When I went in search of the trade-show real estate occupied by Spacebase, the event-space-booking platform, at IMEX Frankfurt, I almost missed it. And I was standing right in front of it.
My mistake was to look for something like a traditional technology trade-show booth, whereas Spacebase is anything but conventional. The company’s IMEX presence included an olive-green VW camper van decked out with a string of lights and parked on artificial turf. Out front, visitors sat on cushions in a lounge area constructed from packing crates, in easy view of a cotton-candy machine and a Ping-Pong table.The van’s door was ajar, revealing backpacks and other travel gear — turns out the van was not a prop, but the very vehicle that company co-founders Julian Jost and Jan Hoffmann-Keining and staff used to travel to Frankfurt from their home base in Berlin.
The company got its start when Jost and Hoffmann-Keining were working as business consultants and noticed that meeting spaces all seemed to be the “same, boring, repetitive” spaces that inspired no one, said Erin Westover, the company’s director of international strategic partnerships. Using a sharing-economy model that has been likened to Airbnb, the duo set up a technology platform that allows meeting organizers to book unique and creative spaces for meetings from four to 500 people. (“Our sweet spot,” Westover said, “are meetings of from 12 to 30 people.”) From its founding in Berlin in 2014, the company has expanded into 10 countries, including the United States, and offers listings for more than 2,000 meeting spaces. Spacebase won first place in the IMEX Pitch contest for tech startups — its prize is free exhibition space at the IMEX Frankfurt tech pavilion in 2018.
A different approach to space can change your perspective, said Westover — an idea that the technology company more than demonstrated with its experiential alternative to a traditionally “techy” booth.