Akanit – founder of Hubba – one of the first co-working spaces in Bangkok, Thailand, well known across all South East Asia.
Q1: What do you appreciate yourself in the business mainly for?
I think our impact is not tangible, that’s why it’s difficult to describe. For sure our strong point is flexibility, our community is grounded in trying to improve and better our members not only by giving them space, but also through personal development, connectivity. We spend a lot of time connecting, 70% of our members find here new connections and opportunities. 86% of members found that their professional and personal life develop, just by being in community, learning through events, common lunches, facebook groups, working together in teams, finding co-founders. We try to bring a collaborative work movement in Bangkok and we are quite successful in it. We are doing workshops once a year about how to start co-working spaces and a lot of them started. And we tell them it’s not about fancy desks and a lot of private offices. It’s about creating sense of friendship and family that allows people to go beyond their boundaries and taking interest in the success of the members. Our success is also directly correlated to the success of our members. The way we quantify impact and success, it’s not only member satisfaction, but what they learn, what kind of contacts and opportunities they develop. Ideally, it shouldn’t be us to put things to fire, but the members themselves should play the rule in supporting and advising.
Q2: What is the biggest challenge for you now?
At the beginning the most difficult was to introduce the idea of co-working space. Now there is much more awareness about that. The biggest challenge today would be to create a community, shape it in the way that it is meaningful. One of the barriers is language, we try to build international communities, where people can easily communicate. It takes a while for people to get up and talk with others. We are still in the stage when we need to get more people to understand the collaborative working culture. Also, we are in a big city and it’s hard to grow, it took 1,5h for some people to come here from other parts of the city.
Q3: What advice do you have for yourself in this situation?
Community. Having supportive community is desirable, the moment you decide you are better working with others rather than alone you are happy to expose yourself, your strength, vulnerabilities, needs. We organize huge conferences of startups, meetups, we help creating sub-communities. At the end we want to change the culture of entrepreneurship, which used to be uncollaborative, miserable, with no programs, nobody willing to give fundings… you are alone. We want to be able to say: hey, there is so many entrepreneurs, makers, that we should be supportive, we want to create a sort of bridge between all recourses. We can gather entrepreneurs looking for space, connections with government, investors, media, place to pitch the ideas. We want to create such a strong startup ecosystem that any kid which finishes collage and wants to be a startup maker, an entrepreneur, can find the right community, education opportunities, programs, workshops, connections. From community perspective, that would be mission. From business perspective we want to build few more things, we are also creating some startups by ourselves.
Would you like to add something more?
A successful business today is able to take multidisciplinary approaches and transform it into great products or services. Create a multidisciplinary team. It’s good to have great ideas, but only a great team make it real. You need to create a network of people from different areas. Step up from your comfort zone, go to different events, co-working spaces, grow your network of people from different fields. You don’t know who will be your client, what kind of outsources you would need, who will be your co-founder, advisor.
The questions were asked on our behalf by Anna and Andrea from How to (ex) change the world.
Bangkok, Thailand, 1st October 2015