How Startup Guide’s offices became physical stores
eople often ask us why we, a publishing and media company, have physical stores, but answering that question isn’t exactly simple. What started out as our offices transformed into stores in three European capitals. Today, these spaces showcase our guidebooks, sell products from startups around the world and provide a home for our team members and visitors alike.
If we cast our eyes back to 2017, a lot has changed for Startup Guide. At this point in our journey, the team was composed of only a handful of people. Huddled around desks that were being rented in a design studio in Berlin, Startup Guide’s then-team of five quickly realized it was time to upsize.
Kreuzberg – the heart of Berlin’s experimental and creative scene – was an obvious choice for a new location. Nestled in a street lined with Soviet-era houses, the office is today located in a hideaway ‘Hinterhaus’ next to other local businesses.
When the Startup Guide team moved in, however, their name wasn’t even on the door, and to add to the mystery, the space was accessible only by a buzzer for the previous tenants. A former vintage clothes store had also used the space at some point, leaving behind rails filled with jackets and coats and a selection of furniture that the team used to furnish their new home.
After noticing how big the space was, the Berlin-based team thought about how to best make use of it. This is when the idea to create a store that celebrated creators, products and print came to fruition.
A few months later, we opened a new office in Lisbon to house the growing number of team members that were based there. This, too, became a Startup Guide store. Located in LX Factory – the city’s hip mecca of cafes, bars and creative shops – people began to wander in, browse and start to learn what we’re all about. It wasn’t before long, however, that the growing team needed to locate to a bigger space.
It was around this time that Sissel, our founder and CEO, was trying to define what Startup Guide is, what it means to us, and what our values are. We are not just a publishing company, she thought, but a work-life brand whose mission is to inspire entrepreneurs to start up their businesses everywhere.
Sissel wanted to invite people into the entrepreneurial world that we experience every day. For that, we needed a physical space with a new concept. With the opportunity to open a second store that could encompass all of these ideas, Toyno, a space experience design studio based in Lisbon, came on board to help us bring our ideas to life.
The idea was to produce a store plan that could be created anywhere, using affordable materials that could be bought locally in any city across the world and furniture that could be easy to assemble and transform by the team members.
Of course, our Lisbon colleagues had to help build the new store, all in the space of twenty days. Our growth hacker, Carla, hit the nail on the head when she said at the time, “this is just the Startup Guide way.”
Residing in a former industrial warehouse in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Beato, the second Lisbon store opened in November 2018 in NOW_Beato’s coworking space – this time, with more of an experience-based concept behind it.
The store has areas to see, feel and test the products on display, quiet nooks for reading and introspection, and a light-filled corner for the Startup Guide team to work. It has been designed to be comfy and welcoming – a place for entrepreneurs and team members to feel inspired and at home.
With an entirely versatile layout, the store can be changed to accommodate different needs. From the product displays to the tables, each piece of furniture is on wheels so that they can be moved to a different part of the store. Even the reading corners, which are built to accommodate one person, are also mobile. They can be put together to create small meeting rooms or moved to a sunnier spot.
The Lisbon office/store can also be rearranged to create an area to host Startup Guide events. The store has a pulley-suspended wooden stage that tucks away against the wall when it is not in use. Day to day, it resembles a normal shelf, decorated with a number of hanging plants in ceramic vases, but it can be pulled down and used as a platform for speakers to stand on when needed.
With the design of the space, style as much as function was taken into consideration. Influenced by Nordic minimalist design, the store has a neutral backdrop, with colors and materials that warm the room. The light colored walls and furniture showcase the products on the industrial-style shelves, while plants introduce an air of life and freshness.
We couldn’t, of course, just stop with the Berlin and Lisbon stores. Sissel’s grand plan to open a third space in Copenhagen was realized at the end of January 2019 – using the same design principles of the other stores, but with a slightly different color scheme.
Where to next?
As for our first office-turned-store in Berlin, the adventure continues. In June, we’ll be moving to Maybachufer, a street along the Landwehr canal in Berlin's Kreuzberg neighborhood. Interested in joining us at the launch of the new store? Just make sure to RSVP on Eventbrite here. Drinks are on us!
Main photo of the Startup Guide store in Lisbon: Daniela Castanheira/Startup Guide
*This article was edited on May 27th, 2019. Previously it mentioned the membership model in Startup Guide's Copenhagen store, which has since been put on hold.