Entrepreneur

They Invested $70M To Convert A Dead Mall Into A Co-making Space - Opened To Full Capacity

When I first received the MOX media invite, my first impression was that it was just another new co-working space.

Boy, was I wrong.

MOX was not just another co-working space, but a literal mall.

Co-working space / Image Credit: MOX

With its ambient lighting it looked like an art gallery, each tenant space revealing the most fascinating sights.

The literal art Gallery / Image Credit: MOX

In one sat rows upon rows of sewing machines, another caged a human-sized T-Rex, and one café had its own DJ booth and vinyl collection.

Image Credit: Samantha / Vulcan Post

On level 2, an artist spray-painted a wall in vivid orange and across the corridor, a group was sanding wood panels on handcrafted trays.

The next unit down had a fully-equipped photography studio ready for use.

Triple Eyelid woodworking workshop / Image Credit: MOX

This Is MOX

Rather than a co-working space, MOX is a co-making space.

The resources aren’t limited to Wi-Fi and computers but include 3D printers, sewing machines and design software. Tenants include brands like toy creator Mighty Jaxx, Cakerholic and lego crafter Artisan Bricks.

The startup is the brainchild of two men – Kent Teo of Invade and Kishore Buxani of Buxani Group.

“Invade owns and organises some of Singapore’s biggest pop-ups (e.g. Artbox and iLight 2016), so we understand the pain points of such creators,” Teo says.

They are always on the hunt for specialised resources, equipment and display spaces.

Triple Eyelid woodworking workshop / Image Credit: Samantha Tay / Vulcan Post

When they first met in October 2016, property investor Buxani had been looking for a creative concept for Katong Mall.

“When Kent shared his idea for MOX, I realised it was perfect. Retail malls are phasing out due to their [irrelevancy]. Customers want an experiential factor in shopping.”

“Katong lacked a ‘destination’ mall, and MOX was a fresh idea. Since then, we have been working to develop MOX as a resource centre for creative entrepreneurs.”

3D printer and pen / Image Credit: Samantha Tay / Vulcan Post

Entrepreneurship may be more acceptable now but there are still many factors that can “make or break” a founder.

MOX was set up to support entrepreneurs for a sustainable business.

Sewing workshop / Image Credit: MOX

The First Of Its Kind

As MOX was truly unique, they had no benchmark for comparison, Teo shares.

“There was always the struggle between practicality and idealism. I had to make 40,000 sqft work while bearing in mind members’ needs.”

Image Credit: MOX

Indeed, the death of retail also posed a problem for the pair.

“I realised I had to be one step ahead and create something unique,” reflects Buxani.

As such, he spoke to business owners in the area about “why they were there and what made the area unique”.

“It was important to have the right concept for the entire mall,” he says, even if it meant he had to reject potential tenants who “did not fit the concept”.

“I did not have to answer to outside shareholders [hence] we could take our time and be a little unconventional.”

Darcy Li (Snupped), Heidi Tay (Cakerholic), Kent Teo and Kishore Buxani

Investing $70 million, Teo and Buxani transformed the space into a destination mall for creative work spaces and public workshops.

And by the time they launched in October, they were already at full capacity with 60 members.

A Home For Creatives

“We want to create a space creatives can call home,” says Teo.

The community is “scattered” right now, so it might take some time but the pair is optimistic.

“I foresee that through MOX, creative entrepreneurs in Singapore and even the region will flourish,” states Buxani with confidence.

“I see MOX as rejuvenating the local creative landscape, providing creative entrepreneurs with resources they need to be ambitious and to connect with peers. Hopefully [we can] support their entrepreneurial journey to success.”

Featured Image Credit: MOX

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