When you have flexible co-sharing work spaces that encourage cooperation and co-creation among entrepreneurs, you sometimes get magic: startups that grow into giants. That’s what Cyberview is striving for.
THERE’S something romantic about the idea of people getting together in a garage to create something special. It was a space where tech giants like Microsoft, Amazon and Dell first came to life — even the grunge musical genre owes its roots to bands jamming in garages!
For this story, however, I’d like to shift our focus towards how these spaces became instrumental in the act of creation. Because indeed, good work can happen anywhere.
Ideas and companies have been birthed in living rooms, coffee shops and all sorts of other places.
The latest startup boom however has put the spotlight firmly on an entirely new kind of working space — one that is less gritty and better equipped than a garage, but more affordable and social than a rented office space: The co-working space.
It started with Brad Neuberg, who created the world’s first modern co-working space circa 2005 when he got sick of working from home, but wanted to avoid the dull and “unsocial” environment of a business centre.
He was clearly on to something, because co-working has transformed into a global movement, with thousands of such spaces now housing diverse and often eclectic collectives of like-minded freelancers, small business teams and “solopreneurs” all over the world.
Conceptually speaking, the co-working space is a hybrid work-space, open to all walks of life. It’s tailored to a spectrum of needs, with operators offering flexible rental options for desk or office spaces that come with facilities like fax machines, printers, Wi-Fi and conferencing.
The clincher for many co-working patrons, however, is the social aspect. Co-working spaces often host a variety of social opportunities that make it easy for people to tap into networks of like-minded people; to discuss ideas, develop partnerships and talk through challenges.
In that sense, co-working spaces are much more than a physical space to get work done, but rather a place where people can work, play, rest, think, recharge and discuss.
New space for creating magic
In many ways the co-working space improves upon the strengths of both the garage and traditional office environments — meeting the social needs of a new generation of digital nomads for whom the lines between work and play are often blurred.
Many of these creatives deem both activities as organic processes interconnected with one another — their work is play. Whether it’s getting a spark of inspiration from a lunch networking session, or relaxing over a game of ping-pong, co-working spaces have to be fluid enough to adapt to the varying needs of different people.
In this sense, I think it’s fair to say co-working spaces are the new “magic garage” — with Instagram, Timehop and a slew of other up-and-coming tech companies getting off the ground in such places as Dogwatch Labs in San Francisco, and New Work City in New York.
Suffice it to say, this phenomenon is no flash in the pan either. In addition to inspiring a change in how corporations work, the concept of co-working has also inspired a global social movement championed by outfits like the Global Coworking Unconference Conference — a global platform for industry leaders and delegates to share best practices in shaping the new work landscape, explore the complex nature of the independent workforce, self-employment, shared workspace and community building.
Closer to home, our very own MSC Malaysia Animation Creative Content Centre, located at Cyberview’s CoPlace (formerly the SME Tech Centre), has spawned startup success stories the likes of Animonsta (the award-winning creators of animation smash hit sensation Boboiboy) and Giggle Garage (creator of Origanimals, an animation series currently entertaining children and their families from the US and Mexico to Latin America, Europe and Asia).
We’d be smart to take note of what makes co-working spaces so attractive, to modern entrepreneurs, startups and businesses.
Co-creation and co-sharing in Cyberjaya
There’s a lot we can learn from co-working spaces, which have already taken off in Kuala Lumpur. People with entrepreneurial mindsets, for example, tend to thrive when they feel like they are part of a wider community. Cyberview strives to create opportunities for collaborative innovation through building on the power of cooperation and co-sharing.
This is a singular advantage most apparent in a location with as high a talent density as we do here.
In addition to supporting the development of fresh talent, companies here are also known to share their existing workforce with one another — particularly, for those in highly-skilled or specialised disciplines. All in all, our wide range of soft and hard assets stands us in great stead.
We have the physical spaces including CoSpace, our newly opened soft landing zone, and CoPlace, which houses more than 200 tech companies.
These spaces were built out of rejuvenated properties and leased out at very reasonable prices to meet the needs of the industry. They act as an added incentive for individuals, including graduates from neighbouring institutes of higher learning, to strike out in the business world sans the burden of prohibitive rental rates.
The goal is to bring the spirit of the value-orientated co-working movement to life here in Cyberjaya, home to a rich network of 800 or so companies and a pool of highly-qualified tech professionals, by supporting an environment of collaboration and openness.
This is our way of helping to facilitate an environment of non-competitive sharing and openness, where fruitful conversations are more likely to happen.
We provide the space and opportunities, and hopefully, Malaysia’s vast pool of talented individual and companies will make the magic happen.
- Faris Yahaya is the managing director of Cyberview.