Jakarta. Historically, entrepreneurs have had few workspace options when starting new businesses. They can work from a coffee shop (or their basement), or find an office space just for their company. But recently, Indonesian entrepreneurs have been given another option to start their businesses: coworking spaces.
Coworking spaces are places where entrepreneurs can work in a shared office with other companies. They offer services ranging from meeting rooms to mentorship and in some cases, workout facilities and happy hours. Jakarta is home to more than a dozen of these spaces, and the number is growing.
For Aryo Ariotedjo, founder of Freeware Spaces in Kemang, South Jakarta, collaborating and mentorship are huge benefits of using a coworking space. His space hosts a variety of companies ranging from men's fashion, to online media, to high-end retail concierge services. One of Freeware's tenants, Danny Widodo, chief executive and cofounder of the concert demand platform Konsaato, said coworking spaces offer many advantages and opportunities for social engagement.
"I'm able to talk to people from different startups, to gain knowledge from them and share knowledge as well," Danny said at Freeware. "When we have issues with our company, [other tenants] can offer a new solution. That's what a coworking space is all about."
Each month, Freeware holds a meeting with the founders of each tenant company. Members come together to discuss any problems they are having in the hope of gaining insight from each other. They also hold "Freeshare" sessions, essentially in-house TedTalks where tenants, mentors, and other community members come together to share ideas. Freeware rents out the spaces on a monthly basis starting from $38 for units with the lowest access to $575 for premium services.
Albert Goh, cofounder of Cre8 and Cowork, a coworking space in South Jakarta that opened earlier this month, hopes his space will give tenants the chance to expand their networks. Cre8 and Cowork are part of a group of coworking spaces in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
Through Cre8 and Cowork's internal network known as Entreprenity – which is a combination of "entrepreneur" and "community" – tenants can connect with other members across Indonesia and the rest of Asia. This portal enables companies to collaborate and gives them the opportunity to work in different cities or even abroad.
"They can reserve [meeting rooms] in Bali, Surabaya, Manila, Malaysia," Goh said. "They just click the room and it's theirs."
Goh hopes these spaces will give entrepreneurs a chance to travel and increase both the size of their networks and knowledge of other parts of Asia.
"We notice that [some of our tenants] are very brilliant but unfortunately their ideas are very localized, they solve very localized problems," Goh said. "It's not their fault, it's just because they haven't had the chance to see what's out there. We hope that by providing [opportunities to in other cities] we can bridge that problem."
Beyond networking and collaborating, Goh says the biggest benefit in coworking spaces is in the communities they create. He knows his space is successful when tenants become friends outside the world of business.
"Two tenants doing business together, that's great," Goh said. "But if they go out for drinks, to movies […] that's true friendship. That's how we indicate that we have achieved what we really wanted."