Collisions That Spark Innovation: Taking Co-Working to Level Next in Singapore with Michelle Yong and John Tan

September 12, 20168:15 am972 views
Collisions That Spark Innovation: Taking Co-Working to Level Next in Singapore with Michelle Yong and John Tan
Members celebrating the launch of Collision 8 in Singapore in July 2016

Elevating the concept of co-working to create collaborative innovative functional workspaces, where people and ideas intersect to create opportunities, we catch up on an interesting rendezvous with Michelle Yong and John Tan, Co-founders of Collision 8 to understand the brand differentiating factor of Collision 8, that traditional workspaces do not offer.

User-centric office design, sound acoustics, unmatched facilities, cozy breakout areas, inspiring décor and vibrant meeting rooms exude positivity to reflect in performance and effective workings of the team. This isn’t all. The spaces are so designed for businesses to capitalise on the power of collision of new ideas, forge interesting partnerships, and explore collaboration to innovate, thus heralding the era of well-connected businesses with the right market opportunities.

Empowering startup culture, fostering entrepreneurship growth and providing the much-needed boost to create innovation hubs, a walk through the creatively-inspired Collision 8 workspaces would unclog your mental bandwidth to explore new ergonomic workplace design concepts and imbibe learnings from John and Michelle’s collision story…

Michelle Yong and John Tan, Co-founders of Collision 8

Michelle Yong and John Tan, Co-founders of Collision 8

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Collision 8 is not just a co-working space; it is a collaborative innovation workspace where people and ideas intersect to create opportunities.

We chose to distinguish Collision 8 from other co-working spaces by focusing first and foremost on the community and collisions aspect – not just the space. Collision 8 is a private members club– think of it as YPO (Young Presidents’ Organisation) meets Soho House (private members club for Creatives), but for innovators rather than CXOs and creatives.

We select our members on their desire to innovate and to collaborate, thereby increasing the likelihood of sparking ideas and meeting potential business partners – what we call “collisions”.

We are deliberately broad in our definition of innovation, which we do not restrict to technological or digital innovation, but rather a mindset of having new ideas and wanting to turn them into reality, preferably through partnerships with innovators in other fields. This can happen with complementary but different skillsets, resources and perspectives.

By engineering serendipity through member curation and monthly personalised introductions by our dedicated community manager, we are uniquely placed to foster high value connections between our members, something that typical co-working spaces do not offer.

The current space on Level 8 of High Street Centre can accommodate approximately 175 people but we already have over 450 individuals in the community, and over 80 members. We hope to grow the membership of innovators into thousands, and not just within Singapore, but across the region.

  • How much do you think workplace design matters for organizations to boost employee productivity and efficiency?

Aurum Land (the parent company of Collision 8) won Best Boutique Property Developer 2015, largely due to the high attention to detail we place on each of our developments, as well as the importance of functionality and form.

Aurum Land’s philosophy has always been on user-centric design focused on delivering the best in functionality and form, with high attention to detail and a unique and compelling design concept.

We have always put ourselves in the position of the end user in making our decisions. We believe that they are the most important stakeholders, who are not usually represented at the table during design development. We believe that this will lead to high customer satisfaction which will build brand recognition in the industry, and in turn will lead to sustained growth for the company.

With Aurum Land’s expansion into co-working and community building with Collision 8, our philosophy has further expanded to now take into account the whole user experience and not just design. We are continually fine-tuning the design through feedback from members to create the best possible environment for them.

In terms of user-centric office design, Collision 8 is designed with good acoustics, lighting and temperature control in mind, as well as large desks, ergonomic chairs and ample storage space. We also provide facilities not commonly found in conventional offices to include a library lounge, inspiring meeting rooms, a well stocked pantry and bar, piped music in the toilets, cozy breakout areas and phone booths. All these design elements and features help boost productivity and efficiency of employees.

  • What are the elements borne in mind when designing comfortable co-working spaces and steer clear break out zones?

We have designed a variety of workspaces (hot desking, dedicated desks, private offices, event space and meeting rooms) that cater to different functions and needs, whether for networking, brainstorming or concentrated workings.

We have also separated the space into different zones, with the “heart” of the space being a highly energetic and inspiring library lounge, a space where members can mingle, gather, exchange ideas and forge alliances.

Among the working areas, pockets of breakout spaces are created to break the monotony, with vibrant textures and dotted colour patterns around to add to the visual appeal and delightful experience. This décor scheme resonates with the Collision 8 brand identity of dots and colours.

Private offices are created to give a level privacy; yet partial glass walls allow members to experience the vibrancy of working in a co-working space.

  • Tell us more about the vision of Collision 8 to build a community of ambitious innovators and provide top-of-the-line workspaces that inspire.

Collision 8 is a collaborative innovation workspace where people and ideas intersect to create opportunities. The 8,600 sq. ft space comprising of a mixture of open plan hot desks in the lounge, dedicated desks in the gallery and private offices are designed to give members the freedom to imagine, experiment and create.

With awe-inspiring panoramic views of Marina Bay Sands, the CBD, Boat Quay and Fort Canning Park, which connect the past and the present, it transcends between time to remind us that we are here to shape the future.

The bar and lounge areas provide the best views, where we anticipate people would congregate to exchange ideas, forge friendships and hopefully form business partnerships.

We believe in the power of collisions to trigger new ideas and opportunities. This in turn would drive collaborative partnerships that spark innovation. We believe that innovation will disrupt every industry and it is the key to building the next generation of successful businesses.

  • How do you think well-designed co-working spaces provide impetus to growth of the innovation ecosystem in Singapore?

Co-working spaces offer companies the flexibility to grow and scale up, which suits their fast growing businesses and teams. Co-working spaces, like serviced offices, also take care of all the administrative matters to allow members to focus on their work. However, unlike traditional serviced offices, co-working spaces foster community building.

At Collision 8, the shared interest among the community members is innovation and collaboration. Being in a shared workspace with likeminded individuals provides members with the opportunity to meet potential partners with whom they can forge alliances or build new business partnerships.

We are seeing interest not only from entrepreneurs and startups, but the Collision 8 concept has been very well received by leading investors, corporates, institutions and innovation experts in the industry, many of whom joined us to celebrate the launch of Collision 8 in July.

Meeting Room Resonating with the Collision 8 brand identity of dots and colours

Meeting Room resonating with the Collision 8 brand identity of dots and colours

In particular, we are seeing increasing interest in corporate innovation programmes and Corporate Startup Engagement (CSE) from many “traditional corporates”. Many of these traditional corporates are talking about the need for innovation, co-creation, diversity and collaboration. Some have already embarked on their own accelerator programmes, whilst others have started innovation labs.

Many others have only just begun to think about innovation, but do not know how to go about doing it, and it is these companies that we would like to help make innovation more accessible to, and help them move up the innovation curve through a collaborative innovative workspace and community.

See: Collision 8, a Coworking Space Designed to Foster Innovation in Singapore Officially Opens Its Doors in August

  • What does Collision 8’s brand of Engineered Serendipity stand for? What are the brand philosophy and values associated with co-working design to create harmonious working environment for different people across verticals to meet, collaborate and co-exist at one central place?

Collision 8’s brand of Engineered Serendipity is delivered through members’ curation and personalised business introductions facilitated by the community manager.

At Collision 8, the wider community becomes an extension to small teams of entrepreneurs in a social context as well as professionally, offering a higher level of peer support, experience, expertise, insights and friendship. These elements are critical to startup success, as it can otherwise be a challenging and lonely journey ahead for them.

At Collision 8, we don’t just leave this to chance. We have a welcome session with each member to understand their needs and then hold monthly check-ins with them to make personalised introductions to other members of the community.

Whether they are looking for investors, technical talent, informal advice or strategic partnerships, our neutral position and diverse and growing community allows Collision 8 to be the ideal corporate matchmaker for their business.

The lounge area at Collision 8 co-working spaces

The lounge area at Collision 8 co-working spaces

  • What has been your personal inspiration towards setting up Collision 8, in the emerging tech hub of Singapore?

Collision 8 is not an incubator or accelerator; it is a co-working space with a strong innovation and collaboration focus that seeks to create opportunities for its members. Collision 8 is a platform and community of ambitious innovators comprising entrepreneurs, corporates, investors, experts and institutions from diverse industries.

Co-founder Michelle Yong is fourth generation family business leader of one of the largest  construction conglomerates in Singapore. She runs Aurum Land, the property development business which specializes in the residential sector. Due to the lull in the residential property market in Singapore, Michelle was looking for new opportunities to grow her business. She came across the idea of co-working and found it very intriguing, so she started to research the scene more.

However, Michelle found that the scene was becoming quite crowded and wanted to create a differentiating factor. Michelle reconnected with her co-founder John Tan, whom she first met 10 years ago while working together as strategy consultants.

John, a serial entrepreneur and founder of 2 micro VC funds, had just spent a month in New York, basing himself out of WeWork, the leading co-working space in the United States. John encouraged Michelle to consider targeting the startup and investor community, whom he could rally to bring them together with the traditional corporates that Michelle’s family business works with.

10 months after the first conversation, Michelle and John are ready to welcome their first members to Collision 8.  John and Michelle’s collision story happened because we were in the right place, at the right time, in the right frame of mind. Because of their distinct backgrounds and perspectives, the resulting ideas were more diverse and holistic and they became their own inspiration for the Collision 8 concept – where two worlds collide; Michelle from the traditional corporate world, and John from the tech world.

We are looking to create similar collisions and partnership opportunities for our members by bringing together people with distinct but complementary perspectives, skillsets and resources to create new and better business opportunities.

  • How do you think the co-working era would contribute to spurt new innovation and start-ups springing from these mini incubation cells?

Our ultimate hope is that the next Uber, the next Airbnb, the next Dropbox, or the next Elon Musk come out of Collision 8!

  • What according to you are some of the significant challenges hindering growth of entrepreneurial ventures and startup culture in Singapore and across APAC?

Nothing! I believe, we have huge potential in a growing middle-class, a good understanding of their needs, all the tools and resources available, including learnings from the West and with the right mindset and attitude, plus a very supportive government in Singapore, the sky is the limit!

Also read: Human resources hacks for the bootstrapped startup

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