5 Questions With

5 Questions with Engelnest: Ferhat Engel and Daniela Sanhueza

Jun 29, 2022
5 Questions with Engelnest: Ferhat Engel and Daniela Sanhueza

We sat down with Engelnest CEO Ferhat Engel and Community Manager Daniela Sanhueza to hear about their story, inspiration for opening, challenges through COVID, and the evolution of their coworking community.

Thank you very much for taking the time out to meet me! Tell me about the origins of Engelnest, where did the idea come from?

Ferhat: Many things came together at the right time for Engelnest. The first was the fact that I was working as an IT consultant in the classic corporate setup with suits, ties, and constant travel; it was this kind of life that I wanted to quit. At the time I had been attending many start-up events and hackathons after work, these events provided me with an excellent opportunity to escape the classic corporate life and enter the startup world.

The second thing was the pallet shop which my father has run since 1983 which he then expanded to a new location outside of Berlin. This left a lot of space at the original shop free, which, having visited many start-up events, made me think that I could have a space similar to these.

Such a bright welcoming space to cowork in!

What was the vision when you started developing the coworking space within the pallet store?

Engelnest was a reflection of everything I did not like about the corporate world. These problems are shared by many people I know, so I wanted to craft a space that speaks to me and others. That was my vision, building a community around this shared passion and a new way of working.

The idea was for me to attract those with a more technical background to whom I could relate, and those with a more creative side my sister would take care of as that is more her focus. A place where people could feel at home working in, but also a place where people would socialize after. That for me is the most important difference between here and the corporate world, people want to stick around here after work and Engelnest is a great environment for that.

People often work here for the day and then sometimes family members arrive in the evening with food and then can relax and catch up. It is refreshing for them to have a comfortable environment to socialize in, especially with most people being stuck at home constantly during COVID.

The community also celebrates special days such as birthdays here, so you see the work people do is important, but the community is shaped by those activities done here after work. The pallets here also give us great flexibility to shape the outside space based on need; for some events, we have created a pallet bar, an amphitheater set up, topic-discussion modules, and anything the community needs, and the aesthetics are very “Engelnest.”

The cellar of Engelnest provides such an atmospheric space.

How was the community shaped by Engelnest and vise versa?

By trade, I am an engineer, so my interests lie in mobility and energy. As the coworking space was formed, it was a reflection of my passions, which in turn attracted people with common interests such as sustainability.

Our space has certainly been shaped by the companies that work from Engelnest, the first of which was InfraLab. Having previously met them at a European Energy Forum event, they mentioned looking for a new space to move into. I mentioned that I was in the process of developing Engelnest, and in the classic corporate style we exchanged business cards. That was in November 2019, the following month we opened, and in September 2020 they made Engelnest their new working space!

With InfraLab joining Engelnest, many of the future member’s inquiries were based on that initial membership, so they certainly shaped us in a profound way.

Restlos Glücklich, an eco-friendly, food waste reduction non-profit was another great company that shaped us. Their philosophy has certainly aligned with Engelnest but also informed us and shaped us even more into an eco-friendly, anti-waste space!

Dani: As of June 2020, three months into lockdown, many people from our neighborhood who found us thought Google Maps inquired about the space. From those looking for a calm environment to write their thesis, remote workers, to those whose partners were also working from home and wanted a different working place to reduce friction in those very stressful times.

The second half of 2020 saw all these new people joining as members. It was enriching and fulfilling to see the community expand after the quiet period at the start of COVID.

What is also nice is seeing these startups and small companies join Engelnest, and watching them grow alongside us. With startups, starting with just two people and adding to their number over time after many of their successes.

A good example is the Online Fitness Academy. Jan joined us in mid-2020 when he started a new job as a project manager. One year after this project turn into a GmbH and he became the CEO, and currently, he has his team and working students who also come to Engelnest. It is uplifting to observe this growth inside the community.

Engelnest is the perfect space not just for working, but also socializing

Dani, what in your view makes a great Community Manager?

I believe you have to be a people person for a role like this. It's all about being friendly, extroverted, and a good communicator. I am these things, so I am kind of everyone's friend here at Engelnest - and I love it!

Being a good listener is also important: getting interested in them, their business, projects, needs (regarding the space and community), and even their personal lives if the affinity and trust allows it. Also, by understanding their work and challenges, you can support your members by connecting them with other people, events or other opportunities

Details like buying the type of milk or teas variety members prefer is a small gesture but makes them feel cared for in the space, and that is something people really like at Engelnest. Keeping the community informed about what is going on in the coworking world is essential, so having good writing skills and knowledge about different tools and platforms is important too.

I studied journalism and my working experience was always in Digital Marketing as a content creator and social media manager, so that background gave me the necessary abilities for a position like this.

The pallets really highlight the Engelnest aesthetic

With coworking still going strong despite the COVID pandemic, what’s next for Engelnest and its community?

Dani: With COVID restricting what we could do in the past, plus people's concerns about meeting others, it was difficult for us to engage more with the community throughout internal events. So the current challenge is getting the community to interact more with each other and, now that people are more relaxed and open, it is an excellent opportunity to cater to that.

Another goal is to encourage our members to host their own events, especially now we have finished the event space outside which can host about 200 people. After these two years of the pandemic, we also built a beautiful closed event venue, Der Weinkeller, for conferences, parties, and all sorts of events. So we are ready for more events finally!

Ferhat: We have done well so far listening to the needs and feedback from our community and we want to continue this. For example, the need for a room to make calls came about and in response, we made a “zoom room.” Developing the space alongside the needs of our community is essential and something we will keep up with in the future.

Thank you both so much for taking the time out to talk to me, I can’t wait to follow the developments of Engelnest and attend some future events!


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