This Brussels-based coworking space celebrated its third birthday with pride. Today, no fewer than 158 coworkers from 61 businesses are rubbing shoulders in its offices. Gaël Van Gijsegem, whose everyday job is to develop Hive5, recalls how the project saw the light of day.
While turning over in his mind the idea of launching a coworking space, Gaël Van Gijsegem was still working in the marketing department of Securex (a services company for businesses, social security etc). “At that time I was responsible for initiatives to support start-ups, starters and pre-starters. We were looking at different ways of getting in touch with project sponsors, and also about providing them with different types of support, not just help with the red tape for setting up a company. At that time, the phenomenon of coworking was gaining momentum in Belgium. Securex’s investment department was looking to expand its portfolio opportunities, and it gradually dawned on use that this would be a good way of investing in an unusual project and also to provide a more complete package to project sponsors. Our vision went even wider, because we wanted to create a complete ecosystem with an incubator, a funding unit, seminars and so on. In the end we decided to start more modestly with a leaner approach and to kick off with a coworking space.”
Three pillars of success
Inspire, Connect et Grow : From the outset, Hive5 was fully into the spirit of coworking. “Our ambition was not limited to making some shared offices and meeting rooms available to freelancers and start-ups. What we wanted to create was a real community organised around three core principles: Inspire, Connect and Grow.
- Inspire, because we wanted to be a source of inspiration to our members, for example by organising meetings and workshops.
- Connect, because we are trying to create a real community. And it’s working: there’s a great deal of goodwill among our members, even when they are competitors. Many coworkers cooperate with each other in various ways or work together as partners on projects for their clients. We too are using the services provided by our members.
- Grow: we are trying as far as we can to stimulate the growth of the businesses that we are hosting.
Over time, the ecosystem has expanded, since Securex is currently offering a series of complementary services, such as mentoring for entrepreneurs. “We have also launched, away from the public eye, our financing business, particularly via the Seeder Fund, in which Securex participates, and also occasionally through direct investment.”
A resounding success
Three years after setting up Hive5, that gamble that Securex took has turned out to be a success, for which Gaël gives credit not only to the community spirit of its members but also to the building’s atmosphere and location. “We are right in the heart of Brussels, in a quarter that has excellent public transport, just a stone’s throw from the city centre and the European quarter. We have also been working hard on organising the building’s layout to create the feeling of a hive buzzing with activity while still having workspaces that are tranquil and allow people to concentrate. This “look & feel” factor is an important element of our brand.
Hive5 is not going to rest on its laurels. Instead, it is already starting to unpack new projects. Next Autumn will see the opening of a second coworking space under the Hive5 standard, in a building not far away. Smiling, he adds, “And while things are going so well, what’s to stop us from carrying on?”