Coworking start-up Spacemob opened on Sept 1 with 15,000 sq ft of space at 8 Claymore Hill. Within two months, it had secured 200 members and an occupancy rate of close to 90%, entirely through digital marketing platforms. The business turned a profit within three months of opening, says its founder and CEO, Indonesian-born and US-educated Turochas “T” Fuad.
He sees Spacemob as a tech company and not a spin-off from a property business. His choice of the company name ‘Spacemob’ was also intentional. “I don’t mention ‘work’ because the intention is to disrupt the space industry, and it goes beyond work space.”
Fuad: I intentionally chose the name ‘Spacemob’. I don’t mention ‘work’ in the name as the intention is to disrupt the space industry beyond work.
Fuad also founded Travelmob, an online social platform that connects travellers to Asia-Pacific with hosts of apartments and villas, similar to Airbnb. Started in July 2012, Travelmob was acquired by Nasdaq-listed HomeAway in 2013. “I came up with Travelmob to disrupt the travel industry,” he says. Prior to its founding, he was managing director of Skype Asia.
A serial entrepreneur, Fuad began thinking about the idea of Spacemob a fortnight after leaving Travelmob. While the likes of Airbnb, HomeAway and Travelmob have transformed the travel industry, he noticed that the rest of the property market, particularly commercial space landlords, have not evolved or adapted to working citizens who have embraced the sharing economy. “Gone are the days of permanent employment,” says Fuad. “Freelancers will represent a bigger part of the working community.”
Spacemob differentiates itself through the use of technology. Booking of meeting rooms and spaces are done via registration booths. Payment for coffee and other items are made via an eWallet system. All the furniture pieces also have a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag — to keep track of office inventory and analyse the frequency and duration of each space used. If a certain space is seldom used, they can then identify the issues and find a solution. This helps optimise the use of every space within the coworking centre, explains Fuad.
As part of its services for members, Spacemob also provides health insurance, payroll processing software, payment gateway solutions for ecommerce, and even travel at preferential or corporate rates. “Of course, having a comfortable work space is important, but ultimately, it’s the services that come with the membership,” he says. “Space, therefore, becomes secondary.”