Spinning off a startup (3): naked Group

The company leans heavily on four core competencies – hospitality, offline desig(Third of three installments)

Startups are the game changers of the digital economy. But the appetite for entrepreneurship is not the only thing that sets them apart. It’s their bold, innovative spirit and out-of-the-box thinking that led many of them to reshape entire industries.

Now a number of traditional companies are taking a page out of their playbook by creating their own startup business aimed to be the sandbox of innovation that could transform their organization for the digital age.

Computerworld Hong Kong talked to three established companies in the city – LKK Health Products Group (LKKHPG), Hung Hing Printing Group and the naked Group – for a first-hand account on how setting up their own startup company has affected their entire organization.

In this third of the three-part series, lifestyle and luxury brand naked Group recounts its own unique journey into the startup world. For the earlier articles in the series, you can click here and here.

Premium co-working space

In the rapidly gentrifying Bonham Strand Street in Sheung Wan, co-working space operator naked Hub opened its first facility in the city in June as part of its rapid expansion in Asia.

The premium co-working space spans 16 floors of a building currently undergoing a full refurbishment. It has a capacity for 800 desks that could be provisioned as hot desks, open offices and private offices. When it opened three months ago, 90% of the space had been occupied. It is the first naked Hub facility outside China, where the company opened its first “hub” in Shanghai in 2016 – 10 months after the company was established the previous year. A second hub in Hong Kong opened this month at New Street in Sheung Wan with a capacity for 400 desks.

The company is on an aggressive expansion plan across the region targeting to establish about 200 hubs by 2020.

“Hong Kong is really important to us. We want to follow the network of our existing users. Hence, our locations in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong – all the most important business centers,” said Dominic Penaloza, chief innovation officer, naked Hub.

The company has been on a tremendous growth spurt in the past three years with a total of 41 hubs currently in operation or under development in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Vietnam. The companies across its network now number over 8,000 with its community of hubbers reaching more than 32,000 members. In 2017, naked Hub has run rate revenue of US$100 million.

But despite the many milestones and achievements in such a short time, naked Hub still considers itself a startup.

“We are still very entrepreneurial. We are still very much a startup,” he said. “naked Hub prides itself on providing a space that promotes collaboration through the latest community building technology and design. But we don’t just provide a place for work; we are also working on integrating more lifestyle concepts into our offering. We are focused on providing the best in hospitality, community, and technology to meet people’s evolving needs.”