In an old factory among the hutongs near Beijing’s city center lies a temple. No, it’s not the kind of temple where you worship deities or pay respects to your ancestors. The people there do wish for longevity and good fortune, though.
This is Tech Temple, Beijing’s biggest coworking space yet. Sponsored by China- and Japan-based VC firm Infinity Ventures Partners, the 1,800 square meter two-story space — about the size of seven tennis courts — has already filled 240 of its 280 seats since opening just last month. Tech Temple boasts an open air office area, event space for up to 100 people, breakout and meeting rooms, a dining area, and a cafe. “The only thing you need to bring is your laptop and you can start working,” says co-founder Akio Tanaka, a VC from Infinity.
Infinity sunk half a million US dollars into the project. Tanaka says his team spent the whole summer renovating the former electronics factory with the help of some French architects. The minimalistic and efficient design looks great, as a result. He says, “I know startup places don’t need to be luxurious, but it also doesn’t need to be a dump.” Tanaka says the atmosphere and location are what have drawn about two dozen Chinese startup teams to the new space. While most tech firms are located in the city’s northwest Zhongguancun district (AKA the Silicon Valley of China), most of the angels and VCs live on the inner east side, so Tech Temple’s central location is ideal.
Infinity Ventures vets every startup on an individual basis, and Tanaka says they prefer people whom they already know. Sometimes they refer to the expertise of local Chinese startup news website 36kr, which has also set up shop there. Tanaka says the space is aimed at early stage internet startups.
The price is 1,500 RMB ($246) per month per seat for a minimum of three months. Startups who stay past their early stage adolescence – more than a year, give or take – will be encouraged to leave and make room for others.
The space does not incubate startups for now, but Tanaka says that’s certainly a possibility in the future. He says he was surprised by how quickly seats were filled, so expansion or opening in more locations are also on the table. Tech Temple’s website will go up next month.
Similar spaces for tech startups in Beijing include:
- Maxpace, Beijing’s premiere maker space.
- Circuitpot, a hackerspace targeted at hardware startups, run by the guys who make the Arduino-like Stargazer chip.
- Garage Cafe, where the only cost is a cup of coffee. Good for short-term bootstrappers.
- AND Lab, for 3D printing startups.
After touring Tech Temple’s facility, I have to agree with Tanaka when he says, “I don’t think people have seen anything like this in Beijing.” Check out the photos below.
Update: Tech Temple’s full address in Chinese is 北京市东城区东四北大街107号天海商务大厦B座107
(Editing by Terence Lee)