Just when we thought we’ve found them all, more co-working spaces have emerged to serve entrepreneurs who need a nice working environment but can’t afford a full-fledged office, which is expensive in land scarce Singapore.
Kennel, which brands itself as a “collaborative workspace” for creative entrepreneurs, is one such place. Nestled within the quaint, old world confines of Dempsey Hill and fronting a lush tropical forest, the co-working, or rather, collaborative workspace feels almost like a rejuvenative retreat for weary old souls.
Except that when I visited, Kennel was buzzing with activity and the chatter of energetic young people.
“There’s quite a diversity of people here. A few of them are startups, but the rest consists mainly of professionals who need a nice place to work and meet clients,” said Ho Renyung, Kennel’s co-founder, while showing me around.
I asked her to explain the curious choice for a name.
“We want to emphasise our view that we are all weird and wonderful individual species and that we embrace this diversity. Kennel also conveys a name that is fun, playful, and safe,” she said.
Indeed, Kennel is somewhat of a zoo.
Mark Wee and Ken Yuktasevi, the other co-founders of Kennel, founded its parent company UNION Experience, a design thinking school and innovation lab which focuses on encouraging multi-disciplinary collaboration and designing user experiences for organizations. Now, they head up anexperience design studio at Ong&Ong.
Ren, on the other hand, worked for three years in the hospitality industry at Banyan Tree Resorts before striking out on her own.
Occupying the desks at Kennel are people whose backgrounds resist definition — photographers, advertisers, social media strategists, interior designers, business consultants, and social entrepreneurs, where more than one of these labels apply.
I met briefly with John Roberts, founder of Heal the World, an organization which focuses on education in West Africa and South-east Asia. His flagship project, The University of West Africa, is an online university that provides lectures from iTunes University through smartphones.
He was working at Kennel but will soon be moving to West Africa.
Ren continued: “We want to attract people in portfolio careers because we understand that the nature of work is changing. It’s becoming project oriented; no one wants to be desk bound; work and life is no longer segmented. So, Kennel serves as an enabling environment for them.”
The co-working space did struck me as being like some sort of enclave. Similar to Hackerspace, Kennel is defined by the people and the activities they organize. But while the former is home to alpha geeks and technologists, the latter feels more like a bohemian community of eclectics and creatives.
Unique to Kennel is the idea that every member, or Kennelist, must contribute a certain amount of KBh (Knowledge Bank hours) of their skillsets or talents per month to the whole community. Those can be in the form of workshops, lectures, or other activities.
And like all the other co-working spaces, multiple membership options are available, from a Day Pass to Communal and finally Resident (more details here).
They also host regular Kennel Nights, which has the simple aim of getting people together for a meaningful conversation revolving around a theme.
Here’s how they describe their latest:
“This week at Kennel its about human leadership and what that looks like. What powers social influence in the 21st century given the changing context of our communication infrastructure? What makes people want to follow? What is truly transformational versus purely transactional?”
Other alternatives: Startups@Sultan
If driving to Dempsey Hill is not your thing, another option you may want to check out is Startups@Sultan, which is walking distance away from Bugis MRT, Lavender MRT, and Nicoll Highway MRT. It’s currently accepting applications for their membership schemes, which start at S$30/day for a Day Pass to up to S$420/month for a Dedicated Pass.
Also check out our Google Map of all co-working spaces in Singapore:
View Co-working spaces – SGE in a larger map
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