An originally American format of an “informal public meeting”, mixed with the experiences of the Impact Hubs Amsterdam and Bucharest, and spiced up with some Hubonaut hosting magic – the first ever Town Hall Meeting at Impact Hub Zürich was a true success. Over 40 members filled the gallery at the Colab space and were excited to contribute their ideas to this co-creation process, where we wanted to find out how we could improve with the help from our members. We wrote this blog post to also give the community members who couldn’t attend the opportunity to stay up-to-date with what happened.


An opportunity to co-create Impact Hub Zürich

The last few months had left our team with mixed feelings: Though we still feel overwhelmed by the happenings of the last months (our marriage, the opening party, a new space, a bigger community, etc), we also realized that we lost some of our focus on the way. We weren’t able to interact with you, our community, as much as we wanted – which in itself already sucks, yeah – but we most of all regretted that we didn’t manage to create a co-creation process like we had imagined it. Incorrect prioritization and probably planning were at least two of the reasons. That’s how we ended up building this new space for the community but not with it. So yes, this is also about admitting that we made mistakes… now we want to make things right again. Those of you who have know us for a while, know that our community has always been about creating things together. And for that we needed and will always need your input!


Setting expectations together with you

Setting goals for an „informal public meeting“ sounds contradicting, but we wanted you to get the most out of the event. So the goals were to 1) get your feedback on what is happening at Impact Hub (small and big things), 2) share some of our ideas for the future and get your input on it and 3) have a good time and meet new people. But what were your expectations? The questions were as divers as expected, so we collected them here.


Answering all of your questions would have gone beyond the scope of this event (and blog post), so we focused on the most pressing ones and grouped them into three broader categories:


1) The vision and mission of Impact Hub Zürich

Some of you might not know the story of how Impact Hub started, so let’s start there: the first Hub (then still called The Hub) was founded in London in 2005 as a community and coworking space of a group of young entrepreneurs. Through their network, the concept of the Impact Hub spread very fast. So in 2009, the idea for an Impact Hub in Zürich was born in the minds of our co-founders Niels, Michel B., Christoph and Hagen. Then there were around 12 Impact Hubs united in the values of trust, courage and collaboration. Though we were one network, the local positioning of any Impact Hub might be slightly different: Prague and Recife have been focussing on their strong tech entrepreneur scene from the beginning… and Zürich, well, as you know we had a strong focus on social entrepreneurship.


In 2013, Colab Zürich was founded as a sub-renting idea by Panter AG and Grafik2 with their slogan „more than a workspace“. Their vision focused on creating the future of work, whereas the vision at Impact Hub Zürich was more connected to entrepreneurship and sustainability. But during our process of getting to know each other better as teams in 2014, we realized that we basically shared the same values. Of course we knew that coming together meant changing what we stand for (for both of us!)… Of course we knew that those two communities and cultures would clash… Of course we knew that it meant a lot of work… But we also trusted so much in the people behind our two communities, that we knew this would work out in the end. If we couldn’t overcome these boundaries, who could?!


Coming together also forced us to create something new. Something crafted from the best of two worlds: local and global, tech and sustainability focused, open and with a shared purpose. The two non-negotiables brought into our wedding were that: 1) we wanted to keep the connection to the global network, so we were forced to stick with the name Impact Hub Zürich, and 2) we wanted to meet each other on eye-level (not as one bigger and one smaller community), so we set up to have equal decision making power between the old teams in our governance. The common denominator for our new organization was quickly found, namely „prototyping the future of business“. Though honestly speaking, we haven’t done the best job yet filling this claim „future of business“ with life. By February (right on time for our 5 year anniversary) we want to have publishable vision and mission statement and a clear definition what we stand for. So please, get involved and hold us accountable!


2) The membership and its benefits

You probably know that although each Impact Hub in the network is an independent legal entity, we operate as one global community. With the new Membership Model, you are an Impact Hub member, with your home in Zürich. You can access events, space and network in any Impact Hub around the world. The membership is all about getting access to events and resources and getting the right benefits for your venture (mentoring, coaches, connecting, etc).


Have you ever asked yourself how you can meet the right people around here? Guess what, you’re not the only one. And the answer is quite simple: take responsibility! Of course you can go up to a Host or Community Catalyst Tobias, Michel or Kati and ask if they could connect you with some people (that’s what they are here for), but the most important thing is the simplest one as well: just introduce yourself to unknown people (online on Hubnet and offline when you meet at the coffee machine). Might sound very un-Swiss and embarrassing at the beginning, but it’s sure worth it. Also for the older members among you that might feel a bit disconnected lately; re-start your experience and just start saying „hi“ to everyone you don’t know (thanks for the wonderful example, Miki!).  And to give you tiny glimpse of hope (while you have to make the best of Hubnet), we are currently working on a new CRM and directory system for all Impact Hub members globally to connect you better – we don’t want to promise anything here time-wise but it’s coming for sure.


And if, very specifically, you might have asked yourself how you can meet those „new corporates“ in our space to connect with them, let us tell you this: each and every single one of them is a member just like you. They are here as humans, passionate, experienced, curious and open-minded individuals – and like all the other members you will meet them at the coffee machine at some point 🙂 They don’t bite and they most certainly would love to also connect with you.


3) The coworking spaces and their rules

And finally about the spaces: it’s not that we have gone through opening a 1700sqm space as a third location in Zürich before, so things were a bit improvised in the beginning as you will have noticed. Learning by doing, right? The situation has room for improvements, and we’ll make sure that they are coming. The meeting rooms will get doors (promise), Phone booths for calls are also planed (but until then just do your calls at your desk), a nice kitchen for members on the first floor is coming and the hosting situation will be improved where ever possible. Trough your member login on Huble you can now also book the rooms at Colab directly yourselves (see the last Special Alert email). And no, we didn’t forget it: The attic, which will include at least four more meeting rooms and more desks, is planned to be finished and ready for moving in in January 2016.


As for Auer&Co, our member café at the Colab space, we will run it as a bridge between „outsiders” and coworkers. An easy entry point into our community and the thoughts and values we represent so to speak. Lowering the barriers and opening up with extremely delicious coffee is our strategy here – what better way is there? Of course the member café is also a place for you. But as most of you are entrepreneurs, you will understand that the café, in order to be self-sustaining, needs to generate some revenue. That’s why we ask you to respect the different rules that apply for that area such as not eating your food there or brining your own beverages.


The Good, The Bad and The Future

This is only a selection of topics that were discussed at the Town Hall Meeting, We could go on and on with all the input we got from you (even by email) on what are The Good and The Bad things currently at Impact Hub Zürich – so feel free to have a look at it here. You should also know, that we always have an open ear for you, be it problems or solutions. Either let us know personally or use the Chummerchästli form. Though we cannot promise that we will implement every single suggestion, we will definitively consider all of them and realize as many as possible. The next Town Hall Meeting will be held right before our Christmas Party on December 18 – join us to get an update and help us shape to future of Impact Hub Zürich.


Our goal as Impact Hub is to make it as easy and convenient for you to join our community and access opportunities to grow. Experience has thought us that those community members who put in most, got most out of the membership. Read our blog, scan the weekly large newsletter, study the member mail and attend the relevant events – empower yourself.


We are very grateful for the wonderful participation of our community at this first Town Hall Meeting. Now we have some work to do! 🙂