Five questions about... Collision 8

Collision 8 founders Michelle Yong and John Tan. Collision 8 is different from other co-working spaces in that it is a private members' club. "We select members on two criteria: their desire to innovate, and their desire to collaborate," says Ms Yong
Collision 8 founders Michelle Yong and John Tan. Collision 8 is different from other co-working spaces in that it is a private members' club. "We select members on two criteria: their desire to innovate, and their desire to collaborate," says Ms Yong.ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

It is certainly no stuffy office - this workspace has a bar, library and panoramic views of Marina Bay Sands, Boat Quay and Fort Canning Park. Collision 8 will be the newest co-working space on the block when it officially opens on Aug 1. The 8,600 sq ft space on the eighth floor of High Street Centre was started by Michelle Yong, 37, fourth-generation leader at construction conglomerate Woh Hup, and serial entrepreneur John Tan, 34. Chia Yan Min speaks to them about the new facility and future plans.

Q What made you decide to start Collision 8?

MS YONG I'm a property developer specialising in the residential market, which has been flat in the last few years because of property cooling measures. I was looking for new growth opportunities and I came across the idea of co-working space.

I found it intriguing but realised that the space was already a bit crowded with over 40 players in the market.

I was looking for a point of differentiation, and the initial idea was to create a co-working space for healthcare professionals like osteopaths, physiotherapists and personal trainers.

But John suggested targeting the start-up and investor community.

Q What makes Collision 8 different from other co-working spaces?

MS YONG We're a private members' club, which is different from other co-working spaces.

We select members on two criteria: their desire to innovate, and their desire to collaborate.

How we define innovation is very broad: it's not just tech or digital. For us, it's more about wanting to do things differently and try new things, preferably in partnership with others.

We also own this space, unlike most other co-working spaces which rent and then sub-lease.

Q How much traction have you got so far?

MS YONG We already have over 70 members and are in discussions with about 200 more. We have partnerships with about 40 companies providing a range of services at discounted rates for our members.

The space will also be supporting some innovation-centric conferences in the coming months. MR TAN Some of the best developers in Singapore who live just across the river have already started working out of this space. It's great because these guys are crucial to innovation.

Q How did your partnership start?

MS YONG We both worked together 10 years ago as consultants.

My expertise is in property development, so I helped find the space and develop it.

John brings his investor network and he's also a serial entrepreneur. MR TAN I co-founded Frolick, one of the first frozen yogurt brands to open in Singapore.

A friend of mine started Chope (a restaurant reservation booking platform), and I was part of a group of investors who were the first to invest in the company about five years ago. That was how I got into tech.

I now manage two microfunds and have invested in RedMart and NinjaVan among others.

I'm also the chief executive of coding school Saturday Kids - some of our classes will be held in Collision 8.

Q What are your future plans?

MS YONG We want to give Collision 8 members better food and beverage options, so we're starting a cafe downstairs.

We're also looking to expand and acquire more space within High Street Centre.

In addition, we're keen on growing the innovation community across the region by working with affiliates or opening up more Collision 8 spaces.

Separately, I've always been interested in retirement resorts.

I've recently been introduced to two other family businesses - one is a private nursing home operator and the other is a hospital owner and operator.

We've started preliminary discussions to explore setting up a retirement resort.

I'm also exploring opportunities in co-living, which is another idea that came out of conversations around Collision 8.

The idea is to create a hybrid student dormitory-cum-serviced apartment concept, and building a community of young professionals who are transient but don't want to be isolated living in a hotel or serviced apartment.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2016, with the headline 'Five questions about... Collision 8'. Print Edition | Subscribe