From 7th to the 11th of March, 2018, the fourth edition of CU ASIA – Unconference Co-Working took place in Penang (Malaysia). It is the most important international summit in the Pacific area, hosting co-working spaces from all over the world, as well as aspiring founders and Community Managers about to open a co-working space.
We flew to Malaysia for a seven day conference as the only Italian Media Partners in order to discover future tools, strategies, and business trends on the social and economic function of co-working spaces that we will see unfold in the coming months.
In its fourth edition, CU ASIA achieved an outstanding new record, not yet achieved in the previous three editions: 323 participants and professionals who manage a co-working and / or co-living from 35 countries participated. Yes! They came from all over the world: Kuwait, Trinidad & Tobago, Mauritius, Mongolia, Sweden, and Sri Lanka just to name a few.
Community and people
On everybody’s minds was the idea: people and communities. On everybody’s lips was the same. Whichever language you speak, the keywords used by those who manage co-working spaces around the world was precisely this: Community.
The idea of putting together many people under the condition of being able to share a space, was a winner both at the beginning of this phenomenon – when in Germany, in 1991, the first form of co-working spaces was born, and now. These days, those same people, who found in co-working their first and most useful resources: to create new, personal, and professional relationships, decide to work as digital nomads.
The term ‘community’ is now repeatedly used, sometimes to the point it really bores people. The idea of CU ASIA was very different though. Think back to the concept of people and members who live in a co-working space and create services useful for their needs.
Thanks to this concept, we understand why more and more co-working spaces in Asia are also born as co-living ones, meaning that renting a desk and granting internet service is no longer the first action generating revenue.
Some numbers about Co-Working in Asia
Deskmag, the world’s leading online co-working magazine (based in Berlin), showed at the Majestic Theater in Penang the present and the future of co-working both in Asia and in the rest of the world thanks to its latest Global Co-Working Survey 2018.
Below, you can find some interesting numbers:
- 73- The amount of members that every co-working space in Asia manages to attract by media to its space;
- 17- The months in Asia for a co-working space to reach its Break Event Point (in the rest of world the average is 15 months);
- 48% of Co-working spaces in Asia are profitable;
- To open a Co-working space in Asia takes 4 months (7 months in the rest of the world);
- Asia is the best continent to rent a co-working hub / space for 5 years due to cost. If, in Europe, 40% of the costs of a co-working space goes to rent, in Asia, it is only 27%;
- Only 1% of Asian co-working spaces get funds from public administration. In the last 12 months, Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand, have been the countries that have seen the greatest sponsorships from individuals.
- The average business model of a Co-working space in Asia for the last 12 months can be divided as such: 26% rental of desk, 44% services offered to members and 10% revenues received through events organized within its own space. The remaining part is private sponsorship.
“We are not just providing space, we provide meaningful human connections”
The future of Co-Working in Spain, according to Marc Navarro
When I interviewed Marc Navarro di CREC.cc, Sinergics.cat and Co-working Spain, he outined the current situation of Co-working spaces in Spain. Spain being the first country in Europe to open shared co-working and co-living spaces; in addition, to be in the top 10 countries preferred by digital nomads worldwide due to its quality of life and low cost of living, especially in the Catalan provinces (Sun & Co is currently overbooked for 2 years, for example).
“In Spain – Marc said – we have +1200 co-working spaces, now, 5 brands of Co-Working International live only in Barcelona. Barcelona, after Brexit, has become the new home for many employees, freelancers, startups and digital nomads.
For many digital nomads, Spain is the European Bali. As designers of new work spaces, our task is to offer services that are extremely linked to the new needs of digital professionals. I am really opposed to the public funds that the Co-Working spaces receive: when this happens, it is because the management of a Co-Working space does not generate sufficient revenues.
This represents the death of every co-working space because it loses all its identity to be subsequently controlled by a centralized system, which has no means and tools to create a stronger community of people. Public Administrations should not give any funding but be real facilitators, allowing individuals to be able to recover spaces and to guarantee every citizen the opportunity to meet local and international professionals within the same place.”
The Hub Singapore, the new center of the world
Singapore is not the ideal destination for digital nomads due to its high cost of living, but it is one of the 5 cities in the world that offer more services and money to those who own their own startup, as Grace Sai (CEO of Hub Ventures Fund) says:”Singapore has been living a golden age for several years and this is the best moment to host freelancers, startups and corporations from all over the world. Our task as The Impact Hub will be to facilitate this process being the most beautiful and comfortable home you will find in Singapore, thanks also to the new private loans got in the last months”.
Co-Working platforms and tools discovered during CU ASIA 2018
CU ASIA 2018 was also important in order to discover tools and web platforms that every co-working in the world should use to be able to generate higher revenues and better manage its internal management.
Let’s find out what they are.
Nexudus is one of the best software programs for the management of Co-Working spaces this year. Essentially, Nexudus is an AI software that monitors your space remotely and in every second. Features range from the management of internet plans to sending invoices, up to the control in Cloud of each individual user for each type of service requested.
If you are thinking of opening a co-working space in Asia then you must immediately join FlySpaces.com. It’s the best platform functioning as a marketplace and place to book work spaces in the Asia-Pacific area.
Coworker.com is the largest online freelance and digital nomad community looking for a workspace. In the last 12 months, they have integrated all the features they wanted to develop based on the needs gathered by their members. The platform works as follows: you enter your needs, geographical position, price, and the services you are looking for and it finds the best solution. Its UX and +7000 reviews certified by the members of coworker.com will allow you to choose the best co-working space for you. It works all over the world, not only in Asia.
Cowork 7X24 was recently developed but it looks good. Founded by Serkan Kurtulus, who’s had a long successful career in the corporate world. Cowork 7×24 has a team that works only remotely, and is based in Sofia, Bulgaria. However, it is very easy to meet the Marketing team in Europe. Cowork 7/24 is a co-working space marketplace started off in Eastern Europe, a destination increasingly sought after by international freelancers.
Just few days ago, they also released a fun game where you can simulate running your coworking space. It’s available in App Stores in a few months they will work in several European and Asian countries.
CU ASIA, a unique moment to create contacts
CU ASIA 2018 was ideal for the contacts and connections it generated as it was five days inspiring days where people and companies could meet to create partnerships with the leaders of this sector.
Next year CU ASIA will be expanding in Asia and for the first time it will be in…
No! Just watch the video and find out.