, a beautiful blog by Aussie expat Rachael, all about design, style, people and adventure
  • Our resident startup, Descape, which offers brief getaways into exciting professions. You can even sign up to spend a day with Zoë and find out what it’s really like to be a photographer!
  • Speaking of which, Zoë’s been using our studio to shoot for clients like EtsysisterMAG, Alpha Cruxis and Ableton, as well as her own fashion editorial shoots (check them out here)
  • Freelance recipe developer Sophie has relaunched Das Brunch, a pop-up breakfast experience (nom)
  • And Arielle, Desi and the INgrooves team have distributed a bunch of awesome records from Berlin labels Hotflush and Seppuku, and our personal favourite – Octave Minds, a collaboration between Boys Noize and Chilly Gonzales. Here’s a selection for your listening pleasure:

Want to join us? We’re adding a few more desks into our intimate little coworking space. If you’d like to be in the best place to do your best work – or to rent out our photographic studio – just drop us an email. We look forward to hearing from you!

überlin Official Opening Party

by James and Zoe

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Wow, that was a blast! Last weekend, hundreds of friends, fans and randoms joined us and raised a glass/bottle of craft beer to the opening of our brand new coworking space and photographic studio. We were overwhelmed with the sheer number of people who came, the all-round positive wibes, the fact that people stuck around long after the booze ran out, and the many opportunities to catch up with – or meet IRL for the first time – the people who’ve supported us all these years.

At the risk of getting all Oscar winner on you (it was an honour just to be nominated), we’d like to say thank you to all the people who helped make the party such a huge success. In no particular order…

Everyone who came, drank, tweeted, ‘stagrammed, tagged our postbox, chatted, laughed and played Cards Against Humanity (you wrong ‘uns).

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Our cotwerkers, for putting shots in us, generally being lovely and reminding us why we decided to do this in the first place <3

Our bartender Julia, for keeping her cool and keeping the drinks flowing, and to Maj, Christian, Mike, Ana and Hannah for helping out when demand got, well, ridiculous.

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The people who provided the drinks: Schoppe Bräu for the Kreuzberg XPA, Brau Sturm for the Prototyp, Our/Berlin vodka, Berliner Sommer and Thomas Henry. Special thanks go to Kiera from the Global Craft Beer Festival, Lucy vs. the Globe and Sina from DESCAPE for the hookups, and Marcus from Alchemist Gin for distilling a delicious and exclusive “übergin” (with freshly foraged mirabelle, juniper, coriander and a touch of black pepper nomnomnom).

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überlin resident INgrooves for their generous sponsorship (and the emergency Jack Daniels!).

Sarah from A Color Bright and Hannah (again!) for the event tips and advice.

Olli for coming through with the last minute branding touches and installing our “ü”s and that “überlin” lightbox that blew everyone’s minds on arrival.

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Kathy Kunz, who introduced some much-needed interior design details to the space. Oh and for putting the final finishing touches on it – flowers for our vase, and a bow for Olive’s collar :)

Chris, for taking these wonderful photos, and letting Zoë take the night off!

Our neighbours from inside and outside the Haus, for turning up and prosting our new venture. It’s nice to know that not everyone thinks we’re ruining the Kiez 😉

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Everyone who shared the event beforehand, including a certain someone who let the “free drinks” cat out of the bag early (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE 😉 ). And NotMsParker from Kreuzberg’d, for writing up this sweet review.

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Extra special thanks to my wonderful wife and partner Zoë, for hustling to put together such an awesome event, looking amazing in a jumpsuit and for keeping her head when I was losing mine!

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Photographed by Cristopher Santos.