A coworking space is sold on its atmosphere, rather than as a space where a bunch of tables and chairs are gathered. It needs to inspire and nurture work. sektor5 possesses an atmosphere that can be likened to an office disguised as a living room, or vice versa. Yves and Floor are the people behind that.
Floor has a shifty smile that moves around a lot on her face. This confuses most people about what she’s actually thinking. It moves from sweet, to a stare that could pop a balloon if held long enough. This is what makes her good at what she does. She’s got a poker face for all occasions. She has a ‘R’ tattooed onto her forearm. It stands for her beloved home city, Rotterdam in the Netherlands. I quietly think about the other appropriate ‘R’ words it could stand for, one of which being rannygazoo (yes, you should google this word), for which she stands for none of.
Yves has a beard that I, as a grown man, want to stroke. Mostly because it reminds me of a perfectly trimmed garden hedge that you just want to dive into. He comes from Leipzig in East Germany and seems out of place in one of Vienna’s most prominent coworking spaces. The thing is, he’s at home here.
There’s something seriously unusual about these two in the setting they have chosen to spend their careers. While they hold the office of being one of Vienna’s power couples of the startup scene, they are genuine in character and intentions. They look to the business of raising startups as if they’re a bunch of (Startup hipster, or Stipster) sheep, and they are the shepherds. Ok, scratch that metaphor. Let’s just say you can imagine both of them handing out advice to startups when they are old and respected, wear crocheted cardigans and considered wise (Yves, because his beard has grown down to his bellybutton, and is now grey and he kind of looks like Dumbledore, and he has also perfected the wise nodding of the head).
Yves once told me with ardour about how he spent a couple of hours one day checking out some very expensive, old, American war plane that had landed at the Vienna airport – the Super Connie. The plane is legendary amongst aviation nerds. I’ve always been drawn to people who find a fanatic fascination in some obscure, niche thing in this life. It tells something about their character and their ability for original thought which has them straying from mass taste and hobbies. His other niche interest is startups.
We spoke to Floor and Yves about startups, coworking spaces and other random nonsense:
Vienna Würstelstand (VW): There’s been rumours that the two of you have had a sexual relationship of some sort. Is this true?
Yves (Y): No, it’s strictly professional, of course (both are grinning).
Floor (F): Our offspring is also strictly professional.
VW: What did you have to do to become the power couple of Vienna’s startup scene? Kill people? Bribe officials?
F: Be brutally honest to people.
VW: If you were to start a startup today, what kind of startup would you start? Start-y, start, start …
Y: An Espresso bar with an old-timer workshop attached to it. Otherwise, whatever it is, if we’re talking real startups, the business model should be transaction based. And any new startup should definetely apply for our 5starts program.
VW: You came to Vienna when there wasn’t much happening in terms of coworking spaces. What did it look like at this time when you decided to found sektor5?
Y: I have no idea of what the scene looked like, as I was just focused on building the sektor5 space. But 2010, it was an exciting time as some big startups were forming the scene worldwide.
VW: What is sektor5 going to be in the future?
F: We have something big planned for our startup incubator program, but we’re not giving away any details yet. The future of coworking space is also changing which we intend to change with. We think the future of coworking space will accommodate to the very flexible working lifestyle that people desire now.
VW: What does a normal day of work look like for you?
F: Everyday is really different, but if we were to try and structure a day it would look like this:
VW: Floor, is it true that you’re just pretending to be Dutch, and that you’re actually Irish?
F: Yes, it’s true.
VW: Or are you from the southern part of Italy? Are you Sicilian?
F: Yes, that’s also true.
VW: Is it true that your child was conceived in an illegal border crossing between Mexico and the US?
VW: What is your favourite magazine?
F: Vienna Würstelstand.
VW: If sektor5 was a rock band, what rock band would it be?
Y: Something between the early Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan and Whitesnake. And don’t forget – it’s the early Rod Stewart – this is very important.
VW: What inspires you?
F: Hard working people.
Y: Floor (at this point, sloppy kissing commenced between the two).
VW: What makes you come to work everyday?
Y: All the debts.
VW: Who is your role model power couple?
Y: Jonathan and Jennifer Hart.