At the beginning of the month I flew to Austin to attend the Global Coworking Unconference Conference, GCUC. This year’s event was my first and it was a great week during I got to learn a lot and meet many of people.
Liz Elam is the magician behind GCUC. She runs Link Coworking in Austin, organizes GCUC, and even drives a coworking car. She is really into it, and GCUC is filled with all of her high energy and passion. It was a very good conference, or, as Liz would say, a juicy conference. Many thanks to Liz, Amber, and Lindsey for making it happen. I am already looking forward to next year’s GCUC!
GCUC was a bit longer than two days for me. Alex Hillman (of IndyHall and a thousand more things), honored his Community Builder title and organized something more than a place to sleep at Kimber Modern. We made a home out of it, and some of us even made their own coworking corner in the kitchen. That’s what happens when you put a group of coworking space managers in a kitchen with huge windows and give them some post-its — they work together and think about the values that move them, their concerns, and their plans and resolutions for the future.
With nine panels about various topics, the first official day of GCUC was a great opportunity for new coworking space managers to learn, as well as for more seasoned managers to hear what’s new. The hottest topics were those about community building and funding/profitability, as well as the entry of business centers, real estate firms, and big companies like Jones Lang Lasalle into the market, many of whom were panelists in the conference. It was surprising to see so many vendors as well, in fact many more than I had seen before at the Coworking Spain and Coworking Europe conferences in 2012. The variety of profiles (space managers, people interested in opening new spaces, vendors, big companies, real state firms, business centers, universities, public institution, press…) made me realize that coworking must be getting there.
However, the coworking unconference on the second day of the event was where the magic happened. The great thing about unconferences is that they are organized from the bottom up and there are no speakers, panelists or moderators. Is there anything you’d like to talk about? Suggest a time slot and a discussion corner and meet with other people who are interested. This means that anything can happen. You can write a letter to Yahoo in the morning, talk with a huge group about software tools to manage coworking spaces (from billing tools like Cobot to cool door locking apps) before lunch, and spend the afternoon talking about women in coworking spaces and making plans to improve the Coworking Wiki.
But GCUC 2013 was so much more than this. Not only did we have time to talk about values, space, and community, to discuss how to attract more members to spaces, how Cobot can adapt to each space’s needs or how we see work in 20 years, but also to eat, drink, dance, harlem shake, play games, and enjoy SXSW. You’ll find some of these moments captured here.
The goal was to put faces, voices, and ideas to names, and to get to know the people with whom I work everyday better: the people behind this great thing called coworking. Mission accomplished.
After such a long post the least I can do is to use a few more lines to say a big thank you to everybody I met in Austin. You made it meaningful and you made it fun. I am looking forward to seeing you again! A special thanks go to all of you who are either using Cobot or tried it in the past and approached me to share your insights — or even helped other space managers get started!
And if you missed it, be sure to make it next year. It’s juicy.
Pics by Deskmag