Earlier this week I had the pleasure of passing through Odessa, Ukraine on my way up to Kiev from a friend’s wedding. Odessa you say? Admittedly, I had never heard of the place prior to my arrival in Eastern Europe several weeks prior. My trip was to start in Sofia, Bulgaria and end in Budapest, with a definite stop in Kiev. Everything else was up in the air. After my first few days in Bulgaria it became quickly evident that Odessa was the Summertime place to be on the Black Sea, so I made it a “must do” place to see.
On my arrival, I was immediately taken aback by the charm and diversity of the city. Complete with sun-soaked beaches, a vibrant nightlife, romantic candlelit streets, and the unbeatable European summertime climate, this newfound seaside destination quickly won me over. Odessa also has a pretty remarkable history as a port city dating back to the sixth century.
As I had done in each stop along the way, I took a quick look for some great coworking spaces in the city in order to get into a productive space with community and offices facilities for a day or two of work. I found that Odessa had great looking coworking spaces, including Perron7, Impact Hub, and Terminal 42. I had visited multiple Impact Hub’s on the trip during the weeks prior, so I decided to try Terminal 42, which was brilliantly located in a historical building in the downtown center.
When I walked into Terminal 42, I was amazed and inspired not only by the space, but also by the evident coworking scene in Odessa as a whole! I knew that Ukraine was very strong in IT, with some of the top engineering individuals and firms domicile there, but it became apparent that there is a strong start-up and freelance ecosystem emerging as well. Terminal 42 was rammed packed with a corporate conference, dedicated desk occupants, and over 75 additional community members hustling away at their coworking desks. For me, seeing this is extremely energizing and I wanted to leap into the community with both feet.
I had a chance to catch up with the owner and director Sergey Petrenko to chat with him about coworking in Odessa and development of Terminal 42. He told me that since they opened in May 2015, their occupancy had grown tremendously and doubled in the last 7 months. Their community is comprised of “mostly small IT companies — digital ad agencies, web design studios, product developers — and freelancers. He went on to say “I’d say 30% are freelancers or remote workers, 45% are small firms and the rest are startups”.
The community seemed to be a majority of locals, not necessarily from Odessa but from Ukraine as a whole, which is not surprising. But Sergey did say they are starting to get many more shorter stay digital nomads, as well as permanent based foreign professionals. I must say I believe Odessa is going to be a hot destination for all categories of digital professionals going forward… there is so much to like about the place.
Terminal 42 itself is a tremendous space at 1000 sq/m, and an additional 300 sq/m being built out. They literally took a rooftop of a building, and built an additional floor on top of it with a beautifully modern industrial design. They even have their own coffee grind that is a secret recipe and was created locally just for them! Even more impressive, all of their staff has been trained by a professional barista so that you can be sure the coffee you are drinking is delicately prepared for your heightened performance. I asked Sergey about some remodeling I saw taking place, and wouldn’t you know, it’s a full-scale café and bar being created for 2017. Well that calls for a trip back!