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THE INVESTOR
June 21, 2018
Big Reunion

Startups & Investors

[INTERVIEW] EV Hive, the epicenter of Indonesia’s coworking space war

  • PUBLISHED :March 30, 2018 - 09:16
  • UPDATED :March 30, 2018 - 13:48
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[THE INVESTOR] JAKARTA -- EV Hive, Indonesia’s local coworking space chain, is growing at breakneck speed. Founded in 2015 and joined by three Wharton Business School alumni in 2017, the company has grown from two spaces hosting 120 tenants in 2015 to a little shy of 3,000 tenants at 19 locations in three Indonesian cities as of now.

“As the startup community began to grow, so did the demand for coworking space. We just knew we wanted to preoccupy this market and contribute any way we can to create a sort of technology hub for these entrepreneurs,” Choi Jai-yoo, chief strategy officer of EV Hive, told The Investor in Jakarta earlier this month.

 

Jakarta-based coworking space EV Hive Co-founder and CSO Choi Jai-yoo
Park Ga-young/The Investor



Choi, a music producer-turned-financier, is one of the three Wharton alumni. After helping the debut of famous Korean hip-hop group Epik High in the early 2000s, he worked for investment banking and management consulting in Korea.

Attracted by the huge growth potential of the world’s fourth-most populous country, Choi moved to Indonesia to work at a private equity firm after receiving his MBA at the Wharton School. Choi and his two co-founders -- CEO Carlson Lau and Chief Financial Officer Jason Lee -- discovered the wonders of coworking back in early 2017 when they decided to invest in a local coworking space firm in Indonesia and join as its C-level management team.

“Jakarta has very serious traffic issues. If you have two meetings a day, it would take all day. So it’s important to be at a convenient location, but then there’s the issue of high rent, so we thought we would try to remedy the situation,” Choi said.

Thanks to its aggressive push, EV Hive has outnumbered all its local rivals such as Kolega and UnionSpace which have less than 10 coworking spaces in Indonesia.

 

Indonesia’s Communication and Informatics Minister Rudiantara speaks at the launching event of EV Hive’s 17th co-working space on March 7.
Park Ga-young/The Investor


But it may be too early to rejoice, since competition is expected to get fiercer.

According to industry sources in Singapore and Indonesia who are familiar with the matter, WeWork’s Indonesia debut is imminent. The company plans to launch its first office in Jakarta as early as this year, they said.

Despite it, EV Hive remains confident. “If WeWork comes to Indonesia, it could be a threat or opportunity for us. But there are not enough coworking spaces here and WeWork’s presence will educate more Indonesians about coworking space and eventually help make the pie bigger just like it did in Korea,” Choi noted.

EV Hive also offers a friendlier image -- both in terms of monthly fees and brand image -- than its competitors and plans to provide the widest network, according to Choi. “We’re trying many events and ideas so that we can provide the best community experience to our members.”

In the long run, EV Hive aims to become the most influential and well-networked coworking space in the Southeast Asian region.

But further expansion overseas will be on hold until next year because EV Hive wants to first cement its leading position in Indonesia. The company, which had initial funding from East Ventures and Indonesia’s conglomerate Sinar Mas Group, is currently raising Series A round from many Asian countries including Korea.

By Park Ga-young and Ahn Sung-mi (gypark@heraldcorp.com, sahn@heraldcorp.com)


This story was sponsored by the Samsung Press Foundation. - Ed.

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