Interview with Amarit Charoenphan | CEO & Co-founder of HUBBA | Thailand’s 1st and largest coworking space and community
HUBBA is relentlessly passionate for connecting members together through exciting activities which will bring members from across different sectors and disciplines closer together than ever before. Work and play in a productive and homely atmosphere that is exclusively curated for startup entrepreneurs. They believe in the concept of ‘Work Hard, Play Harder’, so they plan to provide you with all the tools to help you create an ideal working environment. Engage your work from a fun and creative perspective with their lush garden, trampoline and ping pong table to not only let you and your team relax, but also get your creative juices flowing! Here’s our interview with the CEO & Co-founder of HUBBA, Mr. Amarit Charoenphan.
Can you tell me something about yourself?
Hi my name is Amarit and I’m Group CEO & Co-founder of HUBBA, the Hub of Global Creators, Thailand’s 1st and largest coworking space and community which is targeted to serve 12,000+ members in 10 locations by the end of 2016. I’m also the Co-founder of Techsauce Media, Thailand’s leading tech media, which is best known for Techsauce Summit, Thailand’s top tech startup conference. My passion is to create a better world where people work with passion, meaning, and purpose while actively supported by an inspiring community and ecosystem.
Can you tell me a little more about Hubba Thailand? — started HUBBA in June 2012 as I was frustrated with trying to start a business while working at home and struggling with loneliness, boredom, lack of motivation and energy and in coffee shops, with spotty wifi, poorly lit spaces, unergonomic chairs and noisy environment, Having experienced the pain first hand, as well as having gone through with my brother many turbulent years of trying to start a business, I realized what was missing in Thailand was a workspace that could support an entrepreneur, freelancer, startups that was not just affordable, flexible and fully equipped like your dream office, but also offered a strong sense of community and friendship, lots of learning and sharing opportunites, and business services that could help your business to succeed.
Now after 4 years, HUBBA is beyond just a coworking space but HUBBA is the platform for entrepreneurs, freelancers from anywhere in the world. We create stunning workspaces, an vibrant offline and online community, and provided business services to thousands of members to help every step of the way.
Our community spans across 8 locations in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Vientiane and growing across Southeast Asia with many more opening soon.
We support our community via helping them to learn how to build startups via events like HUBBA Stadium 3 day hackathons (https://www.facebook.com/HUBBA.Stadium/?fref=ts), learning and training opportunties via HUBBA Academy (https://www.facebook.com/HUBBAWorkshop/?fref=ts), news, content and conferences via our tech media Techsauce (www.techsauce.co).
HUBBA’s mission is to create a better world where people work with passion, meaning, and purpose and actively supported by an inspiring community.
What’s your motivation in opening Hubba Thailand?
HUBBA’s purpose initially started as a coworking space provider. Working together has many good effects as per the research by Deskmag below:
The way we provide community. connectedness, and supporting environment for your business to grow is via:
However, HUBBA’s model has now evolved to become a TECH ECOSYSTEM BUILDER. Our goal is to be a platform to help entrepreneurs succeed via infrastructure (coworking space), technology (our upcoming new website) and services (media, education, arm).
Most startups need support on every part of their entrepreneurial journey since the journey is probably the most hardest thing that most people will ever do in their life. This is because our members are embarking into the unknown on creating a business with unproven market, technology, team and their job is to figure out through experiments to validate and prove their assumptions. Most startups and freelancers fail because they either fight with the business partners or cofounders
The 1st step of every startup journey starts with inspiration, motivation and a passionate idea. People need to discover that entrepreneurship is possible for them, that they can take life on their own hands and that a lot of people that are successful today were just like them in the beginning. Coworking like HUBBA helps to find that inspiration since it is a concentration of highly motivated, inspired entrepreneurs and freelancers living under one roof. Given that everyone is working on their dream project or startup, its easy for new members to feel the energy and be motivated by working around others and its easy to learn, talk, refine and quickly develop ideas based on casual conversations, feedback from more experienced entrepreneurs and attending workshops and events.
Next step is building the right team, which is often time the biggest stumbling block as a lot of members only know a few people in their narrow field of expertise, yet for startups it is necessary for the founders to know a lot of people in various industries such as marketing, design, programming, investment, media in order to tap these individuals to join their startup, outsource work to, cofound the startup together, raise funding from or get the startup published on the media. Coworking spaces like HUBBA are the ideal place to build and nurture these networks due to the sheer size, density and intensity of meeting hundreds of new people each day at the space.
The third thing is building the right product whether it is an app, web, physical hardware. Startup founders need time to build, test, refine and get valuable feedback and early beta user / customers. Coworking spaces like HUBBA are the perfect place for this since there are a lot of mentors and designers / entrepreneur in residence that can help advise on the best practice of building the product. Furthermore, since the spaces are ful of members who are open minded to trying new things and helping a member out, it is a place where you can test ideas and get some quick, honest feedback easily.
Lastly, startups need to fundraise and scale their companies. Coworking spaces like HUBBA is a great place to meet investors since there are often pitching events, office hour events by visiting investors, demo days, conferences happening in our space that can help our members pitch at potential VCs and angels in a friendly environment. Spaces like HUBBA often have great networks that can make recommendations to our members on who to talk to. As the company successfully fundraises and needs to build a larger team, office etc, spaces like HUBBA can continue to support the growing needs without costing teams too much money and disruption with legal / accounting services, recruitment services, and bigger private office space.
Who is/are part of building/founding it?
- Principally there is me, and my Cofounder and my brother Charle Charoenphan who now it the Head Coach and my advisor at HUBBA.
What was technically the most challenging part of starting this business?
- Starting the business was the easy part, the hard part was when we opened for a month and there was no customers!
How did you get the funding? Is it just from your funds? or you have partners? — Intially we have the 3 Fs, Friends family and Fans (not fools) as well as a few angels. As we went along, other partners who have chipped in along the way. Last year in october, we raised a small seed round from 500 Startups, Golden Gate Ventures and Wavemaker Partners.
So far, how was your business doing?
- We’re profitable and we now operate 4 locations as our own and 4 via a minority investment. This year and the next year, stay tuned as we accelerate our growth with new space openings.
Can you tell me a little bit about your products/services? — HUBBA’s value proposition is grouped into 3 product and service category:
1) Infrastructure — the physical space for us to build communities and support entrepreneurs. This includes our coworking space, event space, private offices, and meeting spaces that we partner with via www.findmynode.com
2) Services — these are all the activities, events and services that we provide that helps to support your startup, grow your network and community, get you to meet potential investors. This includes amazing workshops via HUBBA Academy www.facebook.com/hubbaworkshop), global media exposure via (www.techsauce.co), world class speakers, exhibition and pitching opportunities at Techsauce Summit (www.techsaucesummit.co), technical mentorship and advisory via HUBBA X (www.hubba-x.com) and other amazing events, meetups, bar crawls etc organized by HUBBA crew.
3) Technology and online community — In Nov, HUBBA will launch our online community portal at www.hubbathailand.com so that all our members can connect, learn, share and chat and continue the conversations online.
What is the biggest project you have right now?
- Building HUBBA to become the WeWork of Thailand and Southeast Asia and building Techsauce Summit into Asia’s top tech conference (Techsauce (www.techsauce.co), Thailand’s top tech media is a subsidiary of HUBBA).
How do you handle stress like during the times that you need to meet deadlines, some unexpected problems, technical issues etc.
- You get used to it. Issues happen every day to the point that you just get used to it and don’t take it personally or as a death sentence for your business. Look yourself in the mirror everyday and tell yourself, no matter what life throws at you and how hard everything is, that everything will be ok at the end. As long as your spirit is high, you believe in yourself, you learn fast and change course faster when you know things are headed to the wrong direction and that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose but if you keep trying, you’re more likely to get lucky, just go back to work and solve problems. As long as theres cash in the bank, the team spirit is high and everyone is solving problems faster than new ones emerge, you will do okay.
What are your plans in the future? Do you vision to go worldwide?
- Yes our vision is to grow across Southeast Asia and be the WeWork of SEA!
In one word, how would you describe Hubba Thailand?
- HUBBA is the hub and platform for entrepreneurs, freelancers to support them in turning their ideas into reality and become successful founder via spaces, our services and online community platform.
In one sentence, how would you market Hubba Thailand?
- If you are a startup founder in Thailand and want to connect to the ONLY place that can support your startup to set up, grow, raise funding and scale globally, HUBBA is the only and best coworking space to support you on that journey.
Do you have any message/quotations to aspiring CEO’s/Founders?
Be zombie-like relentless and focused like the zombies in Walking Dead or the White Walkers in GOT. Everyone’s startup is dead by default, it only succeed if the founder does something to “make it happen”. When you stop believing in yourself, when you lose the passion for your mission and you stop trying to innovate and solve problems, you’re startup is dead. Keep your eyes on the prize, keep walking and don’t doubt yourself and you will make something out of the experience, no matter if you’re successful or failure!
Originally published at www.millionrising.com on September 13, 2016.