5 Questions With

5 Questions with Caterina Maiolini

5 Questions with Caterina Maiolini

Cate Maiolini is the UK and Head of Ambassadors for Co-Liv and the London Mayor of StartupHome, a social enterprise coliving in Islington.

Thanks for taking the time to speak to us, Cate. Can you tell us about yourself, Co-Liv, and StartupHome?

Sure thing! I am London based, been here for the past 19 years really, but I was born in Italy. Since moving to England I have always shared houses for 2 main reasons, the first and the most important is that I do not like living on my own, I find it terrible for my soul. The second is not only economical but an easier one-stop solution to that side of my finances. I know exactly what I am spending on rent/bills etc as it is all-inclusive. What got me into coliving though is that I understood how important it is to live with people that share similar values and interests with you! When I was working in the fashion industry and travelled in all the major cities for fashion week, my colleagues and I used to rent large properties and “colive” for the whole month (moving cities but still together). The amount of professional and personal growth I got from that was priceless. So I decided to move away from fashion and pursue this dream of creating not only beautiful places but great communities of like-minded people. So here comes Startuphome. I met Stefano, the founder, through communal friends and loved the concept. Having always been entrepreneurial myself, the possibility of living with a community of people that were on my same wavelength was a dream. I entered Startuphome as a member/resident, to begin with, and then moved on to be more involved with the company and become one of the Directors. Startuphome is the first social enterprise in the coliving space in Europe. Its mission is to provide accommodation, community, and sanctuary to entrepreneurs, remote workers, and innovators from any race, nationality, and religion. In doing so, it aims to create a more vibrant, open, and accountable society. Also gathering passionate people in the same place is the formula for innovation.

Naturally, I came across Gui Perdrix (Co-Liv Director) as he is connected with pretty much everybody in the coliving sector, and through him, I was introduced to Co-Liv which is the global non-profit organization, ecosystem, and do-tank with a mission to promote the coliving phenomenon. I immediately loved what they were doing and wanted to be more involved in some ways. This year, I have taken on the role of Head of Ambassadors and grew the team from 8 in 3 continents to a team of 35 in 5 continents. We hold between 10 to 15 events every month and in 2021 there will be so much more, with ambassadors that will be more topic-specific and not just country orientated. So please stay tuned and follow us. We have also just launched our onboarding programme which is a 10 weeks programme for all those who are dedicated to pushing the boundaries of shared living through the right professional connections, deeper knowledge and the ability to participate in business growth initiatives. As part of the programme, you also become a member of Co-Liv with a year-long access to all content.

What sets coliving apart from other shared living environments?

I guess it is the Co before the living :)

The community, collaboration, cooperation, connection etc.

You can spend your whole life “sharing” spaces with other people, yet never sharing more than that. And it’s tragic! It’s lonely, is sad, is devastating for the soul and the spirit! With coliving, it is all very different. The community of people you will share the space with, comes before the space itself. With the whole WFH increasing, the importance of who you live with will take over where you live. The operators of coliving spaces have a clear understanding of this difference; they understand that beautiful spaces, stunning design, and great functionality are equally as important as the community side of what they are offering. The space you live in also becomes a service to you, a service delivered with a very high standard and understanding of the individual and their broader needs. It’s not anymore “just a roof over your head” and this will also change the whole landlords/tenants relationship that in the past has often not been great. The landlord (operator) will be seen as a service provider, with services that are going to be top-end, and the tenants will be seen as a customer (as it should be!)

Coliving is a movement, a very impactful one. It is set to change forever the way we live and interact with people and therefore our society!

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What changes do coliving spaces make in their neighbourhoods, or to existing local communities?

Love this question! Thank you for bringing it to the table!

I have to say that is all very much depending on where the coliving space is also. If we are talking about a rural one (ie: Casa Netural in Italy or Mokrin House in Serbia to name a couple) the connection with the local communities and neighbourhoods is often deeper, stronger and more blended in. For example, not only by bringing in more people to colive in the same space, these spaces bring more awareness to the place, the local services and amenities and the country itself often. But also, by creating events, possibilities, spaces, and opportunities for the local community to participate in what the coliving spaces are doing and vice versa, these spaces create a synergy between different people that wouldn't be there otherwise. Often the residents are digital nomads that stay for some time and that thrive in sharing their skills with the local community, but also thrive in learning local skills from the community. And this exchange enriches both parties very much. Lastly, often coliving spaces bring modernisation and some technology and services in rural places that may have taken longer to reach otherwise. This is because often the demand of the members/residents for tech and services will be high, and coliving spaces need to provide for those.

In cities, although on a bigger scale, is also similar. By having a coliving space where you bring in many people to live in the same spot, all the local amenities and services benefit because the members/residents will “have to” use them. Gyms, restaurants, bars, dentist, doctors etc.

Often the community managers/facilitators will also be in contact with local groups and make the connections. These could be volunteering, fitness, hobbies, leisure etc. Many of the residents/members will want to participate and be part of what happens locally to them. Let’s not forget that often the coliving spaces hold events where the local community is also welcome to attend (in pre-Covid time for sure, what will happen next.. we’ll have to see) or organise events in collaboration with the local community for the members/residents. Infinite possibilities and endless benefits for me.

Do you have a success story to share with us?

I have many really, but I will share the most recent one. As mentioned before, my relationship with Startuphome began with me as a member and resident about 2 and a half years ago. I still live here, because I love it all! A few months ago, during the first Covid lockdown one of our members lost a couple of contracts due to his client pulling out of projects because of the situation. As Startuphome we were there to support him of course but also the whole community got together to do so. To the extent that one of the other members, who runs a successful company that has seen its numbers and profit doubling during Covid due to the nature of the business, offered him a collaboration on a project with his company and now, they are working together, successfully I may add (although they weren’t best of friends, to begin with, the whole community helped on bringing them closer). This is just one of the stories, but I have so many. Perhaps I should write a book!

How can we connect with you and the projects you’re involved with?

You can pop a message to cate@co-liv.org, or find me on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram. I am always looking forward to connecting with anyone interested in coliving and as passionate as I am. Also if you think there is a project that you may require help with, again, always open to have a chat about it and explore synergies.

Oh and if you are down with the cool kids.... you can also follow me on TikTok here.

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Happy Coworking!

Madeleine Dymond

Product Manager at Cobot and former coworking organizer. Passionate about what coworking founders do for their communities with the right tools. Lover of good music, bad tv, and 31 plants.