So this is the plan – to visit co-working spaces in Hong Kong, on foot/MTR, and get a first hand view (review) of these wonderful places (a phenomenon?). I decided to skip Good Lab and Regus because I am using their services already so I could be biased (yes, they are wonderful just in case you want to know).
I have also decided not to make any appointments in advance, as many of these places require (and rightly so), just to see how the people there respond to it. Whilst these co-working spaces are funded by wealthy/established individuals or corporations, these spaces are also a ‘startup’ of their own. So it would be nice to see how they react to unexpected events (a stranger turning up wanting to have a tour of the place) – perhaps this is an indication of their culture/working style.
Blueprint – 27 July 2015 morning
It’s in the middle of Taikoo Place (more specifically, about 5 mins walking distance from Quarry Bay MTR station), so it’s as convenient as it gets and everything you would expect from a business district. The moment I went in I was immediately impressed by the great open space and very nice decoration (disclaimer: I am no interior designer but then after all, the place is built by Swire!). I was greeted, in English, by 3 lovely young ladies at the reception and I started my day saying, “I am sorry, I haven’t made any appointment, but can I have a look around the place?” (same script I use throughout). As nice as one of the young ladies was trying to be, she basically said no. She said they only have office tours on Thursdays and Fridays and asked me to send an email to them to make a reservation (reminder: I was there already and could have left a name card). To be honest, I could literally see the entire place from the reception area (yes, they have another floor, which they say are similar to the reception floor, only dedicated for their accelerator program) so it should literally take them 5 minutes to ‘show’ me around the place.
Overall, very trendy place, beautifully designed just like what you’d expect a modern ‘co-working space’ to be, yet it feels very ‘corporate’, the way they handle the incident.
Retrospot – 27 July 2015 morning
Somehow I had an impression that this factory building is in the middle of nowhere – and how wrong was I! It’s literally 2 minutes walking distance from the Exit C of Quarry Bay. It is a very traditional factory building – the lift is operated by a gentlemen (he is very nice though) and you have to open/close the doors of the lift manually. Yes, it’s quite an experience! The front door was not locked so I quietly sneaked in. There was no reception/receptionist. The place is pretty small yet they do have quite a few decent sized meeting rooms. So I gave myself a 2 minutes tour of the place and left quietly. No one there even noticed me (yes, there were quite a few people too). Disclaimer alert: I didn’t take anything away with me.
Cocoon – 27 July 2015 morning
It is located right in between of 2 MTR stations, Tin Hau and Fortress Hill. So in Hong Kong standard, this is considered by most as ‘inconvenient’. But if you have lived in any major cities around the world, this is super convenient (only approx. 10-15 minutes walking distance from either of the MTR stations). So it’s really up to you what to make of it. The building itself is a very nice commercial building (CitiCorp). Cocoon occupies an entire floor and the layout is wonderful – immediately from the reception area, you can see lots of open spaces (and windows) which can be used for seminars, mini get-togethers, a pantry area, a small studio and even a ping-pong table! I told the young lady using the same script and she said no problem – wow, what a nice change! She asked me to fill in my details using a tablet (literally just my name, email and 1/2 questions – very easy). The only thing I can nit-pick is that they probably should disable the ‘auto-fill’ function on that Google form so that others’ emails won’t show up.
I was then greeted by Shirley (community manager) by a wonderful smile! She took me around and showed me the place – it’s big, it’s organised, it just seems very well run. She also introduced the many events that they organise for the startups there. Yes, those are extremely well organised too. Shirley stressed that what makes Cocoon different is the events that they run for their startups – pitch nights, lunch time get-together, sharing of job posts, etc. And I have to agree based on what I’ve seen.
Another small feature I love – most co-working spaces require a booking fee (or quota) for meeting rooms. To me, that almost feels like a mini-bar in the hotel – it’s there but it seems a bit expensive so it ends up sitting there not being much useful. In Cocoon, everyone can use the meeting rooms without additional charges, but on a ‘fair use’ basis. And this just makes so much sense – if co-working space is truly a community that everyone claims it to be, shouldn’t common facilities be shared in this manner (rather than being idle?).
Oh, one last thing, as nice and wonderful as Shirley has been, she did say one little lie – that because she is new to Cocoon she is not totally familiar with everything. That’s not correct. She may be new, but she is totally knowledgeable, professional, friendly and plain simply awesome.
Hive – 27 July 2015 morning
There are 4 Hives’ locations – Kennedy Town, Sai Kung, Bangkok and of course, based on my route, I decided to visit their Wanchai office. Every location is supposed to have a different vibe – Kennedy town is more creative/design (perhaps because they have a studio there), Sai Kung has a bit more ‘family’ feel to it.
Again, I was greeted by a very nice receptionist, in English. Same old script and she said no problem (hey, this is my day!). She asked me to take a seat while waiting for the community manager to arrive. She even offered me a drink!!!
Then I met Angie, a wonderful young lady (I am seeing a trend here) who kindly showed me around the place. Hive Wanchai has 4 floors: a couple for open spaces and a couple for dedicated offices. The whole place is beautifully decorated – really got that cool design to it – and they were even playing some cool music (just the right volume) on the reception floor. They also have a very nice outdoor area (smokers alert!). The other small thing I love is the phone booth – yes, it resembles a traditional phone booth – and you can make your private calls there.
Hive also organises a lot of events for its members – mostly ‘social’ events. They try to build the community through the more informal way (more like friends to be honest) and it looks wonderful. The community does look very expat oriented but I suspect that would be the case for most co-working spaces in Hong Kong anyway.
Lastly, may I know where you could hire young people like Angie, who is simply passionate about what she does and great at it too?