April 28, 2014
Michael, please introduce yourself…
My name is Michael Ma. I am the co-founder of the 1st co-working space in Central Hong Kong. I have a background in banking and finance, and a passion to support the start-up industry in my home country.
What’s the story behind creating Wynd and can you explain what you do?
A group of friends and I were overseas for quite some time before moving back to Hong Kong to pursue our professions. We have diverse educational backgrounds, including banking and finance, investment, law, IT, design, and architecture. We like the synergies we create, and wanted the same ideas to apply in a co-working space.
We also believe that the structure of the economy is transitioning from service-based to intellect- and creativity-based. New modes of operation and collaboration are devised on different platforms as digital, virtual, or social.
We thought it would be worthwhile to gather the energy of the new class of creative entrepreneurs and nurture all sorts of exciting ideas and businesses here.
What are the requirements for joining?
We welcome any creative individuals and entrepreneurs, start-ups, or SMEs from local and overseas. Interested clients must meet with our space manager before they are granted membership. Generally, we welcome new people who are committed, motivated, bring inspiration to the space, and are willing to connect to our community.
It’s actually very intriguing to see the start-ups working so committedly to building their business day and night. It motivates the co-workers around them and creates this atmosphere of community and creativity. We believe that this creates extra benefits for the others start-ups and helps them to be successful.
What makes Wynd stand out from other co-working spaces in Hong Kong?
We are the first co-working space located in Central HK – the traditional business district – yet we neighbour the most hip and famous entertainment destinations like the Lan Kwai Fong (LKF). We are also at the heart of the creative hub of Hong Kong, being located on Wyndham Street and next to Hollywood Road, where all the galleries, cultural buildings, museums, antique shops, and designer shops are located.
It’s such a perfect place to get serious work done before going out in the evening to socialise and meet people. Being in Central LKF, we are very close to the headquarters of investors, angel funds, and venture capitals around Central, thus it’s very convenience to arrange meetings. Moreover, we feel that LKF conveys a kind of attitude of youthful creativity that makes for a good working atmosphere.
With the openness of our space, we also get plenty of sunshine during the day! Our building has a splendid view overseeing the 1864 heritage site of the Old Central Police Station Compound, which provides a relaxing yet inspiring environment. Additionally, we have balconies for our guests to get some fresh air and become inspired by the scenery.
We offer a vibrant community around Wynd. We are at the best spot in HK to host events to support our community, ranging from knowledge sharing to investor pitching to any other theme related to gathering and networking events.
Can you tell us about some of the start-ups based at Wynd?
Uber was our first client. We now have a wide range, with a lot of them based overseas and trying to set up a presence in Hong Kong. We have clients such as designers, business consultants, architects, freelancers, e-commerce, digital marketing, app developers, personal trainers, and more.
From what you have learned, what advice would you give to others considering setting up a co-working space?
If you’re setting up a co-working space, location is an important factor for you to consider: it attracts the type of co-workers you will be networking with. If you are looking for funding, your location can make it easier to be around them and arrange meetings.
Be around likeminded start-ups, mentors, and communities who can inspire, motivate, and challenge you.
How do you see the start-up and investment ecosystem developing in Hong Kong?
The start-up and investment ecosystem has been growing rapidly, particularly in the past few years, which is a good sign. The popping up of co-working spaces definitely make it easier for start-ups to get started.
Every day, there are different kinds of start-up events or training classes to participate in and get connected. Corporates, MNCs, governments, and investors realise that start-ups are one of the key drivers for a society’s innovation and creativity, and so they are increasingly paying attention to them.
This ecosystem is still young in Hong Kong, and hopefully we can grow larger and become the Silicon Valley of Asia!
What are the challenges and advantages of start-ups being based in Hong Kong over other areas in the region?
We see a lot of start-ups relocating from overseas to Hong Kong. We have clients moving over from Mainland China, mainly because they are worried about the pollution. We see clients moving from Singapore because after building out their business, they realize that a majority of their client base is around Hong Kong.
Moreover, they feel that Hong Kong is more international and closer to China, a place to get things done easily and in a much more efficient manner.
What’s next for you and Wynd?
We are still young. We have only been around since last September, but we’ve been doing great and have been attracting some prominent and successful start-ups from overseas.
We will always be open for potential collaboration and better shaping our co-working community.