Coworking spaces are sprouting out all over at Taipei, with the latest one being CoWorkSpace@GuangFu102. When it comes to the value that coworking spaces bring, it would definitely be the communal value. Since entrepreneurs and startup founders have begun appreciating this value, a rising demand for more coworking spaces have become a trend. These spaces also provides startup founders more options when it comes to affordable office spaces.
CoWorkSpace@GuangFu102 is located near the Sun-Yat Sen Memorial Hall MRT station, making it very convenient and accessible. The new coworking space features a spacious modern office layout, overlooking the iconic Taipei 101. There are also meeting rooms available, internet access, printer and fax machine. The pricing for the CoWorkSpace comes in two tiers. The first tier is the short term lease (1 week pass = NTD2500/US$84) where there are no deposits required. For the second tier, a desk is available at NTD6000 or US$200 per month. Some of the startups currently based in the new CoWorkSpace is Echelon Alumnus Good Life as well as Replaid, the mobile development house behind Singapore Driver’s best friend Summon Auntie.
The new CoWorkSpace is run by Mark Hsu, the cofounder of Sina.net. Mark currently also runs Envision and TMI Ventures. Mark was also kind enough to answer some of our questions with regards to the coworking culture in Taiwan.
Could you share with us some other coworking spaces around Taipei?
First of all, there is AppWorks who operates a co-working space for the graduates of its incubator programs. Of course, there is also IEH@NCCU, which is run by the National Chengchi University. Within IEH, there is a slightly nicer and larger room that was furnished by YSeed, which is the YSeed’s coworking space. Other than AppWorks and YSeed, TMI also has a coworking space now, but it is limited to our portfolio companies as well as our Entrepreneurs in Residence.
You might ask why I put together the new CoWorkSpace@GuangFu102. Although there are coworking spaces in Taiwan, what I wanted to do was bring the community together at a good space. We want to gatherlike-minded people and make the space open to all, which is why we are making available short-term rental.
The idea of coworking space for startups is relatively new. Is the community and the government receptive and supportive towards coworking culture and spaces?
As far as I know, the government isn’t directly involved, though technically NCCU is a public university. I think the people in the start-up community are beginning to realize the benefits of starting out in coworking spaces. There have always been high-end temp offices such as Regus, but they are prohibitively expensive and also set-up in a way that reflects a traditional office setting, which is in enclosed spaces of workstations and cubicles. There are virtually no interaction among occupants.
If entrepreneurs rent offices themselves, Taiwan’s real estate comes “as is” so you often need to spend as much as one year’s or more’s rent to furnish it, not including the two to three month’s worth deposit along with other terms that comes with the contract. For someone who hasn’t set-up an office before, getting the contractor, buying furniture without being ripped off, getting everything set-up takes another one to two months. This means wasted rent money and time. These are the reasons why there is an increasing support towards coworking spaces in Taiwan.
What would be the one message that you would want to send out to potential coworkers who are thinking of coworking?
I wished I had this option when I started out in 1996 and I wish there were providers who provide this service for slightly more mature companies now. The reality is when you are starting out, your money can be better spent on building out the company rather than sinking the capital you’ve saved or raised into furniture or office equipment. While these may be amortized 3 or 5 years for accounting purposes but is essentially written down to 0 as soon as you take delivery.
I think it is only with the advent of coworking spaces in Asia, can we really say that we can practice “lean start-ups”.