Steve Munroe is the Co-founder & CEO of Hubud – a coworking space and community that’s leading the global movement of location independence in business.
Human Asia eagerly spoke to Steve recently.
Tell us briefly about Hubud.
Steve: Hubud is a community co-working space; a collaborative shared office space in Ubud, Bali. We have about 200 people form 30 countries that are here working on their startups, freelancing, working remotely or creating other products they are selling worldwide.
How did the idea come about and why set up a co-working space in Bali?
Steve: Ubud was an unusual choice, for sure! When we started five years ago, many people told us it was a crazy idea…”no one wants to come to Bali to work”.
I think: If you can, why WOULDN’T you want to work in Bali? In many ways cities are becoming less appealing to live in with very high costs of living, pollution and commute times. If your work allows you to be flexible in the location, Bali is a perfect place to be productive while also enjoying a healthy and enjoyable quality of life.
What’s the main difference between Hubud and other co-working spaces in Bali?
Steve: We put 100% focus on the community, and support people in how they can be successful in their lives. We make sure they can have meaningful connections with other members and with the local community in Bali. And we organize a huge number of learning events, over 440 last year alone. It is a constant opportunity for learning and growth. Plus we are a bamboo office and have monkeys come to visit, so that’s different.
How is the local startup scene in Bali right now?
Steve: I think the startup scene is still small but growing. Bali has its own character so it is not like other markets, like Jakarta, Tokyo, Singapore, etc. , and it never will or should be. People here are creating successful businesses, but it does not have that same brutal ‘shark tank’ atmosphere, which is a good thing. People live a full and meaningful life here.
Do you see co-working spaces or remote working as part of a viable future?
The advantages of working remotely are many such as : flexibility, convenience, cost effectiveness for freelancers and small businesses, and it makes entrepreneurs less lonely, by allowing them to connect with their tribe.
What are Hubud plans in the near future?
Steve: We are looking at expanding into other ‘destinations’ to create a base for people who are travelling and working, and are currently exploring investment options.
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Steve, what did you do before you started Hubud?
Steve: I was working for the United Nations for ten years, in countries like Cambodia (clearing landmines), Sri Lanka (Tsunami relief) and Sudan (disarmament). I am Canadian.
Besides Bali, what is your favourite destination in Asia for business and relaxation?
Steve: Relaxing: Penang. It is an incredibly interesting place, great art and creative scene, cultural history and, of course, food. It is a fun city to get lost in.
Who has been your biggest inspiration on your journey so far?
Steve: My wife Renee. She is an incredible partner in both business and marriage, always asks big questions and is never afraid to bring the ‘heart’ into any conversation.
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If you could start again, what would you do differently?
Steve: Great question! I did a Masters degree in Human Rights and Democratization. I would do an MBA! I would also spend less time worrying about things I cannot change.
Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to begin a start-up?
Steve: Get some people around you, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
You can visit Hubud at https://hubud.org/
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