Once in a while there’s some troubling news in Vietnam’s startup ecosystem – and this is one of those cases. Saigon Hub, a co-working space at the heart of Vietnam’s new wave of startups and events, has closed down temporarily. Several entrepreneur residents at Saigon Hub report that the power has been shut down. In the last few days, Saigon Hub residents have been shuffled over to the Start Center.
Saigon Hub co-founder Chris Zobrist explained to Tech in Asia this afternoon:
“We had a dream of helping to build up the startup ecosystem in Vietnam, and over the past year, we’ve had the privilege of hosting many young entrepreneurs and startup events. We are sad that we could not achieve self-sustainability, but like many entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, we are not afraid of failure, because of the valuable lessons we can learn from it.
In many cultures, failing is unthinkable. But in the real world, every successful entrepreneur has had more than one failure in their past. To be successful requires an open mind, and the ability to admit when you are wrong. It requires humility, and the determination to pick yourself up after falling down, learning from your mistakes, and looking for the next opportunity to make a difference in this world.”
The Start Center was Vietnam’s first official co-working space and also a grandfather to Saigon Hub. But the Start Center’s capacity is far smaller than Saigon Hub, which could host up to 200 people at an event.
But there’s hope
This will be a huge blow to the startup ecosystem in Saigon. Co-working spaces are essential parts of the puzzle for startup ecosystems because they present neutral places for people to meet for working and events – and for visitors to the country to have a jumping off point to the rest of the nation’s tech ecosystem. Saigon Hub fulfilled this role by providing inexpensive space for events and sponsoring groups interested in entrepreneurship to use the space. It also had an ongoing weekly flow of foreigners and Vietnamese people visiting Saigon’s startup scene.
Today, Saigon has three main co-working spaces besides Saigon Hub: Work Saigon, Saigon Co-Working, and the Start Center. Each space is considerably smaller than Saigon Hub and will not be able to host larger community events. At the same time, they do still serve as points of entry for Vietnam’s startup scene. Lu Gia plaza, situated about 30 minutes away from District 1, is also an epicenter of startups and worth visiting for startup tourists.
According to sources at Saigon Hub, the team is currently seeking a new space that is affordable. But it’s unclear if this is feasible. The previous office, although large and spacious, was costly – due in part to its location. Over 40 people were renting space before Saigon Hub closed down and these people may have to find new space if the Start Center cannot handle the pressure of extra guests. Hopefully for the sake of Vietnam’s startup scene, Saigon Hub can get back in gear.