Since its foundation in 2015, the Chinese co-working space unicorn has dedicated itself to its mission of giving Chinese innovators ‘a happy workday every day’.
The decision of hosting a webinar is due to the current change of circumstances. During the event, Ucommune’s founder, Dr. Mao Daqing, announced the new strategy, which he brands ‘The new co-working space insight – asset-light and enhance empowerment’.
Over the past five years, Ucommune has slowly harnessed its corporate landscape. It has acquired six outstanding startups in sectors such as architectural and interior design, web development, property development AI, manufacturing industrialization, advertising, and direct marketing. The unicorn has also invested in dozens of top-notch startups in eight sectors, ranging from IT, human resources and training, entertainment, intellectual property landscape to consulting. Ucommerce’s eco-enterprise is embedded in Ucommune’s service platforms, which the company aims to benefit its members with its holistic services.
Under the new ‘asset-light capabilities and empowerment’ doctrine, Ucommune will reach 100 asset-light projects, reaching a 1:1 emphasis between both asset-light and empowerment capabilities. Asset-light projects include operation hosting, brand export, and U Suite. In terms of operation hosting, Ucommune will provide high-performance operations, robust corporate service resources, and engaging community activities to co-working places for enhanced management and earnings. As for brand export, the unicorn will utilize its competitive advantages in brand equity and platform resources to provide a holistic office operation outsourcing service to clients. These initiatives go parallel with a hotel reactivation programme known as U Suite. This programme will transform idle hotels with a diverse office standardization service while offering Ucommune another revenue source.
As part of the asset-light model, Ucommune will primarily export its brand equity and provide services in interior design, indoor construction, and management to office spaces, with landowners taking most of the initial earnings. This model is more scalable and cost-effective for the long-run and allows Ucommune to further leverage its strong brand equity and influence as the leading co-working space. The company can also standardize its operational model to accumulate customer satisfaction, optimize IT systems and customer terminals, improve relationships with service providers and investment networks, and create a sharing-oriented corporate ecosystem through a fine-tuned community operation strategy.
Ucommune’s web platform landscape includes its YOUXIANJI APP, a smart office system and data management system. Their aim is to create an ecosystem that coordinates the work of people, goods, and offices’ through tech intelligence. “If we put all co-working space members into one data platform, we’ll have a major corporation,” Dr. Mao said. “The potential this platform possesses can allow interest binding and value exchange among many service providers”.
Moreover, Ucommune’s data-streaming eCommerce platform differs from its contemporary counterparts by being office-focused. Users can order goods offline and have them delivered to their workspace, and enjoy safer and more convenient commercial interactions with physical acquaintances, such as bill combination and group purchases.
Ucommune’s “member welfare – corporate service” platform supports multiple forms of environment system sharings with companies, in a bid to migrate essential corporate services online and digitize corporate activities into a gamification system. By building a suitable environment, Ucommune can gamify different interactions for platform users, where users can redeem rewards in a dedicated environment according to their interaction journey. This initiative goes hand-in-hand with an optimized point-calculation system and a timely product cycle, together with dedicated services on online data, dashboards, customer care, vendor onboarding, and vendor vetting.
In the first quarter, Ucommune has welcomed 530 enterprises and serviced over 13,000 talents with over 110,000 new member registrations. These figures illustrate the company’s strength amidst a struggling economy. Dr. Mao’s analysis also envisioned a more diversified future for co-working spaces, which includes the proliferation of industry chains, diversified functionalities and revenue streams, streamlined operations and the transformation of data as assets. He also predicts that Ucommune will become more streamlined in the future while emphasizing more on its members’ talents.
Industry chains refer to the accumulation of office characteristics as businesses deepen and cluster their expertise. It is evident that an office can house both the upstream and downstream firms’ supply chain mechanism.
Diversifying functionalities refers to the evolution of co-working spaces. They are no longer merely office facility services but are a combination of coaching, catering, fitness, and entertainment. The end-goal is to become a hybrid of a ‘shopping mall’ and a ‘working mall’, blurring the boundaries between working and leisure.
Diversifying revenue streams refers to the complex revenue structure once the diversification of functionalities is successful. Besides the existing rent revenues, training, well-being, community, office materials and facilities renting will all become income sources.
Streamlining operations refers to the ability for co-working spaces to provide a systemized operation and management output for its properties while integrating all co-working space tenants into a B2B social platform. This initiative will provide more high-quality discount services to Ucommune’s members worldwide through eCommerce and amenities.
Transformation of data as assets refers to the possibility for co-working spaces to immense user data through smart office systems, asset management software and the internet of things. This transformation can justify services with data-driven references through analytics and categorization.
At the same time, Ucommune is striving to develop its independent properties, with projects running in Kunming, Kaifung, Ningbo, and Changsha.
Ucommune’s holistic ‘asset-light and enhance empowerment strategy is not only a core self-invention based on its five successful years, but also intertwines with the future outlook and development of China’s co-working space industry. “In the urban service industry, only co-working spaces have the capacity to build rapport with every worker they serve,” Mao said. “With our current scale, we can unlock the vast potential of digitizing the 200-million man-hours from our members.”
Co-working space may still be a new industry in China after its five years of development. Yet the trends of adapting to market needs through innovation and shift towards asset-light operations will most likely happen. Helping companies in lowering costs and adding value are the only ways to cope with the current economic uncertainties, Mao said.