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We started a coworking space in Urla, Türkiye. And not just for the coffee and the internet.

Before going into why a coworking space and why in Urla I need to bring back the amazing experience with the EDI team in Bursa, a couple of weeks ago. Over 30 participants from all over Europe in a workshop over 5 days defining need and solution for the EDI network organisation. The venue was quite symbolic, a restored Orthodox church in Tirilye, Bursa, converted into a cultural centre. Especially the Galician and Portugees participants brought a lot of joy on the table and great insights in running their coworking spaces. Not as real estate projects but as a centre of collaboration and cocreation, focusing on a positive impact and change. As we decided on starting in Urla before the workshop it was great to meet like-minded friends sharing their stories and experiences. It confirmed our decision, but also that it is not an easy road to walk on.

The mission we carried out with Stage-Co was and will be, more and better startups in our region through adequate programs. We started first with the creation of our community, over 14.000 email addresses today and counting, organising meetups, hackathons, Startup Weekends, İdeathons and pitching events. Over 150 in total in 5,5 years. Shortly after we started Stage-Co Platform, the community, we launched Stage-Co Masters. Focus on workshops varying from 3 hours to multiple days, Bootcamps and Acceleration Programs. We were active in universities, coworking spaces, and corporate places. Today we kicked off the next step, StageCoWorking, setup as a coworking space where we will merge art, tech and startups. Very ambitious indeed and fully bootstrapped.

After a long period of researching collaborations, Neşen, co-founder and spouse, one day said that we just had to start our own as talks never went anywhere. We are content creators and tried to find a coworking space environment where we could plug-in. Not with money but with our content and trainers. There were surely possibilities but there was always something missing, like resources (money to invest) or the physical location of the space. I must thank here Levent from Habita with whom we had a very productive relationship. Travelling Türkiye and neighbouring countries we felt the lack of having our own space to welcome talent and nurture them until they were ready to hit the challenges of confronting investors, competition and sales. We do have a lot of talent but too young and inexperienced. When we did yet another Startup Weekend or Hackathon we saw a buildup of some great teams but once the closing pitching was done the whole pudding fell to the bottom. No follow-up or no net to catch them and continue on building an MVP or team that was ready to become a sustainable business. This sums up why we want a space, to nurture, train and guard talented teams. You wonder about the business model here? Good question but no easy and straightforward answer. I am a big fan of Acceleration Programs but here again comes the issue which model and whatever the choice is, the program team and venue need to be paid.

Startupbootcamp was my first experience with an Accelerator Program in Türkiye by the definition. 3-month program with investment for equity. One of the things I learned is that the knowledge of the program team is important and that a long list of mentors on your website means nothing but a hell of a job to gather all the pictures and descriptions of people who like to look at their picture on a website that looks cool. The height of the investment is also important, it defines what type of teams you can support. Market platforms are cheap and easy to make so a minimum investment is enough. Going for BioTech or Medical or machine-based solutions are out of the scope. Small money is not going to help them and we lack mentors and knowledge for these areas. In this sense, it is important to understand what we need, what we can do and where the biggest potential impact is hiding. All this made me conclude that IoT is our biggest opportunity, specifically in 3 domains: Agriculture (the most important one), Smart City and Mobility and Energy. Small investments in order to create the soft-and hardware and as we have 2.1 million farmers a huge market. Btw, in 10 years time, 700.000 farmers have quit the profession and the size of Belgium stayed idle as farming ground in the same period some of it turned into “beton” landscape. Today Türkiye is an importer of food, while exporter some 12 years ago. You don’t do farming in the city, apart from vertical farming, so we chose Urla, the Toscana of Turkiye.

As I mentioned before we are bootstrapping, what I know best anyway, and we will grow by demand. Today we have a potential of over 1000m2 but we started with 40m2 and offer Virtual Office, Meeting rooms and coworking. I learned that low cost at the start is essential, so do not expect us to show you pictures of an empty big space. We also have Istanbul to continue our networking and presence but luckily we are building at the same time an amazing team in Urla so we can fulltime function here. We are in the process of adding some great parts to our offering now in order to kick off the art part that I am very keen on. More when that is ready. Neşen, Pelin Yıldız and I, and some “behind the scene” people are working on a great project and we can use any support.

We are reaching out to corporations as we want to offer them workshops in a great environment, investors to follow up on the startups we will train, mentors who are in and around Urla, mainly coming from İstanbul and Ankara and of course the universities. Get in contact with us and discover together how we can create more and better startups in our region.

Big thanks to our landlord, who is a great support, Pelin who got totally emerged, and Burak Ünder for creating a great 3D model of the whole floor so we can share our dream. Indeed a floor of 1200m2 and a total of 3 floors. Sounds crazy? Of course. Only crazy people break chains and at least try to realise their dreams :-D. Amin.

more info here: www.stagecoworking.com (soon also in English)

email: nesen@stage-co.com or pelin@stage-co.com

Patrick Bosteels, Stage-Co Co-Founder — patrick@stage-co.com

check out the other interviews https://medium.com/@patrickbosteels

see more: https://www.facebook.com/patrick.bosteels and https://www.facebook.com/stagecoplatform/ and like https://www.facebook.com/urlacowork/

Stage-Co, Urla Coworking, Now Sprint! Accelerator and Creative Academie co-founder, Facilitator, Accelerator Program Manager and Mentor

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