“Timing is everything in business,” shares Juhn Teo, co-founder of Common Ground, one of Southeast Asia’s fastest-growing co-working spaces
The number of players has made co-working a competitive space to be in, something Common Ground’s Juhn Teo knows all too well. Juhn and business partner Erman Akinci started their business in 2017, just as co-working was gaining traction in Southeast Asia.
Since launching their flagship in Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur, the pair have grown Common Ground to 28 venues across eight cities in three countries (Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines), with plans to open in Vietnam and Indonesia in the next year. These are the key things Juhn says he got right and wrong on the road to success.
What I got right
“If I could narrow it down to one thing, timing would be it. We entered just as the industry’s high-growth trajectory in Southeast Asia was taking off. If we’d been any earlier, we’d have faced that first-mover, early-adopter risk. And if we’d started any later, we would have been way too late. Deliberate design or not, we timed it well and got a good lead on the markets. And timing really is everything in business.
“Another thing we got right was creating a product that appealed to a diverse range of members. I think a lot of co-working brands started out planning to serve those in the startup and tech space, which is great, but we wanted to be highly scalable, so we needed to be broad. Our member profiles are scattered quite evenly across the pie – tech only makes up 15%. Not only does being diverse ensure we’re sustainable and scalable, it also enriches the community.”
What I got wrong
“The challenge we always faced, and still do, is finding the balance between bootstrapping and attracting talent, particularly in senior positions. We probably bootstrapped for a little too long on a very lean budget and should’ve filled in some key positions sooner. A lot of things that have gone wrong have stemmed from that.”
To discover Common Ground’s incredible co-working spaces, visit their website.