OMG! This bar is morphing into a co-working space
The Tool Room is equipped with everything an entrepreneur could need, including hot showers, sofa beds and high speed internetBy Theon Leong 25 Apr, 2014
“Serious folks who don’t take themselves too seriously” — if you are one of them and are looking for a co-working space, The Tool Room could be your office soon. Abhishek Cherian George, the Founder of The Tool Room, promises to equip startup founders with the tools to be the “best god damn hustlers they can be”.
George has reached out to the crowd on Pozible to seek funds and make The Tool Room a reality, in the heart of Little India, in Singapore. He is hoping to raise S$7,000 (US$5567), of which, S$2,140 (US$1702) have already been pledged. The campaign on Pozible still has 16 more days to go.
The co-working space will be equipped with all tools a startup could possibly need. The three-level co-working space has plenty of rooms. Some of its key features include fireproof safes and bar fridges on every desk, private meeting rooms, hot showers, sofa beds and possibly the fastest 1GBps internet connection. Workbenches and equipment for hardware startups who want to engineer their product too are on the promise list.
George says that he is just trying to solve practical problems — problems that he faced when starting out himself. He gives examples of interesting scenarios that startup founders normally find themselves in. The Tool Room is about getting stuff done. If the startup has a requirement, and it helps out others, George would get it done for them; provided it is affordable.
But all good things in life do not come cheap. Each permanent desk — 20 in all — is priced at S$850 (US$676) a month, costlier than any other co-working space in Singapore. Comparatively, The Co. charges startups S$750 (US$596) per desk for unlimited visits and The Hub’s resident and native plans cost S$550 (US$437) and S$600 (US$477) respectively. There are no contracts; just a two-month deposit will suffice.
The mind behind it all
The Tool Room is definitely not George’s first rodeo with entrepreneurship. He has Spiffy Dapper – a cocktail bar and Dapper Coffee too to his credit. He came to Singapore at the age of 16 to study at Nanyang Polytechnic. He started working at restaurants during his free time to support himself. There, he “dreamt up business ideas, starting and failing at a number of them.” After completing his studies, he became a bartender and eventually ended up running the venue.
Pulling all his experiences behind him, George learnt that there are only two things that matter: Product and People. He brings this mantra into The Tool Room, where he spent a fair bit of time trying to figure out practical solutions to problems that he himself faced when he was striking out on his own. He also focuses on his customers, figuring out their needs and pain points. He believes that solutions need not be grandiose. A hot shower, a place to keep an important document safe or even a zone where you can be quiet for a while, are things that can make a difference.
Why pivot to a co-working site
Originally, The Tool Room was intended to be a bar. However, there was a pivot into the idea halfway through. Due to external factors such as the riots in Little India, it was impossible to go ahead with the original idea as liquor licensing restrictions came into play. Thus, he started looking into other things he could do with the space and came up with the co-working space idea.
But is this really the best time to start a co-working space? The answer, according to him, is “Yes”. The basis for any great brick and mortar business is a good real estate deal, which he believes he has obtained. He also thinks that it’s possible that The Tool Room can be an integral part in his upcoming Micro Venture Capitalist project.
The need for crowdfunding
George also states that The Tool Room was funded in a traditional manner. He has a a number of investors on-board and crowdfunding is just a final push. He feels that there isn’t mass critical enough in Singapore to do a $100,000 campaign. Crowdfunding will get popular eventually, but the fact is that there are still too few residents in Singapore.