Dominika Czajak of Spacebase

Category: Future heads

© Spacebase GmbH

© Spacebase GmbH


With her IT degree and her role in an emerging start-up company, Polish-born CMO Dominika Czajak presents a successful exception in the strongly male-dominated high-tech world in Berlin. The IT expert, who has been living in Germany for five years now, says she still has to fight against traditional role patterns and stereotypes. At Spacebase, Czajak works on the management level on equal terms with her male counterparts, demonstrating how companies can grow steadily through strategy, creativity and viral marketing.

Hello Mrs. Czajak. You are working as CMO at Spacebase, an online booking platform for meeting and workshop spaces. What makes your start-up so special?

It is above all finding exciting and unique meeting and workshop facilities. Furthermore, the platform is based on the so-called sharing economy, which means that we do not own any of the rooms that we offer. Spacebase acts as an intermediary between space providers and renters. With just a few clicks, the users can choose from about 3,000 temporarily vacant facilities located in more than 30 cities. This is how renters can find unique locations, and space owners can earn a little money by reducing vacancies.

What is the primary target group of Spacebase?

Our main target group are professional users. Initially, we introduced ourselves to partners as a kind of AirBnB for business users. Our customers work in various positions and companies – from start-ups to DAX-listed major corporations. Meetings are an important element of every company. Surprisingly, however, the meeting culture in smaller firms hardly differs from that seen in large corporations. In particular young, supposedly innovative companies hold their weekly strategy meetings in the same usual and often boring locations as long-established corporations. This is precisely where we come in. In our opinion, a pleasant atmosphere is the first step towards successful meetings. And a unique location will in any event stimulate the participants’ creativity. Hence our motto: “Changing the way we meet.” Meetings are supposed to be fun.

What are your specific tasks at Spacebase – and how did you join the start-up?

I got to know Jan Hoffmann-Keining, one of the Spacebase co-founders, through a mutual friend. I loved the concept of Spacebase, which is why I joined the company already before it was officially founded in 2015. Initially I was working as a marketing manager. Today, as their CMO, I work more on the macro-level and I am in charge of everything around strategic marketing planning at Spacebase. Many people still think it means I am designing advertising campaigns. Although it is true that I supervise our communication and PR, most of my tasks are of a rather technical nature. I do a lot of engineering work in the background, for example improving our visibility in search engines, analysing user behaviour and, on this basis in cooperation with our development team, I also optimize our website to make it more user-friendly. Besides that I am making plans concerning new features we intend to implement next.

Being a women with an IT degree, you are certainly still an exception in the strongly male-dominated high-tech world. What are your experiences here?

I am definitely outnumbered. All of my former bosses were male. The same applies to my fellow students at university. However, despite the male dominance I have always met very talented and self-confident women who encouraged me by saying that something is about to change in this field. In my opinion, the problem is not so much the lack of support from within the high-tech industry, but rather that only few women consider working in that field. I think one of the main reasons is the idea and the image we have of IT-related jobs. Nobody wants to be one of the “nerds” who are only thinking in terms of numbers and sitting in front of the screen all day. Of course, this stereotype has very little to do with reality, but sadly it still exists. Therefore, we should start educating young people about the variety and opportunities of working in the high-tech world already at an early age.

Did you need to do more than your male counterparts in order to assert yourself as CMO?

I did not have any major disadvantages in my professional career due to my gender. The only thing that bothers me is that people often emphasize how wonderful it is that I as woman have achieved this position. I know they would never stress it in the same way if I were a man. This fact, even more than any statistics about inequalities, is a clear sign that it is still not normal to be a woman working in the high-tech industry. Also, when I am in a job interview, no one challenges my creative skills. But people are always very sceptical about my IT skills, although these are without doubt my big strength.

You are in charge of the viral campaign experiMENTAL developed by Spacebase. What does this involve?

With the experiMENTAL campaign, we at Spacebase are trying to strengthen our position as opinion leader in the creative industry. The web series investigates various factors and examines their influence on people’s creativity in a short entertaining video format. So far, we have gained some very interesting insights. For example, it was surprising to find out how much the creativity of the trial participants was increased when they were doing Zumba prior to taking the test. These results provide advice on how we can help people to prepare best for their meeting and thus making it as productive as possible. This is not a campaign that directly promotes our services, but more indirectly our mission – “Changing the way we meet”. New episodes will follow soon!

What are the tasks in the near future?

Now that Christmas is just around the corner, we receive plenty of requests from companies planning their Christmas parties. We want to take this opportunity of Christmas to give back something to people in need. Therefore, we are currently launching a new format – Spacebase Cares. With this concept, we want to encourage companies to not only plan their own Christmas event, but also to invest in Social Day events in order to give back something to other people. Together with some of our partners, we have joined forces and created special packages that are intended to inspire established companies to do something for a good cause. We do not earn any money with that, but this project is very important to me because in Berlin, it becomes clear to me every day that many people are a lot worse off than me. And they all deserve a little more attention and willingness to help.

You have been living in Berlin for some years now, and it certainly has become something like home. What do you like most about the city? And what are you missing?

I think it is still quite fascinating to see how many different people live here. And how endless the opportunities are that we are offered here. The city is full of people with very diverse lifestyles and realities of life. Having a beer in a rustic pub and seeing a Tchaikovsky concert at the other end of the street afterwards – which other city can offer something like this? I think Berlin with its many start-up companies is a good location to start your professional career, even for those not coming from Germany. What I sometimes need is a bit more quiet and fresh air you can otherwise only find outside the big city. Sometimes it would be nice to be able to escape the intensity I experience in the city.

Last, but not least, can you finish the following sentence: “Berlin is… “

Berlin is a place that forces you to think very hard about yourself and the goals in your life. This is not always easy. Berlin is definitely very demanding and rewarding at the same time, and it helps you to move in the right direction.