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Co-working spaces creating a vibe

Released at: 11:15, 30/05/2018

Co-working spaces creating a vibe

Photo: VET Magazine

Co-working spaces starting to pop up around Hanoi and HCMC wherever location permits.

by Ngoc Lan

It was 6pm on April 13 on the second floor of Indochina Plaza Hanoi and dozens of people were taking photos at the opening of naked Hub, a space for Vietnamese culture, brilliantly lit by color and light. Most were surprised by the design before realizing it’s a co-working space. 

Asia’s premium co-working brand naked Hub opened its first center in Vietnam on a gross floor area (GFA) of 2,244 sq m, 33 per cent of which is public space. Facilities include a living room / bar, a lounge, meeting booths, phone booths, a pantry, meeting rooms, nap booths, and showers.

It features a distinctive design inspired by the concept “Modern Vernacular”. The ethnic tradition of Vietnam plays a key part in the interior design, highlighted by a décor inspired by Sapa valley and Hmong fabrics. Not only do they enjoy working in the inspired innovative vibe, “hubbers” can use all the basic amenities and also make use of a living room for yoga practice, to exercise or just get away from the stress of work. 

naked Hub will open its first center in Ho Chi Minh City in the second quarter on nearly 3,000 sq m. It plans five more centers in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City by the end of the year. “Vietnam is certainly an important destination in naked Hub’s ambitious global roadmap of expansion,” Mr. Jon Seliger, CEO of naked Hub Global, told VET. “As a part of global and regional trends, Vietnam has seen rapid growth in co-working spaces over the last five years. The boom in startups, the explosion of SMEs, the rise of an entrepreneurial culture, the demand for creativity and flexibility combined to promote co-working spaces as a way to respond to changes in the way individuals and organizations work.”

In the game

The Toong co-working space, meanwhile, announced the official launch of its largest facility on April 11, Toong Minh Khai, infused with green space, serenity, and a contemporary spirit while retaining the original soul of the building’s modernist style. The design is a perfect blend of the unique Vietnamese architectural style and modern design practices. Located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, it covers a total area of 1,700 sq m. “We are in the business of nurturing talent and cultivating character, so that people can innovate to serve others and make society better,” said Mr. Duong Do, Founder and CEO of Toong. “The opening of Toong Minh Khai allows the vision and mission of our organization to become reality.”

Developed from a 750 sq m space in August 2015, Toong was the first co-working space in Vietnam and now has five locations and is currently building four others in four different cities in three countries: Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. By the end of this year it will have a total space of more than 12,000 sq m in the three Indochinese countries. Mr. Duong told VET that the total value of the co-working space market in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is only about VND10 billion ($445,000) per month. The figure remains modest, and there are many opportunities for professional developers. 

“We constantly improve ourselves,” said Mr. Duong. “We also strive to showcase our creative power through flexible modifications in space design at the various Toong locations. We build a community to create a place where each member can meet, learn, and collaborate with people from different professions, nationalities, and stages of development.”

The UP co-working space cooperated with VPBank to launch the high-end co-working space UP@VPBANK in late 2017, enabling startups to interact with investors and access support. Opening in April 2016, UP is now the largest co-working space in Vietnam, with nearly 15,000 sq m of floor space spread across eight locations around the country. It aims to expand to a number of regional countries this year.

Mr. Do Hoai Nam, Founder and CEO of UP, told VET that in addition to the co-working space, UP also hosts many events that provide a great deal of value to the business and helping startups connect with investors and customers, while training courses held onsite help businesses remain up-to-date with trends in products and services and technology. “We also offer a range of in-house services to help our members manage their businesses more efficiently, such as accounting, management consulting, and human resources,” Mr. Nam said. 

Another major co-working space, Dreamplex, announced the launch of its third facility in May, in Thai Ha Street, Hanoi. Dreamplex Thai Ha will feature services such as an event area that can accommodate from 50 to 100 people, a dedicated area for investment funds and angel investors, and a “War Room” that companies can use to meet and discuss strategies overnight. It will open its fourth facility, in Ho Chi Minh City, in July, at Tran Quang Khai Street in District 1, which includes a cinema, a sky lounge, and a recording studio.

Dreamplex has welcomed more than 2,000 members from all sectors and nationalities since opening in 2016 and has held more than 1,000 events. The total area available for lease by the end of June will be over 8,000 sq m, and the Dreamplex Auditorium found within all its facilities has a capacity of 300 people. “The demand for co-working space has potential because Vietnam has a ‘golden population structure’ and the current trend of starting a business is becoming stronger than ever,” said Mr. Nguyen Trung Tin, Founder and CEO of Dreamplex. “With demand for office space for small and medium-sized enterprises growing rapidly, we will definitely create value for the startup community.”

Location, location, location

Despite the raft of recent openings, finding suitable locations remains a challenge and the biggest issue when deciding to invest in co-working spaces. Mr. Stephen Wyatt, Country Head, Vietnam, at JLL said the current market environment, with its limited available space in the CBD or other good locations, makes the search difficult for operators of co-working spaces. Mr. Duong also agreed that location is one of the biggest challenges when investing in co-working spaces due to the need for a prime location at a reasonable price and a sufficient size to cater to requirements.

naked Hub, meanwhile, targets premium customers and so accepts higher rents, making the search a little easier. Even so, it took a long time to find a location like Indochina Plaza Hanoi. “We also face challenges in finding the right locations as the supply of office space in Vietnam’s major cities is very limited,” said Mr. Seliger. “We have built partnerships with local real estate developers in order to secure expansions in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.”

The question of “reasonable price” is certainly an issue. “The cost of space in the center of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi is expensive, making investment a challenge,” Mr. Tin said. There are many co-working spaces in the two cities and if players don’t have long-term goals then surviving will be difficult, as investing a large amount of capital with a slow return can be daunting for many.

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