In Conversation With the Coworking Alliance of Asia Pacific
In our previous article, we talked about the biggest, upcoming coworking event CU Asia 2019 and what you can expect if you attend it. This time, we go behind the scenes with Steve Munroe, Hubud's Co-Founder & CU Asia’s Producer to know more about an expert’s take on the coworking industry and how one of the all-time biggest coworking events came about.
1. Can you tell us more about the beginnings of CU Asia?
"CU Asia came about through a desire to connect with other community builders, as we started the first one in 2014 and the coworking industry was considerably smaller. We initially invited spaces from Indonesia only, but more people heard about it and asked to come. Before we knew it we had 105 participants from 15 countries or so. We had founder of spaces like Hub Singapore and Hub Melbourne, Conclave in Jakarta, Hubba and Kohub in Thailand and many others. We also had corporate attendees like Standard Charter who were looking for solutions to some of their real estate questions.
We invited people we liked and were excited about spending more time with, and it was (and still is) a very community oriented event."
2. What were your takeaways from the first ever CU Asia event?
"We learned that there are a lot of people that shared out motivation to create a more connected and purpose-driven world! We also learned that coworking operators are largely community people...we work continuously at creating community for our members. From time to time, we need to connect in with OUR community for inspiration, support and shared learnings."
3. What role does the community play in this event?
Each year the conference grows, although we try to limit YOY growth to about 10-15%. Sometimes scale ruins things. Part of what our community has fed back to us over the years about CU Asia is that they love how intimate it feels. We work hard at that, through location choice, program elements and our general approach to hospitality during the event. And size does matter...last year was about 350 people and it becomes harder to meet everyone. We have no interest in it becoming a massive exhibition type event.
4. How do you see the coworking industry evolving in the next few years?
Everything is speeding up, and in some markets coworking feels more like a fundraising race than the organic (but rapid) growth we have seen over the past 5 years. We are moving into the first rounds of exits, mergers and closures; the stakes are getting harder. I hope coworking retains it soul because it is that which makes the industry unique. If we lose that, we lose the thing which propelled the growth in the first place!
As a conference organizer, one of my three goals in doing CU Asia is to amplify enthusiasm. We can focus on technical content delivery, and the obvious networking function and event like this provides. But I want to use the opportunity to reinforce the basic idea that coworking is, at it core, the opportunity to make people feel more connected, passionate and happy. That is what success feels like to me.
5. There are only a couple of weeks leading up to this year’s CU Asia event, what are you the most excited about?
As always, the people! It is a rich, exciting and wild community and I love our annual meetup, as well as the opportunity to meet people entering the sector for the first time. Plus, I’m excited to be in beautiful Goa!