Over the last few years, Phnom Penh has seen a substantial upward trend of co-working office spaces which shifts the traditional office game from singular office buildings to shared spaces that utilise open concepts.
Recently, Raintree Development has brought a different ball game to the traditional view of office occupancy. While it has an open concept that plays on many zones of shared space, it does not identify itself as a co-working office space.
Its specific aims and goals are outlined here by Zoë Ng, managing director of Raintree Development, who shares with Post Property why this latest development will find a comfortable place in the mushrooming office supply in Phnom Penh.
What are the main differences that set Raintree apart from other similar buildings and concepts which house co-working office spaces?
Raintree is the only boutique office in Phnom Penh’s CBD that provides flexible workspace alongside event space, outdoor terraces, balconies, and a curated selection of independent retail. We really designed to serve the changing requirements of fast-growing organisations by providing space to inspire, innovate and collaborate across the whole project. The development also offers a different aesthetic, with use of industrial materials and significant landscaping and greenery. This allows organisations to create and work in a more vibrant and creative workspace.
What triggered the idea for such a specific office development such as yours?
Cambodia has a somewhat unique economy, making it a truly exciting place to be working in. According to the Ministry of Planning, over 98 percent of registered companies are micro-businesses, while 50 percent of the total population are under 25 years old. With such a young demographic and a forcible entrepreneurial spirit, the emergence of start-ups and creative organisations is growing. For these organisations, finding a professional home that fits their organisational needs and culture has been a challenge, so we want Raintree to be the right workspace for them.
Why should entrepreneurs and SMEs choose Raintree over other developments which may offer the same services and spaces?
We have taken a holistic approach to the development, providing small format retail and community spaces to complement the flexible office layouts. This results in spaces to work, meet, and entertain all in the same building, and not just exist as an isolated office space. We also take great consideration of our tenants’ stage of growth and try to be as accommodating as possible in meeting their space requirements. For example, we have done barter exchanges for professional services with selected local SMEs that may not yet be able to afford the premium rental prices in the CBD.
Can you name some of your tenants and what they specialise in?
Our tenants are very diverse in size and industry. Microsoft has launched its first office in Cambodia at Raintree, with a large consumer packaged goods multinational corporation moving in very soon. These global names sit alongside some local creative companies like Alchemy Design Co., who specialise in high-quality, handmade furniture made from sustainable materials, and Nova Design, a local graphics and printing house.
In what way do you see Raintree continuing its niche of being a development catering to only entrepreneurs and SMEs?
While we house a whole range of organisations, we do wish to continually support entrepreneurs and SMEs in all our developments. For now, we are focusing on finding great individuals and organisations to support long-term. Additionally, we will continue to facilitate events and programmes for entrepreneurs and SMEs, which complement existing activities by various NGOs, academic institutions and the private sector.
There seems to be a lot of demand for modern co-working office space in recent times. Would you consider renting out your space as co-working office space if there is a high demand for it?
Co-working models are a hot topic in real estate globally, and we have actually had a lot of requests for co-working space. Although we feel the start-up ecosystem is still burgeoning, it is unclear how large and sustainable the demand for co-working space is in Phnom Penh. A higher priority is to find adjacent developments and spaces regionally to partner with, to provide opportunities for Cambodian entrepreneurs to work abroad. This is pertinent given ASEAN integration and an increasing number of entrepreneurs that are regionally-focused. So we would definitely consider it when the time is right, and in the meantime there are plenty of great co-working spaces already established in the city.
How long has Raintree been in operation for, and have you held any events?
Raintree has been fully operational since Q4 2016 and we have had a whole host of events at the Canopy and the Crown (our indoor and outdoor event spaces) since opening. We kicked off our events program with Startup Weekend Education sponsored by Google for Entrepreneurs, which had a great turnout thanks to the organisers. Other events included the US Embassy’s Tech Camp, a weekend workshop on water sustainability solutions, and the STEM Hub launch supported by the British Council and led by IT Step Academy. We are also starting a series, Workshops @ The Canopy, focused on health and fitness. The series launched with two sessions of urban dance and Ashtanga yoga, which had a really positive response from the community.
When will Raintree be completely operational?
All of our retail tenants have been open for about six months, and we already have more than a third of our office tenants moved-in and fully operational. The next wave of tenants will be moving in by mid Q2 this year, as they have larger and more complex interior fit-outs. Whilst we still have a lot of ongoing events, we are designing our 2017 program and have a number of really exciting activities across education, entrepreneurship and more to announce very soon.