Coworking is changing the way entrepreneurs, start ups and SMEs can interact in a work environment. It allows companies to operate in a space surrounded by like minded people, encourages collaboration and fosters a sense of community.

Finding office space has also become an increasingly difficult task, especially so for start ups and early stage companies with small teams.

As a result of these factors, we have seen coworking spaces pop up all round the country with many of them now thriving and aiming to expand. (Check out this article for a list).

WabiSabi is a coworking community based in Northern Ireland. Regularly running events, their community has grown and they are now at the early stages of establishing their own space to help local start ups and entrepreneurs.

I caught up with Dawn Baird from WabiSabi to get an update on the project and an overview of what’s next.

What is WabiSabi?

WabiSabi is a coworking community, space and events for entrepreneurial “types”. We run regular coworking events.

Where are you based?

Since we don’t yet have a space of our own, we’ve been couch-surfing if you like. We’ve used The MAC, Farset Labs, Studio Souk, Bayview Synergy Space (Newcastle) and The Dock Market. In September, we’re coworking at The Hatchery NI (Antrim) and in October, we will be at The Thinking Cup Café. We’re keen to talk to anyone who will host a coworking event, or anyone who is able to sponsor an event.

The ultimate plan, however, is to open our own space, probably in or around Belfast. We’re looking at lots of properties over the last few months – from spacious warehouses and airy attics to reimagined churches and reclaimed older buildings.

Can you tell me more about Sensei and the people behind it?

Sensei is a training, coaching and writing consultancy run by husband and wife team, Dawn and Allen Baird. Briefly, we help individuals and companies communicate better, in person, on paper and online.

What stage is the project at now?

We’re curating the coworking community chiefly through regular coworking days and making connections between members. In the background, we’re compiling a shortlist of properties, writing a business plan and sourcing funding. We hope to be able to make a move on a space over the next six months.

What type of people or businesses are you aiming to attract?

We’re keen to attract the following: startups and established SMEs; freelancers, contractors and remote workers; advisors and consultants; coaches, trainers and mentors; creatives of all kinds, such as writers, journalists, bloggers, developers, coders, designers, artists and makers; or anyone who considerer themselves entrepreneurially minded.

Coworking

When it is up and running how will the process work for people who may be interested?

We hope to be up and running in around six months’ time. Right now, though, we meet approximately monthly for coworking days, so people can experience what joining such a community on a more permanent basis might be like.

Members will have the option of various packages at various price points, depending on budget and commitment. People will be able to hire a desk on a monthly basis, either full or part-time, to make WabiSabi their home. Those who want to use the space for meetings, ad-hoc work or pitches and training days will be able to purchase a different package that will allow them a certain number of days’ access. There may also be additional spaces available to non-members for hire on an ad-hoc basis.

Are you receiving any assistance from local government to help get this up and running?

We’ve spent the last few months investigating our options, and we will now begin to apply for anything relevant that is available.

How would you describe the Start Up scene in Northern Ireland?

I think the start-up scene – particularly at micro and SME level – is thriving. But a lot of what goes on (events, networking, successes) is not always marketed very well, nor picked up by the media. There are very many truly innovative individuals and businesses in NI. We hope to attract more of them to choose to align themselves to the developing, creative community at WabiSabi.

What’s the best way for people to find out more?

wabisabi FINALStart with our survey: https://dawn7.typeform.com/to/gvXGMl

Or, our website: http://wabisabi.work/

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