As we celebrate the one-year anniversary of theDesk co-working and events space, we look back at our eventful year, and ahead at the exciting things soon to come.
“12 months have flown by,” says Oscar Venhuis, co-founder of theDesk co-working and events space in Sai Wan. And it truly has, as we’ve decisively inserted ourselves into the fabric of the Sai Wan area, not just as a co-working space but as a hub that connects members and residents with the rest of the surrounding neighbourhood. As our community grows, so does our love for the area and our confidence and ambitions for the future. The newsDesk speaks to co-founders of the space, Thomas Hui and Oscar Venhuis, about the first year of theDesk, and what’s next to come…
“It’s quite surprising, where we are now operationally,” says Thomas, “I didn’t expect us to be where we are now and as busy as we are now. But it’s tougher than expected as well.” And while theDesk always seems to be chugging along smoothly with members nipping to the espresso machine for a midday boost or towards the balcony for a low-key smoke, the founders and can always be seen in serious tete-a-tetes and running in and out of meetings to make sure everything is going the best it can. And even though theDesk is a new brand and faces stiff competition in the co-working crowd, Thomas and Oscar feel they’ve been able to ‘sharpen the concept’ and quickly built a ‘solid backbone of a business’.
“Most co-working spaces encourage collaboration within, but don’t think about collaboration with those outside of the space as well.”
Of course, the challenge is always getting people to know about us, “but that takes longer,” says Oscar. What the founders are confident in is the unique concept behind theDesk, with Thomas citing that: “most co-working spaces encourage collaboration within, but don’t think about collaboration with those outside of the space as well.” Oscar thinks that, at theDesk, “people don’t necessarily know about the resources within the neighbourhood.”
Oscar tells us of the time when the lightbulbs in the space needed changing. When they consulted a contractor, the contractor told them that they’d have to construct a scaffold in the middle of the space to reach the faulty bulbs… and the entire operation would cost $5000. Incredulous, Oscar tells us how they “just went next door for a ladder.” Sorted. He continues: “we believe we can find services within the community. All we have to do is look.”
For Oscar and Thomas, resources the neighbourhood provides serve to make our members’ lives easier while also empowering local businesses in our area. “A way we add value to our members,” says Oscar, “is to make sure members connect with each other, as well as with the neighbourhood. We’re trying to build a network.” Instead of having to resort to the internet, which may not always give you the most convenient option, Oscar and Thomas envision theDesk as a hub that connects neighbourhood businesses with each other, while providing members a way to save time and resources.
Reflecting on what’s made the space work well so far, Thomas tells us it’s, “the people, and the team. I’m really proud of the team.” Aw, shucks… Continuing, Oscar tells us, “the team has exceeded our expectations, and we’ve built a great portfolio of members.” FromFintech, to graphic design, to activism and legal aid, people of all sectors proudly call theDesk their office. But it hasn’t always been smooth-sailing. “We make a lot of mistakes. But we learn from them. We don’t take anything for granted,” says Oscar.
The past year has seen an increase in members, partnerships with the community, and outreach initiatives here at theDesk. We celebrated on Friday evening with a barbeque cook-out, which, despite the dodgy weather, saw members, founders, community partners and supporters alike cracking open a cold one and enjoying the food, while Adrian Yap, another co-founder, and members tended to the grill.
And in the future? Thomas hints that several real estate funds and portfolio landlords have reached out to help theDesk expand in different districts. And the always enigmatic Oscar tells us simply to ‘expect the unexpected.’ “We have certain goals,” he says, “and we’re persistent.” So, as we venture on into our next year, all we can say is this: watch this space for what’s coming next…
For more photos from theDesk’s One Year Anniversary BBQ celebration, click here.
By Grace Fung