The waves of changes
The co-working concept and movement has been spreading across the globe like a wild fire in the recent years. According to Deskmag, by the end of 2017, nearly 1.2 million people worldwide have worked in a coworking space. In Vietnam, since the first of its kind was introduced in 2012, the number of co-working operators has grown over 20 – most of them local – with more than 30 spaces. In Danang, when Danang Coworking – the first space – came out in October 2016, it was full after 1 month; a year after that, there has been 7 more spaces coming up around Danang and Hoi An.
The great expansion of co-working has been credited for the startup boom. It is not difficult to see that co-working is an affordable way for startups to professionalize their workspace. They are flexible enough to accommodate the rapid growth of startups (they can simply move from a hot desk to a private office and then to a bigger private office in the same space). Besides, startups working there may find themselves surrounded by high-skilled freelancers whom they can manage to bring into their team in busy times. It is also popular for co-working spaces to host VC pitch sessions, specialist workshops and hackathons or other less endorphin released thus vital accounting and legal supports.
Co-working is where the sharing economy meets with real estate business. Unlike the traditional serviced office, the focus of co-working is not on the infrastructure but the community of the people working there – the coworkers. Each space will have their own type of community, their signature. Coming to PunSpace – the most popular in Chiang Mai, people may find a host of digitals nomads working in E-commerce and shipping industry. In Bali, again most of them are non-locals, but more are entrepreneurs than freelancers. At Hubud, the global famous space made from bamboo, most co-workers ran away from corporate life and share an interest in sustainable business. In Bangkok, Hubba – the leading operators in Thailand has spaces dedicated for designers and marketers.
That wave is coming to Vietnam and Danang.
Surf the startup wave
Once upon a time, Boulder – a small rocky county in Colorado has seeded one of the wildest dreams for the millennial generations. The story of a place in the middle of nowhere that grew to one of the most celebrated entrepreneurial communities has inspired many so many people across the globe. Such wind of change has blown the “startup wave” crashing to the coast of Danang.
As a result, one of the first co-working spaces in Danang – Danang Coworking, founded by Danang Business Incubator (DNES) – is built upon the rag-tag of an old government building. Hosting more than 200 coworkers, amongst them some most prominent local startup teams as well as tech corporates, a vibe startup community is the core around which everything else is rotating.
Anh – a co-workers who has been there for 6 months, just launched a new company and joined DNES’s incubation program. Coming from the poor country side of Que Son, Quang Nam, after 15 years working for and running outsourcing teams in HCM City and then Danang, he decided to set aside those things and follow his childhood dream to make “phở sắn” or cassava noodle – his hometown delicacy a national popular food and help the local “phở sắn” makers, his parents amongst them, to have a better life. He can find the help just around to do so. 20 miles away in Hoi An, a young German couple who has recently moved from Bali put up a heavenly hide-out for digital nomads in the middle of a terrace field. There, they can find the inspiration or boost creativity for their next projects sitting in the field; or talk with other wanderers over a community lunch hoping to find the lacking piece of their team or simply share their stories.
Such stories are a strong motivation for Danang to carry out the Entrepreneurship Hub project in which the city government will fund a 14-storey complex for entrepreneurs to work and live their lives. The project, currently consulted by DNES as well as several experts in co-working and co-living, expects to come out by 2020.
Not much financial incentives can be gained from those community building acts, but the long-term impact is far great. There is an old Vietnamese saying “đất lành chim đậu” – which can be understood as “better the land, more birds would come”, and come they did. The founders of Toa Tau, the founding team of Triip me, the founders of Topica Education Group are notable names amongst the everyday lengthened list of entrepreneurs who shows their intention of moving to Danang. Let them be the first seeds for an innovation hub by the sea dream to flourish.