Originally from Lorient in the west of France, Antoine Berghen’s background is in IT and computer science, which he went on to study in college. Upon co-founding his first business during his sophomore year, the software development company, called Yaakedev, really took off, expanding to Luxembourg in 2018. Since then, Antoine has been learning and growing as an entrepreneur, founding Paladium Coworking in March of 2019. Learn more about Antoine’s journey to the coworking scene and founding Paladium in our latest interview below.
How did you discover coworking?
I discovered coworking in 2017 working on Yaakadev in my home city in France. Once I developed Yaakadev into Luxembourg, I knew I needed a local office space to work in, and I had an opportunity to make use of a commercial property that was currently being used for storage. This opportunity allowed me to create my own unique space. Soon after getting the idea, I got to work on the renovation project. It was January of 2019 when the project started and by the end of February, the construction was complete. We soon opened and celebrated the inauguration, welcoming our community, and holding a grand opening event in March 2019.
How would you describe the community at Paladium?
The community at Paladium is a diverse one, made up of men and women, of different ages from all over the globe, speaking many different languages, and having a diversity of knowledge and skills. The community has changed over time, coming together in work and personal life to collaborate and grow in business and as individuals.
What other unique elements make your coworking space stand out from all the rest??
Paladium has an ambiance or a character about it, if you will. Our sense of humor and openness promotes acceptance of things being a little bit different. For instance, I think our door lined with Barbie & Ken dolls is the first of it’s kind.
How has your space been impacted by COVID-19? What adjustments have you had to make to safely accommodate members?
We’ve encountered many obstacles when Luxembourg closed non-essential businesses down due to COVID-19. Once we started re-opening, we implemented more frequent cleaning of the premises and wearing masks, as well as made available hydroalcoholic gel, and disinfectant wipes to our members. In addition to the physical protocol, we had to shift our focus from productivity to safety. COVID-19 has devastated many across the globe; for those that have been affected or are at risk and have since chosen not to return to Paladium, we’ve employed total empathy.
What are three key ingredients for operating a successful coworking space?
The first ingredient, as stated above, is empathy, followed by hard work and accountability. The key to operating any good business is to genuinely care about your customers and employees. This requires making personal sacrifices. It means arriving early, staying late, putting in the time and effort to learn, and losing a few hours of sleep in the process. It also means holding yourself accountable for everything, and understanding that you can always improve operations. You’ve just got to keep an open mind.
What is your favorite thing about coworking?
It sounds like such a cliche, but laughing and enjoying downtime with fellow coworkers, has got to be the favorite among most, including myself. Those are the moments that make it all worth it. It’s the nuances of sharing a space with other people; The coffee breaks, the moments in between the phone calls, and the meetings.
What is the most challenging part of operating a coworking space?
One of the most challenging parts of operating a coworking space is managing people and relationships. I have high expectations of creating a true Paladium community, where our values foster a positive exchange with our members, partners, employees, and community. Ensuring our community is in line with our values, means treating everyone like people and not simply a business transaction, because our vision is bigger than just business.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to start a coworking space?
I’ll refer to the slogan of Nike for this one, Just Do It. I have two reasons for this. The first is that the industry makes sense. Airbnb and Uber paved the way for a sharing economy and showed the world that you don’t need to own all of your resources, to be successful. In fact, we can share what we’ve already got. We’re reading every day the expansion and prevalence of Coworking spaces around the globe, into suburbs, and trending towards a bright future.
Secondly, being an entrepreneur has taught me that taking a risk and failing is far more important to your character and development than having regrets. In conclusion, if you want to start a coworking space, start a coworking space, work really hard, and figure everything else out as you go.
How would you like people to remember your coworking space?
To quote Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. Paladium will forever be a success if our coworkers, employees, and guests remember how we made them feel.
For more information about Paladium Coworking, visit their page on Coworker here.