Axis Linz: “This Thing Could Really Grow and Expand!”
Two years ago, Netural entered new terrain by starting the Axis Linz Co-working Loft, a space which invites innovation, cooperation and agility. Today, 80 members (50/50 male and female) use this flexible environment to nurse visions into projects.
In this interview, Iris Mayr relates the unique spirit at this co-working space in Tabakfabrik Linz. The Axis co-founder and head manager started her career in digital art and culture administration. Now she manages an innovative for-profit co-working space.
Iris, could you please explain Axis Linz for those not yet familiar with the co-working loft concept.
Axis is an alternative to work in isolated offices, a space where one-person businesses, start-ups and founders meet and work. We provide furniture, lighting, web access, a printer, and, of course, coffee. Which would not be too exciting in itself, were it not for the tremendous amount of energy and positive spirit in co-working and cooperating which makes Axis and the whole atmosphere there really special.
You mean Axis is not just office space, it is a spirit? Please explain!
This special spirit arises from the members´ communication and cooperation. Axis is not about working side by side. It is about working together. Here you meet people who are genuinely interested in your ideas and concepts, who will gladly give and take advice during a coffee break, who will even share your dislikes. (laughs) Axis is a place where young enterprises find talent, input and cooperation partners in an environment which is always on the move.
On the move – here´s a cue: How do you handle movement?
By taking it literally. We deliberately move workplaces around the co-working space. Changing surroundings changes the way we feel, think and approach tasks. We consciously break with our habits and celebrate meeting new people and new ideas every day. I think that is really cool. It is also enormous fun for everybody. (laughs)
So Axis Linz celebrates agility. Was that the original concept?
Yes. It all started with an empty space in building no. 2 of Tabakfabrik Linz. Albert (note: Ortig, CEO Netural) wanted to start something new there. Netural itself is quite an agile company, always trying to open up and developing further. The Axis co-working Loft was a spectacular step in this direction, as a matter of fact quite a bold one for a tech company, but in the end we wound up creating Austria´s biggest non-Viennese co-working space. Even bolder, but also helpful in the long run was our stubbornness regarding the project´s orientation. We even refused to take in some applicants, because we wanted only members who really fit the Axis Linz concept.
Prizovsky & Partner. This innovative public relations agency was drawn in by the unconventional surroundings: „At Axis we enjoy an agile, responsive environment in a constant location: Great people, ideas and networking possibilities make for the perfect co-working experience.“
Aetherwave. Self-employed software developer Thomas Schorn specializes in cloud software, using it to simplify the building of custom web-crawlers. „Axis is a manageable and quite forgiving environment for testing new strategies. There is no such thing as a recipe for success.“
amago. This young producer team is always on the move towards the next exciting, innovative business film project. „Axis is our home-base, both as our workplace and networking hub. All the creative industry know-how is available here, and we always put generous amount of technology, creativity and courage to experiment into our projects. It keeps us on the leading edge.”
START. Das Stipendienprojekt für Schüler/innen mit Migrationshintergrund verschafft engagierten Jugendlichen durch Veranstaltungen und finanzielle Unterstützung bessere Chancen auf Integration durch Bildung. „Das Axis fungiert hauptsächlich als Heimat und Host für Workshops und Seminare mit unseren Stipendiat/innen. Das gesamte Projekt profitiert vom Austausch und der Inspiration unter den Axis-Mitgliedern. Der starke Zusammenhalt und die Gemeinschaft der Jugendlichen machen unsere Organisation so beweglich, wie sie ist.“
How would you summarize the Axis Linz concept?
I found that Netural´s and my own focus are quite congruent: All things digital, like, for instance, e-health and e-mobility, and whatever involves innovation. We have achieved topic leader status here, which is, by the way, one more really important reason to come to Axis: Meet experts from many fields, join exciting workshops… - Mind that a membership does not obligate you do to open shop at Axis. Many of our members are in for networking and exchanging ideas, others use the available space temporally for their company´s special projects or for workshops in an inspiring atmosphere. – We do our flexible best to meet all these demands.
This focus on agility is absolutely great. That notwithstanding, most organizations find rigid structures in some respects helpful or even indispensable. Is Axis really that different?
You couldn´t possibly ask a more difficult question. (laughs) Yes, there is a necessity for structure in some fields, and it gets more pressing with every new member joining. We are aware that streamlining standard processes would unlock capacities for really important things. Furthermore, too much agility can be quite confusing, which is quite human. We experienced this again and again, for instance when introducing too many new members at once or after exchanging the whole furniture overnight.
What is your vision of Axis’s future?
Axis has the chance to be really big. Yes, this thing could really grow and expand! In keeping with the spirit and inspiration we enjoy now. Our goal is having 300 members in Linz. We want to live innovation, lead trends and keep moving. Vienna could very well be the next Axis location, with Berlin or Zagreb a close second. And we are talking the not so far future here.