Home for 'hubbers who want to make a difference'

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam sharing a light moment with Ms Grace Sai, founder and chief executive of The Hub, at the launch of the centre for start-ups on Tuesday. He said start-ups had a role to play in speeding Asean integrati
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam sharing a light moment with Ms Grace Sai, founder and chief executive of The Hub, at the launch of the centre for start-ups on Tuesday. He said start-ups had a role to play in speeding Asean integration, and that the regional bloc will also allow entrepreneurs to flourish by serving as a hinterland for them.ST PHOTO: SHAWN TEO

Start-ups will find collaboration and support easier now that they are under one roof

Visitors can feel the buzz the moment they enter The Hub Singapore at 128 Prinsep Street, newly launched on Tuesday night.

Open-air spaces where staff from various companies mingle, a stylish cafe, and rooms for tired souls to nap comprise Singapore's largest entrepreneurial community, which used to be in Somerset.

It feels more like a hangout spot than a working space. But it is home to more than 200 start-ups, affectionately called "hubbers", who want to make a difference in the world, and who have proved more than capable of doing so.

Ms Grace Sai, founder and chief executive of The Hub, said large corporations - including Deloitte, JP Morgan and DBS Bank - are increasingly working with its start-ups.

COMMUNITY BONDS

The most helpful thing here is the community and the mentorship.

MR JONATHAN FAYNOP, co-founder and CEO of hawker.today, a digital hawker food delivery service

She also said the hubbers have individually raised more than $40 million since The Hub was founded 31/2 years ago.

She is setting up The Hub Alumni Fund to grant start-ups easier funding and mentorship. So far, it has raised $300,000, and aims to hit $500,000 to $1 million by year end.

"There are two groups of people in the world: the first group adapts to reality and the second group changes reality," she said. "The people we attract here at The Hub come from the second group."

A key feature of this space is collaboration, and it is greatly appreciated by the member firms.

Mr Jonathan Faynop, co-founder and CEO of hawker.today, a digital hawker food delivery service, said: "The most helpful thing here is the community and the mentorship."

His company uses the services of Braintree, an electronics payment firm also within The Hub, and he said he could just walk over to its office to ask for help when needed.

The Asia-Pacific director of strategy and business for Mashable, Ms Gwendolyn Regina, agrees.

Mashable, a digital media website with 42 million monthly readers, moved into The Hub because of the strong ties between the start-ups. "You feel like you're part of something bigger," she stated simply.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam, who attended the launch, said start-ups had a role to play in speeding Asean integration. "There is a growing middle class who will be able to consume at a higher level. The Internet is making it possible for you to provide services across borders to people who need these services," he said.

Asean will also allow entrepreneurs to flourish, he added, by serving as a hinterland for them.

He ended by saying that the Government's role was in creating a supportive environment and stable legal framework in which these companies could thrive.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2015, with the headline 'Home for 'hubbers who want to make a difference''. Print Edition | Subscribe