Interview with Iva Köhler, Manager of the First Cryptocurrency-Only Coworking Hub

For Spaces

Paper Hub: the first and only coworking place where you can pay exclusively in cryptocurrencies

 

                                                @photo by: Petra Poliaková

Iva, would you like to shortly introduce Paper Hub – Parallel Polis ?

Paper Hub ( 3500 CZK / month/unlimited access ) is a coworking place located in modern and newly rebuilt part of Prague – Prague 7.  If I should describe Paper Hub in one sentence it is a community of liberal professionals, entrepreneurs and freelancers showing interest in technologies and digital freedom.

Paper Hub was created in 2014 by a group of artists Ztohoven, with the idea of creating a place where could artists and IT professionals meet, discuss ideas and together bring in life new projects.

Parallel Polis was inspired by the idea of Vaclav Benda who used the term during the socialism, when the freedom of expression was banned. During this time in Czech Republic was created some kind of parallel city with specific underground culture and unofficial systems of information to contrast with the former regime.

Could you tell us, how was born the idea of creating something like Paper Hub?

The initial idea was to create a coffee place, where the customers could pay only in cryptocurrencies. However, after while the founders noticed that the customers like to stay longer, bring their laptops and even work from the place.

This is how the idea of coworking space was born – to give to visitors better place from which they could work and connect to each other.

Iva, I can imagine that you were facing a lot of challenges from the very beginning, could you share some of them with us?

                                                    @photo by: Pavel Šinagl

Well, one of the biggest challenges was obviously the capital. However, we were lucky and we found great partners whom helped us from the very beginning – as for example the owner of the building where the Parallel Polis is located. Once we had the place, we were facing the next question – where to get the convenient furniture suitable for workit with convenient . Since the majority of our capital was gone, we needed to come up with some smart idea.

Actually, that is how the name Paper Hub was born – we decided to furnish the entire place using a special “honeycomb” paper, cheap industrial material used for packing and insulating, and this gave to the place unique look.

Can you mention why you think Paper Hub is a unique place to work from?

                                                                                                                                @photo by: Pavel Šinagl

The first, obvious reason is that we are the only coworking hub in the world where you can pay exclusively with cryptocurrencies. The thing that I like the most about Paper Hub is very friendly and free environment and also the fact that we are focused mostly on digital and decentralized technologies – this is a great opportunity to learn something new and exciting every day.

Paper Hub was created in 2014, however cryptocurrencies became mainstream only last year. Do you think this trend helped you to acquire new customers?

Yes, it helped us to acquire some new clients, however, not so many since we had already reached full capacity of our coworking space. I have to mention that we noticed also negative effects of this trend that are not so often discussed – people who did not know much about cryptocurrencies followed the crowd and mainstream media and started to invest all money in it. This could have led to some disillusion in the beginning of 2018 and complaints with Parallel Polis. However, we never promote cryptocurrencies as the investment but as a tool for decentralization from the state.

What is your favourite cryptocurrency?

I am working mostly with Bitcoin and Litecoin so I would say these two. I am pretty conservative 🙂

Almost every day there is an event/meet-up/conference taking place at your space. Iva, can you mention some of the speakers that gave talk in Parallel Polis?

Yes, of course. For example one of the best-selling authors and bitcoin experts – Andreas Antonopoulos is one of our most valuable and regular guests. One of the other great speakers who is cooperating with us on regular basis is Robert Vlach, independent entrepreneur and freelance businesss consultant.

I can imagine that you are receiving great feedback from your clients, can you think about the feedback that surprised you the most?

                                                            @photo by: Pavel Šinagl

I think the cutest feedback I’ve received so far, was from one IT expert who told me –  ‘ I like the place, because even total IT geeks feel home and welcome here. ‘

Since you have great experience in managing coworking space I would like to ask you, how do you think the future of spaces will look like?

I think both big and small spaces will be successful in the future. We will face shift from traditional offices to not traditional offices such as coworks. Many corporations are already using coworks instead of corporate offices.

Iva, thank you very much for your time, is there something else you would like to share with us?

Just adding my opinion, since I work daily with IT experts and geeks, I believe, that we should be careful about what we are sharing in ‘digital world’ and especially social media. It is great to be ‘ connected ‘, however we should also realise that certain information can be gathered by third parties and misused. Luckily, we have the tools to protect our privacy and preserve our online freedom at the same time.