Why the HUB Brussels is no more

The Brussels HUB community has been shaken by sudden news a few weeks ago: HUB Brussels is declaring bankruptcy and closing down.

HUB Brussels was the first coworking space to open in Belgium and has been IMG_2711an inspiration to many others opening in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and beyond who came to visit the HUB Brussels, ask questions and get inspired by this innovative space. We need to be thankful to those who started this adventure and to those who carried it from an idea to a running business. My thoughts go to the cofounders (Simone, Eric, Jason and Alex), the hosts who nurtured the community, the careholders who supported the cooperative and the community of HUB Brussels members without whom the HUB Brussels would be a hollow space.

The past weeks played host to various conversations in the community and among the people involved in the management of the HUB organisation. Emotions and opinions were expressed, but the main question asked was “why?”. Now that we are a few weeks away from the painful news, I felt the urge to write down my personal assessment on the factors that led to the HUB closer, with a clear head and away from emotions. Obviously these are my own opinions and are subject to discussion, I am happy to exchange point of views in the comment section in this post or around a drink.

My approach is driven by a will to start a conversation, an assessment that will be beneficial to future businesses similar to the HUB and also to answer a few comments that I have heard following the HUB Brussels closure that might be harmful to social entrepreneurship in general and to Coworking in particular. These comments challenge the business model of the HUB and ultimately the Coworking model while claiming that this model cannot survive without public funding.

I have been involved in HUB Brussels for the past three years as a careholder first (member of the cooperative) then as a a staff member (as a contractor) and have witnessed the HUB Brussels and the international network evolve on a daily basis. I was introduced to the HUB organization by my friend Simone Poutnik (one of the 4 cofounders) and immediately liked the spark of energy and inspiration it brings. I was myself searching for a direction, looking to leave the corporate world and exploring more entrepreneurial ventures. I became a careholder and got involved in the community. Eventually I got more involved in the activity of the hub when I got approached by Simon Ulvund, the general manager back then, to provide feedback on a revenue model based on events, and ended up taking over the events activity of HUB Brussels when the position became vacant.

Like any other business, the HUB has had its strengths and flaws that ultimately led to a financial situation that couldn’t be sustained anymore. From my position, I firmly believe that the main issues that led to the closure of HUB Brussels are not related to the business model, but are mainly operational and linked to the organisational culture. Some elements are tangible like management, execution and operational decisions affecting the everyday life at the HUB while some are intangible like the organizational culture. Here are the main points according to me:

HUB Brussels is not a Coworking space:
Personally I consider this point as probably the most important point that led to the IMG_7107failure of the HUB experience in Brussels. When you talk with various people involved in the HUB governance and management about the activity of the HUB, they will tell you that the HUB is not a coworking space, it is much more. You would get the same feeling on the website, there is no clear mention of Coworking. This is a voluntary position the HUB has taken in Brussels and on a global level (HUB World) where many influential individuals consider Coworking spaces as simply “tables and chairs” that have no social impact or a will to have one while the HUB is about building a community and facilitating a social impact. I think this was the biggest mistake HUB Brussels has done, and the HUB global is continuing to do so, why ?

I have been involved in the organization of the Coworking Europe Conference 2011 and 2012, where managers of coworking spaces and community managers from all over the world meet to discuss relevant issues to their businesses and communities. As a matter of fact, the words that are the most used in these gathering are community and social impact. There is no coworking without a strong community sharing the same modern values such as sustainability, collaboration, innovation, entrepreneurship, social responsibility and openness… These values are the drivers of most founders of Coworking spaces and communities who live by them on a daily basis. The social impact of many coworking spaces I have seen is undeniable, they impact their community and shine on their environment and all their stakeholders.

The number of coworking spaces is doubling in number every year, by choosing to stay outside of this phenomenon, HUBs are not taking advantage of the evangelization process done by the coworking movement to boost a change of paradigms in the way we work through encouraging people to abandon their isolation if they are working from home, and motivating businesses to experience getting out of their classical working spaces to meet new people and ideas in innovation fertile environments, aka coworking spaces.

On the other hand, when choosing to stay away from coworking, the focus of the HUB shifted from a focus on work to a focus on social relations.

HUB Brussels is not an ideal space to work:
HUB Brussels is a great place to meet people, to have a chat, share a bite at the weekly IMG_6934“sexy salad” but it is not an optimal place to work. A member once told me “I feel that the HUB is a good place for the soul, but I doubt it is the right place for my company”, I personally think that this situation is the result of two elements: First, the design of the space then the hosting. HUB Brussels is an open space without a separation between the social areas and the working areas. I wonder if it was just an oversight, or if it was thought this way in the beginning to facilitate connections between people. Would the design have been done differently if it was clear that the HUB Brussels should be a space where people get together to WORK on their projects, and that it is undeniably a coworking space ?

As a matter of fact, HUB Brussels was quite noisy, especially at lunch time, which is quite a large time bracket. Moreover, there are no sound control elements aside from the Honeycomb structure that covers only a part of the space. A lot of members have difficulties to concentrate and have been quite often disturbed by noise while doing their work, which led ultimately to their departure. Close to a hundred members cancelled their membership in 2011 alone, a key statistic to consider. A careholder once said, “among the HUB Brussels membership, those who work and create leave, the others, stay”.

While hosting is the cornerstone of a community based business like the HUB, I believe that it has been sometimes a factor in encouraging disruptions rather than quiet.

Communication: A confusing message
By refusing to be linked to the booming phenomenon that coworking is, the HUB (on a global level) is not only missing on quite a substantial opportunity for visibility, but it is also delivering a confusing message on what to expect from the local HUBs. A number of people kept on asking me what the HUB was all about despite visiting the website and being aware of some of the HUB’s activities. additionally, the focus on “social entrepreneurs” created some kind of a wall between HUB Brussels and a number of interesting individuals who do not necessarily identify themselves as social entrepreneurs.

This segregation in language and in practice created some kind of a blur in the identity of the community, who is welcome and who is not. If the intent with the HUB Brussels was to create a space for social innovators, it is legitimate to ask ourselves: how many in the community were indeed social innovators?

Instead of focusing too much on language, the HUB as an organization needs to act upon its values not only to attract like minded people but also to positively influence all the stakeholders who are not initially social innovators through an active leadership and a sustainable, responsible and innovative management style. A Coworking space is an eco system composed of various talents and it has to be open to all those who find value in the space and in being involved in the community. The identity of the community takes shape in how the hosts of the community act upon their values.

It is very interesting to take Hub Melbourne as a counterexample to illustrate my point above. Hub Melbourne started in March 2011 and today is a community of 700 members. This is how its founder Brad Krauskopf explained it during the Coworking Europe Conference 2012 The HUB Melbourne clearly states that IT IS a coworking space and that it is built around Coworking, learning and connecting. For the record, Brad was the only person involved in an existing hub to be present at this year’s Coworking Europe conference, besides myself…

The bottom line: Out of sight out of mind
Alex, one of the HUB cofounders said at the end of the careholders meeting where the decision to close HUB Brussels has been taken that “the founding members should not probably have created a cooperative company but rather an association”. He added that HUB Brussels was never really considered (and managed as) a company while it had the constraints of a company without the facilities that an association may have. I believe this statement is very close to reality, since I felt there was a misalignment between the financial and economical reality of the HUB and what the organization was offering and at what cost. There was a confusion between the concept of a social enterprise that needs to be financially sustainable and a community managed space that is supported by external funding (donations, public funding) like a hackerspace (or a library) is.

The founders/managers kept looking for flexibility at all prices for a long time while loosing focus on the bottom line. When I joined in january 2011 I was struck by the number of free services available, especially for external space renters. No markup was made on catering, coffee breaks were free and the room rental prices were quite low. By making some adjustments on the pricing model and the offering (among other things) the yearly income of the events activity has doubled.

On the membership side, there were too many membership types to choose from. A common pattern I observed among members, was taking quite a high membership level, then decreasing it every month until reaching a HUB connection level (no desk hours) then quitting completely. Another very important statistic to take into account is the number of members per membership type, most of the members of the community were connection members or have a low number of working hours type of membership. Moreover, this model makes it hard to have a stable community since people come and go but do not strengthen the core of the community and do not generate a power of attraction on doers: people who need a space to work and who do generate projects and thus collaboration opportunities.

Governance and leadership: Who wants the hot potato?
One of the main issues on the management level was the disconnection between the decision makers and the everyday reality of HUB Brussels. Management decisions (strategic and day to day decisions…) were in between the board and the management team leaving cavities in the management process that ultimately led to energy leakage. HUB Brussels was often referred to by board members and team members with the term “energy drainer”. We knew that the main reason was the disconnection between the power of decision making and the responsibility linked to it, but no reliable solution for this problem could be found on time.

A business like the HUB needs to be carried on by the same people who believe in the necessity of its existence, its impact and its values. They need to get their hands dirty to fix things on a day to day basis in addition to nurturing the community. In the case of HUB Brussels, the cofounders stepped out of the daily management and found themselves without energy and motivation to carry the HUB forward, or have moved out of Brussels/Belgium. When the decision was taken to do something about this situation by transferring leadership and decision making to a new co-founding team, the financial hole was too big to close. The process to identify a new team, was shaky, long (a year) and left too many people involved hurt on the side, instead of using this process as an opportunity to strengthen the core of the community.

Everyday management: The struggle
During long periods of time HUB Brussels found itself without a general manager, or IMG_7124with general managers focusing on other issues outside of HUB Brussels at times or with managers without power to make decisions, mainly on the financial side, at other times. Since the HUB Brussels management was left without much freedom to handle money (there wasn’t much of it anyway), simple management tasks were simply not done: HUB Brussels was left for a long period of time with a broken WiFi, a broken phone system (No fixed phone for most of 2012 and full time members with no dedicated phone lines). No marketing campaigns could be carried out, except through emailing to a limited database. HUB Brussels had no flyers or brochures to promote the coworking activity nor the events one (only electronic PDF in the latter case).

Without a reliable internet connection or phones, many members had no choice but to leave since they couldn’t do what they were at the HUB for: WORK. despite this situation, most of them were gutted to have to leave.

Community: The HUB needs Doers not talkers
As a direct result of what I explained above, many of the people who are regulars at HUB Brussels did not join because they needed a space to work but rather because they were looking for a social circle of like minded individuals. As a matter of fact, the HUB Brussels community had quite a large number of coaches, facilitators and people looking for the next challenge in their life. Do not get me wrong, I have nothing against coaches, facilitators and I have a lot of respect for people who take a moment to reflect on what they really want to do with their lives. However, you need initiatives to facilitate, entrepreneurs to coach and success stories to inspire others. Entrepreneurs need to be the drivers of the community not the other way around. A community needs to be built with entrepreneurs at its core, people with ideas allowing an eco system to emerge around the projects they are creating and therefore attracting more members to the community.


HUB Brussels lost around a 100 members per year, due to the factors listed above. IMG_7162Would the HUB Brusels have closed down should these members have been retained? I don’t think so. Despite all the issues HUB Brussels had on the date of closure, the HUB had around 140 paying members.

It is a pity to see HUB Brussels close down, its leadership and inspiration is already missed. We need however to learn form the HUB Brussels legacy and from the mistakes made, in order to create socially responsible organisations which can do well while doing good as they have a positive impact on society while being financially sustainable. So far, the time has not been taken to analyse the reasons behind the failure of HUB Brussels which has left the community with a sense of frustration and misunderstanding. I have the feeling that the circle has not been closed yet, hopefully these few lines can start a conversation, positive and constructive….

I can’t finish off this long post without thanking the community of HUB brussels past and present for being part of my life for the last three years, for all the learning and for all the good times…

Having had the habit to finish blog posts with a song, this is the one I have in mind right now… Must the show go on ?


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64 Responses to Why the HUB Brussels is no more

  1. Anonymous says:

    Very interesting and insightfull analysis. I do not have that much insight into the HUBs of Western Europe, now and then however i wonder what model the must follow in order to be relevant and competitive. In Bratislava they opened up a co-working space even before a HUB could open up, altough from their activities there is very little difference so far.
    The need of “Doers” is in general an vital point, as i had the feeling before during various social gatherings that you do meet number of interesting people, make good connections, however at some point you gotta move on with the idea, project, otherwise you get stuck in too many of these gatherings, and maybe just waiting for something to happen or someone to come along.

    Anyway, enjoyed reading the article a lot!

  2. Thanks for the analysis Anis. Great job, on the job and post-the-job 🙂

    My intuition about the next hubs is that they need a conjunction of 4 dimensions, around the physical, space (which should be organized that they don’t mix too much):

    1. Co-entrepreneurship: put different stakeholders into it (big corp, sme, starters, experts, admin,…
    2. Training: hard skills (new thinking & working) & soft skills (attitude, personal power,…)
    3. R&D with a speciality: a knowledge center or “tribe” with best practices and interconnexion with other excellence centers
    4. Communication: forums, open source innovation, web 2.0, symposia and events – creating community and hard knowledge.

    The basic intention should not be “looking for ways to change my career”, but “build the new economy”. It’s time now…

    All the best,

  3. Danny Gal says:

    This is very useful for other Hubs. Thank you for sharing. It saddens me to think that there is a large group of interested people in Brussels that will not have the HUB as an opportunity. I still believe we (HUBs) have something very special to offer to Doers, Thinkers and Enablers. Danny Gal, Co-Founder HUB Tel Aviv

  4. Thanks for this Anis, interesting inputs and (I suppose) common weaknesses in several Hubs around the world. We should organize a dedicated panel on these topics during the next Hub global strategic gathering

  5. Excellent post Anis. Thanks for writing a useful reference for all coworking space owners and managers.

  6. Anis, thank you very much for a very insightful article.
    / Thomas, HUB Helsinki

  7. Ruben says:

    Great post Anis, with some very very valid points that also reflect feelings I have with the Hub here in Rotterdam!

  8. James Rock says:

    As a business and service design professional and also a member of what I call the “Global Coworking Tribe” its sad to see another HUB close (Bristol and Berlin are others I know) but glad someone documented the reasons. Some astute analysis and very useful tips for existing and new spaces. I would tend to concur with them. Interestingly, in the UK the statistics show that 50% of all new firms close within 5 years, and the coworking movement is very new so we should expect some closures – they aren’t necessarily failures, but prototypes that didnt quite work. However, I do seem to hear about HUB closures more than others so maybe the lessons should be well documented by now – roles and responsibilities in a franchise type partnership need to be fully understood and built into the business model, and there seem to be issues that relate to this in the analysis.

    I am in the process of planning a new coworking space and very much focused on the design of the community/tribal; management/facilitation; and member development aspects that is needed for success. I also recognise that multiple revenue streams and close attention to cash flow and financial reserves are key to sustainability. However, from personal experience (I am a member at MoseleyExchange in UK – which is operated by a social enterprise but designed to generate trading surpluses) churn of members, and changes in membership types, is only to be expected as inherently flexible and mobile workers tend to be main users of coworking spaces. I have found some members move location; some get normal jobs; some set up conventional offices; etc… so for me the key is to understand churn and plan for it with continued marketing, service development, etc. Maybe these issues are something for the next Global Coworking Survey?

    • anisb says:

      Hi James, very valid points you are tackling. Coworking is a new and very complicated business, so many variables need to align well in order to make the business sustainable. The physical space, the values, the community, the hosting and the balance between social impact and cashflow are some of the many variables coworking space founders/animators need to get right…

  9. Anis, thank you for the explanation.
    We operate a chain of 80 cowork locations in The Netherlands and we offer free-coworking (desk, Wifi, coffee/tea and at some locations even a free lunch) under the name http://www.seats2meet.com. Our ‘money’ is made on meeting room rentals.
    The recent Deskmag survey shows that almost 80% of the co-working spaces/locations, like the Hubs and the Beta Haus in Berlin, still operate as a community with a fixed group of ‘members’ working there. This first group of users experience the ‘closed network’ as a strength of co-working, but we saw in 2012 that the traditional model of coworking, based on these monthly membership fees, doesn’t grow in comparison with our S2M model. The US based booking office Loosecubes went out of business as the VC involved pulled the plug, due to the slow growth of ‘members’.
    We believe that it is fine to work closely together with people in networks, but a traditional membership is not the solution.
    Eventually co-working, or rather new value creation, can only really boom when these networks of co-workers are ‘opening up’ and seek the connection with the traditional organizations. Even stronger: we believe that co-workers are the key in connecting the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ and this connection leads to a new way of value creation within the Interdependent economy of Society30.

    So our aim is to make every visit to a S2M location count: the unexpected relevance when meeting other people at a S2M location is our extreme, co-created added value. Serendipity. Therefore we need a lot of free coworkers. Lots of them!
    We connect them actively to each other and to the corporations by using realtime dashboards showing not only the people present, but also their skills and talents. http://s2m.to/utrechtcs
    Corporations love to rent the meeting rooms because it gives them the opportunity to get in touch with experts who are willing them to help them (as part of the reciprocity for the free workspace) . Often these encounters lead to assignments for the coworkers, so they love it too.
    On top of that these coworkers are highly connected people: the create an enormous buzz (used to be called ‘PR’), are helping other people (used to be called ‘the help desk’), provide us with data and suggestions (used to be called ‘marketing’) and recommend our locations to the market (used to be called ‘sales’) so that saves us an large amount of expenses.
    We are expanding abroad (Cairo, Tokyo) and offer our concept (incl. software platform) for free (only pay a small commission on actual seats sold) to any party interested to participate in the network. Check http://www.myowns2m.com for more info.

    We believe in the future of co-working and think we have found the right way to expand.

    I wish you all the best!

  10. Anna Levy says:

    Very thoughtful analysis, Anis, and beautifully expressed. It’s of the utmost importance that those of us running HUBs around the world learn the lessons of HUB Brussels and others. I’ve recently been reading The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jun/22/the-antidote-oliver-burkeman-review) in which he argues the importance of learning from our failures (rather than pretending they don’t exist.) I get the feeling that HUBs have closed in the past and have left quietly ‘out the back door’, never to be spoken of again. This doesn’t help us to learn as a network, and is a waste of valuable experience.

    There are many lessons here for us, and some of the things you’ve highlighted really resonate. Crucial to your analysis of HUB Brussel’s sad demise is, I think, the awareness that being commercially savvy doesn’t have to mean compromising our values – idealism is all very well, but you have to fill the coffers to make your dreams a reality. And the vital importance too of a strong founder/management relationship so that the whole team feels they have emotional investment in the business and the power and desire to make it work.

    Big HUB love to the HUB Brussels community and best wishes for the future from HUB Islington.

    • anisb says:

      Thank you for your support and for your kind words Anna they go straight to my heart. this is the intent indeed, not to “leave quitly out the back door and to learn from our mistakes as individuals and as a network in order to drive socially conscious businesses like the HUB forward

  11. Thanks a lot for your very deep analysis. If we want to go further and overpass the rethoric, we should all learn for such problems in order to avoid to le t them become critical.

  12. olivia says:

    Thanks Anis for this so interesting post! you shoud send it to deskmag for its publication.
    All the best for the next steps!

    • anisb says:

      Thanks Olivia… actually I never thought that it will attract this much attention. Initially it was directed to the HUB Brussels community, but I am glad there is value in it for the coworking community overall.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for a great and well written article.

  14. Thanks for taking the time to share with us your analysis of what happened to the HUB Brussels. There is no doubt that we can all learn something from it. I see in the comments some reactions from people from other HUBs saying that you should meet and talk about your problems. I bet you will find a way to engage more with your coworkers and make sure this never happens again.

  15. kwalitisme says:

    Reblogged this on kwalitisme and commented:
    Hopefully the Seats2Meat concept in the Netherlands have learned from the mistakes made by HUB.

  16. Frederike says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and start the conversation. You make some valid points and obviously you share your own experience with The Hub. I would like to contribute my perspective as well. There is one thing that I believe is missing in your analysis, and that is the lack of leadership, entrepreneurship & good management, as well as an under-staffed team. Without this, almost no company in the world can make it. I think that this is why Bristol and Berlin did not make it. Team, team, team…No strong team no business. And this is probably a hard lesson to take in, as it tends to become personal. To me that would be the lesson number one!

    Also to share my personal experience as a co-founder of a Hub with regards to the word “co-working”. It is totally true that I never liked to be compared to soulless co-working spaces. Why? simply because people only saw the tangible “desks and chairs”, and that is totally frustrating when you personally put so much effort into building a strong community that collaborates around a same mission. We were one of the 1st ones in Amsterdam, we welcomed and shared our knowledge to many co-working initiatives and since then, most spaces borrowed the word “host” or called it community manager. Which is great. As well as hosting communities that do more meaningful work. It’s super inspiring to see how community spaces are a growing phenomena.
    You know it is like the word “sustainability”. Someone that does it with integrity will be frustrated by initiatives that only mentions it because it sells _ until the day that it becomes the new norm and it’s fully embedded in the business. And I believe co-working is the same, it has evolved a lot in the last 7 years, and am just pleased to see the positive impact it has today. But believe me, 5 years ago I was not!

    However just for the record, if I am not joining co-working conferences, is only because my interest goes to other conferences such as entrepreneurship, impact investment and social change. And I already have yearly gatherings with my peers (colleagues from 30+ hubs) to talk about our practice of running a purpose driven collaborative space. I am well served already.

    I have been actively involved in the network in the last 7 years, both locally and internationally, and I have seen many difficult struggles, as well as many great successes. And to my knowledge I have seen no business that does not experience struggles. It’s simply part of the game. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

    Fear no failure, set yourself to win, and keep on playing.

    • anisb says:

      Dear Frederike,

      Thank you for passing by and for the very constructive comment you left. +1 for the “team, team, team”. HUB Brussels, has had very talented people who did a lot with very little and a number of dedicated interns who had to handle huge responsibilities from the start. It was amazing to see them change and develop from shy individuals to fulfilled personalities. In every business, execution is key. In the case of HUB Brussels what was missing (among other things) is dedication, leadership and a clear vision. Leadership and management issues are mentioned in the post here and there. I didn’t want to focus on specific issues, in order not to get personal.

      You can find everything under the word “Coworking”: Soulless spaces and business centers claiming to do coworking are in the picture for sure, but you also have tremendous examples all over the world of real coworking spaces, with thriving communities and an amazing social impact. And the latter is the norm, not the exception.

      Like the whole Coworking movement, the HUB organization has evolved tremendously in the past years and great things are being done on a global level and in every local HUB existing today. Opening up to the world of coworking will certainly benefit both worlds.

  17. Matt Hall says:

    This is terrific stuff — thank you so much for the candid analysis. We’re starting a mini-HUB in rural Nova Scotia, with lots of uncertainty and head-scratching, and this post will help us see more angles, of risk and opportunity. It’s weird, and a little sad, that something so compelling (friendly, fun, functional) can be so fragile.

  18. Paolo says:

    Very interesting analysis,
    I am interested in discussing privately more deeply your ideas on The Hub experience and reasons for closing. Would be possible for you? I live in Brussels of course. Paolo

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  20. LindaB says:

    Thanks for sharing, there’s so much that coworking spaces everywhere can learn from your analysis. Essential reading for anyone starting a coworking community.

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  22. James Halliday says:

    I read this post with great interest, having worked fitfully over the past two to build momentum around a community of builders for a Hub in Istanbul. Anis, I’ve read your analysis three times now and gone through Brad’s presentation each time I read it. This is the single most instructive, reflective, honest assessment of the wonderful potential and very real challenges that Hub-building entails. The comment stream above is just an informative: I hear the voices of people whom I’ve met and know, and I’m glad that so many pairs of eyes are taking notice of and responding so thoughtfully to this catuionary tale & swan song. Please, keep the comments coming.

  23. Augusto says:

    Amazing post and comments!! Thank you!!

    Just like James in Istanbul, I´ve been weaving the network in Rio de Janeiro as an (unofficial) Hub Initiative for the past 2 years now, and found out some similar lessons about the team, in the first place, but also about the business model that can reach the same purpose, differently, at least in my city, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.

    I use to think The Hub as an iceberg: the submerged part of the iceberg is the intangible and manytimes invisible, called (but not fully understood as) the network, and the tangible, the tip above the surface, is the physical space that embodies this network, with all its infra-structure.
    In Rio, because it is a splitted city, not only geographically but economically, we recently understood the need for multiple spaces where the potential flow of the existing resources (they are all there, somehow avaliable, but not being accessed) could happen more easilly.

    So, we do need hubs (in plural) and, however the prices of real state are really discouraging in Rio theses days (and will be for at least more 3 years), we don´t have lack of spaces. Actually, many spaces are partially idle, and there are ways to fullfill this waste through the assets it´s already avaliable in Rio, that is the surprisingly creative, diverse and entrepreneurial network that doens´t cease to grow, as a result of insatisfaction to the business as usual, found everywhere, but not as exciting as being self-entrepreneurs (being it at a big or a small company or at a single project, who knows).

    I have to agree with Ronald (s2m) that the coworkers must meet and exchange whatever they want to freelly, and it means that having a closed club for members-only is not the best way to do that.

    In Rio we are now prototyping a “plug-in” kind of business, where spaces of every kind, even coworking, incubators and other startups, could be ‘plugged in’ – sharing the 4 dimensions Michel mentioned, at once or accordingly to its structure and demands – so we can find out what we can do and achieve together as part of the ‘city tissue’, using existing resources to accomplish it. Also, we are trying to serve the network, understanding, as good hosts and careholders we are, what is the need shown from clusters of people in the present moment, so we can help reach out(or in) the solutions needed, using the webs of interaction we´ve been creating and nurturing.

    I think that if the purpose is to have a radical better world, we need as many people (meaning creativity, avaliability, resources, and so on) as we can – everybody is important! So, what business model could work for that here, there and everywhere?!

    Love being part of the solution with you! Thanks again!

  24. Lucy Baker says:

    Just wanted to say a big thank you for this Anis, you have articulated lots of things that I have thought and seen over the last 6 years being involved in the London HUB’s and good to have a sense that we’re all in it together.

    The HUB is one place I have found where change seems to be possible at all levels, so am optimistic that things can be made better, something that most HUB members and teams I meet seem to believe. Learning from mistakes and wholeheartedly being prepared to fail is a valuable tool, so thanks for sharing this and will carry and share this wisdom on my HUB adventure!

    Big love to the Brussels community,
    Lucy (Community Host – HUB Westminster).

  25. Thank you all for your nice words and for enriching the conversation with your comments… Unfortunately I haven’t had the time to write back individually, I hope we’ll have the opportunity to have a conversation in real life !

  26. iqbe says:

    A reblogué ceci sur … i-Cube is blogging here … and commented:
    Add your thoughts here… (optional)

  27. Rémy Baron says:

    Hi Anis, ce serait super de pouvoir le partager sur Deskmag en tant que guest article!! si tu es partant, envoie simplement un message sur notre page facebook 😉 et on le publiera aussitôt!!! Je pense qu’il faut partager cette expérience avec le plus grand nombre! Really great post !

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  29. Hi Anis, I just stumbled upon your article now and found it extremely interesting. I visited the HUB three years ago when I had just moved to Brussels and was looking for some colleagues. When I told the hostess that I worked with PR and communications for a jewellery company, she told me that I would not fit in at the HUB since diamonds are not sustainable. Regus, Burotel and other charmless places never did it for me, so I kept on depressingly working from home until it struck me that I should open the place that I could not find in Brussels. I have spent the last 10 months fine-tuning the concept, finding the right location, building the brand identity and lately buying antiques and design pieces for the decoration. In two months, I will open The Library in Ixelles, which will offer co-working memberships, private offices and meeting rooms for rent. I hope to strike the right tune of togetherness, business acumen and community feeling in a beautiful, inspiring place. Needless to say, I was thankful for your insights. You are always welcome to come over for a coffee when we open. Check it out here http://www.thelibrarygroup.be
    Thanks again. Best regards Anne-Sofie van den Born Rehfeld asr@thelibrarygroup.be

  30. Pingback: Ist die CoWorking-Space-Hype schon wieder vorbei? - www.best-practice-business.de

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  32. Pingback: Why the HUB Brussels is no more | Anis Ibn Baddouda around the world | New Work Space

  33. Anis

    Your passion for writing is impressive. I am new to Brussels and did not have a chance to visit the Hub. I am in search of a similar environment but I live in the north-western Brussels area. There is nothing convenient to this so I was thinking of starting my own. I was hoping to get some feedback as to whether the southern end of Jette, two blocks from the Belgica station, is a suitable choice for a coworking space like the Hub (and unlike the Hub too!). I’d love to get your feedback on the project if you had the time for an off-line conversation. Please feel free to give me a call.


  34. Inge says:

    So, is there any alternative to the Hub in Brussels right now?

  35. Hi Inge, check out http://www.thelibrarygroup.be and my comment earlier for explanation.
    All the best

  36. It’s going to be ending of mine day, except before end I am reading this enormous paragraph
    to improve my experience.

  37. In a city like Brussels, who would have thought that the HUB would not stand a chance..if in other cities it work, so should in here. How come there was no support from other HUBs all over the world? How come out of all the HUB lovers there were not a group strong enough to revive it , even after 2 years?? I live in Brussels and I would love to take a chance at reviving the HUB, i believe in it!!

  38. anisb says:

    Nicoleta and Inge, we went forwarded and started transforma bxl a few months ago, check it out here: http://www.transformabxl.be and please come to visit.

  39. nicoletaparvana says:

    Anis, what happened with the space/location of the previous HUB? can it something done there?
    Is there nobody taking up the challenge to revive The HUB? it is awesome you created an alternative but still..Also, yes i want to visit you but I see no option to become a contributor member without paying. There are no events added..My questions still remains open..is there no one out there willing to revive The Hub? Is there no help from the other HUBs? Was there any try to ask for help? Etc..

  40. Hi Anis,
    obviously, I’ve came across this blog quite late 🙂 but nevertheless, it’s of great interest to me. I’ve just moved to Brussels 4 months ago, I relocated from Vienna, Austria where their Impact Hub is thriving (I was a member for the last 4 years). They have opened it I think some 5 years ago and it has grown in one of the best show cases of all Hubs around the world. It was pretty sad for me to learn about the story of Brussels’ Hub, as I was looking forward to continuing my membership in this amazing community.
    My question to you (if you’re still in it) is, has anything been moving since the initial Hub was closed down? In other words, are there any other similar organizations, or is there an idea of reopening the Hub with some new management? I came across a name of Marco Terragrossa, involved in the Hub’s network and he said the Hub in Brussels will definetely reopen.

    I know it’s a pretty long process to get the franchise for the Impact Hub, but perhaps there will be many people interested to participate. I count myself certainly. Failure doesn’t mean the show is over, it is just a lesson learned, and valuable for everyone involved. And there are many ways to put up a brand new show. 😉
    If you still read these comments, and are interested, let me know. I’d love to be in the loop.
    best regards!

    • anisb says:

      Hi Estella, better late than never 😉

      I don’t have any news on the creation of a new Impact Hub venture in Brussels. On our side we moved on and created a new coworking and innovation space: http://www.transformabxl.be You are welcome to join and contribute…

      See you there

  41. Just saw your Transforma! Ok, see you soon then! 😉

  42. Pingback: Anis Bedda, Cofounder of the European Coworking Assembly | European Coworking Assembly

  43. GalenHig says:

    Существует такая услуга – добровольное медицинское обслуживание (или ДМО).
    Она предполагает, что вы платите небольшую сумму за абонемент и ходит на прием целый год не платя за каждый прием.
    Однако опросы показали, что лишь 6% жителей города знают о такой программе.
    Потому что клиникам выгоднее сдирать с людей деньги за каждое посещение.
    А если какой-нибудь сотрудник клиники попытается рассказать про добровольное медицинское обслуживание клиенту – это сулит ему увольнением.
    Эта информация уже спровоцировала кучу скандалов, после того как информацию об услуге распространил один возмущенный врач.
    Его уволили “по собственному желанию”, после того, как он посоветовал ДМО постоянному клиенту.
    Самое ужасное, что официальные положения по ДМО находятся в открытом доступе, просто находили на эту информацию единицы.
    Как отстоять свои права?
    О правилах оказания услуги и обязанностях клиник можно узнать, сделав запрос в Яндексе: “добровольное медицинское обслуживание”.
    И именно обслуживание, а не страхование.


  44. Marilyncep says:

    We are glad to see you in our midst You fuck me in the ass rather my nickname (Vitalinka71)

    Copy the link and go to me… bit.ly/2wBKSBp


  45. Rizclunc says:

    Que palabras… Fenomenal

  46. Vladimir says:

    Impact Hub Belgrade guy says Brussels Impact Hub failed because Brussels is filled with state or large agency employees who have no entrepreneurial sense.
    “The highest percentage of Brussels residents are state employees of the European Union or large agencies who have little global entrepreneurial spirit, so the coworking community didn’t thrive.”

    • anisb says:

      Interesting point, however I forgot when you did pay a visit to hub brussels when it was active for you to take such a determined position on the matter. I know why I don’t remember, because you never did actually. While this is a point to be discussed, Brussels has a vibrant entrepreneurial community, and coworking spaces are thriving in the kingdom’s capital. My own I created after hub brussels is doing well, I invite take a look this time: transformabxl.be
      Ps: the statistics you’re pulling out of nowhere are totally out of touch, 32000 people work for the commission 4741 work for the parliament. While European institutions have a real impact on the city with indirect employement, brussels has a population of 1.175 million, so the math is very quickly done to see that your quote makes absolutely no sense

  47. Pingback: El Timeline del Coworking – coLABORatinne

  48. Pingback: A brief history of coworking – anofficecenter.com

  49. MichaelPAW says:


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