Where freelancers, startups party 24x7

Updated 2016-12-26 11:07:34 China Daily
An entrepreneur works at his desk in the ATLAS Workplace in Guangzhou, Guangdong province. The co-work space will open a site in Shanghai this year. (Photo provided to China Daily)

An entrepreneur works at his desk in the ATLAS Workplace in Guangzhou, Guangdong province. The co-work space will open a site in Shanghai this year. (Photo provided to China Daily)

You have a business idea and have even raised some money for your dream startup, but without a proper space to work, the business may run aground.

But, most startups tend to be cash-strapped initially, and hence unable to afford to rent, let alone own, a full-fledged office straightaway.

Such startups are a global phenomenon now, and are particularly ubiquitous in urban China. To meet their needs, the commercial property industry has invented co-work spaces, in line with the trend of the sharing economy.

Take, for instance, the U.S.-based co-work space firm WeWork's site in central Shanghai.

Jasmine Jin walks into her six-desk, 12-square-meter office at 9 am, grabs a cup of freshly brewed coffee at the pantry, and joins her small army of co-workers of OneMoreCloset, a startup whose online platform allows users to share their fashion.

For co-founder Jin and her staff, the morning coffee, and many other conveniences that are part of the WeWork package, make a huge difference.

Operating from WeWork, OneMoreCloset has been in business with no more than a couple of wardrobes as its office fixtures. The cupboards hold fashion like all-black evening dresses to colourblock to studded pants. All else-furniture, printers, internet, pantry, housekeeping, meeting rooms, so on-are provided by WeWork.

Thousands of entrepreneurs such as Jin and startups such as OneMoreCloset wouldn't settle for anything less these days.

Co-work spaces such as WeWork are not owned or rented by an individual or a company. Individuals or groups rent workstations or portions of office space on yearly, monthly, weekly or even daily subscriptions.

What's more, when entrepreneurs from different paths work on the same premises, a vibrant community evolves, connections develop, networking ensues, which could help foster mutual growth. Conceivably, office-sharing could well lead to success-sharing.

For instance, OneMoreCloset's office sits opposite a one-desk office of a catering services provider. Next to them, a more spacious office portion that hosts tens of providers of financial services. And next to them, a wine distributor. A neighbor could be a visitor, a visitor a potential customer. And a customer a future partner.

"The best part of being a tenant here is that you can make full use of various services, and you see opportunities everywhere. It's like a 24-hour party of entrepreneurs. Everyone wants to know about everyone else's business. 'How I can help others through my business?' That's what drives us. You can have a shower late at night because this space is open 24x7. You've all the flexibility, all the convenience and all the joy of being a part of an innovative community," said Jin.

Encouraged by the experience so far in Shanghai, OneMoreCloset is planning to open an office in the United States, again at a WeWork site. "You can set up an office and start operations quickly in overseas markets," said Jin.

That's because co-work spaces abroad offer loads of "value-added" services. The website of one such co-work space provider lists the following among its features: workstations, conference rooms, photocopying and printing, free or discounted access to events, high-speed Wi-Fi, 24x7 power backup, lockers, document storage, food and beverages, lounges, cafes, games area, gym, shower area.

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