First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID19 times?
Everyone is safe and well. Although the situation in Hong Kong is getting better, we are still keeping our guards up, and staying home whenever possible.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company
I was born and raised in Hong Kong, I lived in Canada for seven years, and I was back to Hong Kong after graduating from university. I currently have two businesses going on, one business in the VC area and the other a co-working space.
I started Ooosh Coworking because I believed in providing a platform for people and teams to grow.
How does your company innovate?
We innovate by paying close attention to daily incidents, observing problems, and feedback. We always go to technology when seeking solutions.
For example, since we saw that our team had to be involved in tedious, manual back-and forth with new hot desk signups. I turned to technology and tried to automate the signup process to streamline workflow.
We also automated lead generation between marketing tools, integrated SEM with our CRM and then into our task management tools.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Lack of mobility is definitely the main problem.
In Hong Kong, coworking spaces are always going to have decent demand despite the economic downturn. Unfortunately, the pandemic killed mobility. Enquiries fell and less people took physical visits.
The way we coping is to focus on other business development activities instead during the crisis. Hence, we have sped up the planning and launch of our BD tech solutions “GROOO” and our startup incubator.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Yes, one thing, in particular, is to ask operations staff to come to work, since I do need to bear the risk of that. However, I had no choice because the spaces needed at least one person to physically be there to operate. So I asked my team members to come in slots, and subsidized private transportation for them. (Uber and taxis)
My biggest learning would be that risk leads to opportunities, and staying calm is key. When faced with crises, observe and make judgement calls calmly, don’t dwell in panic mode. The sooner you recollect yourself, the sooner you can get back on track.
Another learning is to anticipate problems and focus on risk management. Always continue to open your eyes to observe opportunities and make necessary pivots. That’s why I have decided to focus on developing other businesses when the coworking space business is quiet.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and your company in the future?
Try to get your mind off by watching Netflix, playing video games, or doing workout at home.
Crisis made us stronger. Post-covid, Ooosh will have multiple business arms with a more solid business model, where COVID was a huge push for that. We have used the downfall to equip ourselves and to plan ahead for the market rebound.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Other Coworking spaces in Hong Kong. We differentiate by offering a complete startup ecosystem with a VC arm, a startup incubator, and BD tech solutions.
Your final thoughts
Hang in there. It is always important to be transparent with the team, letting them know what we’re facing, and make the team stronger by aligning our focus. This is part of being a leader’s responsibility.