Co-working spaces are cropping up all over the world but few are as ambitious as the project opening soon in Paris’ 10th arrondissement. Garage Central is a former car park transformed by entrepreneur Arthur Gerbi.
His motivation was not merely to maximise profit. “It would have been easy to divide the building into lots of offices and rent them out at a premium price,” says Gerbi. “But I wanted to attract innovative companies with spaces that reflected their sensibilities and creativity.”
The workstations feature specially designed tables, Roneo and Moleskine 1950s armchairs and contemporary seats by Hay. Gerbi worked with architect Jules Mesny Deschamps and the firm Be-Poles, who came up with the visual identity. Aware that most people spend more time at work than home, the project’s art director Daniel Rozensztroch, who works for Parisian lifestyle shop Merci, also built a lounge into each floor complete with thick rugs and international magazines. Says Gerbi: “Daniel put the fun back into creativity, blurring the often-abrupt transition between home and work.”
“We grew up between rows and rows of barrels,” says Miguel Riascos, who co-founded La Hechicera rum with his sister Laura in 2013. The Riascos family has been making rum since the 1990s; the new brand is the only privately produced, aged and bottled rum made in Colombia’s port city of Barranquilla. “With big brands people don’t know what’s behind the scenes,” says Miguel, 28. “They want to understand who’s behind the product. We saw an opportunity.” It’s paying off: La Hechicera has won a string of international awards. The duo aims to sell 10,000 bottles this year.
“I want to make dog food sexy,” says Christian Degner-Elsner, CEO of Danish company Essential Foods. “It was a dead business with no innovation, poor branding and rubbish packaging. I wanted to change that.”
Degner-Elsner had run a traditional pet-food company but grew dissatisfied. “For cost reasons most dog foods are more starch than meat,” he says. “That means the dogs get an energy boost just after they eat them but then have an energy crash.”
Degner-Elsner set about creating a food that released its energy gradually. He sourced high-quality ingredients and grew the brand mostly through word of mouth. Though Essential’s products tend to cost about 40 per cent more than mainstream rivals, revenue doubled to €2.1m within two years of the company starting in 2013, with €3.1m expected for 2015.
Eric Buterbaugh made a name for himself as the favoured floral designer for the glitterati of Hollywood. But it was when he noticed that the scents of his favourite flowers were slowly disappearing – due to the popularity of hothouse growing techniques – that he decided to expand into fragrances. Buterbaugh (pictured below, on right) teamed up with Fabrice Croisé – a Frenchman with many years’ experience at Lancôme, among other brands – and established the world’s first luxury fragrance line based exclusively on floral scents. They launched Eric Buterbaugh Florals in June with an initial offering of seven unisex scents at about $300 (€270) a bottle.
The pair also opened a flagship store on Beverly Boulevard in the heart of West Hollywood. The space incorporates an art gallery that is curated by Buterbaugh and Croisé.
This autumn an organisation called Make in LA will host five hardware companies for four months at its space in San Fernando, northern LA. They’ll each get $75,000 (€67,760), mentoring, access to 3D printers and, according to co-founder Noramay Cadena, will be the seeds of a new kind of tech industry in the region.
Why does Los Angeles need you?
LA has a rich history of manufacturing going back to Nash Motors and the aerospace business. It also now has a growing ecosystem of start-ups, co-working spaces and accelerator activity. But there’s a gap with hardware.
Where is the money coming from?
The facility is being funded by our partner Neo Tech, a California-based contract manufacturer, while angel investors will be funding the first class.
How are you finding companies to apply?
As it’s new we’re casting the net wide: visiting universities in the area, combing through crowdfunding campaigns online and leaving flyers at co-working spaces. We’re looking for people who have fabulous ideas but don’t have resources to make prototypes. A company must be superior technologically, willing to grow and have a coachable team. The 20 businesses that have submitted so far range from manufacturing innovation to playground equipment.