“Your meeting begins from the moment you leave home,” writes Sally Hogshead in The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Business Travel in 2018. As an entrepreneur on a work trip, seizing every potential business opportunity that comes your way is crucial.
To accomplish such feat, you need to look beyond your scheduled meetings for the trip and check out potential start-up communities or ecosystems within the locale where you can connect and network with possible partners or suppliers.
Imagine having instant access to this community within the confines of your hotel — this is exactly the thinking that went on behind Vikram Bharati’s Tribe Theory, a Singapore-based hotel geared towards start-up entrepreneurs. While backpacking for two years to over 50 countries and staying in hostels, Bharati wanted to create that same affordable, community-driven space, but this time for business-minded travelers keen on getting things done and being on the lookout for the next big opportunity.
Industry insights provided by Smith Travel Research reveal that economy hotel chains represent only 3% of the total hotels in Southeast Asia, lagging behind Japan (10%) and China (44%). With the region’s burgeoning start-up ecosystem pooling in $6.5 billion in disclosed equity funding in 2017, Tribe Theory has a massive gap to fill, as the need for start-up, entrepreneur-focused accommodations has effectively created a new category in the region’s hospitality industry.
Tribe Theory officially launched last March 1, when it hosted a backyard event that saw more than a hundred entrepreneurs and ecosystem builders connecting over shared experiences in the start-up community. During its three-month pre-launch period, the hotel venture lodged over 500 global entrepreneurs from over 40 countries.
“Staying at Tribe Theory has helped me not only connect with other entrepreneurs who’ve helped me with my business but also make friends with others on a similar journey,” says Australian entrepreneur Daniel Liang, founder, and CEO of Qnect, who stayed in the hotel while raising a round of funding.
Liang even extended his three-night stay to a week because he found the space to be a melting pot from which innovative ideas are shared and business networks are expanded because of the like-minded business travelers staying there. Events are also held at the loft for entrepreneurs. “[There’s] a real working environment. Other people working rather socializing at a hostel is rare, but Tribe has made it happen,” says Liang.
The REAPRA-backed venture hotel prices its single capsule rooms at $35 during the week and $45 during weekends. “REAPRA believes in self-actualizing entrepreneurship that draws upon an individual’s reason for existence, unique experiences, and vision of the future. Vikram has been involved in many start-ups and venture investments throughout the world which has equipped him with the insights and empathy to understand the hipsters, hackers, and hustlers who are his consumers and partners,” shares Dennis Ye, research lead at venture builder and investment group REAPRA.
To achieve the venture builder’s goals in the Southeast Asian start-up ecosystem, Ye points out that Tribe Theory and Bharati, a former employee heading investments for REAPRA, is a perfect fit for the investment group’s multidimensional hands-on support. “Vikram is the ideal entrepreneur to create this new hybrid category of venture hotels and build a strong network and brand based on location and design. Investing in Tribe Theory is part of our broader strategy to create innovative and sustainable models for supporting the regional start-up ecosystem in Southeast Asia,” relates Ye.
“Singapore’s Tribe Theory Venture Hotel is our prototype which has proven demand for the concept, and is fully booked for the next month,” says Bharati. “We envision a home-grown hotel chain brand for Southeast Asia and aim to open in at least two more locations this year in cities across Southeast Asia, with eight to 10 venues within the next two years.”
REAPRA is an investor in Sycamore Media Holdings, which publishes Inc. Southeast Asia.