Pier Paolo Mucelli is a London based entrepreneur, and the founder of eOffice, the alternative workspace.  He is really the pioneer in coworking, eOffice just had 10th anniversary! I met him few weeks ago in London and in this interview Pier Paolo is talking about coworking, innovation and serendipity.

Ilkka: “How would you, as a pioneer of the field, describe the current state of coworking movement?”

Pier Paolo: “There is an explosion of corworking centres worldwide, the market is very dynamic with new entrants (and some exits too). Some larger companies have also been looking at the incubator/coworking model (for example Google in East London, Telefonica/Wayra and Mozilla Spaces in Central London). The market is very fragmented and in my opinion will continue to grow, and there will be some brands establishing multiple locations. “

Ilkka: “Many of the existing coworking spaces are being created from grass root level and around certain topics of interest, how do you see community building and facilitation aspects in your space?”

Pier Paolo: “Community building is critical in the success of the coworking space. We facilitate this with the open plan concept, lobby/relax coffee areas, message boards. Moreover at eOffice we organize events so that members get to know each other and value added activities with external visitors and pitches. Overall I believe in self-organized communities more than facilitation itself.  And for getting self-organized communities to emerge certain codes of conduct are important, we try to support the trust building between our members (we even call them members instead of customers)”

Ilkka: “How do you see the potential of coworking spaces as innovation platforms, is there difference between the various types of spaces?”

Pier Paolo: “Currently the spaces are different in terms of look and feel, in particular in terms of interior design, layout, type of furniture and on the level of facilitation. At eOffice we take particular care on the quality of the furniture and furnishing, using ergonomic furniture, accessories, green elements (plants, recycling bins) and even art in the environment. We have not focused in incubation activities, like some of the free coworking spaces at the moment.  I am sure that one will see still in near future the business models of coworking spaces to evolve and it’s too early to say, which ones will be the most successful.”

Ilkka: “What’s your vision for  the coworking movement, how will it emerge  in five years time?”

Pier: “There will be more well functioning global brand names in the business and for instance we in eOffice would like to offer suitable environment for entrepreneurs, startups, professionals in the major cities worldwide, and facilitate their logistic/facilities so that they can focus on their business. When business models evolve globally some types of coworking spaces will lose their edge and  some will flourish. Also some actors outside there core coworking movement might enter the business and that will reshape the whole movement into the more industry like structure.”

Ilkka: “What about serendipity?”

Pier: “Serendipity will probably be one of the differentiating factors. Coworking spaces with good track record related to business support will emerge and one way to create impact is to design and manage the spaces especially for harnessing serendipity. We have experienced in eOffice during the years many valuable chance encounters, which have led to sustainable business collaboration. Anyhow, to understand serendipity is one of the cornerstones when managing a coworking space.”

Pier is very active in the UK/European startup community and has supported the following organizations / networking groups over the years: British Library IP Centre, Chinwag, Entreprise UK, Envestors, First Tuesday, MashUp Event, Mobile Monday, NACUE, Open Soho, RockStar Group, SeedCamp, SeedForum, Speed Networking, Striding Out, School for Startups, Smarta, The Pitch, Tie UK and many more.
Pier is also an active speaker and contributor at workplace and design conferences. He is often part of the judging panels and startup events / pitches of major Universities, like Hult Faculty, Imperial College, Kings College, LSE and Warwick University

eOffice is a new generation of flexible workplaces, offering the ultimate in serviced office development in the heart of media land Soho, London. The stimulating, modern environment offers sociable, business setting geared to vibrant, like-minded startups and entrepreneurs. Fully serviced offices, trendy meeting and conference rooms, super-fast broadband coverage and plenty of natural light compliment the open plan interior of this state-of-the-art networking hub. IT, furniture and design specialists have all collaborated for achieving this inspirational workspace that is an ideal solution for professionals in the media and technology industry. Key to the concept are the regular networking events, pitches and seminars. More from www.eoffice.net