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Starting a coworking space where coworking is unknown: a success story

HUBBA Thailand

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Recently, HUBBA Thailand, the first coworking space to open in Bangkok, celebrated 10,000 fans on their Facebook page. That's impressive outreach into the Thai community and beyond, both for their own coworking space, and for the coworking community as a whole. Even more impressive: they only launched in May this year. HUBBA Thailand's story is inspiration for all those in the coworking industry who start a space as pioneer in a big city or want to see one thrive.

HUBBA comes from the word HUB and the Thai word ‘Ba’, meaning crazy. ‘We believe that people starting startups need to be a little crazy: self-confident, cutting edge and risk taking. HUBBA also sounds like a playful (and slightly naughty) word; we wanted to create a space that is the most friendly and happy coworking space in Bangkok! And of course the epicentre of 'the coworking culture in Thailand'.’ said Ming Mahakittikun, an advisor at HUBBA.

He shared with us the story of HUBBA, and how it came to be a centre of coworking activism in the country’s capital.

How the idea was born

HUBBA started from the 'personal pain points' of two brothers, Charle and Amarit ‘Aim’ Charoenphan.

Charle, a serial entrepreneur and founder of Ascendex Consulting, a boutique SME consulting firm, started toying with the idea of opening a coworking space following his prolonged frustration of taking 2 years to develop his previous business, due to a lack of a dedicated workspace. He was looking to develop his consultancy business when he realized that it would be quicker if his clients worked in his proximity.

His brother Amarit, while running a social enterprise incubator, noticed the success of coworking spaces worldwide and believed that there would be a huge demand for coworking spaces if Thais were given the chance to immerse themselves in a coworking experience. He felt that coworking spaces could become a strong catalyst for the integration of Thailand's fragmented startup ecosystem, providing Thai startups with the support they needed to succeed on the regional stage.

6.5 months to launch

The catalyst for the creation of HUBBA came in October 2011, when Bangkok experienced heavy floods, forcing the pair to move temporarily to a smaller town. Faced with an uncertain professional future they decided to bite the bullet and begin acting on their dream, using Deskmag and Google searches to inform themselves on how to start a successful coworking space. Moving from one coffee shop to another, they experienced first-hand the joys and pains of being a coffeepreneur, and were soon convinced of the abundant benefits of coworking.

In December 2011, their project got off the ground when the pair fell in love with HUBBA’s present location in the heart of the Ekamai Thonglor district. With 2 weeks to decide, they bit the bullet and rented the space, even though they were wholly unprepared without a designer... or even a team. Within six and a half months, the space’s design and renovations were complete.

Their risk was driven by their belief in the emergence - and strength - of the startup culture in Thailand, and their view of coworking as a sustainable movement that would be welcomed by Thais and expats. So far, they have not been proven wrong. Co-founder Amarit shared the story of their ascent and the strategies they used to become mainstream. (Read more)

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