We sat down for a chat with Elaine Tsung, co-founder of Garage Society to find out more about her amazing co-working space in the heart of Central. Elaine’s creative cauldron is bubbling with ideas, and is an exciting space for entrepreneurs to work collaboratively, pooling resources and experience to help build their businesses.
Tell us a little about Garage Society and how it was founded.
Having worked in the serviced office industry as well as for another co-working operation for a few years, I was inspired by all the entrepreneurs around me. With faith in Hong Kong’s start-up and entrepreneurial scene, we decided to take the bold move and start an operation of our own.
How would you explain the Garage Society concept to someone who has never experienced co-working spaces before?
Co-working is just like being in a big company where you share office space and resources with other departments. The only real difference is that the other ‘departments' are actually other companies! Of course, there are additional benefits to working in this way; the most important being that you are in a community of like-minded entrepreneurs offering good opportunities for collaboration.
Please describe your physical space and what services people can expect from co-working at Garage Society.
Garage Society opened in April 2014 and is located at 33 Des Voeux Road Central. Occupying 2 floors in this brand new Grade-A office building, the space comes with chic decor, warm and caring staff, and plenty of other amenities… Not to mention our awesome outdoor terrace with sea view!
How did you identify the right space for your business?
As an entrepreneur, I felt that a space that I would love to work in would translate to a great space for clients as too. Key factors include location, building and layout, but also the abundant sunlight and sea view terrace made the space irresistible.
How have you tailored your space to accommodate co-working? Have you experienced any major challenges with this?
You have to be able to put yourself in your clients' shoes. The fact that our team works in the same space as our clients means that it wasn’t too difficult to come up with a space that we all like!
What are the main benefits of using a co-working space as opposed to leasing your own office straight away?
I believe that, particularly during start-up and development phases, a company is better off focusing on its business, as opposed to spending valuable time and resources searching for space, fitting it out, renting photocopiers, maintaining coffee-machines and so on.
Business owners should focus on making their business work, and as operators of co-working spaces, we try to ensure that these enterprises have the very best space to do just that.
How have HK entrepreneurs responded to the concept of co-working spaces?
When I first started out in this industry, expat clients were far more receptive to the concept, primarily because co-working has existed in Europe and the US for a few years now. These days, local companies are increasingly starting to see the benefits of joining the co-working community, and I believe this trend will continue.
I’ve heard that some multinational companies in Europe have started asking their staff to occasionally base themselves at co-working spaces, as it’s so beneficial for creativity and productivity. It seems that everyone is starting to realise that co-working is the new way to work!
How important is technology to your business, and why?
I’d say it’s more than important; it’s vital! Modern businesses rely heavily on technology, and so it’s crucial that we offer excellent IT facilities for our clients. This means that it’s absolutely essential that we keep constantly updating. A recent example of this is the new i-Beacons we had installed onsite.
How collaborative are your co-working clients? Do they tend to mingle and share ideas, or do people tend to keep themselves to themselves?
Entrepreneurship is all about collaboration, and that’s the beauty of basing your business in a co-working environment. Although not each and every client can come up with a business deal everyday, we do see on-going active communication between our Garagers.
What has been the most surprising or unexpected situation that you have experienced since founding Garage Society?
I’d say it’s just how fast that our wonderful community of Garagers has taken shape. We have been very fortunate to be supported by the Hong Kong entrepreneurial and start-up community, and we have awesome anchor tenants including General Assembly, Fresco and TEDxKowloon, with more exiting names to announce very soon!
What types of businesses are best suited to using a co-working space?
I believe that any company can benefit from being in this power-hub of entrepreneurs, as well as being able to contribute to the community.
What sets you apart from other co-working spaces in Hong Kong?
We have such a great space! Garage Society is located in the heart of Central, with an MTR station right in the lobby. But more importantly, Garage Society has become a hub for up-and-coming entrepreneurs to work and share ideas.
What is the most important tip that you would give to someone hoping to get the best out of a co-working environment?
Be ready to immerse yourself in a community of entrepreneurs and enjoy the experience!