Why does co.up matter?
co.up is a bastion of the independent tech community in Berlin. Every day, the space is used to facilitate workshops, meetups, learning groups, and other public, free-of-charge community events. The space operates with a mission: To provide an independent and community-centric meeting point for groups who would not otherwise be able to afford to rent their own space.
co.up and its community took a leading role in implementing and promoting community standards like Codes of Conduct. We are not shy to say that co.up has had a massive impact on the open, supportive, grassroots culture that makes Berlin’s tech community so special.
Here are some testimonials from people who have organized and attended events:
co.up has always been accessible, kind and open to everyone - a true shared community space. co.up is the kernel of the open tech scene in Berlin.
I always experienced co.up as a space that’s free of big egos and full of like-minded, kind people who want to learn and share knowledge. Its unpretentious, down-to-earth appearance and welcoming attitude always made it feel like a safe space for me as a speaker or attendee.
co.up is the one space i know that has always supported initiatives because the initiatives do good things, not because it helps co.up to "be more visible" or appear to "support the community". co.up IS community. help them out.
What is co.up’s impact? Any numbers?
co.up has been providing up to 5 rooms with 600 sqm of free meetup space for over 10 years. Today on the 3rd floor, we still provide one large 155sqm room and one 15sqm meeting room. We have hosted ca. 3000 events, and have been the host to roughly 50 different groups. Ca. 500 people visit the events every month, which, to our best guess, amounts to between 20,000 to 50,000 visits by people who have benefited from co.up over the years.
* These numbers are conservative best guesses, based on our calendar of the last ten years, and average visitor numbers that meetups report to us. We don’t track the exact number of visitors in the space.
Who is behind co.up?
co.up is run by a dedicated group of volunteers and supporters currently managed by Claire, Alex, Kriesse and Thilo. co.up began ten years ago when the space was founded. It was one of the first coworking spaces in Berlin, a place where freelancers, tech workers, and creatives mingled and collaborated together. Back then, it was on the third and fifth floors of the building, with the third floor always having a focus on community events. Eventually we phased out coworking and became a completely community-supported events space. Maintaining the space has been a passion project of ours ever since. It continues to be run through donations in time and money from our supporters, and Cobot volunteers a few staff hours to maintain consistent leadership and functionality.
What is the connection between Cobot and co.up?
Cobot and co.up are closely connected. The UG behind co.up is founded by two of the Cobot founders (Alex and Thilo). Cobot is a software to manage coworking spaces, which was originally build to manage co.up. The team of Cobot partially founded, met in, learned in, celebrated together in co.up. Most of the Cobot team has a strong personal connection to co.up. Multiple team members of Cobot are also volunteers for community events hosted in co.up (upfront.ug, ComicInvasionBerlin, Panel Up, Rug::B, CSSclasses, …)
The salary of co.up’s office and events manager is currently sponsored by Cobot, and occasionally other team members of Cobot contribute work hours to co.up as well (e.g. for the #saveCoUp campaign).
Cobot sponsors the bi-weekly cleaning of co.up.
Cobot is also a recurring financial supporter of co.up, and has been since co.up’s first crowdfunding campaign in 2016.
The Cobot offices are in the same building as co.up, and a few times a week, Cobot provides its own rooms for meetups that don’t find room in co.up. Also a few times a week, Cobot team members use the co.up room for calls or meetings during the day.
Cobot does not receive any financial benefits from co.up or require any form of promotion from the organizations that use the space.
What is the connection between OpenTechSchool and co.up?
OpenTechSchool is a global movement aiming to offer free tech education, providing lots of workshops and learning groups in Berlin – for free, every week. Since its beginnings, co.up has been the host for the majority of the OpenTechSchool events in Berlin. co.up and OpenTechschool share many values and volunteers, and have been supporting each other for many years.
While many of the events in co.up are OpenTechSchool events, co.up is neither the office of OpenTechSchool, nor is it organized by OpenTechSchool.
What is your long-term goal?
In order to create a sustainable financial foundation for the space we need to get enough recurring sponsors that we can cover our operating costs (rent+bills+cleaning) without needing to impose fees on community organizations, and enough that we can make long-term plans to improve the space. We plan on making small increases in other areas (see below), but want to maintain our affordability to keep the space open to those who need it most. Ultimately we want to try to turn co.up into a non-profit organization.
How did co.up survive before? Where does your money come from?
We have a few primary sources of income in the space.
- Recurring donors. We are so grateful to the people and organizations who have and continue to support us financially! You can find the names and logos of our supporters on our homepage.
- Space rentals. For private or paid events we charge a fee to use the space. There is an hourly rate and a daily rate. (This, however, is a rare side business; commercial rentals happen every other month or so).
- Drink purchases. In the space itself we sell a variety of drinks for 2€.
- Office space. We rent out the small office space adjacent to the event space to a company that has been in the space for several years.
This used to be enough to cover the costs. However, with the upcoming rent increase, this will not be enough. We’ve done some number-crunching and our most viable path to maintain co.up’s independence is to try and cover the gap with recurring support.
How much money do you need to raise?
We need to raise 3,000€ in recurring monthly support. This is on top of the existing income co.up already has. In addition, the new rental contract is asking for a security deposit of about 10,000€, which we hope to cover with one-time donations.
How much have you raised so far?
Monthly Recurring Support
Thank you, keep it coming! co-up.de/support-us.
What happens if you don’t get enough money together?
Currently our only option is to NOT sign the new rental contract, which means closing the space and moving out. If that happens, roughly 20 meetups, workshops, and learning groups would find themselves without a reliable, safe, and free venue.
What will you do with extra/leftover donations?
There are a number of improvements in the space that we currently don’t have any funds to address; all leftover funds will be put toward improvements, renovations, and upkeep. If we are not successful, donated funds will be used toward any expenses associated with moving out.
I would like to contribute, but don’t have money. What else can I do?
You can always spread the word! We also plan to organize DIY weekends where we team up to clean, renovate, and improve the space. Follow us on Twitter or via our newsletter to hear about it! You can also try to convince your company to support co.up by becoming a sponsor.
Are my donations tax deductible?
Unfortunately no. co.up is not a registered non-profit. However we are working on that, please email to email@example.com if you would like to donate and none of these options work:
Why is co.up a UG and not a non-profit (like an e.V. or similar)?
co.up was originally registered as a UG when it started as a coworking space (which, from the beginning, provided a free event space). When we decided to shut down coworking (mostly due to lack of time to keep it running responsibly), we really wanted to keep the free event space open. Given our limited resources, the only feasible and legal way for us was to keep doing that with the already existing UG.
Does co.up have wifi?
Is co.up wheelchair accessible?
There is an elevator and the event space is accessible. Unfortunately, the bathrooms are not fully wheelchair accessible.
I run a public event and hear you offer your space for free. Can I use it?
If you are interested in using co.up event space for free, please write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org explaining your event and which day/s you’d like to use the space. We can’t guarantee any placement but will see if the event fits with co.up’s mission and availability.