Are you part of a one; two or maybe even three-man startup team which is looking for an opportunity to do some high quality but absolutely free startup-related networking? Do you feel at home in public places? Do you prefer guerilla tactics over formal battle strategies? Are you ready to work hard, stay cool and swear an oath to do so in the future as well?
If yes is your answer (hopefully on all of the questions), then the Guerilla Office just might be your thing.
Before you get any ideas, it’s good to clear out that the name, even if jokingly, is a bit misleading. The Guerilla Office is not a secret hobo-entrepreneur league that does underground meetings in remote sewage tunnels nor do they camouflage-paint their faces and meet in the rainy jungle for some business assault planning. Their meetings look like this:
So what is this all about?
It’s said that humans are social creatures. When we are alone, we find comfort in company, perhaps because a group can do so much more than a single individual or perhaps simply because it feels right. The Guerilla Office is a mixture of both.
The main guy behind Guerilla Office, Vasili Mavroudis, got his inspiration to create this community while travelling across Europe when working as a consultant. During those years he found himself working in hotel lobbies, airports, coffee shops, restaurants and all sorts of public spaces where he kept meeting new, interesting and encouraging acquaintances. When he got back to Sweden, he wondered how he could keep on finding these interesting new people in his very own backyard.
And just like that, the idea for Guerilla Office was born.
The concept was quite simple: decide a public location, post it online, invite startups and voilá! Participation was, is and will always be free of charge and for a day or two at a time, startups can get together and work themselves to oblivion. The variety among the fields of knowledge the participants have can be as colorful as the rainbow, but you could also run into someone with whom you have more in common than you think. The point is, you can meet new people, exchange ideas and get inspired, all while working on your own projects.
If you visit more than three times, you have to become a member. Not to worry, the membership is only symbolic and requires no money nor any commitment. However, a pledge of three words must be made: Be. Actively. Nice.
The Guerilla Office was well received by those who crossed its path, so eventually it started growing from the original three - four person meetups. So much, in fact, that they couldn’t just go squatting any hotel’s lobby anymore since there could be more than 20 attendees.
Today a Guerilla Offices meetup is announced beforehand to wherever they go, but Mavroudis says this has stemmed no resistance whatsoever. Quite on the contrary actually: the public spaces enjoy the attention they get through the Guerilla Office’s social media and besides, a group of startups armed with laptops are the ideal group to have around. They’re calm, hardworking and thirsty for coffee.
Next friday Guerilla Office will be exactly one year old (a fact Mavroudis is very proud of), and since day one, the company has grown tremendously in size. In Sweden they have five major cities in which their weekly meetups are taking place: Gothenburg, Uppsala, Helsingborg, Malmö and Stockholm.
Mavroudis says what they’re really after isn’t money, but rather a positive global phenomenon in which all the big startup cities of the world would have their own Guerilla Office communities.
So what’s stopping that from happening?
Well, nothing really. Anyone with good enough heart can join in and become a truly worthy regional Guerilla Office General, or in other words a local chief (or maybe more like a local CEO, anyway, you get the idea). There’s no money required, no money received, but you have to be prepared to dedicate some, maybe even a lot of your time to it. The reward is more valuable than gold though, and that’s being part of something good for others around you.
Mavroudis says there are no “no-good” places. Any city with enough startup activity is perfectly eligible for a local branch. Still, his eyes are set on Berlin, Tel-Aviv, New York and San Francisco, cities which he says are hopefully going to have their very own Guerilla Offices within the upcoming year.
The Guerilla Office grew to this point in a year by mostly word of mouth marketing and a few visits to startup events by Mavroudis himself. His plan for a global community might be grand but based on what has already happened I wouldn't be too hasty to be openly sceptical about it.
Whatever happens, Guerilla Office is doing great in Sweden, so if you’re there, it’s time to go and check it out. However, if you’re based anywhere else, and you have the right attitude, consider setting up your very own Guerilla Office!