At the Coworking Europe Conference last November in Lissabon we realized: It’s not only us thinking about coworking in holiday areas. We met very interesting people who launched exciting coworking projects in Bali, Delhi, or in the North of Denmark.
For example Rasmus Johnsen, who follows his passion surfing the waves. At Denmark’s coast he –together with other enthusiasts– wants to combine coworking and matchmaking with the fun of surfing in the sea. In our talk Rasmus explains how the waves of „Cold Hawaii“ inspired his project Cowork Klitmøller and why it has also attracted attention at EU level.
:: Rasmus, where and what is Cold Hawaii?
Rasmus: Cold Hawaii is 60 km of the western coastline in Thisted Municipality. On that particular stretch of beach, there are 31 registered spots for windsurfing, kitesurfing, or surfing. This makes it the number one surf destination in northern Europe.
The “capital“ of Cold Hawaii is Klitmøller, a village of approximately 830 inhabitants surrounded by the ocean, a national park, and rural countryside. Klitmøller is literally as far away as far away from Copenhagen as you can get in our little kingdom.
Surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing has brought a relatively large group of settlers to this tiny village, and some of them are what you would call „creative people“. I’m one of them. We are the residents at Cowork Klitmøller. But we all started as beta-residents, that is, visitors who return frequently to Klitmøller to be close to the ocean.
For both residents and beta-residents the weather plays a huge role in our lives. The weather is – well – pretty unpredictable. Therefore it’s the degree of flexibility or, ultimately, the lifestyle you lead that will determine whether you can both pursue your work and spend time on the water.
:: What is Cowork Klitmøller’s main value proposition (in other words: why is it going to be awesome)?
Rasmus: We’re creating a special edition of a coworking space. We call it a matchmaking zone. At Cowork Klitmøller you’ll meet people who share a deep relationship with the ocean and the surf, the light and the sand dunes, the wildlife and last but not least the culture. People of Klitmøller will get the perfect conditions to meet and work together. Regardless of whether they live in Klitmøller or not.
:: How did it all begin? Have you been a coworker before?
Rasmus: In fact, the idea is a few years old. Already back in 2007, I came across the concept of „coworking“. I was immediately fascinated by it. At that time, I shared an office with a few people in Klitmøller. It was fine, but I knew that I wanted more than that.
January 2011, I did a talk for a delegation from the Danish Ministry of Housing, Urban and Rural Affairs. Among the listeners was the minister. On that occasion, I presented the vision for the place we are now creating in Klitmøller. That was also when I coined the term ‚matchmaking zone‘.
Rasmus Johnsen at his favourite spot at cowork Klitmøller: teaming up with creative people
In 2014, I decided to create the first matchmaking zone in Denmark. I managed to gather a small group of five people who since – together with me – have worked hard to realize the project.
Late 2013 we entered an idea competition initiated by Realdania – a private association in Denmark which supports philanthropic projects in the realms of architecture and planning. Late 2014 we were picked by Realdania as one of the ten ideas that received funding to realise our project. Today the project has evolved into a million euros plus construction project.
At the moment we’re working to get the last „bit“ of the financing in place. Hopefully that’ll happen this spring. Then we’ll carry through an architectural competition, and after that start building what’s to become the home of the first full scale matchmaking zone in Klitmøller.
:: How is Cowork Klitmøller organised – are you the owner, are there more people involved?
Rasmus: We’re a private association with a charitable purpose. So no one is earning any money from the project and what it eventually will generate. All profits will be reinvested in the purpose association that is to promote conditions for creative workers in the area.
My role at Cowork Klitmøller? Well, I’m the whip – in a positive sense 😉 – and evangelist.
Rasmus Johnsen, Cowork Klitmøller
:: Who will we meet at your matchmaking space?
Rasmus: The place we’re building is perfect for, but not limited to: entrepreneurs, architects, writers, graphic designers, event planners, bloggers, art directors, fashion designers, photographers, filmmakers, web designers, furniture makers, stylists, product designers, as well as makers of all stripes who share our values.
Now, it’s important to note that any matchmaking zone can leverage a special interest, using it as a catalyst to make people seek out and share a coworking space. Ultimately the aim is to create business relationships among likeminded people, primarily from micro and small enterprises, regardless of whether they live in an area where a matchmaking zone exists or not.
In my case, I’m a business owner. I have a ton of ideas and a lot of heart. I would like to go to Mallorca where I could visit a coworking space knowing I would meet people with whom I could share knowledge and ideas and maybe even business projects.
:: You’re welcome! Like other coworking spaces: It’s primarily the community, right?
Rasmus: What really interests me is how we can make it more desirable for creative people outside big corporations to meet and cultivate a large, international network of peers and business partners. To make that possible, we need to create places that’ll work as magnets for micro and small businesses, because they make it (much) easier for people to meet, connect, share knowledge, and – ultimately – do business together.
I believe that linking a special interest and coworking might be one of the possible solutions to this challenge. I am not suggesting that I’ve found the (only) philosopher’s stone, but I hope that I’ve found a niche that can make globalizing micro and small businesses easier and more attractive.
:: Thank you for your insight, Rasmus! We wish your project all the best.
Let us create splendid magnets!
Hier geht es zu Cowork Klitmøller in 7700 Thisted, DK, cowork-klitmoller.dk
Fotos: Cowork Klitmøller, Dänemark
Update September 2017: Cowork Klitmøller announces „We’re approaching Operation Mode“ – we sincerely hope that all your dreams come true, Doris & Rainer