Coworking at BauteilB
Paul Heesch talks about Mannheims new coworking space BauteilB
Something’s new in the Mafinex startup center: a coworking space for freelancers and startups in the tech-area. BauteilB founder Paul Heesch describes the project as an invitation to live, work, inspire and create networks.
Paul, what did coworking mean to you five years ago?
Not much! Back then was the first time I had heard about coworking. In Berlin, the first spaces for “digital nomads” were coming about, and at the time my idea of how they worked was: traveling to Berlin with a laptop, having an easy workday in the coworking-café, subsequently visiting Berghain and catching a jet back home.
What does coworking mean to you today?
Coworking is not just about sharing a workspace, but about creating a community that shares common ideals. Coworking means cooperating and sharing success. In a great coworking space you don’t work side by side, but collaboratively.
As one of the founders of Breidenbach Studios you have been a part in creating several coworking spaces and you have invested all your experience in BaulteilB. What makes coworking here special?
When we set up Breidenbach Studios in an industrial barrack in Heidelberg we quickly learned that WIFI and a desk isn’t quite enough. In the winter for example good heating is important! But seriously: When you’re in the middle of it all you quickly find out what is required. Young founders and freelancers running on small budgets need well-functioning infrastructure, including an espresso machine and a cleaning service – this way they can focus on their projects. What makes BauteilB special is not that everything is up to date and running technically, but that the workspace is very pleasant and custom-made. Making this happen in the otherwise very functional Mafinex startup center was a challenge. And finally, what is most important to me: the spirit that gives coworking its transformative energy.
Is it a stereotype that IT-startups tend to be indifferent towards good design and nice things?
Yeah, I think that’s a stereotype. “Big Bang Theory” made Nerds hip and brought them into pop culture. Anyways, the feedback has been great, everyone loves the spaces and many have expressed interest in moving in with us or even wondered if they should re-fashion their own office.
You were given free rein with the interior design. How would you describe the atmosphere?
We wanted a modern, clean, but comfortable style. We saw that many office doors in Mafinex were kept open, as most people don’t enjoy working secludedly. So, we got rid of the walls and opened everything up. We chose bright colors to paint everything and I spent quite some time online, scouting vintage furniture. In the end, I found some wonderfully preserved period furniture from a farm that now resides in our “living room”. This creates a nice contrast to the desks we made, that we combined with ergonomically formed chairs.
Robert Reiz of Visioneye has moved in as the first coworker in BauteilB. And you have many other interested parties. What advantages does coworking offer founders?
Coworking in BauteilB feels more like living than work. This of course does not mean we don’t work hard. Nobody thinks it’s just Cappuccinos, fun and games. In the past having a job was the main focus in life, not choosing an inspiring place to work. Nowadays we crave to find meaning in our occupation and to do so in a place that we feel connected to and are surrounded by inspiring people. People come here to work as they can’t achieve the level of concentration and exchange we offer at home. Communication here is open and transparent, which quickly allows a community to form. Coworking also offers freelancers a compensation for an often-missing involvement in a team.
You have previously and successfully created another coworking space in the C-HUB. Is the demand growing in Mannheim?
I do think so! I feel coworking is globally on the rise as it allows real world access to internet culture. This is something very special, that more and more people are realizing!
What kinds of coworking do you offer at BauteilB?
We offer 33 workspaces. The minimum rental period is one day, though you can choose to stay permanently. As a coworker, you can easily test your business model with no strings attached by long contractual relationships. We also help people make the right connections and try to bring investors and founders together. If we see a good idea, we try to set up a meeting. Our aim is to offer every coworker an individual set-up, that allows them to achieve their full potential. By the way the whole area is quite nice: Mannheim-Lindenhof is located right by the river and is close to the city center, only a few minutes from the central station.
Are there plans to expand BauteilB?
We are planning on widening the range of things we offer at Mafinex. There will be a lounge with urban gardening and we plan on using food trucks to spice up the catering situation. This will turn Mafinex into a little “founder-city”, giving 500 people the right place to let their business grow.
How do you experience the startup-scene in Mannheim?
Things here are ever-changing. Mannheim has been supporting startup culture for a while now and as a founder you are well received, coached and connected. Mannheim is a great place for people with good ideas. I very much enjoy the city and its vibe and am myself now a resident by choice.
Interview: Ralf Laubscher / LA.MAG
Pictures: Daniel Lukac