‘Cryptocurrency’, ‘blockchain’ and ‘coworking’ are the latest buzzwords to hit our shores.
While the first two exist in digital space, coworking is very much a human undertaking; as the word implies, it’s about people working together or, at least, sharing the same environment. In this case, it will be in a building that’s still under construction.
Dubbed CryptoTower by its owners, this 10-storey building will have a 3,000-square metre footprint adjacent to the Pendergardens development in St Julian’s. It is scheduled to open by the end of 2019, says one of the building’s owners, Kevin Buttigieg.
The coworking concept, meantime, means not having a permanent office. You pay a “membership fee” and get “a desk, a socket for your computer, a secretary to handle calls, photocopying services” and all the ancillaries associated with running an office. In other words, “you’re off and running from day one”.
There are a lot of foreign companies setting up in Malta, and their biggest problem is finding and renting office space. And it’s not just a matter of space now but the possibility of requiring more at a later date. Ideally, you want to expand in the same location, not spread yourself around the island. Growth can be “a big headache and a logistical nightmare”.
This is an “issue”, read problem, that start-ups have. The whole idea of a start-up is to grow.
Buttigieg asks: “As a start-up, do you want to go to all the expense of predetermining at the outset your office needs for the next two years? Do you want to pay for extra space you do not need now? Of course not.” His suggestion is “coworking”. The beauty of it all, he elaborates, is that you get a fully equipped working space for just one bill – your membership fee. It’s hassle-free with “no separate bills for rent or electricity”. Buttigieg believes that between 2025 and 2030 some 60 per cent of the world’s working spaces will be in coworking ones. “It’s more economical, more environment friendly and certainly easier for start-ups or individuals to get up and running very quickly.”
You get a fully equipped working space for just one bill – your membership fee
The concept already exists in Malta, but “ours will use the whole building”. The new CryptoTower “will provide a different lifestyle” to the work environment, explains Buttigieg – who is also CEO of estate agency Remax Malta.
“Besides desks there will be boardrooms that can be rented by the hour, chill-out terraces, a roof garden for relaxation or private parties and two beautiful cateferias.
“Twenty-five per cent of the area will be used for relaxation”, continues Buttigieg, “there will be ‘chomba’ [table football], a billiard table and PlayStation”. (The Planning Authority’s development permit also includes a gym.)
Successful human resources, Buttigieg adds, is to give employees “a great experience at their place of work”.
Designed by architect Andrew Ellul, ground was broken for CryptoTower earlier this year by contractor J. Portelli Projects – who are also shareholders in the project, along with businessmen Clifton Cassar and Duncan Fenech.
Why call it a tower when it’s just 10 storeys? “People might have different ideas as to what a tower is, this is going to be a small tower,” smiles Buttigieg, who then asks: “Who defines how high a tower is?” (He has a point. No one questions the legitimacy of calling the Order’s watch towers dotted around the islands’ coastline anything but towers, although they are just two storeys high.)
Expected users of CryptoTower are the hi-tech companies locating in Malta, and also the reason the building was so named.
“We want to bring awareness to the cryptocurrency, blockchain and igaming communities – and pretty much anybody else – who would be interested in coworking space that in 18 months, or so, we will have a fully operational environment for them in a super prime location in St Julian’s.”
Buttigieg’s Remax, meanwhile, has been appointed to promote and ‘sell’ – it’s actually rent out – space and work cubicles at CryptoTower.