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An Interview with Betahaus: A Platform for Crazy Ideas

betahaus is embracing the new wave of free agents looking to work outside the box, which landed them a spot as the latest addition to our New Founders Program.  They have opened a coworking office/café/meeting space in Berlin just four months ago, and are already making a name for themselves as a local force with a global vision.

betahaus has been using Harvest as a dual purposed way to keep a finger on the pulse both of how they are spending their time expanding their business, and keeping their freelancers on track.  They recently talked with us about the power of the digital network, channeling BarCamp, and to be honest, they opened our eyes to the new rage in Berlin: the club mate!

betahaus group

What inspired the desire to start a collective co-working space?

When we finished university, we wanted to continue the Berlin-style of working as a freelancer in cafés and public spaces. We found that nothing came close to what we thought a coworking space should be, so we started playing around with our own ideas, until we finally started the ideal place on our own. After only 4 months of operation, we are fully booked, and we will move our focus in the next year from just one coworking space in Berlin, to the idea of a “network of coworking spaces” all over Europe.  We envision this digital network vertically integrating social media and real space.

What are the benefits of being a part of betahaus?

The benefit of being a part of betahaus is, first and foremost, having a place to go to work, that provides a good work environment and great people.  Once you are a part of betahaus, of course, synergies start to evolve, and you profit from the knowledge and the network of those around you.  Jobs are also distributed among betahaus users, and, last but not least, betahaus serves as a platform for crazy ideas.

betahaus workspace

When you say “jobs are distributed amongst betahaus users” – does this mean you really work/collaborate with the other betahaus co-workers on jobs?  Do you have to be in a specific industry to get these types of jobs?

One of the basic principles of betahaus is collaboration.  People are not renting desks at betahaus to acquire new jobs or contracts, but sometimes a collaboration can organically emerge, and lately, these collaborations have begun to arise more frequently.  Also, large companies and agencies have started to approach us, asking for manpower, since we have “so many interesting and creative people”.  In our vision of betahaus, we see our company as an intermediate between bigger players and individuals freelancers, providing infrastructure, and facilitating network and community.  We mostly host independents from creative industries like design, web development, architecture, and translation, but we also have NGOs, start up companies, and PhDs!  It is not the profession that makes one a coworker, but a shared set of values, like “openness”, “collaboration”, “cooperation”, “sustainability” and “transparency”.

betahaus kitchen

Why do you need to track time, and how do you utilize Harvest?

A time tracking service is a necessary part of our infrastructure, and we use Harvest for two different purposes.  Right now, we use Harvest to track time for the core team of betahaus, and we use Basecamp for project management.  As we grow, and the more people that become involved, the more we need Harvest to have an overview of where we are, where we’re heading, and where we spend our time.  An example of a decision we made based on what we were able monitor in Harvest: we’d like to outsource all of the café space services for the third quarter to save resources.  We were able to clearly see how much time we actually spent in the café, fixing things, taking care of the accounting, etc, and adjust our expectations.

A second need for time tracking arose in the last few weeks.  Since we have a good collection of talented people co-working at betahaus, we have started aggregating external jobs, and decided to manage and distribute these jobs through Harvest.  The objective for aggregating external jobs is to have a couple of project managers overseeing the outside jobs that come in for betahaus.  Of course, the project managers will use Harvest time tracking and invoicing with all the freelancers they work with in betahaus, as well!

What are the top 5 things you have consumed recently?

Well, I just had a club mate, which is a very popular drink (instead of coffee) amongst web people here, and then a coffee and a small “schnitzel brötchen” from our café.  I also just bought a linksys wrt 54 gl wirel router for one of the meeting rooms of betahaus.

betahaus meeting

Can you share with us a bit about the lectures/films nights/events you will be organizing (like European Cultural Entrepreneurship, Atoms & Bits Festival, Architektur Forum Lübeck, betabier?). What was the inspiration for this?

Many people invite us to events, conferences, and lectures to talk about betahaus, and why/how/when we do/did what.  The events that we host grew out of another need: it seemed that the virtual activities in Berlin strongly needed a “real” place to materialize.  We host BarCamp-like events, we host meetings for the first Online German Party (that is poised to win seats in the Parliament during the next election), we host start-up launch parties that operate from betahaus, and we create our own core events.  For example, every first Thursday we host betabier, which is a meet and greet BBQ for betahaus co-workers, where we facilitate a small pecha kucha.  We also held the Yes Men underground launch party for their new movie during Berlinale, and the Hobo Filmfest is scheduled to come to betahaus in November.  Basically, we look to facilitate online culture entering the mainstream by providing a real place for it to actually exist.

We’re happy to welcome betahaus to the Harvest New Founders Program’s expanding collective of movers and shakers, and to support their quest for a global collaborative digital network of social media and real spaces.

To help companies get on their feet, The Harvest New Founders Program gives one year’s subscription of Harvest time tracking service to a new company each month. Think you might be a good fit for our New Founders Program? Learn more and apply.

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