Please tell us a little about yourself.
Charlotte: My name is Charlotte and I am currently working on starting my own business in furniture design. I left my previous job and am now working full-time on developing my new business LOT, and it is extremely exciting. We have a family business in furniture design already; I have three older brothers who work with my father to run the business. I have my own vision and my own opinion about how the future of furniture could be. I want to take this chance to create and build my own vision and see whether there is another way of using furniture in the future.
Franziska: I am working in social settings. I consult with tech companies about how to better use social media to find new business opportunities. I work mainly in the business-to-business field, so I work a lot with Linkedin, I give sales trainings, keynote speeches, etc. I work internationally and I make use of all of the Mindspace locations globally. I have to travel a lot for my clients in to be on location. Most of my clients are in Europe and I also have some in the U.S. and in India. I show companies how to use social media proactively instead of being reactive.
How did you two meet?
Charlotte: We were both originally sitting in the Mindspace House (the first Mindspace location to open in Amsterdam) and we met each other on opening day! Now we sit next to each other at our dedicated desks in Mindspace Dam.
Please tell us about your collaboration with one other. Any collaborations/partnerships with other Mindspace member companies that you are doing?
Charlotte: Franziska has been collaborating with me to help me with my online presence and to develop my online brand. She is giving me great advice on how I should present myself, how to connect with people, and to begin to establish a network. I have been connecting with other Mindspace members as well. Franziska and I have mainly been connecting with the other individual freelancers. It is easier to connect with them, because we are in the same room and the same tables. The atmosphere within Mindspace allows for a more open and friendly environment, which makes it easier to contact and foster connections with others.
Franziska: I have another collaboration with another individual who helps me design my website. He usually sits at a dedicated desk to the left of me and Charlotte is right in front of me. The woman who sits to the right of me is my photographer. There is also someone with whom I am starting a podcast. So I have quite a few collaborations within Mindspace that really started completely organically by just having a chat at the coffee machine. I think the coworking way of life is really valuable. Again this is the term network, you are all in the same room, and you have a similar mindset, so for me, it has been very beneficial.
Could you share some insights about what makes your company/business thrive?
Franziska: It’s the network. 100%. It’s all about the network. I teach how to use your offline network and activate it online, but also how you can find the right stakeholders. That could be an investor, a potential partner, an employee, etc, but for me, it’s really better people believing in me and seeing something way before I was able to see it myself and then really supporting, guiding, and pushing me. It is important to maintain a very strong offline network, but also figuring out how you mobilize your network online using social media. This has been key to my success.
Charlotte, where do you see the furniture industry going? What is your vision?
Charlotte: At the moment, I am doing tons of research and using design thinking as a methodology. I am at the first stage of exploration with my company. I am focusing on Millennials living in urban areas, in the 5 biggest cities in the Netherlands. I am focusing on small living spaces. I believe that the furniture we have at the moment is very passive. For example, we buy a couch and it stays that way, but our lives are fluid and continually changing. The space we live in changes a lot and our needs change over time and our furniture has not been changing with us. I think that the industry can develop a new interesting field where our furniture can have the ability to transform in some way to meet our needs better. It is about function, emotion, and sustainability. If furniture is able to transform with you ,then you won’t have to buy new furniture all the time and it will be much more sustainable. It is quite a big goal, but I won’t rest until I achieve it.
What are your goals for the future?
Charlotte: Currently my goals are Milan 2020 at Silona de Mobile; the biggest design furniture fair in the world. In 2020, I would really like to be there to expose my brand and to showcase my products.
Franziska: I have just hired my first employee two weeks ago and I hope many more will join in the next couple of years. I’m trying to build an agency and a business out of my idea and right now I do a lot of coaching. So I have developed these 5 to 6-month coaching programs that really help companies throughout this change process and stimulate a change in behaviors. Looking ahead, I would also like to offer this more to selected networks. For instance, working with women in tech or women in finance to help them to personally brand themselves. Similar to what I am doing with Charlotte, to really try to identify your added value and to communicate that to your target audience. I am doing this now on location trainings, but also through webinars. The idea is to have my own events in this space. Throughout Europe, no matter whether you’re in London, Paris or Zurich, you could come to one of my events and then learn about an array of topics from content sharing on social media, to personal branding, to generating leads using social media. To execute this, I would need more staff. It would be difficult to do it on my own, so I have to keep growing.
What has been your biggest win and risk?
Charlotte: The biggest win would be for me to reach my goal and really create a solid brand and have a product by 2020 that I can sell. There are many risks when it comes to starting your own business, but there are always solutions for any issues that could arise. I would like to see all of the risks as challenges that I need to overcome. No matter what happens, I will see this experience as a success, because I have been learning a lot, growing, expanding my network, making new friends, and working on something I am truly passionate about.
Franziska: If you are afraid of risk then you are not an entrepreneur. I am in the process of hiring my first new employees and I do worry about making sure to hire the right people because they will be the core essence of my team. I am constantly entering new markets. I live and operate as a digital nomad, which means I was in Tel Aviv last summer, this year in India, next year in Mexico, and now in Cape Town, so wherever I am, I also start building a client list based on location. There is always a risk that there will be fewer or no clients. I have the same mindset as Charlotte; I just don’t see anything as a risk, because there is nothing I cannot master. My biggest risk is also my win: it’s my network. There is always the risk that I will not get a client, but on the other hand, have found that I have successfully built a network and have clients call me out of the blue without having to acquire them. I am very proud that I have not had to do much client acquisition; clients come to me.
Why have you chosen the Mindspace way of life?
Charlotte: I have been a freelancer for about one year. I was looking for a coworking space, and I have tested out a number of them. I really think the benefit of coworking space is that you feel less lonely because when you freelance, you are actually on your own. You don’t have colleagues and when some things don’t really work out, then you can’t really reach out to another person. Working from home can get you quite stuck as well. Meeting other people is very important. I worked at a few other coworking spaces and they use the word coworking, but they don’t help you to do coworking (make connections with other people). I feel much more connected to Mindspace compared to other coworking spaces I have been at. The biggest challenge for coworking spaces is creating a community and a culture in which everyone feels able to integrate. If you are able to accomplish that, then coworking really thrives. At Mindspace, the way of working here is very nice, the atmosphere is vibrant, and the variety of events held here is fantastic.
Franziska: I agree. I’ve tried sixteen different coworking spaces in Amsterdam and for some reason, I just didn’t feel the connection. I didn’t connect with the other communities, because they did not feel genuine, but with Mindspace I felt that sense of connection. I also like the fact that Mindspace has global locations I can work from. It’s important to be able to cancel my membership and re-register for a membership because I travel so much. I really like the design in the Mindspace offices. Mindspace feels like a second home, particularly since I work a lot on the weekends. It’s nice to be able to even just sit and read a book on the couch. For me, it’s really more than just a place to work.
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