Adapt or Die: A SPACE and the Innovation Community

We’ve all got our tiny nook, our own little station, under the sun. This much is true. Most are content being spokes in the wheel of commerce and industry, of being country-mouse pawns in a big-city game — and we tip our hats off to them — but a silent minority made up troublemakers, of disruptors, of rabble-rousers, is slowly amassing and changing the world, one small idea at a time.

They’re certainly no felons, but in the eyes of the margarita-sipping status quo, they might as well be. They are, in a nutshell, what we call innovators, and they operate in multifarious fields — creative, technological, business — with, tragically, no place to call their home. While people from the conventional community are perched comfortably in mahogany-panelled or hospital-white offices, swathed in their unflinching routines, the innovators remain in the margins. This void is what the coworking revolution has been addressing for the last couple of years, and what leading hub A SPACE (Makati, Fort BGC and Cebu) is continuously advancing in. “This space is creating a kind of crossroads for the innovation community, and it isn’t just happening in Manila, or in the Philippines. It’s worldwide. There’s a whole global tribe of awesome people trying to do amazing things in the face of a very protective conventional community. In A SPACE, you’ll see all those people come together,” CEO Matt Morrison beams.

It is not an us-versus-them kind of vibe that A SPACE is attempting to foster, but they are, nevertheless, leading the charge, shaking things up without feeling the need to knock things down. “The conventional community is all about protecting what they have, mitigating risk, keeping steady,” Morrison further offers, “and A SPACE exists because the startups and the innovative thinkers are the future, and if we can empower them, enable them to come together, access shared resources, it means that they can do a hell of a lot more with their talent than they otherwise would have a chance to do.” Whether it’s a painter or photographer with an off-kilter exhibit, a chef trying out a funky new menu, a spiffy transportation app looking to brainstorm, A SPACE is the space, among a handful of others eating dust in its wake in terms of vitality and imagination. “Coworking is a philosophy; it’s also a label that you can apply to certain kinds of office layouts; and it’s also a trend, a lot of people are talking about it,” Morrison posits on the anti-establishment movement that has slowly, almost methodically, been stripped of its original philosophy by bandwagoners and opportunists. He shrugs a what-can-you-do shrug, recoils, and proclaims that in the space he runs, “Coworking is not just office space; in fact office space is probably second down the list of what it really is, in essence.”

The coworking-space proposition is certainly a godsend to creatives and startups alike, offering shorter and more flexible lease agreements, and at the same time providing amenities a small office would otherwise have to apply (and unspool tons of red tape) for. A coworking space basically takes the commercial-realty load off their shoulders. A SPACE is best-value realty because, while other locations may have ace serviced-office mojo, they really fail to go beyond that, a box in someone elses’ office. A SPACE, on the other hand, is not just a next generation serviced office — otherwise tagged as executive suite, business center, executive center, or what-have-you — it is a true pro-innovator, pro-startup crossroads which boasts of a short-but-storied existence so far, hosting event space for such entities as news site Rappler or the US Embassy, and work space for the design platform Canva, the Kickstarter.-backed Quickfire Games, the people behind the Malasimbo Arts and Music Festival, and also the team that moves + shake the successful cab-booking app, Grab Taxi. “Within the space itself, when we’ve got new people coming in, what we try to do is say to them, ‘When you come in, you’ll find a space for you.’ And the house rules, or the culture of the space, is we respect your desire to do whatever you want within a community you feel part of” A SPACE’s big boss proudly states, stressing the importance of adaptability in design, space management, and fleixble layout in the nooks they offer to clients with varying needs.  

Their biggest of three spaces is in Greenbelt Makati, which serves at least 350 coworkers each day — and tons more during events and meetings — is the unconventional answer to a staggeringly commonplace conundrum for displaced innovators: where to? “

A SPACE is designed to dazzle and stimulate, to relax and empower, and to cultivate connections among the most innovative members of our global tribe. It started because no one else was doing it, and the conventional work space options we had sucked.” More than just free, fast, and reliable internet (yes, almost mythical, we know); free liquids; free printing — all awesome offerings from the onset, true — A SPACE promises a better big-picture advantage: a (curated) community.