Coworking Comes Together At CU Asia

Coworking Unconference Asia 2018 (CU Asia) took place in the vibrant city of Penang, Malaysia (Image credit: CU Asia)


  • The 2018 CU Asia workspace conference took place in Penang, Malaysia, in February. 
  • The coworking conference was organized by the Coworking Alliance of Asian Pacific (CAAP) in conjunction with Hubud and Paper & Toast.
  • More than 300 people from 40 countries attended the workspace event, which included an unconference, an academy, and workshops.

Colorful connections characterized Coworking Unconference Asia 2018 (CU Asia) held in the colorful and vibrant city of Penang, Malaysia February 7 to 11.

Presented by the Coworking Alliance of Asian Pacific (CAAP) in conjunction with Hubud, and Paper and Toast, the event attracted 324 people from 40 different countries who engaged in content and activities including Spotlight Malaysia, Coworking Academy and The Unconference Day.

“CU Asia was an insightful and inspiring experience for not only the coworking operators but for all who attended,” reported Alison Gunn, Business Development Manager at Australia’s Meeting Hub.

“The collaboration between operators, suppliers and interested bystanders was invaluable for anyone with a remote interest in coworking. CU Asia was able to capture the knowledge and passion from experienced operators and share that with the whole room; it was infectious.”Attendees learned how the Government, local agencies and tourism have contributed to the
successful rise of coworking in Malaysia.

Carsten Foertsch of DeskMag presented Asia-focused highlights from the Global Coworking Survey in his keynote talk. The average coworking space in Asia holds 73 members and takes 4.2 months to start up but 17 months to breakeven, Foertsch shared.

Revenues from meeting and event spaces in Asia coworking spaces are 30%, significantly above the global average of 18%, reported Foertsch. Revenues from private offices and desks are relatively comparable at 27% from private offices and 26% from renting desks.

Other keynote topics included community hacking; collaboration between coworking spaces; and adapting to change. Prospective coworking operators and start-ups attended the Coworking Academy to learn fundamentals from experienced operators. Themes included how to curate a community; growing the community before the space; online marketing essentials; forming profitable partnerships; community engagement; finances; operations and events.

The agenda for the unconference was spontaneously generated by attendees. Joy Taylor from Canvas Coworking addressed challenges faced by coworking spaces to attract and foster women entrepreneurs, while other topics included creative revenue streams to support coworking businesses, how technology can support a start-up, and leveraging partnerships.

The unconference ended with a closing party at Hin Bus Depot for a night of fun, networking and dancing, highlighted by the announcement of next year’s CU Asia location: Goa, India.

The event attendees included established coworking spaces such as 91 Springboard, Common Ground and Impact Hub; recently opened spaces such as Bersama; and soon to be opened spaces such as Catalyst Phuket. Coliving was also represented with spaces such as Angkor Hub; and Executive Offices were represented by CEO Suite. In addition to coworking spaces, attendees also included booking platforms Cowork 7×24 and GorillaSpace; and meeting room management platform Meeting Hub.

Special thanks to Steve Golding, founder, and Alison Gunn, business development manager, of Meeting Hub for their contributions to this article.
Image: CU Asia Facebook

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