Victoria: Hi, my name is Victoria Landa-Steinau and you are listening to JingNews. Today we learn more about MyDreamPlus, a company that was founded in May 2015 and—within its first year of opening—was valued at 200 million RMB. With an emphasis on revolutionizing the workspace, MyDreamPlus has successfully opened 13 offices and plans on opening 5 more by the end of 2016. Now, we sit down with the founder himself, Mr. Bill Li, to shed some insight on his company’s success.
Bill, tell me a little bit more about your company.
Bill: MyDreamPlus is a technology company that provides shared office space to entrepreneurs, start-ups, and freelancers. The reason that we founded this company is that we believe as the Chinese economy booms, we have new things going on and one of the things that’s missing for the start-ups and smaller-sized companies is a decent working space. Traditionally, from my experience, smaller companies would probably stay in apartment buildings. These buildings are not built for business purposes but they are cheaper and are better to accommodate the smaller size of these smaller companies. We believe that by providing a shared office, we will be able to provide people a better working environment with reasonable prices because every one is sharing the overall cost together.
Victoria: What were you doing before you founded MyDreamPlus?
Bill: I was an Adobe Flash community member. I was quite active in the community. As the community grew and started to take a more important role in the community itself, Adobe gave me the recognition as community Chan ping. This is where I got started and during the community activities, I met a lot of people. One of them was my partner, Mung Fei. A little bit later we started a company that worked on business intelligence and big data. It was relatively successful in the UK. That is the previous company we worked for. After 2011, it was sold to a NASDAQ listed company from Israel. After that, we began thinking about what we wanted to do next. During that time, we tried a few things including bitcoins and bitcoin mining and other kinds of things but we decided that we wanted to put our efforts into the working spaces.
Victoria: As one of the three founders of MyDreamPlus, do you often interact with others from the company?
Bill: We actually have a very flat company structure. Although we are reaching 100 people in the company, we talk to different departments everyday. We also regularly visit other spaces. We talk to the managers in the spaces and talk to our R&D department. We basically talk to everyone in the company and we don’t have a lot of management hierarchies. We tend to value efficiency the most. By sharing the space with other companies, we have firsthand feedback from our customer. We know what they’re thinking, what things they like and don’t like. We talk to them directly. We are friends with a lot of our customers. We have different activities to help them socialize with each other as well.
Victoria: You have 13 spaces now and intend to continue opening more. At what point do you feel ready to open more spaces?
Bill: We keep opening new spaces and actually are speeding up opening new spaces. The reason that we are opening new spaces is because—you know Beijing is a really large city—it’s impossible for us to serve our customers in a single location. If we increase the amount of locations we have, we will be able to serve more and more of our customers and provide them with the same kind of experiences and services in our new locations. As we have more and more locations, we are supporting a new business model where people can use the meeting rooms and facilities for a short time, rather than just stay there for a long time. Some of them don’t need an office, rather a proper space to meet with their business partners to discuss things—so it is more like a business center. As we have more spaces, we will be able to provide our customers with this kind of service anywhere they feel convenient or their business partner feels convenient. This is the point where we try to open more and cover more locations. We are trying to put locations in certain areas in order to increase our presence in a certain small area so that more people will know us and use our services.
Victoria: What kind of factors do you look for when you are looking at a location to open a new space?
Bill: This is a real estate business. After all, it is space related. Location is a very important factor for us. We have a lot of spaces right out of the subway station where you can walk about 50-100 meters to get to that building.
Victoria: Why do you believe that MyDreamPlus has been doing so well this far?
Bill: We are using what we call a light model whereas others are in a heavy model. The difference is they put a lot of money in a certain location for interior renovation whereas we put all of our investment money in our R&D department to help us develop those technologies, processes, and designs in the office and how we can better serve our customers. We find that our partners have done a great job researching products that help us in our development. They put the money in those locations. They invest the money for the renovation to help us opening new spaces. A lot of our real estate partners are happy to continue to invest in more spaces. This is also why we have been able to open 13 spaces by now within 1 and half years. Our competitors are not doing it with so many locations. You need a lot of money to be able to push it forward. The way that we have chosen is a different path than our competitors and this is what has contributed a lot to what we are doing now.
Victoria: That wraps up this episode of JingNews. A special thanks to MyDreamPlus and Bill for their participation. Check back regularly to stay up-to-date on the latest business-related news in China.
Be sure to check out our podcast on Ximalaya, by clicking this link.