A LOT of entrepreneurs end up with their business ideas as a result of looking for something that they needed for themselves. This was the case with Angie Chin, co-founder of Malaysia’s first and only women’s co-working space.
As a mother of an 11-year-old, she found that it wasn’t easy for her to find a place to do her work while having to care for her child. So she decided to do something about it and started HelloHERA Hub, a co-working space for women located at Q Sentral in KL Sentral.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE HELLOHERA?
HelloHERA was conceived out of the aspiration to provide a safe, reasonably-priced and conducive place for both women and mums to work from.
It’s a quaint, open-space boutique work-and-event space where everyone can sit anywhere they wish to work. Children above 5 are welcome too.
HOW DID THE IDEA FOR HELLOHERA COME TO YOU?
It was my own personal experience that drove me to set up HelloHERA Hub. I used to have to leave my 10-year-old daughter at a small waiting area of a co-working space because of their no-children policy.
Also, because it’s so expensive to organise women meet-ups at event spaces these days, I thought, why not come up with one that’s reasonable?
Then I realised that there are also women who are in need of a private place where they can express milk or simply remove their hijab to cool themselves when the weather is hot. They can’t do all this at the mass co-working space where men are around.
HOW DO YOU PREVENT SMALL KIDS CHILDREN FROM BEING DISRUPTIVE TO OTHER PEOPLE WORKING THERE?
We usually have mothers agree to minding their children and ensuring they’re not disruptive.
In the future, we hope to have an adjacent room where mothers can bring children below 5 to work with them.
DO YOU HAVE ANY direct COMPETITORS IN THE KLANG VALLEY?
There are no direct competitors in the Klang Valley. In fact, we’re the first to launch a women-centric co-working space in the nation. Malaysia.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU OFFER BESIDES SPACE FOR WOMEN TO WORK?
Other than the female-centric space, we strive to curate content through our in-house events that would will benefit our target demographic – women who run small businesses or those who’d like to explore entrepreneurship.
We also help connect women with mentors and service providers. So far, our collaboration has been with MaGic. Soon, we’ll explore other agencies to work together with.
ARE MEN ALLOWED IN UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES?
Yes, men are allowed to attend public events as these are open to all. Also, if they’re part of a project run by one of our women customers, they can come to attend meetings.
In the event that there are women using our space when male visitors happen to come for a meeting, we’ll first notify these women and seek their permission. Most of the time, there are no objections.
WHAT ARE YOUR RATES?
For working space, we charge a RM25 flat-rate per day, weekly at RM161, two weeks at RM280 and monthly at RM345.
BY NOT REQUIRING MEMBERSHIP, THE PAYMENT IS EASIER FOR USERS. HOWEVER, DO YOU RISK NOT BEING ABLE TO BUILD UP A COMMUNITY WHEN IT’S PAY-AND-USE?
We’d already created the community before we started HelloHERA Hub.
I wanted to offer women an ease-of-use option when it came to payment. They just pay for what they need. That doesn’t mean we won’t offer a membership option in the future.
DO YOU PLAN TO BUILD MORE CENTRES OR BRANCHES?
Yes, someday. It will be within the city area where it’s heavily populated by “womenpreneurs” and freelancers. Those are our target demographics.
WHAT’S THE MOST CHALLENGING THING ABOUT RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS?
This is a new concept here so awareness is still low. So a lot of promotion is needed.
As we’re operating on a lean model, we have to leverage on free marketing channels like social media and our collaboration with partners.
HOW HAS BUSINESS BEEN SO FAR?
Well, we’re less than five months into the business so there’s still a lot of awareness to raise.
But we’re positive about the direction we’ve taken. It’s a good concept and it addresses a market need.
WHAT’S A TYPICAL DAY LIKE FOR YOU?
I’m usually at the hub when I don’t have outside appointments and meetings.
My typical day would be to attend to e-mails and social media enquiries, read-up on news relating to the co-working space industry, reach out to potential collaboration partners, do research on new workshop ideas, design collaterals and explore new marketing ideas.
ARE YOU WORKING ON ANY OTHER PROJECTS?
I’m compiling a coffee table book about inspirational women in Asia, for example, someone like Nicol David.
I’m also working on a fintech platform for women but that’s still in the early stages.