Australia’s Biggest Co-Working Office

Like many ideas, The Commons co-working space, grew out of necessity.

Australia’s Biggest Co-Working Office,, crowd ink, crowdink
Australia’s Biggest Co-Working Office (source: Entrep)

There’s an old saying that states: “all the best ideas reside in the graveyard,” it is as true as it is poignant.

How many times have you had a great idea but then done nothing with it? School friends

Cliff Ho and Tom Ye had what they thought was a good idea, but rather than just experience that light bulb moment, they changed the globe and plugged it in.

“The mindset of getting things done. Coming up with a great business idea is only a small step in a long journey. Next, comes the countless hours of planning and strategising which is where a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs get stuck,” Ho says. “The key is to understand that as much as you try and plan for every possible scenario, things can change very quickly. My advice would be; throw yourself into the deep end and learn along the way.

“Don’t run from the possibility of making mistakes analyse those mistakes when they unavoidably come and learn from them.”

Like many ideas, Ho and Ye’s brainchild, The Commons co-working space, grew out of necessity.

Ho had started his own production company after stints in Asia for Fox International Channel as a TV producer/host and Ye moved on from five years in corporate banking into his family business in cleaning chemical manufacturing.

Over a beer they found themselves discussing some common issues, those chats planted the seed of an idea. What grew from that seed is Australia’s biggest co-working office, The Commons in Collingwood, which was quickly followed by a South Melbourne location.

Ho and Ye are planning expansion interstate, into Asia and Europe and are on the lookout for potential investors.

Here are the five challenges they faced in their first 12 months and how they overcame them.


There are so many challenges, both expected and unexpected, that every new company must deal with. Everyone that’s started their own business will have gone through the same early mornings and late nights but when it’s your passion, putting in the time required isn’t difficult.

Constant Change

At times when we planned for targets and certain strategies, then found the circumstances change overnight. If you become too rigid in your thinking, it’s easy to get left behind when the world around you changes.

Relying on others

As most start-ups do, we began with a limited budget. Tom and I got our hands dirty (sometimes quite literally) doing everything ourselves, but discovered quickly we couldn’t do everything. It’s important to put a good team in place. Our team at The Commons played a critical role in our success and still do today.

Dealing with stress

Most people would say that this is part of any job. As someone who transitioned from being a corporate employee to a small business owner, I have experienced a drastic change in the amount of stress I’ve experienced. Finding a way to manage stress is critical to success.

Take the emotion out of a situation and rely on logic.

Pushing your own boundaries

It’s quite natural to be comfortable in your own skills and abilities. In the beginning, Tom and I did everything ourselves and were forced to learn new skills every day. Neither of us had any experience in working reception, IT management, maintenance or even cleaning.

Being adaptable and willing to push our own boundaries enabled us to not only learn these tasks but also be empathetic with our staff in their roles.

Previous articleMelbourne’s Top Nine Events For March
Next articleSalary Scandal Resignation
Based in Melbourne, Australia, Suzi Chen is a cross-disciplinary strategist who manages a business consulting firm, Notonos Global and a cross-border commerce company, eBrand Secret. The former medical scientist is also an award winning graphic designer, blog contributor and an avid traveler whose journey includes being a summit facilitator at the United National Headquarters in New York City in 2016.   Proud to be an enthusiastic dreamer, Suzi loves the fact that the world is full of possibilities and her innovative mind gets inspirations from arts, travel and delivering grassroots community projects.   Suzi believes in life-long learning and holds a doctoral degree in medical sciences and several other business diplomas. Suzi sits on the company board of several non-profit organisations and chairs an Innovation and Business Development Committee for a community health service provider.