The successful tale of Prezi, the Budapest-based software company founded in 2009 by Péter Halácsy, Adam Somlai-Fischer and Péter Árvai, is well known throughout the city. By transforming bland, rigid presentations of the PowerPoint variety into storytelling canvases fueled by dynamic zooming capabilities, the trio was able to quickly open a San Francisco office and spawn an international enterprise. Such entrepreneurial energy—whether illuminated in a third-wave java joint or bespoke event planning company—is flourishing in Budapest right now, and distinctive collaborative hubs are making it easier than ever to brainstorm and network.
Consider Bridge Budapest. Co-founded by the Prezi team, and Gyula Fehér of video streaming behemoth Ustream, its fully financed fellowship programs (currently in the process of restructuring) have allowed select Hungarian university students the opportunity to gain practical experience at their top-notch companies—as well as the navigation and infotainment developer NNG—abroad. Through the videos and blog posts shared by the 18 ambassadors who have since partook in the fellowships, privileged to attend automotive conferences in Shanghai, for example, thousands of local youth have become inspired to pursue their own dreams.
Go-getters with solid start-ups in the design, technology and urban development realms wisely seek out the counsel of Design Terminal. Applicants lucky enough to be chosen are treated to the agency’s extensive incubation services. A six-month business development immersion grooms the likes of on-the-rise fashion labels and mobile apps to seek investors and set the stage for global expansion. Additionally, 60-90-minute expert mentoring sessions are available through Design Terminal’s consultation programs.
But, such a formal, structured approach is not the only way to propel a venture along. From the indie arts mecca Müszi to bright, book-filled Kaptár, Budapest is strewn with lively co-working spaces. One of the newest is Coffice. This smartly designed hangout with a contemporary industrial feel melds an upbeat coffee shop atmosphere with workstations and meeting rooms. While students cramming for tests will flock here for the espresso and power outlets, Coffice also encourages start-ups devoid of proper office space to conduct their discussions in the welcome company of whitewashed brick and glass light fixtures.
Another one making a splash is Impact Hub, part of a vast network spanning 80 locations around the world. Not merely a quiet place to hide behind a laptop, it also serves as a community center and innovation lab, with members given virtual access to over 11,000 like-minded change-makers offering advice and connections. The space, graced with murals by local artists and eco-friendly furniture crafted by the Budapest studio Fészek Részek, is also the spot to explore, say, three-day workshops on spiral dynamics or sit down to a premiere screening of the film Change the Story, Change the World.
Amid these new arrivals one cannot forget Loffice, Budapest’s pioneering co-working destination, which opened in the former printing house of the music academy in 2009. It has since generated four additional loft locations, including an event space set in a concrete-filled former plastic factory, and one in Vienna. At the original Loffice, graphic designers and marketing experts alike are drawn to this sustainable-minded sanctuary heated and cooled by the Danube. Side by side they work in a sunlight-flooded room flaunting a wall of glass bricks before taking well-deserved lunch breaks at Taste Loffice, a weekly pop-up bistro that unfolds in the fourth-floor sky bar. If only conventional office set-ups provided such modern forms of motivation.
Photos: Coffice, Impact Hub