Located in the heart of the creative scene in Berlin, Kreuzberg, betahaus became one of the most known coworking spaces in Germany’s capital. Launched in 2009, it has now moved to several cities across Europe. As its birthday is coming up, we looked a little deeper into the space that serves over 5,000 cups of coffee to its 350 members every month.
How it got started
“We didn’t plan on building such a big thing,” says Christopher Fahle, cofounder of betahaus. He and his cofounders Tonia Welter, Gregor Scheppan, Stephan Bielefeldt, Madelene von Mohl and Max von der Ahe planned to have the space for about half a year and then start their own project. Currently only Fahle and von der Ahe are still operating betahaus.
While the team was inspired by Citizen Space in San Francisco, it didn’t realize until late that the San Francisco space only offered 20 desks, while the Berlin office starting renting workspace on three stories. From 2009, where it started off with 40 members on 400 sqm, it offers 2,500 sqm today – five years later – to over 350 members.
Inside betahaus: People, Numbers, Locations
Many non-members might only know betahaus through the café on the bottom floor, where people can sit in and outside and work. If you spend more time there, you will quickly learn about the different projects the coworking space is involved in.
betahaus offers more than just desks and wifi. betahaus offers workshops in fields like Do It Yourself, Art & Design, or weekly woodworking classes. It is free for members and just a few Euros for non-members. In addition to its educational aspects, it also offers the weekly Betabreakfast, where everyone can join to learn about a certain topic/business and connect with other like-minded people.
But the coworking space also has its own projects:
* Open Design City, e.g., is a collaboration space where new products and relationships can be formed. It encourages the sharing of tools, knowledge, idea and skill – the principle of Open Design.
* As betahaus is a place to get things done, it contributed an entire weekend (the Maker Weekend) to actually “doing”. So instead of “just listening” to workshops, visitors started building a lamp, an app, or whatever the workshop was about.
* It also invented betapitch. Pitches took place all over Europe and the finals will take place this weekend in Berlin at betahaus’ all day birthday event.
betahaus not only attracts freelancers and startups but also raises awareness outside the scene on startups and innovation. Philipp Rösler (see picture), former Vice Chancellor of Germany, visited the coworking space two months ago to get an idea on what people are building and designing.
Though not all of the success stories come from Berlin. betahaus tests its format in other cities as well and has now spaces in Lisbon (since April 2010), Hamburg (since June 2010), Cologne (May 2011 to March 2013), Zurich (July 2011), Sofia (July 2012) and Barcelona (2013).
It’s birthday party time and the betahaus invites everyone to join on September 30th for an all day event. Besides snacks and drinks, a long list of events are taking place.
The Freelancer Behörde will be there to help with questions on freelancing. Open discussions on topics like The Future of Online Learning and Professional Development will take place, along with numerous workshops such as Design Thinking – Build your own Standing Desk. Besides the talks and workshops, betahaus’ hardware accelerator Hardware.co will present current ideas and prototypes.
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