From Finland to S'pore: These entrepreneurs are revamping meeting rooms with igloos and swings

From Finland to S'pore: These entrepreneurs are revamping meeting rooms with igloos and swings
PHOTO: Vulcan Post

Coworking spaces have become one by the dozen in Singapore, and each one ramps up the wow factor with more bean bags, more grass lawns, more "Google-like" rooms.

But in all honesty, these places have nothing on HUONE Singapore.

Launched early this year, HUONE Singapore hit the news for their unique working spaces. From an igloo to a model runway, the place is poised as one of the most innovative venues to date.

The Igloo RoomPhoto: sg.asia-city
The Huone CatwalkPhoto: sg.asia-city

Open to both corporates and startups, the venue has already seen major brands like Sephora, Proctor & Gamble, Barclays and NUS come by. And with its novelty, the igloo has definitely been a huge draw.

The HUONE brand stems from Finland, but officially made their way into our little Red Dot, thanks to this local entrepreneur.

A Finnish-Singapore Partnership

Alongside HUONE's co-founders Evon and Jussi Söderlund is Singaporean Joewin Tan.

From left to right, Jussi, Evon and Joewin
Photo: Instarix

A successful entrepreneur with her own event startup, Linear Dots, Joewin shares how she first met HUONE Evon Söderlund at a Starbucks.

With Singapore's reputation as a top MICE city, the Malaysian-born entrepreneur had chosen the red dot as their first international location, and Joewin was roped in as a host.

The Swing RoomPhoto: sg.asia-city

"The supposedly 1-hour Starbucks session turned into a 2-hour intensive session talking about industry trends and partnership. A month later, I flew to Finland to meet Jussi and the rest of the HUONE owners."

"A few minutes into the pitch and the Helsinki music video, I thought, "How come nobody ever thought of this?"

A seasoned entrepreneur, Joewin knew what she was getting herself into. "I was fully prepared for 16-hour work days and sleepless nights."

Running Linear Dots - an event venue startup - gave Joewin insight into what clients what and do not want. People want some place new, different and convenient, but finding suitable location aren't easy.

"I even witnessed clients take matters into their own hands by organising meetings at places like yachts but these places are not conducive for meetings," she shared.

"[And] when we are forced to 'create' such an environment, it often came with a 6-digit price tag [which] is not exactly the most sustainable answer. I knew that HUONE was the answer to what Singapore lacks."

A Money Conundrum

The learning has been steep, she admits, and one of the most unexpected hiccups was about the money. Joewin reveals that they found out about loan requirements here the hard way.

"Despite our good track record in Helsinki and $2 million investment, banks and financial institutions here require at least 6 months of operation before we could take a loan. Because of that, we had to buy our equipment instead of leasing them. This set our cashflow back by a fair bit."

"In Helsinki, we were able to take leasing loans from Day 1 and the Finnish government co-shared the risks with the financial institutions. Fortunately, we were able to overcome this."

The HUONE Singapore teamPhoto: Joewin Tan

Weaving In The Singaporean Spirit

While HUONE Singapore preserves the Finnish identity, Joewin reveals that she also brings something that is distinctly Singaporean to the plate - her kiasu-ness.

"We have our eyes set on a goal - to be located in the top MICE cities in the region. We are dedicated to get there no matter how tough the going gets."

She draws similarities between Finland and Singapore, elaborating that she believes how the merging of the cultures - Singapore's competitiveness and Finland's humility - allows them to better serve customers.

"We offer a fresh take on how meetings should be. Not only are we a creative and flexible space, we also have consultants to provide event advice," Joewin shared with Channel News Asia.

"We like to say that we want people to fall in love with meetings again."

Photo: Huone Singapore Pictaram

A Corporate - Startup Space

Unlike other co-working spaces, Huone doesn't rent rooms or spaces long-term. Instead, the space is angled a place where companies can convene for meetings and conferences.

But Joewin doesn't feel that this will compensate on networking opportunities.

"The beauty of a collaborative meeting venue means having a mix of companies of different sizes […] We would like to think that such a space could spark breakthrough collaborations, " she gushes.

HUONE Singapore might not be the only trendy co-working space in Singapore, but it definitely is one of the coolest. Just take a look at some of these rooms!

So if you're interested in checking out some of the rooms for yourself, why not take a trip down to their space at Clarke Quay?

HUONE Singapore

3D River Valley Road #03-01, 179023

 

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