Ahmet Onur, Co-Founder of Istanbul workspace collective, Kolektif House.
This week we had a chance to chat with Ahmet, one of the three co-founders of Kolektif House. After spending five months travelling across India and Latin America, living and working in remote collective communities, Ahmet returned home to Turkey to start a project with purpose. His goal was to maintain the energy and the vibe that existed in the communities he lived, and to bring like-minded people together to create a community.
Tell us a bit about Kolektif House and how it came to life.
Kolektif House is a shared workspace collective for creatives. We opened our first location last year in January and our second, about a month ago.
The story of how Kolektif House came to life is one of spontaneity. At the time when I returned back to Turkey, my partners were living abroad and also planning on returning to Istanbul. We started talking about where they were planning to work from and the idea of coworking came up. We knew it existed in Istanbul, but it was just space, just an office, and that’s where the idea of building a community came to life.
We wanted to create a space where we, ourselves would be motivated to create. A place where you would want to go everyday to work on your dreams, making the whole process of creation more joyful. We came across other people who had the same challenge, and decided to take action.
Once we discovered our model, we started working on our philosophy; talking about why we were doing it and how we were doing it.
We wanted it to be open to everyone who is creating something. We wanted our space to be filled with young, creative minds under the same roof.
Spontaneity became our model, everything from the artwork on our walls drawn by our community to the events we host. We didn’t want their to be many rules so we created a 24/7 space where you could bring your guests and use the event space for free. We saw it as “freedom of expression”.
You talk about “transforming buildings with unique stories to workspaces with spirit”. Tell us more about this.
Our first location, in the industrial center of Istanbul called Sanayi, used to be an old garment factory. In an area with no commercial or residential buildings, and 17 care manufacturers as our neighbors, many people don’t even know this neighborhood exists. We looked at this as a creative challenge and knew that this was biggest building we could get at a lower price point. We also wanted to be where ever excites us and our community and for us, this was an opportunity to give life to not only a building but a neighborhood.
Our new location is in Şişhane, Beyoğlu, in a historic building called Deniz Palas. The building also houses the Art and Culture Foundation (IKSV) of İstanbul. And our third location will be opened in June in Levent.
Kolektif House is more than just a space to work. Tell us more about the events your host and why they are an important part of your culture.
Our events department was the first team we created and they are working constantly to curate inspiring events that are open to everyone with the idea that “we become better when we are together”. It was a really big undertaking but it paid off for us. We’ve had over 6,000 people come into our space because of the events we put on.
Our first event that we launched was ‘Kolektif Brunch’; a healthy breakfast, with some mellow music, art and happy people. We thought of this as our best marketing tactic and decided that instead of investing a thousand dollars on Google adwords, we would host our own event and open our doors to everyone. We wanted to focus on creating a good experience and trying to amplify the touch points.
Some of our other events include ‘Kolektif Jammin’ a collective jam session where people are welcome to bring their own instruments to play or sing, ‘Kolektif Explore’ a platform for entrepreneurs and start-ups to exchange ideas and gain inspiration from sharing their projects and ‘Kolektif Talks’ which allows our community to share their experiences with one another.
What are your thoughts on the coworking movement in Istanbul?
The Turkish startup ecosystem is one of the fastest growing ecosystems in the region due to our young population and the number of people in their 20’s who are looking to create something that matters. We are also seeing many creative freelancers who are growing in number. The growth of these two movements are truly fascinating to watch. As Istanbul’s burgeoning startup scene continues to develop, the members of the community are constantly on the lookout for the best locations to work and interact with like-minded entrepreneurs. With this need, I believe we will continue to see growth in the coworking sector.
What are you most excited about for Kolektif House?
I am excited about Kolektif House creating inspiring content. We just opened our YouTube channel and are planning to launch a magazine as well as a start-up program. I’m also excited about expanding. We are opening our third location and would love to expand internationally in the future.
About the ShareDesk Blog Series ‘The Future of Work With…’
‘The Future of Work With…’ is a blog series profiling members of the ShareDesk community. We are speaking with our diverse network of entrepreneurs, business travellers, industry thought leaders, freelancers, and flexible workplace operators, and sharing their stories and experiences on how they dream up a more flexible future for work.
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