Co-working spaces need to go beyond providing physical space to startups: Grace Sai, The Hub

The Hub Singapore is a co-working community based out of Singapore that helps companies get access to funding, capacity building, community connections, and international networks. It also offers mentorship, incubation and corporate innovation labs to like-minded techies. In a conversation with Techseen, Grace Sai, Co-Founder and CEO, The Hub Singapore, shares about the Mission Movement Initiative and the need to strengthen startups, in creating digital services.
Techseen: How does The Hub Singapore work for corporations and encourage collaborations?
Grace Sai: As pioneers of co-working in Singapore and as the country’s largest co-working entrepreneurial community, Hub Singapore has a multi-stakeholder ecosystem of corporates, the government as well as the startup community, to act as a collaborative platform that allows for innovation, partnerships and solutions to be formed. Through a well established Corporate Innovation Programme, Hub Singapore helps corporates grow their business by matching them with talent, innovation and disruptive ideas. With programs that are tailored to the needs of each corporate partner, Hub Singapore offers a variety of innovative solutions from startup-sourcing to Hackathons to innovation lab consultancy and accelerator programs. We have a proven track record for providing solutions to corporates like J.P Morgan, DBS, P&G, Unilever, Mazars, Veloia, DNV GL, Google and ABinBev. Our newest offering, WORK@THEHUB is a flexible work plan for high performing corporate teams to work out of any Hub location. We have noticed a growing trend of corporates who are choosing to send their innovation teams to work out of entrepreneurial communities which are often a rich source of learning for corporates who want to inspire innovation from within their own teams by exposing them to a disruptive startup culture. This latest offering inspires corporate employees to ideate solutions and new products all while maximizing connections with the creative and diverse innovators from the Hub community. Corporates will gain access to The Hub’s strong networks, while working alongside entrepreneurs who will expose them to current and disruptive market trends.
Techseen: How do you help members connect beyond the physical space?
Sai: We offer Hub Connect, a starter membership for entrepreneurs or business professionals who want benefits of community and content without the need for physical workspace. The Hub Connect Membership allows you to expand your network and tap into the Hub’s global network and resources. This includes access to our Singapore startup community of 500+ Hubbers as well as access to our global community of 11,000+ International Hubbers. Plus, members get to enjoy exclusive perks from our many business partners. Last but not least, Connect members get special invites and discounts to over 20+ curated events monthly.
Techseen: What are the challenges The Hub faces in gathering and providing essentials for an ideal co-working space?
Sai: The idea of a traditional co-working model is changing and Hub Singapore is principled around growing entrepreneurs, not just housing them. This means that we need to find out the challenges faced by startups and find ways to solve them, which adds value to our community and nurtures businesses. We create value for our startups by giving members access to seed funding through its $1 million Hub Ventures Fund and Investor-in-Residence program, comprising of the top 10 VC firms in Southeast Asia. Additionally, members get access to mentoring and coaching, an international network, business growth support and a dynamic community of entrepreneurs, creative and techies.
Techseen: Have you had complaints from participating member companies?
Sai: We have received positive feedback from our members. We put members as our top priority and we provide them channels to share feedback. Apart from that, our member companies have access to a wide variety of facilities such as a cafe, meeting rooms and Skype booths. We also have a dedicated team that takes care of their needs, so they can focus on running their business. Community is our priority and that makes us stand out amongst the many co-working models in the market.
Techseen: Earlier in 2015, The Hub Singapore pledged its members, an opportunity to be mentored by experienced fund managers through its Investor in Residence program. How has that spun out?
Sai: The Investor-in Residence program was set up to provide Hubbers with access to the top VC funds in South East Asia. All 8 Investors-in Residence (Jungle Ventures, Cocoon Capital, Golden Gate Ventures, Monk’s Hill Ventures, GREE Ventures, NSI Ventures, Alpha JWC Ventures, KK Fund) have committed to mentor Hubbers in their field of interest and to potentially invest in them. Mentorship areas generally cover: Business model, Growth, Market analysis, Investment thesis and Fundraising strategy. We have received very positive feedback from members on this program and it continues to be a sought after offering from The Hub.
Techseen: How poised is The Mission Movement initiative in contributing to Singapore’s vision of a Smart Nation? How has the association with IDA Hive helped?
Sai: The Mission Movement will curate partnerships with organizations or business entities that can cater to equipping members with skills through events, workshops, talks, and communities – which will ultimately foster a larger and more diverse entrepreneurial landscape in Singapore. We are excited by our partnership with IDA Hive – a dedicated government tech facility – which comprises of a group of data scientists, software developers, UI/UX designers and technologists who work with the government to build meaningful digital services and apps. With this partnership IDA Hive and Hub Singapore will jointly create networking platforms for Hubbers to tap into the deep technical skillsets within IDA Hive, and reciprocally technologists at IDA Hive can tap into Hub’s entrepreneurial acumen.
Techseen: How instrumental has Hub Singapore’s Corporate Innovation Programme been in bridging the gap between corporates and potential startups? Any success story or example you could share?
Sai: Hub Singapore has provided corporate innovation solutions to a host of companies including ABInBev, P&G, IBM, J.P. Morgan, DBS, Mazars, Ben & Jerry’s, Danone, DNV GL, and Veolia. We have received very good feedback. A great example is the P&G Online Innovation Challenge, where more than 40 teams applied. 8 teams were selected and pitched their tech ideas to P&G to secure long-term business partnerships. The objective was to take the first steps in engaging with startups and innovative students locally. As a result, we more than doubled P&G’s goal of 20 by securing 45 high-quality challenge submissions for P&G to determine the winning team. The successful pilot enabled P&G to confidently scale up for more comprehensive innovation programs.
Techseen: Any partnerships or ventures in the pipeline?
Sai: We have nothing to announce at the moment, but we are always looking to collaborate and innovate so that we serve our community better.

Abhinav Mohapatra

An author who has a keen interest for the ‘off-beat’ <!--more-->An author who has a keen interest for the ‘off-beat’, he has covered and explored multiple facets of the marketing, advertising

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