Seats2meet is a Dutch concept, which although it is already 10 years old, keeps surprising people with its pioneering. There are several locations that work with the concept, especially in the Netherlands. Now we have a very special case of a thriving Seats2meet location far away from its roots in Utrecht. Meet Icaza, the successful S2M location in Bilbao.
Hello José, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello, I am Jose Icaza, economist, 56 years (almost 57) married with three children. I love outdoor sports, as triathlon, diving, and skiing. I run a family business dedicated to creating interior design and furniture for offices and collective spaces since 1957. We are a team of 11 people.
I was born in Bilbao, Spain, and I spent my whole career in my family business, working mainly in the Basque country.
I am also a partner in several other projects together with entrepreneurs, working with logistics of electric vehicles, ecological orchards, and aquaculture. I am never bored.
You run Icaza, a location powered by S2M tools and concept for 3 years now, why did you decide to go with S2M?
In 2015 we decided to incorporate a new coworking service in our spaces, in order to bringnew business ideas that could be related to our office spaces market.
In our values, there is an important theme which is the commitment to the community and environment. Everything we do has to take that point into account.
We saw that the concept of Seats2meet brought us the social and collaborative part to complete our interest in providing a different way of coworking than the traditional (renting space). By offering a social capital service we got ourselves a plus in the market by bringing in social innovation.
What were your main challenges when setting up the location?
We started with an important premise, that the place we already had. The changes we made for the adaptation weren’t big. The current staff manages the location. The costs aren’t very significant. What we needed is that people knew us with this new service and that they understood the concept of social capital. We live in a community where free is seen as suspicious. We didn’t want people to think that we were looking to attract people to the coworking so we could offer our interior design services.
And how did you overcome them?
We had to dedicate lots of hours into explaining the idea personally, explain what the S2M concept is, bringing people to use the space and after three years, to show what we used to say by facts and results.
Still, there are people who say they don’t quite get how we do this as a private company when most of them understand that “free” things should come from the public sector.
You mentioned earlier that you see results, what are them?
For a while now we see our message spreading and people are reacting well to it. A lot of people are saluting us for the idea and the generosity. There are freelancers who personally thanked us for the help we provide them. We have coworkers that rent the meeting rooms when they need it, others that bring friends to see our location, etc. We started to be a reference in coworking and event space Bilbao. And in the next month, we are receiving an award for ‘Social Innovation from a national company’ together with other fourteen companies in a gala with great repercussion in Bilbao.
What are your main tips for people wanting to set up an S2M location outside the Netherlands?
I recommend that they try it. By thinking long term you can get more results with this concept. In comparison with traditional coworking, you are having a special plus, very appreciated by the user. Your own coworkers, thankful for what you do, will be your biggest ambassadors. And the money will come from resident coworkers and meeting and training rooms.
We need it. We need that the Seats2meet concept goes global because the collaborative people are global. The more we are, the more people will know us; they will understand the message better and it will gain power: collaborative professionals sharing collaborative spaces.
We wish for more S2M locations in Spain.