Tucked away behind a quirky graffiti mural in the industrial area of Sanayi is the entrance to Kolektif House, a co-working space with a creative twist. Here, Istanbul’s entrepreneurs, freelancers and small companies come together to get their work done in a large, Brooklyn-esque warehouse whose brick walls are adorned with graffiti art and a neon sign that reads 'beat goes on' . We chatted with Ahmet Onur, Istanbul native, avid traveller and co-creator of Kolektif House.
Tell us a little bit about your background
We are three founding partners. A finance guy, a tech guy, and a marketing guy. Yiğit, was working on tech in Palo Alto, Civan was finishing up his real estate masters, and I was coming back from a 5 month trip around the world.
What compelled you to start Kolektif House?
We all wanted to create a space where we ourselves would be motivated to create. A place where you want to go everyday to work on your dreams. Making the whole process of creation more joyful. We came across other people who had the same dilemma, and decided to take action.
Your first location is Istanbul, what is the startup community like in Istanbul and around Turkey?
The Turkish startup ecosystem is one of the fastest growing ecosystems in the region. Due to our young population the number of twenty-somethings who are looking to create something that matters is significant. We are also seeing many creative freelancers growing in numbers. The growth of these two movements are truly fascinating to watch.
How do you attract creative individuals and start-ups to your workspace?
We use our social media pretty actively, and host events to bring together the crowds which we believe suits Kolektif House.
The space is located in a rather unusual area of Istanbul, why did you select this spot?
Sanayi which means ‘industry’ is the name of the neighborhood of Kolektif House’s first location, and it explains the whole reason why we chose this place to create/construct our dreams. We almost could have called Kolektif house ‘dream industry!’
How do you go about curating events for your members?
We have our creative team working constantly to curate inspiring events.
What professional background are the majority of your members from?
I could say there is a balanced mix between creative industries and tech companies.
What percentage of your members are international/non Istanbul natives?
We have 5-10% international people in our community and the remaining are Turkish.
Tell me a little bit about your second location for Kolektif House, how does it differ?
Our new location is situated in Şişhane, Beyoğlu, in a historic building called Deniz Palas. The building also houses the art and culture foundation (IKSV) of İstanbul and an Architecture Company. Şişhane is a little more prestigious and higher priced due to the location. Other than that we make sure all our locations share the same Kolektif Spirit.
Why do you think there is a growing trend of digital nomads?
We live in the digital world which frees us from a ‘dedicated space’ mentality to get our work done. So whether you are a freelancer or a company employee, we can all move around and work at the same time. I believe we would all be travellers if we had the freedom to do so.
You are a keen traveller yourself, when did you first catch the ‘traveling bug’?
It is the feeling of discovery that pushes me to travel. I’ve felt it since I am conscious of myself. The feeling of change in all prospects gives us energy, and travelling is the best way to experience change.
What has been your most memorable trip?
I could say it was India to practice yoga and meditation. It was the first time I pulled the breaks from the pace of the City and entered an almost still mindset. I started the trip in Rishikesh in the foothills of the Himalayas and then made my way down to Goa, moving from one ashram (spiritual monastery) to another.
What is your long term vision for Kolektif house, do you have plans for expansion beyond Istanbul?
Definitely. We want to be wherever excites us and our community. People believe in what we do, we do as well. This is a strong energy. So why not connect with more people that will feel the vibe we spread?