Impact Hub Singapore has been an iconic co-working space in Singapore to our eyes. It was one of the very first one that rose to prominence before co-working space was a craze. It had a fundamental value proposition, which was not just space, it is/was community that it possessed in Singapore and indirectly, through the Impact Hub network.
First, Impact Hub is a global network of hubs which foster entrepreneurship, idea incubation, business development and offers co-working spaces.
Second, Impact Hub Singapore is part of the aforementioned network and has grown into a well-established co-working space with 3 locations (in 2018) across Singapore. It has also scaled up and created numerous projects. Some of which,
- A fund to co-invest in young companies;
- An innovation programme which also connected corporate to startups, help corporate to undergo innovation cycle;
- An internship programme, which connected startups to both local and foreign talents (Universities from all over the world);
- Many, many events which help to foster the community focus.
Third, Impact Hub Singapore has officially renamed to Found. in 2018 which is a word play with connection to "Founders" or perhaps, the meaning is to "start".
Now, what about Impact Hub Singapore's new name?
It appears to be a combination of rebranding, branching out & becoming a very own network, and finally, evolving the business model to reflect the changes and flavours of the local and regional (Southeast Asian) landscape.
As of April 2018, Grace Sai - the co-founder of Impact Hub Singapore shared on Facebook:
Over the course of 6 years, we have built a community of 2,500 members and alumni who have collectively created more than 4,500 jobs, have a combined revenue of $1bn and raised more than $380 million. As a team and community, we have also helped more than 75 corporates in their innovation agendas. We also became Google for Entrepreneurs' first Southeast Asian partner.
We could personally attest for that. We've been regulars at Found. (formerly Impact Hub Singapore) and seeing its organizational growth as well as community impact. In 2015, we hosted hackathon (Angelhack) at the Hub, a massive success at that time.
We believe that the high-growth SEA region with a population of 650 million and a fast-developing innovation economy needs curated ecosystems that bring together the entrepreneurs, thought leaders, disruptors, rebels, corporate and government leaders.
Pascal has previously been travelling around Southeast Asia and consumed massive number of reports on this region's opportunities and challenges. There is no doubt that the "sense of belonging" in fostering a curated community as part of a broader ecosystem is a strong value proposition.
Found. is a network of innovation studios where ambitious entrepreneurs and corporates find coaching, expertise, and partners to create future-ready solutions.
Unfortunately, this is a bunch of big words, not to say that Found.'s team is without substance. The fancy words will need to be proven outside of Singapore where one's success might not be easily transplanted overseas...
Image Credit: Found.
Interesting play and exciting opportunity
Found. is a network of innovation studios - This is a broad statement from our understanding so far and as per previous paragraph, it does not mean much unless proven otherwise. In the recent 6 years since they started, there has been numerous "startup studio", "startup factory", "innovation studio" and the likes mushrooming in Singapore and in Southeast Asia. We are pointing out heavily on the term 'innovation' studio for being over-used and over-rated in Singapore.
We believe that in Southeast Asia, the goals of an innovation studio should be to,
- expand its operations within 2-3 focus countries (e.g. Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand or any other combination of Southeast Asian countries) within a span of 1-2 years.
- embed itself within the expansion's communities from corporate, investors, entrepreneurs
- develop strategic perspective with respect to target startup build, e.g.,
- focus on AI in one country, and fintech in another to be horizontally capable, or,
- focus on agritech across all its expansions and be vertical expert.
Whether Found. will be capable to build a differentiating advantage in other countries where it will launch is unclear.
Found. Business Model Innovation
At this point, we are curious to know as well, but we could guess...
Found. (formerly Impact Hub Singapore) will likely retain its business model that rely on,
- offering co-working space and virtual memberships. The latter is amazing as it offers a Monthly/Annual Recurring Revenue (MRR/ARR) a la SaaS business model...
- scaling up its corporate innovation programme and perhaps, expanding or focusing its offering to corporate by enabling them to tackle financially rewarding issues pertaining to a specific market. This would entail deep market & industry expertise, which could usually be acquired by hosting local innovators...
- Strengthen its community impact by becoming a one-stop shop for innovation activities ranging from events to workshops (offline) and taking a hyper active stance on online communities. In Singapore, the Found. (formerly Impact Hub Singapore) maintained a decently active private Facebook group for its members. It could perhaps try to replicate the same by having its own platform (but competing with Facebook Groups)...
There is a strong chance that Found. will go on to raise another round to fuel its overseas expansion given its last round was in 2015...approximately SGD 1.5 million. To their benefit as a lively community, they should have solid financials with their membership of about 2500...this translate in a minimum revenue of SGD 750,000 per annum based on its "Connect" membership fee of SGD 300 per year. Found. sells other membership package and ventured into new programmes to generate additional sources of revenue.
Where does Found. move next?
The usual suspects are Thailand and Indonesia. We would like to see Vietnam as an expansion as it would fit one fundamental feature of typical innovation studio: lots of software developers. This is not to say that Indonesia (i.e. Bandung) is not a hive for software developers.
Regardless of where they go next, the excitement and opportunity is right there...