Hello guys, introduce yourselves: who are you? Tell us a bit about you.
Hi, we are Maria Rodriguez and Edo Sadikovic and we run the community of Sende, a rural coworking and coliving for the people who work online, located in a 20-inhabitants Village in the Spanish mountains, at the border with Portugal.
Our space is a mix of gardens and “indoor offices” for creatives and people who want to escape cities to get focused and creative while staying in nature.
María worked as a social educator and Edo as a trainer on social entrepreneurship and conflict resolution.
This spirit of doing something creative creates a library effect (where everyone is studying in silence, I also want to study). This is the same if ten people in the garden are doing something interesting, I also want to come down and work on my project or just help them.
So, this is this coliving in Sende. A place where we get to work on our projects, while cooking together, playing music, and enjoying time near the fire.
Since 2014 you’ve opened one of the first rural coworking/coliving space in Spain and in Europe building, day after day, one of the most interesting workplaces on the planet. How did this idea comes up? How did you develop it?
Yes, we started with rebuilding of the first two houses in 2013 and opened it in 2014. This concept of coworking and coliving was very new in the world, especially in the countryside.
María and I traveled quite a lot. Around 40 countries together but we also wanted a base, a place where we can stop and call it home. But also, we wanted to keep in contact with all these people we meet on the road.
That’s how Sende was born, like a home for all our international friends, who will not just come to enjoy life and take vacations, but to do something creative (for themselves or for others).
Edo was organizing international events on human rights and entrepreneurship in one village called Sopotnica, in Serbia.
The lesson we learnt from that experience is that if we had organized the same event in a big city, it wouldn’t have produced the same results in terms of learning and friendship, as the one organized with nature in the middle of nowhere.
We learned that people get bonded, they become friends for life, they learn more, just by being separated from the noise and city life.
That was the moment when the idea to build an international house for creatives clicked. Then we learned that the concept of coworking and coliving were going to be new in the world and we started to build our own in Galicia.
After several years you have built up a well-established reality in Galicia. Then you decided to “expand” your project and build a new space, Sende Portugal, in which you will also experiment the idea of giving the possibility to stay for free in your space (obviously sharing the living expenses).
How was this experience born and how will you develop it?
Yes, we would like to promote the idea of offering our space for free. First, we are going to test it and do it in Sende Portugal (our space that is under construction right now).
We believe that coliving is becoming an ugly industry, where big players (big just in terms of money) can afford to buy old buildings in the old towns, and they create a colivings only because it is into bogue right now. Then they pump up the price of the property in order to sell it they sell it or they rent the coliving spot 3 times higher than a regular hostel.
Sende is against this idea: we want to prove that there are 40 more ways to monetize your space and to make it sustainable instead of increasing the cost to people and, on the contrary, helping the neighborhood and not damaging it.
Ask us this same question in one year and we will tell you how it works 🙂
Sende is a fantastic place and every person who goes there always lives an extraordinary experience from a human and professional point of view: what makes Sende special?
90% of our visitors are urban people who are not used to sit under the tree (maybe ever in their life). Or to light a fire for the stove.
So just by making it so easy for these people to continue working on their projects while getting inspiration from the birds, butterflies, and flowers makes it different.
But also, the process of living together, cooking together, having 20 people at the big table, where everyone is from a different country makes you feel in an amazing trip while you sit and talk in a such international atmosphere.
Probably the thing that makes Sende so special are people who discover us and come to visit us. It is not common or easy to choose us instead of Barcelona, Madrid or Porto because we are far away and not well connected.
We guess that people that is coming here are looking for new challenges and it is once they meet here all together that magic happens.
You’ve cooperated you’re currently cooperating with different coworking spaces (like in Vigo and others). Collaboration and community are one of the most important ingredients we see in coworking spaces. What is your idea of coworking?
Yes, we cooperated with many spaces, Impact Hubs from Vigo and the world, but also with local partners like Arroelo en Pontevedra, Dinamo 10 from Viana do Castelo in Portugal, WOW, from Porto.
Coworking spaces can be an amazing source of innovation and community building if done right. Problem is that there is a very “low barrier to enter in this business”. This means that anyone who has space, chairs and desks and wifi can open a coworking space.
A good coworking space has to do with coworkers, not just the with the space: is the one who “produce” the spirit of community among their members, the one who know how to create settings that allow their members to get creative, to work with each other, to help others.
You know that you did a good job with a coworking space is when you close it, and your community is still alive, so even if you open it again in another location, everyone will be there.
I think that Treballu is going to be the best space to be in Sardinia because we saw how you work with people on other projects we worked together.
How are you spending this period? Are you working on future projects?
Right now we are in Portugal, preparing Sende 2. Planting cactuses, and writing. We have started a new project. It is a blog on edo.rs about marketing and product building but told from a giraffe perspective.
Many of our guests run tiny businesses. Others would like to start one. In Sende we have a school called Growrs, that helps people start a tiny business from scratch.
Basically, people come to Sende without a small business. They work hard. They go home as directors of their new business.
Now Edo started sharing online in this blog how to do marketing for this kind of business.
How do you think and how do you see society after the emergency? What can help humanity to be reborn?
We think that this coronavirus was a nice slap in the face to the whole planet. It is teaching us many lessons, especially on how to be moderate in everything and that we don’t need much in life.
I am worried and curious about how the world will continue because the virus is still here to stay for some time. Luckily, the world is also answering very fast, when technology and brains are used for good purposes.
The world is definitely going to be a different place after all of this. We just need to look and adapt. And great part of the planet is living in some terrible conditions and many people are closing their small businesses as they don’t see a solution.
Our job is to help, if we can.