Kim Wong is the founder of Mandarin 1, a growing language learning company that provides Mandarin lessons to business professionals and beyond, primarily around Hong Kong’s Central Business District. Kim has been a member of theDesk United Centre since June 2019
Jason Ip is the founder of Treehouse Hypnotherapy, which strives to provide different treatment options for patients with mood disorders, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, insomnia, and more. He also provides opportunities for company training, helping employees reduce stress levels and improve motivation. Jason has been a member of theDesk United Centre since April 2019.
Where were you working before? What are your criteria for selecting an office location?
KW: The space we were in before was a sort of hip, trendy, lifestyle type space, but we ultimately found that the atmosphere didn’t work for us.
In terms of office location, primarily we look for proximity to our students. Our key customers are working professionals, so we really need to be around Central, Admiralty and Wan Chai. Literally being above the Admiralty MTR is a major convenience for us and also for students, especially since Central is still within walking distance. It gives students a greater incentive to come to us.
JI: Treehouse is located in a factory building in Kwun Tong, which was great from a price point perspective, but it didn’t offer us a prime business address. Having a prime address can have a big effect on upgrading company image, so when presenting to a client, that image has a big effect on the bottom-line.
What factors do you consider when looking for a workspace?
KW: Firstly, we looked for a space that provided us a more professional forward-facing image. One of the things that struck us about theDesk United Centre was the layout of the center, which is quite distinct, with a lot of space and rooms. When students and customers come to theDesk United Centre, we’re able to put forward a much more business-focused and professional image, which just doesn’t match with many of the other types of co-working spaces around the city. theDesk is also located at a few places around Hong Kong, so that helps us in our ability to scale, and move around and meet with students in those other spaces if needed.
Hong Kong rents are also very high, so at the end of the day, it’s about competitiveness and survivability. Markets have a big impact on a company’s bottom-line, so having an option that’s flexible on costs is necessary, while also providing us with the ability to expand if and when we need, especially with the meeting rooms and shared spaces which we need for teaching. It just gives us a lot more options than a traditional office.
JI: Price is a big factor, especially when the rental cost is compared against the potential value gained from the location and space. In general we don’t have a high requirement when it comes to space, however what we do need is privacy. The space provides a good quiet and sound-proof environment with private space in which we can treat patients.
What do you like about working in a co-working environment over other types of office space?
KW: The co-working environment gives us a lot of flexibility. We’re running a Mandarin school at the moment and we’re quite ambitious in our vision to grow. Because of this, we didn’t want the fixed constraints of an office space, where we had to commit to a one or two-year agreement. Cost is key to us and has an impact on expansion and profitability. We wanted the flexibility in being able to expand based on our needs.
Does co-working have an impact on the way you work? Whether through using shared amenities or interacting with the community?
KW: Yes, I like to attend the events which have been a good networking opportunity with other members. We’ve actually got a few students that way. The community feel works well for us, and I like the interesting mix of people from different backgrounds and industries. It provides a good backdrop to make connections.
JI: We held a workshop and seminar for Treehouse, so we were able to use the space along with a projector, which fit between 30-40 guests in a quiet environment. The shared spaces in theDesk United Centre are good for running these kinds of workshops and seminars. I’ve also had many great opportunities to meet and network with other members of the community, which has been great.
The connectivity with Admiralty MTR, that provides us easy access to the other theDesk spaces, is also a real bonus. Lastly, the networking events and quality of the staff at theDesk is something that I think almost any business would benefit from.
Can you provide any examples of interaction or working with theDesk community that has been particularly helpful? Whether that’s an event, workshop, or just casual workplace conversation that turned into something bigger, etc.
JI: Apart from the founder of Treehouse, I am also a financial advisor, some of theDesk staff have actually become clients, and I’ve met so many new people. I would say this is the biggest value of theDesk, whether it’s staff, members, or neighbors, it’s great to meet so many people from diverse backgrounds through the wide variety of community events organized.
As a hypnotherapist, I collaborated with theDesk to host a free workshop at theDesk United Centre, which was great, and I’m excited to host more upcoming workshops soon! I also met one of our neighbors through one of the Community Luncheons and they were actually looking for a hypnotherapist. These are some examples of how well the community here helps you build connections.
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