Matteo Leoni – known as “el parce” on the wonderful island of Fuerteventura – is the man standing behind the unforgettable blue and golden space that inspires so many people to pursue a quality of life and love for nature over work-obsession and city fatigue. The solution he proposes is a coworking place where remote workers, digital nomads, and ex-pats can find a new home to work productively while at the same time not renouncing beautiful sunsets.
The name of this marvellous venue: cocoworking. A different type of coworking, where community and passion coexist with hard work and professionalism.
Matteo has been the one person in charge of making this dream come true, and now it is time for him to tell his story. Where is Matteo from, how did he get into entrepreneurship, and why does he think that coco has it all? Read our interview with him to find out!
Hi Matteo! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sure! I’m 31, I’m an actor, scriptwriter, and producer in Italy. I started travelling around the world to advance in my studies and work on my acting career. I have lived in Milan, Rome, Madrid, Bogotà, and Los Angeles, and loved all of these experiences! The first time I came to the magic island of Fuerteventura was 7 years ago. My dad had recently moved here, so I went to visit him. After coming to the island a few times, I discovered my unconditional love for surfing and decided that it was time for me to move here permanently. I remember that my first and only choice was to live in Cotillo… I instantly fell in love with it! So, from January 2019, I became a “cotillero” ex-pat local.
We heard that the people around the island call you “El Parce“… how come?
It is a funny story… First of all, I need to say that I’m half Italian and half Colombian, so I speak Italian and “Latino” Spanish. “Parce” is a typical way of calling a friend in Colombia. When I’m surfing, I’m usually concentrated on catching waves, so there is no time for introductions; if it happens, generally people never remember names on their first encounter, especially while in the water. So, to make things easier, I started calling everyone “parce” and surprisingly… they started calling me “parce” back! So I guess that from that moment onwards, I became famously known as “El parce”.
How did your life in Fuerteventura look like before cocoworking?
Before coco, my life in Fuerteventura was entirely dedicated to surf. I moved here with a very close friend ‘John’ both intending to become a surfer capable of surfing in almost every spot in the world (well… if is not too big!). Fuerteventura is the perfect place to learn and improve your surfing. Some say here “if you learn to surf in the Canary Islands, you can surf anywhere in the world”. After a while, my friend and I started to feel that something was missing: besides the perfect weather, the ocean, the sun and of course the surf (or any sport you can do on this island), it was difficult to meet young people with some other interests and talk with them about developing local projects. But since Covid happened, things changed…
More people arrived, with different interests and hobbies, some with the idea to move permanently and find a way to combine their work and life balance on the island. I did fall in love with one of them, my girlfriend is a video producer who made that permanent choice, she move her production company (Half Moon Pictures) from London to Fuerteventura. Tired of the fast-paced life in London, she was seeking a place to create projects with the perfect life & work balance and with coco on the horizon what better place to hold meetings, present projects, talk about cultural developments? This new energy made me search for a solution…
Was there a specific reason you started getting interested in the remote working lifestyle and saw potential in opening a business focused on it?
I started to become familiar with remote workers and digital nomads after the first Covid lockdown: more started to come to this island escaping from the city, searching for good weather, nature and freedom. Lots of them weren’t remote workers before Covid, so it was interesting to see how this situation changed their lifestyle and their working routine. Most of them experienced a better quality of life and increased productivity when they were living and working in a tranquil place, far away from the frenzy city life. The only thing missing was a place where they could work without distractions or inconveniences like noise, slow internet etc. A place made for remote workers, where they can meet people to collaborate with on projects, share their ideas or grow a professional network, combined with all the facilities of a coworking space: fast internet, comfortable desks and chairs, meeting rooms, video cabins, and an area to unwind.
Tell us about cocoworking! How did it come to life?
The necessity of a welcoming and local-driven coworking space in Fuerteventura was so obvious, but it took me and friend “John Fux” to come up with the idea during one of those deep insightful conversations on life. So I decided to embark on this challenging adventure. The difficult part was to find the perfect place with enough space, good vibes and local amenities. In January I started my research, Cotillo was always my first choice, but unfortunately, there was not much offer. Until the beautiful coincidences and opportunities of life started unfolding…
What does Fuerteventura – and especially ‘El Cotillo’ – offer that makes it ideal for digital nomads and remote workers?
I think Cotillo is the perfect seaside town to settle if you are looking for peace and disconnection from city dynamics. A place that has a lot to offer within walking distance, you don’t need a car to move around and it’s home to several meeting points for any sports activity of your liking (surf, kite, bike, walk, riding horses riding etc.). In addition, Cotillo is famous for its restaurants, bars, beaches and breathtaking sunsets. A walk around Cotillo can make you feel like you’re in a special place. As they say here “if you live in Cotillo, you will never want to live anywhere else”.
Describe to us the type of person that would fall in love with cocoworking.
A person who wants to combine a free and independent lifestyle with their professional career and passion for remote working. Someone who wants to feel inspired by the place where they work, and be surrounded by beautiful beaches. And if you are a surfer digital nomad… I honestly can’t think of a better place to work while taking breaks to surf the best waves within walking distance or on the north shore and west coast.
From your point of view, what makes cocoworking better than all the other co-working spaces in the Canary Islands?
Its unique location, modern/industrial interior design style, top quality facilities are all a bonus, but what truly makes a difference is the desire to expand the Cotillo clan, diversifying social needs, a place where you can choose whether you want an individual or communal workspace, where you can have private video calls and book a meeting room. Where coco becomes synonymous with ‘home’ not only to entrepreneurs, artists, freelancers, but also ‘home’ to a local community that finally has access to a space where one can develop its passion and thrive… oh and did I mention probably the most beautiful sunsets on the island? 😉
And last but not least… if you had to describe the soon-to-be cocommunity in 3 words, what would those be?
Smart, free, nature lovers
Any other things you want the readers to know about?
Cocoworking is an opportunity to feel different, to escape stressful realities, and to reconsider your lifestyle. I believe in the idea that quality of life is the most important thing in the world, and I know that coco can offer you all of that, and more. Be brave!