Co-working Spaces Got Soul

After spending most of my adult life working in large corporations, in the spring of 2013, I picked up the gauntlet to build up the Asia Pacific operations of Braintree from scratch. I was employee No. 1 in the region and my first order of the day was to find a place to set up shop. We wanted to make sure we found a space that aligned with our entrepreneurial spirit.

This was the first time I had to think about things like lighting, electricity, air-conditioning, furniture, and wi-fi. Essentially, I needed to create a place where my future team would feel productive and at ease to do great work.

We looked at a lot of options. A sea of white-walled corporate offices just felt so disconnected from what our brand was about and the world our audience comes from. We wanted to find a space that was more connected to the community and would help us build our network.

Fast forward to 2016 and we’ve found an optimal working model by being part of co-working spaces. We started our first office in Sydney at Tank Stream Labs, then Blix in Melbourne and you’ll find the Braintree Singapore team, myself included, at The Hub. So, if you ever find yourself in a similar position, here are all the reasons why co-working spaces proved awesome for us.

Tank Stream Labs, Sydney
Blix, Melbourne Blix, Melbourne
Impact Hub, Singapore

No man is an island

Trying to do business out of your bedroom is a bad idea because you are segregated from the world around you. Building from the ground up, the feeling that you are going at it alone is very real.

A co-working space can help you deal with the many harsh realities of startup life, and you often work harder and with more passion when working with other like-minded professionals. It is a thriving community where every member is part of a hive, pursuing his or her own business goals while interacting with others for synergy.

A good co-working space doesn’t just rent out desks -- it carefully evaluates every applicant to try and ensure a truly good fit. And by creating an ecosystem where this community is able to come together, it aids in connecting startups with venture capitalists, media, lawyers, financiers, and other complementary service providers that can kick start your business.

Hackathons, beer networking nights, coding lessons, e-commerce classes, a great in-house barista, and plenty of open space in which to tirelessly enjoy the sweet aroma of coffee beans, all make up the vibrancy of the co-working community. It is no wonder that 70% of people reported that they felt healthier than they do working in a traditional office setting.

Focus on building your business, not running it

For most startups, a co-working space is a great and cost-effective place to begin with the flexibility to scale as your business grows. You don’t have to be locked down to long leases and you don’t need to worry about high capital expenditure. You can even get a space for a few months without worrying about paying for early termination charges.

A great co-working space comes with everything you need to get your business off the ground and running. All your standard operational costs are shared among other members of the co-working space which means you save on costs. You can also opt for open flexible desks or have small enclosed rooms if you need a place with lock and key.

You get what you give

We have made many great connections and grown our businesses as part of the co-working collective. But few things give a better sense of purpose than growing from a solitary company to an active participant in the greater startup community. Like a virtuous cycle, it sparks another virtuous cycle. We have been able to offer our mentorship to students, budding entrepreneurs, and other startups within the community. And our experience is mirrored around the world, with 91% of folks reporting that they have better interactions with others after participating in co-working environments.

The soul of co-working

The growing popularity of co-working spaces has driven a surge of new spaces popping up in recent years. In Singapore alone, there are now about 54 amazing co-working spaces -- many more than the handful I discovered when I set foot here in 2014.

Globally, the number of co-working spaces has exploded over the last few years. According to the Global Coworking Map the number of co-working spaces has grown from 9,000 seats in 100 cities at the beginning of 2012 to over 47,720 seats in almost 596 cities.

So there you have it. Get connected, save money, and set yourself up for success. They might not be for everyone, but there’s no argument that co-working spaces are shaping the startup landscape around the world. Take your time and look around. Because when you find the right one, you’ll know you’re home.
Tank Stream Labs, Sydney
Blix, Melbourne Blix, Melbourne
Impact Hub, Singapore

Tyson Hackwood With 15 years of experience working with both traditional and next-generation businesses, Tyson is currently working to expand our Asia footprint as Head of APAC. More posts by this author

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