The goal as a startup founder is to keep costs down, network with the right crowd and create a productive environment for your team. But that’s not always easy for startups to achieve, especially in cities like Hong Kong, where the rent prices are skyrocketing. The answer lies in coliving; the one-stop-shop for realizing your startup goals and living affordably in business epicenters.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Ivan Ivanov, a serial entrepreneur, VC investor, and real-estate genius who gave us his insights on the coliving ecosystem in Hong Kong and virtually guided us through his exclusive coliving space, InnTech.
Hong Kong, the Asian Silicon Valley
In 2017 alone, there were more than 2,000 startups in Hong Kong with an impressive 24% growth rate. The startup scene in Hong Kong is as dynamic and varied as the lifestyle in the city itself. After spending some time in Silicon Valley, Ivan realized that there were no coliving spaces in Hong Kong that would satisfy all the needs of a startup. They were lacking in necessities such as affordable rent, business networking opportunities and a fun environment where professionals can interact and cultivate relationships.
“I lived in a coliving house in Silicon Valley, where I was really impressed with how easily members communicated with their community through networking events, such as investor BBQ’s, where you could strike a deal between two steaks, or pitching workshops for startups, just to name a few.” – Ivan Ivanov, CEO of InnTech
When he moved his business to Hong Kong, Ivan initially rented a traditional real-estate workspace for his team but quickly realized that he needed something more. He was determined to move to a next-level office space designed with entrepreneurs in mind. He canceled his lease and moved to a serviced office managed by his future business partner, Michael Wong, Chairman and Founder of WorkTech. Their common interest in VC and real estate combined with their inner motivation to improve the Hong Kong ecosystem’s availability to startups made them the perfect fit to create a coliving space that is ideal for startups.
At that moment, InnTech was born. As a member of InnTech, you can choose A la cart from networking events, investor meetings or workshops all whilst working in a beautiful and productive environment.
Coliving is the new hot deal in real-estate
Why would someone choose to invest in a coliving space rather than a “safe bet” traditional real-estate investment? What makes a coliving founder an ideal candidate for investors?
According to Ivan, coliving founders need to have solid foundations in real-estate in order to better understand the market. But, above all, they must have the intention of improving the local ecosystem. For Ivan and his partner, InnTech is more than business; it’s a mission. Improving and supporting the startup scene in Hong Kong is not just a marketing term they place on their website to stand out from the crowd. Rather, it is a goal that they are actively working to accomplish. They do this by cultivating strong, long-term relationships with local investment firms, working on soft-landing programs for entrepreneurs, and sponsoring startup related events, such as Startmeup Festival, that is co-organized by the Hong Kong government.
Ivan Ivanov advice for new coliving operators:
- Understand the real-estate market
- Choose a strong mission and work with purpose
- Find a local partner
- Team up with companies who could be interesting for your audience
- Build a strong community by cultivating relationships
InnTech: Welcome to startup-paradise
Cheaper living in the city is only a piece of what makes InnTech special. Startup founders, solopreneurs and motivated professionals choose Inntech because of the networking value that the coliving space provides. InnTech partners with most of the big players in the Hong Kong startup ecosystem, such as the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Invest Hong Kong, corporations and venture capital firms, startup media, and many more innovation programs. These connections can be invaluable to a startup and are perhaps one of the most needed factors for a successful company.
“InnTech is more than just a nice place to live; it’s access to our comprehensive network, including events, investors and mentors.” – Ivan Ivanov, CEO of InnTech
But they don’t simply hand out this access to anyone. To gain entry, InnTech needs to choose you as well. They only accept members who are already entrepreneurs or have the ambition and interest to become one. This methodology ensures the like-mindedness of the community; an important pillar of its overall success. InnTech knows that working alongside incredibly distinguished and talented individuals or teams will have a positive effect on your productivity-meter.
Inntech encourages founders to join, even for a short term stay (from 1 month), to test their ideas in the Hong Kong market. For many companies, InnTech and WorkTech function as a first step to building a successful company by providing a productive working and living environment and a remarkable, supportive community.