Many co-working operators do not really understand co-working, according to Kong Wan Sing, founder and CEO of JustCo, a home-grown serviced office and co-working operator. Co-working is not just providing a space with desks for people to do their work, he explains.
Last November, when Kong was in Shanghai, he was introduced to Grant Horsfield, founder and chairman of China- based co-working operator naked Hub. “We chatted over drinks. Then, I went to visit naked Hub’s co-working space and he came to see JustCo’s,” Kong recounts. “And I thought, ‘This guy knows what he’s doing. Maybe we can do something together.’”
At the time, Kong reckoned that demand for co-working space would continue to grow and there would be consolidation in the market. He was open to a merger. On July 18, JustCo and naked Hub announced plans to merge. The merger will lead to the formation of the largest premium co-working operator in Asia, according to the two companies.
JustCo takes up 35,000 sq ft across five floors at its co-working space at 120 Robinson Road
JustCo currently has 180,000 sq ft of space in Singapore: 35,000 sq ft across five floors at 120 Robinson Road, 15,000 sq ft at 6 Raffles Quay, 50,000 sq ft across two floors at UIC Building and 80,000 sq ft across two floors at Marina One that will open in August. The JustCo co-working spaces at UIC Building and Marina One have unobstructed sea views, according to Eileen Wee, JustCo’s marketing communications manager.
JustCo’s members include bike sharing app company Mobike; Line, a messenger, chat and video call app; and US unicorn company Cloudflare, a content delivery network and security services provider. By end-2017, JustCo will have 400,000 sq ft of space in Singapore, says Kong. There are plans to open JustCo co-working spaces in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta, and “expand all the way to Australia”, he adds.
naked Hub was started in November 2015 and within the first 10 months of operations, eight naked Hub co-working spaces were opened, according to its CEO Jonathan Seliger. There are currently 11 naked Hub co-working spaces — in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. naked Hub has also branched out into Vietnam, where it is set to open a co-working space in Ho Chi Minh City and another in Hanoi. The company expects to have 21 co-working spaces across Asia by end-2017.
Horsfield (left) and Kong at naked Hub@Bonham Strand, the first naked Hub co-working space in Hong Kong
(image source: naked Hub)