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Book Review: Failing Forward

Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping stones for Success by John Maxwell will help you stop making excuses, start embracing failure as a natural, necessary part of the process and let you find the confidence to proceed in business and in life.

Failing Forward handles the psychology of success and failure, presenting case studies mostly of people and businesses that managed to come back from major setbacks or failures to succeed. Written in the typical John Maxwell style, it has anecdotes, stories and quotes relevant and leading towards the lessons to be learned from the book.

“Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.” John Maxwell

This is the attitude that Maxwell wants to teach us with this book. Failing Forward is about losing some of the conditioning that we have all come out of school learning – the paralyzing fear of failure. Maxwell wants us to see failure at the horizon and move ahead with confidence.

Here are 3 lessons to help you change your perspective:

#1: You might not be responsible for your failures, but you can sure take responsibility for your success. It’s not always your fault when things go wrong, but, when you give up and feel sorry for yourself, that is. When successful people fail, they see it as a momentary event, not a lifelong epidemic. It’s not personal. If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, don’t let any single incidence color your view of yourself or your business. Do you know what all successful entrepreneurs have in common? The ability to bounce back after an error, mistake or failure. Figure out what you didn’t do right, so you don’t do it again. That’s the key to bouncing back and failing forward.

“Every successful person is someone who failed, yet never regarded himself as a failure.” John Maxwell

#2: Turn failure into knowledge and knowledge into success.
Failing is not losing unless you do not learn from what went wrong. As an entrepreneur, making multiple attempts to launch your business can take the pressure off every single one.  We must come to the realization that entrepreneurs will go through multiple stages of failure, which will allow us to learn from each one and improve their next product or service we offer. This is how failure leads to success. When we put too much pressure on ourselves, we often don’t have the stomach to revisit our failure. But, how else should we find out what we did wrong? Make more. Quantity over quality. Be determined to understand your failures and then improve each time.

“Achievers are given multiple reasons to believe they are failures. But in spite of that, they persevere. The average for entrepreneurs is 3.8 failures before they finally make it in business.” John Maxwell

#3: Three things help you make the most of the opportunities that come your way.
When your perspective shifts and failure slowly begins to transform into the stepping stone it actually is, you’ll be much more willing to take each and every single opportunity that comes your way. Try to make the most of each shot you get. Maxwell suggests working on three things to ensure you do: set clear goals; work on your social skills; and, keep a positive mindset. I know optimism doesn’t come natural to everyone, but I truly believe it’s what most of us confuse with happiness.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” John Maxwell

These are just starting points. But not only will they help you make the most of failing more, they’re even great skills to practice failing forward in. The point is to not let setbacks set you back for too long. I hope this book will help you do just that. I highly recommend this book to anyone striving to succeed despite all odds, it can also be applied to your entire life and not just to business.

6 Reasons to Mark Your Calendar for Spark.Me #SparkMe

Mark your calendar for the 6th annual Spark.Me 2018 that will be happening on May 26-27, 2018 at Hotel Mediteran in Budva, Montenegro. You can’t miss this and here are 6 reasons why!

#1. Spark.Me is Back in Budva! Breathtakingly beautiful Budva lies on a small peninsula and represents a treasure chest of culture heritage. Crossed with narrow streets and squares, you can also visit many shops, cafés, restaurants and galleries in Old Town Budva. The Budva coast is 21 km long with 17 beaches. It is among the most beautiful coasts in the world. Also, you can find a wide range of accommodation, from very affordable to exclusive and luxury. Click here to see our recommendations! If you live in Budapest, London or Stockholm, there are great options for discount airlines like EasyJet which flies into Tivat and RyanAir & Wizz Air which fly into Podgorica.

#2. The Connections. So many connections have been made at Spark.Me. Business partnerships. Brand relationships. Job offers. Life-long friendships. And, the list goes on and on. Spark.Me is a place where people are actively looking for ways to connect with others and promote their next projects, their next ideas and their next dreams. It’s real and it happens every year.

#3. The Speakers. This is the best part of the conference experience. You’ll be in touch with other international professionals and experts to ask questions, share your concerns & experiences and seek solutions.

#4. The Schedule. It’s going to be the Most Epic Spark.Me yet! Fortunately, this 2-day 3-day conference with a workshop day added on Friday gives you the most bang for your buck in a short period of time. But, do not fret that you will be inside all weekend because Spark.Me will organize a cocktail party, host the conference feet away from the beautiful beaches of Montenegro and offer breaks between talks to have informal gatherings that will surely add fun during your Spark.Me weekend.

#5. The Opportunities. They are always so numerous, such as Spark.me Startup Competition. Spark.Me focus on innovation, the power of ideas, the startup’s potential to grow and team diversity. Participating in the competition enables you to have access to advisers, mentors and a network of investors, industry experts and entrepreneurs.

#6. The Community. This powerful community of business people, marketers and media impresses and engages us every conference.

Buy your tickets here before they sell out!

PRESS RELEASE: Beta Bar Will Participate with European Creative Hubs Workshop in Edinburgh

The partners of the European Creative Hubs Network project (co-funded by the EU’s Creative Europe program) are pleased to announce its third and final skills workshop for creative hub leaders, taking place in Edinburgh on October 26-27, 2017. Produced by Creative Edinburgh in collaboration with Creative Dundee, How to Future Proof Your Creative Hub, aims to build professional capacity by developing tailored support and skills for 25 creative hub leaders, including Beta Bar.

What do we mean by creative hub?

A space that brings creative people together, whether that be a physical or virtual space, is a creative hub. It can be as small as a collective or as large as a building that houses a multitude of creatives – made up of one sector or a variety. It can also be a virtual hub, with an online network that might meet up physically via an events program throughout the year.

How to Future Proof Your Creative Hub
This workshop will build leadership skills and provide practical tools and tips to help identify future trends, the impact of these and how you can plan for the future of creative hub.

The workshop is closed for the public, but interested audience will have a chance to meet attendees of the workshop on Thursday, January 26th at Talking Heads: Loving EU event hosted by Creative Edinburgh. The event will celebrate Edinburgh’s links with Europe, its cultural links and creative collaborative strength as a community with other European friends. It will also show solidarity and appreciation for creatives from EU countries who have come to Edinburgh.

More information can be found at www.creativehubs.eu and Creative Edinburgh.

Why Small Conferences Are Beneficial #SparkMe

July 28… and yes, I’m still thinking about Spark.Me.

The lasting benefits of attending a small conference like Spark.me are not only about the sessions, but they have been about the networking and relationships that have followed online and off.

Not every professional conference has the clout or size like SxSW or TechCrunch, which is why some amazing ones can slip right past you. For me, Spark.me was one of those. It’s a two-day tech/marketing conference in the country of Montenegro. If it had not been for my internship in Montenegro, I would never have heard of it.

And, I would have missed out.

Spark.me changed my view of small conferences and why these conferences are worth attending. Here are a few reasons conferences like Spark.me are worth your time and money.

  1. They Create Networking Opportunities. You will not meet and add a thousand people to your LinkedIn network if you go to a small conference, but, that’s not all networking is.

    The best business connections you can make are the ones that will last, and it takes a good conversation between two people. In a smaller setting, you will be able to really hear what others are doing and what their business is creating.

    It’s not about how many people you meet, but more about the conversations that you have during the coffee breaks. This easily happens at smaller conferences for a couple of reasons: less people (less noise) and easy accessibility to speakers and attendees.

    You don’t have to go to a big conference to find great people in your industry. You just need to make an effort to meet them and make a sincere connection.

  2. They Help Local People. Small conferences, while more regional in their reach, can be very powerful in effect.

    Spark.me provides a great example. Each year they inspire tech and marketing people in the Balkans to set and achieve great goals. It is easier for local students and entrepreneurs to engage in the industry’s conversation while not traveling too far.

    The people at Spark.me are improving their community through education and business opportunities – and that’s definitely something that I support.

  3. There’s Always Something You Can Learn. The big conferences have the thought leaders of today. You’ll hear the latest trends and buzzwords and encounter the industry’s “celebrities.”

    Fortunately, small conferences bring in speakers who you may have never heard of, and that is not a bad thing. There are many people who are working hard and creating new ideas in the industry and also working on “smaller” lesser-known projects.

    Great speakers who are working hard in the industry can provide practical information and hands-on information that are on par or even more informative than these well-known thought leaders.

    Spark.me organizers work hard on bringing in speakers who are entertaining and engaging, but who also provide diverse content, such as Rory Sutherland and Heather B. Armstrong.

The bottom line: don’t underestimate a small conference.

If you’re looking to network or get up-to-date information on industry practices, any good, reputable conference can offer you this. Do your research by searching the Internet and asking others. See if there are any professional conferences near you.

And if you are still unsure what professional conference you should attend, I suggest you see when the next Spark.me conference is and you, too, will see how great a small conference can be.

3 Ways Your Presentation Can Make An Impact #SparkMe

Presentation skills are important to both individual success and business success.

Even if you have not attended conferences like Spark.Me, where you see presentations by the newest thought leaders, you have listened to them on YouTube. Perhaps you are one of these popular speakers, or aspiring to be one. The public speaking market has grown drastically over the years, and great speakers are highly sought after for a myriad of conferences.

But, presentations are no longer only limited to “public” speaking. Great business presentations step into our “private” lives through our computers via YouTube videos, webinars, and podcasts, etc. These are becoming common methods of learning new professional skills. Social networks and the Internet have opened doors for people to establish themselves as experts in their fields by creating online presentations and effectively promoting their business or personal brand.

After Spark.me 2017, here are my reflections on three great lessons that I learned on how to present online and off professionally.

  1. Bold Visual Illustrations Grab and Hold Attention. The speaker that stood out from Spark.Me was Dr. Max Mckeown, who is a business psychologist, public speaker, and author. The audience quickly found out that he was missing one more title from his bio: illustrator!

    As Dr. Mckeown spoke, he also illustrated his presentation on a large paper-covered board (see image below). He didn’t just write key points on a board; he drew images of his examples in creative, imaginative ways that stimulated genuine fascination.

    Maybe you are not an artist like Dr. Mckeown (I’m certainly not), but think about creative ways that you can visually engage your audience. Find ways to incorporate strong, unique and relevant images into your presentations, and your audience will love it.Dr. Max Mckeown illustrates for his Spark.me 2017 presentation
  2. Thoughtful Content Is Valuable. As I mentioned earlier, Spark.Me brings new thought leaders together to Budva, Montenegro, which is what made this conference highly recommended. Note: start saving your money for next year. You will not be disappointed. Many business conferences have talks like “How to Start Marketing Your Business on Social Media,” etc., but in an over-saturated market, how can presentations bring people to your conference, to your YouTube channel, to download your podcast? The answer is simple: thoughtful information and deep discussion.

    Aza Raskin gave a presentation on modern technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Instead of just saying “Hey, tech can now do ‘X, Y, and Z’”, he went deeper. He posed questions about the implications. He opened up possibilities, which weren’t only positive and hopeful. Aza is a realist, and he wanted the audience to thinker deeper than just the technology – to think of the implications that this technology has on our society.Known as one of the first celebrity “mommy bloggers,” Heather Armstrong spoke about authenticity. In a highly competitive professional blogging industry, authenticity has become a commodity.

    Presentations are not just about giving information, but you must create a connection with each audience member and invite them to dive deeper.

  3. Your Audience’s Time Is Valuable. Whether you are giving a Ted Talk or a two-hour webinar, your audience’s time is valuable. High priority should be placed on providing beneficial content that the audience can learn from and take away to their work, to their communities, to their lives.Rory Sutherland’s presentation at Spark.me was packed with useful information and illustrations. He connected data and story in ways that were impactful, and the audience loved him. Dr. Mckeown’s presentation about “Nowism” and innovation was not only engaging and memorable, but also relevant and inspiring. Both of these speakers packed so many great things into short presentations that my hands were exhausted from tweeting.

If I were to sum up everything I learned about presentations and public speaking from Spark.me 2017, it would be in this statement: “Seek the good of your audience.” It’s easy to present something that anyone can just Google. It’s easy to draw attention to yourself or talk about your accomplishments, but that is inward-focused instead of outward-beneficial.

Create content with the goal of helping your listeners or your viewers. Think about how you can challenge them, how they will remember you and your talk. Ask yourself, “What do you want to really stick with them?” The answer might not just impact your audience, it might also impact you.

How to Network Like a Boss

Photo credit: Igor Milić Photography

Let’s face it—there are two types of people in this business world: those who like networking and those who do not. Those who do are usually bubbly extroverts who would be comfortable talking to a wall or self-promoting people who are always trying to advance their careers. Networking can be effortless and graceful for all if done properly. If this skill doesn’t come naturally to you, here are some ways to properly build and maintain career-oriented relationships that will help you as you navigate through the world of business.

#1. Build Up Your Contacts

Using whatever platform works best for you, keep track of your professional contacts, making sure to update them regularly. This list will help you organize your professional outreach if and when it’s needed.

#2. Get to Know People for the Sake of Them Being People

Nothing feels worse than a “cold call” with the obvious goal of soliciting career or financial help. To network most effectively, keep up with your connections by paying them regular attention throughout the year. Actually, take interest in their families and careers. Do not treat people like projects or numbers-they will see through it. Business works through relationships, so work on listening to others and building them. TIP: Try to remember at least one thing about what is happening a person’s life, so if you see them at a conference or out-an-about, you have a conversation starter. 🙂

#3. Use Social Media

These days, social networks can provide the most valuable outreach opportunities available to you. LinkedIn is an obvious tool, but depending on your career, Instagram and YouTube may prove even more useful. And, engage with comments or maybe article shares with people. “Liking” their pictures or posts is not enough.

#4. Follow Up

When you meet someone at an event and exchange contact information, be sure to follow up with them the very next day. Even if all you did was follow each other on Facebook or Twitter, it can’t hurt to message them a “Nice to meet you” text with your email included. If someone gives you a card, we highly recommend emailing them the following day, if for no other reason than you’ll have each other’s contacts long after the card is lost. 😉

#5. Help Others

We all lead super busy lives—probably too busy—which is why it can be difficult to commit to people who ask for coffee, etc. However, once you have some longevity in your career, you realize how important it is to do for others what you will eventually need for yourself. Take time to help those who reach out to you when possible (including friends, interns, virtual strangers and others). Remember point #2.

#6. Connect Them, Too

One of the great things that we love about networking is connecting people who haven’t asked for it. If you know your friend is a graphic designer, and you have a friend who’s working on building a website, it’s going to be appreciated by both if you intro with a note such as, “Thought you two might be into a coffee, I’ll let you take it from here!” Contacts are valuable, especially when they are referred by a trusted friend and business associate.

#7. Do Not Burn Bridges

Not all working relationships end well, but it is important to “take the high road” and move forward, not dwelling on the past or bad mouthing your previous work associate(s). This speaks volumes to all parties involved and those who are watching your interactions.

Building Bridges to Customers #LEAPzg

“What does your customers want that are JUST RIGHT?” asks LEAP Summit speaker Gerard Tannam today. Gerard opens with the classic fairy-tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and he made the point that Goldilocks tried different porridge, but it was baby bear’s porridge that was “JUST RIGHT.” In a world with many brands that are bombarding our customer, Gerard gives practical advice on how you can be JUST RIGHT for your customers by building bridges to your customers.

Brand Influence Choice

First, the purpose of a brand is the ability to influence choice. You want to the be the natural choice for customers. This means that customers only have eyes for you. When you are the natural choice, customers advertise you and advocate for your brand. Brands, in return, help customers choose what is JUST RIGHT for them by knowing who they are and what they need. Your brand reflects the relationship that you have with your customer, so you need to know exactly who you are as a business, why you do what you do, what business you are in, and how to communicate that clearly to your customers. You have to manage your brand to build your relationship. It does not just happen.

Bridging the Gap

Next, a brand must bridge the gap between the company and customers. This requires great communication. Customer relationship management (CRM) strategy is important because it personalizes the interactions you have with customers. Do not be terrified of talking to your customers. Gerard shares the greatest mistake that the Queen in Snow White did when asking the question: “Magic Mirror, on the wall, who, now, is the fairest one of all?” was that she was looking at herself in the mirror instead to the people of whom she reigned over. A brand needs to connect with somebody to be successful…not everybody. This is the starting point of the relationship with the customer. One very important step in brand building is identifying this ideal “somebody” or customer. Gerard calls this person the “Bullseye Customer.”

Pinpointing Your Bullseye Customer

Here are 3 questions you can ask to help you to identify your Bullseye Customer:
1. At what time and place in their lives is a person most likely to need, appreciate and be ready & able to buy what I have to offer?

2. What are the key qualities and characteristics of this person, which makes them most likely to buy from me?

3. Where is my ideal customer and what are they doing at the moment when their need is greatest, and how do they make their decision to buy?

Armed with a clear picture of your ideal customer and target market, you’re now able to build your brand so that everything you say and do helps your customer make the choice that’s JUST RIGHT for them and makes you their natural choice in your target market.

On a personal note, we all are walking around this digital space with our personal brand. Gerard says the first step in building your personal brand is to start knowing what makes you different. What do you offer the world that no one else does? Who would value this? After you can answer these questions, you can know how to start positioning and branding yourself personally and professionally.

7 Qualities of Tomorrow’s Top Leaders #LEAPzg

Today, LEAP Summit attendees were ready to LEARN from Andreas von der Heydt. What qualities do you think a leader needs? Are you THAT leader? Are you following THAT leader? Andreas shares with us just how truly caring and diligent he is, and how his positive and upbeat attitude reflects so highly in the minds of those he touches.

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Alan Kay

#1: Inspire!
Think big . . . be bold . . . pick yourself up after failures . . . think outside the box. A leader is not afraid that his people will rise up. He is afraid that they will NOT, and so he encourages them to success as leaders rather than followers who must be taught everything from A to Z and beyond.

Leaders must ask these “6 Success Questions:”

  1. Why?
  2. Why not?
  3. What if? What if not?
  4. What else?
  5. How?
  6. Who? When? By When?

These six basic questions provide the foundation for anything a leader does personally and professionally.

#2. Lead & Execute!
A leader is both effective and efficient by aiming at doing the right things in the right way. He strongly believes in the art of execution, and he know how hard and painful it can be to have things implemented.

#3. Explore!
Forget the traditional list of things you won’t accomplish. Get out and be inspired by a Mama Mia! play or go ice skating in the park to fire up those neurons in your beautiful mind! Then, take that positive energy and THINK BIG. Write them down, think about them daily. Make them your new mantra. These are no longer resolutions, they are dreams now manifesting themselves as REALITY.

#4. Grow!
A leader believes that you will what you want and that there are no limits to personal growth. He is both optimistic and realistic. He is open-mindeded, attentive and focused. This high level of awareness and focus allows him to see things that many of us do not notice because we are too busy with problems and ourselves.

#5. Develop!
A leader enjoys developing and coaching others. He invests a lot of energy and time in building and maintaining personal relationships founded on trust. Trust is a core belief and value of a leader, which they work hard to earn and keep.

#6. Improve & Innovate!
A leader is disruptive! He is the fastest with the best! A leader does NOT penalize failures!

#7: Care!
Remember as a leader that we get back what we give and that we should LOVE every day.

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” Eleanor Roosevelt

PRESS RELEASE: Beta Bar Will Participate with European Creative Hubs Forum in Athens

The partners of the European Creative Hubs Network project (co-funded by the EU’s Creative Europe program) are pleased to announce the second European Creative Hubs Forum, Syn-, in Athens. The event organized by the first hub for creative industries in Greece – Bios Romantso – will take place at two venues in Athens, Bios Romantso and Gazarte, from January 26 to 28, 2017. It will bring together 100+ managers and representatives of European hubs and creative and entrepreneurial communities from more than 20 countries, as well as all relevant organisations and stakeholders from Greece and the region of Southeastern Europe, including Beta Bar.

Following the first successful Forum on How Work Works in Belgrade, we continue to explore creative hubs as new models of growth and innovation. The Cultural and Creative Industries are recognized as one of the new and emerging sources of the European economy and their future sustainability and growth is becoming a priority. These industries have an impact on us as individuals, and our shared culture – they shape our arts, contribute to our view of the world, influence our consumer choices and improve the enjoyment of environments in which we live and work. They also shape the way in which we are perceived by others around the world.

15403753_1790930897822647_6459091115881141392_oSyn- acting, considered together | 2nd European Creative Hubs Forum
The Syn- forum will be examining the concept of growth in the context of the creative hub model and the particularities that are implied in this process. Through a wide program of plenary meetings, workshops and showcases, it aims to explore ideas such as growth through the development of new business models, re-adjustment of terms by establishing new, more fluid and creative ideas of economic mechanisms, and the expansion of the industry boundaries. The individual which is at the same time the local artist or entrepreneur, but also the local economy, is being incorporated into a larger spectrum: the group and the international economy, to enhance it with its unique features whilst preserving them.

Syn-, as a prefix, inspires the thinking process of this forum. The compound words
synthesis, synchrony, synergy and synaesthesia incorporate the ideas behind each of the four sessions that form the main structure of the forum: new business models, investment in education & skills, international and local cooperation, and hub stories.

This forum provides the opportunity for networking and sharing experiences between hub managers, setting the basis to envision the future of the creative hubs. The main forum events will take place from 26th to 28th of January 2017 at the venues of Athenian cultural and creative hubs Bios Romantso and Gazarte. It will feature a number of speeches, panel discussions including our own Jennifer Buxton from Beta Bar, who will be sharing about our experience at HUB385 in the P2P program, networking sessions, workshops and other side activities under the main theme of the forum: GROWTH.

The forum is closed for the public, but interested audience will have a chance to follow the soft opening of the forum on Thursday, January 26th at 7 PM at Bios Romantso. The opening event will include two keynote sessions by renowned representatives of the creative entrepreneurship sector. One of the sessions will be held by Sarah Filley, CEO & Co-Founder of Popuphood and will concern creative entrepreneurs and the emerging future of the cities.

More information can be found at www.creativehubs.eu and www.romantso.gr.

How to Incorporate Identity into Design

With this post, we continue building on lessons learned and ideas generated from our recent visit to HUB385 in Zagreb, Croatia through a Peer-to-Peer grant from European Creative Hubs Network and The British Council. Previously, we focused on what we learned about building community. Now, we focus on what we learned about incorporating the identity we want into the design of our space.


The first thing one notices when walking into HUB385 is how they designed their space to increase member flexibility and encourage engagement. They offer a variety of configurations, from spacious open floor areas and meeting rooms, to walled offices perfect for small teams. While HUB385 enjoys a much larger space overall than our Beta Bar on the coast of Montenegro, there are principles that translate well to any size when designing shared work spaces.


A survey of coworking spaces in our region, including HUB385, quickly reveals that identity is an essential trait, perhaps even more so than the floor plan or services offered. Identity grows organically from a combination of the vision we communicate and the members we attract. While members come and go, and their needs will constantly change, it is vital to maintain a consistent identity while listening and responding to members’ needs.

HUB385 state their identity succinctly on their site. They are “the home of young developers, makers, creatives and entrepreneurs in Zagreb, Croatia.”

We promote innovation, collaboration and knowledge-sharing. Together with a community of world experts we host tech events, workshops, meetups and hackathons focused on new technologies that solve real problems and promote better living.

This identity is reinforced and communicated everywhere one looks at HUB385, from the learning workshop events for all ages offered through their Academy, to the cleverly and comfortably arranged open floorplan, and the fully stocked hardware lab, worthy of even the most hardcore geek, such as myself. After just three days in their midst, I found myself dusting off project ideas I had shelved long ago. Hmmm… maybe they’re more possible than I thought! I just needed the right environment to get the creative juices flowing again.hub385academyI returned home with a fresh focus on nurturing that innovative and creative spirit I had experienced. I wanted it for myself, and for our members! A key value for me has long been collaboration. It has almost become a virtue. It permeates much of what I do, both professionally and personally. Our identity at Beta Bar is defined in three key words: collaboration, community and sustainability. Simply hoping that this identity will be established when people occupy the same workspace is naive. The design of our space must facilitate the identity we want from the beginning. We want a sustainable community that collaborates – “watercooler chats”, making new friends and business partners, sharing knowledge, sparking new ideas and helping each other make those ideas achievable – this is the identity we envision for Beta Bar!


We came away from our time at HUB385 with three principles to guide the incorporation of our identity in our design.

#1. BE OPEN.
Just like many homes are centered around their kitchens, we noticed a similar phenomenon at HUB385, especially later in the afternoon. If the kitchen area is comfortable, such as has bar stools and perhaps a couch nearby to have a casual meeting or work on your laptop, it encourages people to leave their desks from time to time and sit in the communal area.20161216_10502720161216_105228The open floorplan areas were also beautiful in their simplicity. The design and configuration are crucial as there is a fine balance between community interaction and personal space. Long banquet style tables are a good option. They work well for individuals, and are also comfortable enough to strike up a conversation and collaborate.hub385monitorBalance is key. Make sure the communal and open areas that encourage interaction are separated from those individual workspaces where people may want a quieter environment to help them focus on the task at hand.

Flexibility means that we can utilize every inch for coworking and host events in the same room on any given day. Foldable chairs, or chairs on rollers, and easy-to-rearrange work surfaces are a great place to start. Plentiful electrical outlets are also a must!

We sat down with a local artist, Srdja Dragović, and communicated our vision to him using our key words: collaboration, community and sustainability. What he came up with for our walls (and ceilings) was amazing! We’ll even have the words themselves stenciled in both English and Montenegrin (our local language) in a unique spot on the underside of our spiral staircase in our common meeting area for all to see and ponder.

Another way to inspire our members is to provide ample space to write down creative ideas and communicate thoughts to each other. One of the most tangible benefits from our visit to HUB385 happened as Luka, the managing director, was showing us around on the first day. He pointed out that several of the meeting rooms had walls treated with paint or lacquer to make the surface writeable, like a whiteboard. I think I remember seeing some painted chalkboard-like surfaces as well. I mentioned that I would really like to do something similar at our space as well. Luka immediately put me in touch with his contact at Escreo in Bulgaria (very close to us in Montenegro!). Escreo responded before the end of the day, and we started looking at their product offerings. Nothing facilitates spontaneous creativity like a whole wall that functions as a whiteboard! I mean, who hasn’t dreamed of writing on walls without getting in trouble since the earliest days of their childhood, right? I envision many great ideas being sketched out on our walls.hub385dryerasewall


Finally, a word about the other core component of our identity, sustainability. It’s hard work to be sustainable. When we started to design our space, we wanted to follow the lean startup model. We began by asking our potential community members what they thought our MVP should be. We asked HUB385 the same question. They provided fast Wi-Fi, desks and chairs, plenty of workspace with meeting rooms, kitchens, Skype rooms and little cubby holes for storage of personal items. Members are free to bring in anything else to help them work better. The members take ownership of the space, and in return, HUB385 doesn’t carry the burden of catering to each individual need.hub385lockers