Amsterdam is a known for its encounters and true to form there was a serendipitous meeting after the Cross Innovation project work was finished. We met up with Sebastian Olma who was interested in the work we had been doing during the day. He is, it turned out, an international expert in our area of study. He told us about his book …which I have just read called The Serendipity Machine.
In the book he tells a fascinating story of the seats2meet.com approach to co-working, social networking and social capital and third spaces for third places. And what is intriguing is this is a new business model which seems to work in the real world. The basic principles are
- Free coffees/teas and lunch for ‘creatives’
- No payment need but a commitment to help others in the space at some stage
- Booking in advance and registration is needed.
- The Creatives have to detail their skills they offer – which is then available for all to see within the co-working space/ on line
- The seats2meet locations make their money by hiring out meeting rooms.
- The venues get a lot of publicity because of their business model – with a mesh of creatives who spread the word
- The creatives and those hiring out rooms are encouraged to interact by common tea/coffee and lunch facilities. ie encouraging Serendipitous meetings
- This approach is being developed into a fanchise model (not a typo) which is allowing the approach to spread
The author recounts a number of examples of how this model has helped create business opportunities for those involved. This book seems persuasive on how seats2meet is a very successful business model for co working spaces but I would like to know if any venues haven’t worked and if so why. Is this something that will work in a Dutch milieu but would it work in Birmingham for instance? As an economist I would also like to know more about its impact on business and innovation in these towns and cities where they are located. Are there quantifiable effects? This is not carping just a thirst to know more. I whole heartedly recommend you to read this refreshing and short book. It can be purchased or downloaded for free – link above.