Another Podcast is up! We are here with Johanna Voll from Germany and Hector Kosanas from the USA who are going to tell us all about their new project: The Crisis Directory.
They will be diving into how the Crisis Directory will help the coworking community not just in this current crisis but for coming crises as well and what kind of resources are available for everyone in the coworking industry. They will also be talking about how this current project of theirs is available globally for the whole coworking community.
What is the Crisis Directory?
The crisis directory is an online resource, just like the Coworking Library. Here you can share any resource that has helped you and your business in this crisis, and find resources that have helped other people.
You can filter by language or by location, and find out the things that might be helpful to you that you may not find through your daily scan through the Facebook timeline, or that just get lost there somewhere.
We wanted to build a place online where you can find all those resources that really helped you and others.
How does it work?
There is a really simple form on our website. It asks you for a brief description, just so people can know what they’re clicking on.
And then you can essentially just link out to the official documentation. We aren’t asking for any uploads. We aren’t asking you to create any formatted content. You don’t even have to upload an image. It’s just an opportunity to share information.
And then the idea is once it’s shared, and we have enough resources, we can create discussions around each resource, having people over then go in and put in inputs, for example, on requesting a grant, what was the process for you? This didn’t work for me because my business didn’t qualify for XYZ.
That kind of second-tier crowdsourcing allows people to know whether a resource is right for them, as opposed to having to cycle through, you know, 100 different local government websites or 100 organisations and nonprofits and all these things.
So the need is for people to just list whatever is available in their region, in their locality, or from businesses that you know of who are doing something COVID related. Obviously, if businesses want to support businesses through discounts, definitely check out included.co. That’s what we do. That’s our job. That’s our day to day. But for everything else, you know, that is strictly designed to financially support humans, businesses and organisations and communities through COVID add those to the Crisis Directory
Links mentioned in the Podcast:
Bernie J. Mitchell 0:03
Hello Ladies, gentlemen, and welcome to this week’s essential episode of the Coworking Values podcast, the sweetest smelling podcast in Coworking Europe. And our guests today are the world renowned, Johanna and Hector, who, along with Carsten are the instigators behind the Coworking Library and lots of coworking projects around the universe. And their latest project and I’d say one of the most essential to date is the Coworking Crisis Directory. And we’re here today to talk about that and in the driving, seat is the technical brain of the operation, my good friend Zeljko.
Zeljko Crnjakovic 0:39
You have been practicing that, right? So, thank you.
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Zeljko Crnjakovic 1:26
Thank you very much Bernie for that introduction and hello to everybody and welcome to another episode of the Coworking Values podcast. And also hello to Johanna and Hector – today’s guests, how are you guys?
Holding up I guess in these times, thanks for having us.
Not too bad just to try not to go cabin fever-y.
Bernie J. Mitchell 1:47
Oh fantastic. So how are you holding up with the entire crisis – self-isolation, quarantine. Jo is in Germany, Hector is in the US, by the way, I’m sitting in Serbia and Bernie is in the UK. So, you’ve got a really colourful podcast session here to everybody who listens. So, Jo, how are things in Germany? How are things heating up?
Well, yeah, it depends on the way you look at it – for me personally it’s an okayish situation. I’m quite used to being in my home office. I have superfast internet. So that is a good thing. I feel well prepared. But I feel like we are still all in panic mode that quickly turns to frustration mode. And just recently I have realized how long we are in this for and we will be in this for a longer time than probably most of us think at this moment. So, it’s really important to get comfortable where you are.
Zeljko Crnjakovic 3:03
Yeah, and for most of us who are working from home that’s one way of looking at it, and you were part comfortable already with it. And some of the others need to get more comfortable with it. Hector, where are you in the US?
I’m in Jersey City right now, so I can see Manhattan out the window, but I’m far enough to not be in the craziness of New York City right now.
Zeljko Crnjakovic 3:25
Okay, so you’re pretty close to the, like, worst struck area, right?
Yeah. I mean, they keep calling it the epicentre. It’s made me stop watching news. I just kind of just focus on building things and creating value and at some points, things will return to a new normal, maybe not the normal that we had before. But things will adapt and if we keep building good things and helping good people, everyone will get to the other side All right.
Zeljko Crnjakovic 3:54
Okay, and talking about building things you guys and along with Carsten, are the founders of the big project – Coworking Library. So that’s been around for a couple of years now. And how’s that going?
We are going steady. We are still the one place online where you can find all the coworking research. It’s a searchable database. You can find it coworkinglibrary.com. And yeah, we’re not we’re not going away. Good thing we have an online database so you can still go there and check out the latest coworking research.
Zeljko Crnjakovic 4:37
And from all that data, I see that you guys love working with data because this is all about also the new project coming along, and which we’re here to talk about… And it’s called Crisis Directory. And if I remember correctly, its crisisdirectory.com or crisis.directory right Hector?
That is exactly right.
Zeljko Crnjakovic 5:01
What’s that about? So, what’s the goal? What is Crisis Directory?
Well, basically, the Crisis Directory is an online resource, just like the Coworking Library. And you can find any resource that has helped you and your business in this crisis. We are looking to collect those on a global level. And then you can filter it by language or by location, and find out the things that might be helpful to you that you may not find through your daily scan through the Facebook timeline, or that just get lost there somewhere. So, we wanted to build a place online where you can find all those resources that really help you and others.
Zeljko Crnjakovic 5:49
And Jo can ask you, so you talked about resources and most of the resources right now up on Crisis Directory, are all about some grants and financial resources. Are these the only resources that the crisis director is looking for? Or what is the other target to be uploaded there?
Yeah, we have a focus on securing your business, if you’re a freelancer, especially it’s especially directed at coworking spaces and their members. So, but as we all know, coworking spaces can be super diverse. They can be organized as an NGO, as a small business, then there are lots of freelancers and also employees or students in them. So that includes a lot of people. So, we try to target those. You can search for things that are monetary in terms of a loan or grant program, but also things that are more in-kind resources such as really good overviews to resources, consultancies that have really help you. The overall goal is always to have something that has an impact. We do focus on business related resources. So, it’s not the place where you put your home-schooling things or the best cooking recipe that you do at home. That’s not the place for that. But there are a lot of other online places where you can share those.
Zeljko Crnjakovic 7:27
So, we’re talking about crowd sourced material. So, you’re asking for people to upload and share any valuable resource that can make an impact. Now, I’m just trying to clarify to people and to the listeners, so, when they’re thinking of Will this be helpful? Everything that comes to mind… So, grants, funds, in-kind stuff, or is it’s for example, something that you find more valuable for business. Because it has a great discount, and then you want to share it there – what kind of an impact to be really clear about people who want to share things.
Yeah, with regards to your discount question. I think there are other platforms for that. And Hector might share that a bit more about Included and their role. We really want to focus on resources that are especially there during this COVID-19 crisis. So, we try to really focus on those that are now emerging. We just launched the directory a week ago. So we are still in the early stage and that is something we are looking for right now is to add your resource, share it with your communities, and really make this thing the common or the crowdsource resource pool for a lot of people.
Zeljko Crnjakovic 9:01
So, Hector, how is this managed in the sense of being crowd sourced? What’s behind it in the sense? Do you do I have to have any special knowledge about uploading things? What kind of things can I upload? Does it have to be in a special format can be just add the word PDF, copy, pastes, what is it?
There so it’s actually just a really simple form on our website. It asks you for a brief description, just so people can know what they’re clicking on a brief introduction – try and give your view on as to what the resource is. And then you can essentially just link out to the official documentation. We aren’t asking for any uploads. We aren’t asking you to create any formatted content. You don’t even have to upload an image. It’s just shared the resource. And then the idea is once it’s shared, and we have enough resources, we can create discussions around each resource, having people over then go in and put in inputs, for example, on requesting a grant, what was the process for you? This didn’t work for me because my business didn’t qualify for XYZ. That kind of second tier crowdsourcing allows people to know whether a resource is right for them, as opposed to having to cycle through 100 different local government websites or 100 organizations and non-profits and all these things.
So, from the text started, just purely just list whatever is available in your region, in your locality in your neighbourhood, or from businesses that you know are doing something COVID related. Obviously, if businesses want to support businesses through discounts, definitely check out included.co – that’s what we do, that’s our job. That’s our day to day. But for everything else that is strictly designed to financially support humans, businesses and organizations and communities through COVID add those to the Crisis Directory.
Zeljko Crnjakovic 11:00
You mentioned that people are submitting a resource, just need to post a link to the resource itself. But can they also upload it if there isn’t a link?
At present there isn’t, purely because we didn’t want to be the company that hosts that specific resource. However, we have been approached by a bunch of really interesting organizations who do want to work with us to be that central figure, for example, collecting signatures for a specific initiative and that’s something we are discussing as a team, but it’s not in the platform just yet.
Zeljko Crnjakovic 11:43
Okay. Bernie, did you want to ask something?
Bernie J. Mitchell 11:47
So Hector, when I load something up – Can you say a bit about how I can be identified that I’ve loaded something up there, because I think that kind of recognition for contributing towards the community is really important. That shouldn’t be your reason for uploading something to get your name on it. But that’s a big thing. Can you say a bit more about that, please?
Yeah, sure. So, we totally get that Most of the cases, it’s going to be community leaders who share these resources because they’re already searching for them for their members or searching for themselves. And we want to build in a level of gratification or reward for people who are submitting the resources, i.e. the early adopters, the first movers. And when you submit a resource, you can click a toggle that says that you’re happy to be thanked publicly, as we call it. And then you can put in the organization you work for in a link, and at the bottom of the resource. It has a beautiful green bar that says thanks to Bernie from the podcasts for submitting this resource and obviously that links back with full SEO, so we love to just give back to the people who are contributing to the project.
Bernie J. Mitchell 13:01
What would really help the project at the moment? Because there’s people submitting stuff which we’ve covered, but what else could we massively go out of our way to do after listening to this podcast to help it work?
And I think we still have to look for a lot more submissions. We do have a slight focus on German submissions so far, which is probably because Carson and I are based in Germany. And but there is still so much more out there, also small things, small grants that are not really highlighted in the news that is something we are looking for and really shared with your communities. As I said earlier, the world is changing and the way we work will be changed forever, probably through this crisis. We all are not sure how long the road ahead of us actually is, so the funding schemes will change. And we will try to incorporate that in the further development of the platform. So, we’re really hoping to build this resource into a hub for discussing what actually helps, what has not helped, as well. So that is something we are looking for. I mean, it emerged out our own panic mode. We are all in this together, it’s very uncertain. But we also want to say that we’re in it for the long run. And this Crisis Directory will hopefully be a tool that the guide you until the end whenever that is of the crisis.
Bernie J. Mitchell 14:46
I mean, what do you mean the end?
Zeljko Crnjakovic 14:49
Of the crisis, okay.
Bernie J. Mitchell 14:52
We’ve got a lifelong commitment to the coworking industry, but yeah, I just want to just really clarify that Jo.
Zeljko Crnjakovic 14:59
So, I see that in search mode, you can search by country. And when you do a search, I’m guessing everything Germany related will be in German, especially the funds and the grants. Did you find any resources that are basically global scale, so multi regional, multi country, or will it be focused on basically whichever region fills in the most resources and then gets the people searching for those resources? Because right now, you’re and Carsten are from Germany. The most resources come from Germany because you’re filling it and also probably the target audience that will have the most effect from it will be German coworking or its members. So do any resources come or are known that are – I’m not gonna say monetary, I’m gonna say any resources that you have in mind to put on Crisis Directory that works from wherever you’re searching for?
I would say not yet, I think I saw something from a company that is funding international projects. But actually it’s interesting to see that more and more resources have the information in the local language but then also English or if there are more languages spoken in that country which is also really interesting for expats, being somewhere stuck around the world wherever they got stuck at this unfortunate time. And so, we try to implement that in our search form or also in a submission form of course that you can decide between different languages. And then when we see that resources are available in different locations; we will adapt the form accordingly.
Does that answer your question?
Zeljko Crnjakovic 17:11
Yes, of course. Hector, did you want to add something?
Yeah. So, the form does actually allow people to submit a resource that does span multiple regions. It was designed with the use case that there would be global funds from commercial entities and from non-profits. Things that do come to mind are like the Google AdWords fund that they’re putting together as well as the Facebook Small Business Fund. The reason they haven’t been submitted is because they haven’t been announced or released or given enough information for me to submit it. If somebody from any of those companies does listen to this podcast, please get in touch or submit the resource. We would love to tell people about it. There are a lot of multinational or even regional, we’re going to see a lot of European funds jump into this, I’m sure, which will be available across multiple territories. But as Jo said, rightly so earlier, and everyone’s kind of in panic mode, the dust hasn’t really settled. As that does, we’ll start seeing more and more plans and support packages being announced and released, I’m sure. We’re gonna see movement from the BC world, they’ve got a lot of start-ups that they’ve got, there’s gonna be a lot of resources that are available. We don’t wait for the dust settle. And for enough people to know that they should submit it, and share the resources so that people who have the resources want to then expose them on the platform.
Zeljko Crnjakovic 18:44
See Bernie you have to contact that one person at Facebook that you know.
Bernie J. Mitchell 18:50
So that was Noah and then he left to do AppSumo. So…
Bernie J. Mitchell 18:57
One thing I would plead with people listening to our podcast here is to, we’ll put some links in the show notes about sharing the directory. So, don’t think the only contribution you can make to the directory is to upload some complicated funding thing from your local area. The more people share this on social media, in emails, in WhatsApp messages, it helps spread it around. And it’s not just about how much stuff we can get in the directory. It’s about how many people find out about it. And one of the reasons I’m so overwhelmingly enthusiastic about this is right, in the early days of the crisis, me and a lot of people in our coworking space were like scrambling around where to find the link to fill in for this. And there’s all these announcements about, the government’s going to give you 10 million pounds if you got one leg and two desks and employ a budgerigar in your coworking space, but if you do and the specifics of it is overwhelming and I only just managed to – if it wasn’t for my wife and Matt Perkins from Free Agent, I would never get my tax in. So looking for funding a time of crisis, when my brain is melting is even more… And what I think it will turn into is the difference between Yahoo and Google, you can send people to Google when they find what they’re looking for. If you send people to Yahoo, it’s a complete fuck fest. So, people just give up and saying, Go and look in the Crisis Directory is why I hope everyone in coworking will be saying for at least the next year, and any anything else to add to that, folks?
Yeah, I mean, you’re basically described our thought process. All three of us are also working as freelancers. And I mean, we felt that exact state of mind where you’re just overwhelmed. There’s all this information out there. But you don’t really know which step is the first on. Maybe one little disclaimer I do want to make, that we cannot update each and every entry. So, we do try to keep an eye on all the resources that are being entered. But in the end, only the research where it’s linked to is legally binding and there will be lots of changes ahead of us. So, we try to keep up, but we cannot promise so keep that in mind. Also, Like I said, it’s a big face of transformation, it’s gonna change a lot. You’re going to see a lot more bankruptcies in the next months. And we hope there will be more and more programs that we can first of all enter in our directory, but then can ultimately just help people and that’s why we are here.
Zeljko Crnjakovic 21:49
Positive thinking Jo, positive thinking. Okay, so I was gonna ask something that you already mentioned, but I want to be really clear to the listeners. So, are the sources being screened in any way by you?
Yes, they are screened, the submission process is fairly easy. We wanted to keep it as easy as possible, so we get as many people to contribute. So, we do keep an eye on the resources we try to find if there are a double resource, we will then select those. We have an eye on it and the back end.
Zeljko Crnjakovic 22:35
Okay. And for the big, big question for all of those who listen, what’s in it for you guys? So, who are you being funded by? Where are you making your millions from the directory?
Oh, that a very interesting question. Well, basically, this is a project by the Coworking Library team. We just do it. Out of the pure wish to help people, as a gift for the coworking community and beyond. If you do want to contribute to the Coworking Library, you can do that there is an option for that I know our website, where you can support us with a little bit of financial love to make more of these projects happen and somewhat sustainable.
To pay for more coffee.
Zeljko Crnjakovic 23:33
Give a little love make little more projects. So we’re calling to everybody who listens to support the Coworking Library. It’s not only a great project, but as you can see, a lot of other great projects are coming out of it. So, what’s gonna happen with the Crisis Directory once the crisis is over? Is it going to be the Crisis Directory for all the, crises coming along? It’s not called the COVID-19 Crisis Directory. It doesn’t have to be…
That was true. Let’s just really, really hope we don’t have that many crises, he’s ahead of us that we would actually need it. And to be honest, I don’t think this is going away very soon. And also the implications that this crisis will have on your businesses will last while so. This is a one- or two-year project that is for that it’s totally will be out there. And once we are over this crisis, it’s a great resource for historians to study probably, and then we can write an article about it and put that in the Coworking Library.
Bernie J. Mitchell 24:55
That’s the kind of a hidden agenda, we need more research in the library, and then we’re gonna do the crisis analysis of it… So, I get it now. Hector, can we talk a little bit about Included, so we’re not gonna do a full promo. But as we said discounts don’t go into the Crisis Directory, what is included.co?
So Included.co is the company that I founded to power, the perk of a member benefit programs for any entrepreneurial community, whether it’s a coworking space, a group of freelancers, or freelance platform, an incubator accelerator, anywhere where there’s multiple businesses, we power, a platform that gives them access to great services at even better prices. And that’s what we operate across 63 countries. It’s where I show my love for the coworking world. Its most of the spaces that we work with most communities’ work with are in the coworking world. A lot of them and their members were hurting or are worried about being hurt by the crisis. And that’s why as soon as we had the discussion at the library team about doing a Crisis Directory, I put resources directly into making sure that that could happen.
Zeljko Crnjakovic 26:14
So basically, anybody who is a member of a coworking space or runs a coworking space, and has a business offer that they can discount on, they can put it on Included and make it available to everybody out there in the coworking world.
Exactly. We were primarily focus on physical communities before obviously, with everyone moving virtually a lot of coworking spaces are trying to figure out how they can make their memberships more valuable or valuable enough that people don’t just cancel and sit at home. So, we’ve been helping people get virtual programming up but also giving them a resource to give to their members. A way for them to say that with your coworking membership, your virtual membership you also get discount counted MacBooks or insurance or coffee or whatever it is. So, all of the types of perks that we definitely distribute now are slightly different. It’s just because of the changing nature of our communities. We’re more dispersed, we’re more distributed. But any member who’s a part of any participating coworking space can automatically add their perks for every other community. But other businesses that are not in coworking can also offer perks and discounts into the coworking and freelance worlds through Included so you have one source to hundreds of communities.
Zeljko Crnjakovic 27:35
Bernie, what did you put on your perk on Included?
Bernie J. Mitchell 27:40
I tried to submit several perks to the Included directory, but they didn’t get through, which is not an unusual experience for me on websites. But what I did get from Included is a couple of years ago, maybe three years ago, I got an iPad and a very slick little keyboard and a pencil and it was 400 pounds less than it would have been if I just gone somewhere else. And I’ve had my MacBook fixed properly and reliably and extended the life of it. So, there’s a lot of good stuff in Included, and you can save a handsome amount of money by going there. And I’m a big fan, which is why he’s on this podcast. But it’s definitely a cool thing.
Zeljko Crnjakovic 28:33
Okay, guys, we’re coming to the kind of breaking point of the podcast. Is there anything that we should shout out as far as the Crisis Directory that needs to happen in the next few weeks?
Add resources and share it with your communities. That is basically what we need to make the project more known. Let it be more helpful for our others, we do believe this is the time of communities’, alliances, all the coworking spaces turn in virtual now. That’s what we would like you guys to do, but also everybody else who was listening to the podcast.
Zeljko Crnjakovic 29:19
I want to shout out that no matter where you’re from, because as we see, if you look on crisisdirectory.com, you’ll see a lot of local resources. So, no matter where you’re from, no matter that you don’t know if anybody from your region is visiting Crisis Directory, they don’t have to until they see a resource there. So if you have a resource, put it out there, no matter if you’re from Portugal, from Spain, from UK from Germany… so no matter where you’re from somebody can benefit from it even if one person benefits it will be a benefit and a plus, and it will work its course.
Zeljko Crnjakovic 30:10
Bernie you wanted to say something for the end, like a thought something…
Bernie J. Mitchell 30:16
I haven’t got anything. Thank you for listening everybody the listening listenership has gone up significantly in the crisis. And we really appreciate people giving their very valuable time in this screen and headphones obsessed world to our podcast and spreading the word about it. So, thank you listeners all over the world.
Zeljko Crnjakovic 30:37
Jo. Hector, thank you so much for being our guests.
Thank you for having us.
Zeljko Crnjakovic 30:42
Okay, guys, talk to you next time on the coworking values podcast.