Need a better place to work at and be productive? Why don’t you try out Coffee Monster, a co-working space established by Leon Jay in Chiang Mai. Jay says that Coffee Monster wants to help people enjoy life and integrate business with it. The co-working space’s offerings include healthy food such as good coffee, smoothies, salads and sandwiches. There is also a games corner which has table tennis and pool tables and puzzles if their customers need a break.
After the initial success of Coffee Monster, Jay is opening a second brand Net.Work very soon, as announced on the brand’s Facebook page. Net.Work will be a co-working space with additional facilities, however it will be separated from the general public area. “Net.work symbolises the concept of networking, working together and working on the net,” says Jay.
The intention of this move is also to cater to individuals who want a more optimised, quiet, and dedicated co-working space at Coffee Monster. Feedback from customers online state that by trying to be casual as a coffee shop and professional as a co-working space, it ends up being neither, but a mix between the two extremes. With this new branding, Coffee Monster is taking a step to being a better co-working space and competing directly with rivals Punspace and Gurubox.
Punspace and Gurubox are more office-oriented environments with pricier models, however, according to Jay, Coffee Monster’s unique selling point is that it is more like a café and less like an office. “I hate offices,” he exclaims, “Coffee Monster is also free to use, unless the consumer requires additional facilities, which is a strong advantage.”
“We also plan to open a massage room on site in the near future, and expand the food choices,” says Jay. This move will cater to local Thai sensibilities as massages in Thailand are highly famous. In fact, according to Bangkok Post, spas and massage parlours contribute nearly 5 billion baht (about US$154 million) to the Thai economy with 80 per cent of their customers being foreigners.
Watch a quick video on Coffee Monster’s facilities here.
The birth of the monster of co-working spaces
Jay has been working online for the past 10 years and he loves to work from coffee shops. He moved to Chiang Mai five years ago. That’s when he realised that he did not like even one coffee shop within walking distance from his condo. This dilemma gave him the initial inspiration for Coffee Monster.
Additionally, Jay was keen on creating a community space for others online business owners, programmers, designers and internet marketers to meet and network together.
“I have seen networking and sharing ideas together as two of the biggest challenges when working online, and yet ironically two of the biggest benefits. So I decided to help overcome that problem. The final push came when I saw the perfect location for rent and decided to take action before someone else leased the property,” shares Jay.
Coffee Monster was officially established in August, 2013. Prior to it, the co-working space functioned out of a temporary location nearby.
According to Jay, getting the perfect location for Coffee Monster was one of the biggest challenges. Coffee Monster is located behind B2 Hotel, just off the canal road on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. “It has an almost rural relaxed feel, yet is just five to eight minutes from busy areas like Nimman Road, and only 10 minutes to the old city,” he adds.
The concept of co-working spaces has now started gaining traction in Thailand. Jay states that nearly 10 per cent of Coffee Monster’s consumers are Thais. This concept in Chiang Mai has come up in the last year and a half, and with the increasing number of students and entrepreneurs, it is expected to gain popularity fast.
Jay says that the name Coffee Monster dawned to him while he was meditating! However, while the name has been working well for the coffee shop, it comes across as a barrier in establishing it as a serious co-working space.
From locals to digital nomads
Jay defines his core target group as people working with a notebook or a laptop. These include local Thai, ex-pats living in Chiang Mai and digital nomads passing through. This would include online business owners, internet marketers, programmers and designers. The coffee shop and co-working space allows these individuals to network together, share ideas and work on their various projects in a relaxing environment.
To market its services, Coffee Monster initially began with word-of-mouth. It later moved on to street signs and the quintessential Facebook.
“We also made good use of meetup.com to create meetups of online marketers in Chiang Mai, using Coffee Monster as the meeting venue. We have also started to get listed on different blogs and forums — wherever there is discussion about good coffee in Chiang Mai, working online, and co-working spaces,” says Jay.
Jay shares that that they are also building lists of members, plus designing a texting campaign aimed more towards Thai customers.
Where’s the money?
Currently all facilities are free to use for paying customers of the coffee shop. However, consumers are needed to spend a minimum 100 Baht (US$3) per hour to use the podcasting or meeting room.
Net.Work will allow to focus on your own projects, meet other like-minded entrepreneurs and network together. For it, there will be a pre-paid minimum charge of 200 Baht per day (US$6), 1000 Baht per week (US$31), 4000 Baht a month (US$123) and 10000 Baht (US$309) for three months.
Jay tells e27 that there are plans to create packages soon that will include additional benefits such as massage or free access to paid training events.
Jay explains that in 2014, Coffee Monster will be focused on refining its business systems in the current location. It would also want to expand to other popular spots for online marketers around the world such as Phuket, DaNang in Vietnam and Bali, but that will not happen for the next one to two years.
“For now, we just want to become the best we can in Chiang Mai so that we can be certain of the model and business systems before scaling,” concludes Jay.
Image Courtesy: Coffee Monster