Colony ups the ante this Oct with curated brand partners in a fully immersive wedding fair

[This is a sponsored article with Colony.]

For most couples, planning a wedding is no easy feat, and all the stresses it comes with can make your big day feel a little less fulfilling.

My managing director Sarah could share her experience of how much time and resources were wasted on her own wedding, and in the end, she didn’t even enjoy herself fully.

This is largely due to the fact that, as it is with any other elaborate event, a wedding requires a lot of planning to ensure that everything, even down to the little party poppers going off, are in sync.

Here are some of the common stressors when it comes to perfecting preparations for your big day.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows 

Finding the right venue can be quite the headache, as it firstly needs to be large enough to accommodate all your friends and family members you intend on inviting.

On top of that, the place should at least have a banquet service to serve food to your guests, and basic audio visual equipment like an LCD screen or a projector for taking guests down the memory lane of your relationship.

You need to factor in specific food preferences, allergies, and how many people you will be feeding, then find the right caterers who can meet all these requirements.

Next, arguably the most stressful part about planning a wedding is ensuring that schedules for all parties like the vendors, venue, and your guests, are aligned.

Last but not least, the wedding budget. Planning a wedding is not cheap, and it seems to be on the rise ever since Malaysia has entered the endemic phase.

To give a bit of perspective, a very small-scale wedding could cost anywhere from RM20,000 to RM40,000. 

For an average-scale wedding these days that hosts up to around 100 to 150 guests, you’re looking at costs ranging from RM50,000 to RM200,000.

A two-day fair of immersive wedding experiences

In order to address all these concerns, Colony is hosting the Wedding Fair in KL by Colony at Star Boulevard KLCC, on November 5 and 6, 2022. It aims to provide a fully immersive wedding experience for pre-newlyweds.

What sets this wedding fair apart from the rest is that Colony aims to help couples envision how their wedding could look like at their dedicated event space.

Each of the spaces caters to different wedding preferences. And with this setup, you’re able to have a clearer vision of your wedding instead of the many “what if’s”.

For example, The Ballroom, which is a 4,000 sq ft space that comfortably accommodates up to 250 guests will have an English/Chinese, and Nikah-type wedding setup.

Meanwhile, The Rooftop Garden, which provides a personalisable summer garden space with a view of Malaysia’s iconic Petronas Twin Towers, will have a wedding ceremony setup suitable for up to 80 attendees complete with a wedding backdrop and walkway set up.

There’s also The Tea Room, an elegant and spacious suite for up to 25 pax filled with floral and pastel colours suitable for tea ceremonies.

Last but not least, they have The Library, which is a luxurious-looking space great for photoshoots. It can also serve as a place for friends and family to relax and mingle around.

For those who like how the fair has these spaces set up, you can request to have your wedding done in the very same space, with the same settings as shown at the fair.

Speaking of which, if you book a wedding package during the fair, you’ll get an RM1,000+ discount with a minimum spend of RM16,000+, or an RM2,000+ discount with a minimum spend of RM20,000+.

These packages include access to the entirety of The Ballroom, The Rooftop Garden, and The Tea Room, on top of free access to The Library.

The fair also allows attendees to explore what Colony’s curated vendors have to offer.

Some notable wedding vendors will include I Heart Party, an award-winning event designer and stylist, as well as event setup provider like VC Entertainment.

Instead of booths, Colony aims to maximise their spaces with actual wedding arrangements to give couples a visual representation of how their wedding could look at Colony’s various event spaces.

According to Colony, unlike at other wedding fairs, their partner vendors and staff will only approach you if you want to know further information, and will otherwise just remain on standby without being too pushy.

Walk in & leave with no commitments

Unlike last year when Colony only accepted guests that had RSVP’d beforehand, they now allow guests to walk in without needing to make reservations.

However, by making a reservation beforehand, Colony will assign a dedicated wedding consultant who will give couples a personalised tour around the wedding fair. They’ll also assist them should they have any questions throughout the tour.

In addition to that, Colony wants to reward the wedding fair attendees by giving them a chance to win a complimentary Castra – Glamping in the City Staycation package for up to 10 pax.

For context, Castra by Colony is a luxury outdoor glamping concept brought to the heart of KL city. To get a feel for what a staycation there might be like, you can check out our latest review on it here.

Walk-in registrants will be entitled to one entry for the lucky draw while those that have RSVP’d beforehand will be granted two entries instead.

Couples that have signed and paid for a package to have their wedding at the Colony during the fair itself will get three entries instead.

  • Find more information about the Wedding Fair in KL by Colony here.
  • RSVP for the wedding fair here.

Also Read: Health is no laughing matter, so Harith Iskander & wife Dr Jezamine launched a wellness line

How crypto has evolved over the years, abandoning its ethos of decentralisation

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed below belong solely to the author.

More than a decade ago, Satoshi Nakamoto released the initial Bitcoin whitepaper.

Out of this white paper, a dream was born — a dream where money was not tied to a sovereign government, and finance was no longer tied to bankers feeding off the hard work of the people. Money would be decentralised, trust-less, and free.

For a time, this seemed to be the direction that cryptocurrency was taking. Decentralised finance replaced banks in the crypto ecosystem, decentralised autonomous organisations replaced governments, and above all, decentralised currency replaced fiat as the currency of choice. 

The ethos of decentralisation stood at the pinnacle of crypto culture, and its proponents touted it as the ideological backbone of an ecosystem that would one day sweep away everything about the old world of fiat currencies, tyrannical governments, and theft through seigniorage.

Yet today, as the crypto ecosystem tries to rebuild itself after the Terra-Luna crash that triggered routs in the values of crypto assets, preachers of ideological decentralisation are rare, if any.

What happened to that strong ideological presence of early cryptocurrency fanatics? Have the crypto advocates abandoned this lofty dream of a world free of authority and of regulation? And what remains for the ecosystem, if not decentralisation?

The scalability problem

The Web3 world has seen much interest over the past few years. Nowadays, certain cryptocurrencies are considered safe bets — think Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other blue-chip coins.

Yet, while some may be able to make a living through trading in these cryptocurrencies, making money is not the be all and end all of an ecosystem.

While speculation in cryptocurrencies seems to have exploded, the question is also whether other aspects of crypto and Web3 infrastructure have kept pace. Game-fi for once, is an area where the Web3 world can be said to have failed spectacularly. Aside from a few games such as Axie Infinity which have made it big, games in the Web3 space have not seen the same success. 

For a quick recap, Axie Infinity announced that it had generated US$1.3 billion in revenue last year, and claimed around 2.71 million players.

While this might be comparable to titles within the Web2 space such as League of Legends’ 3 million players and US$1.63 billion, we should also recognise that Axie is one of the rare few that have succeeded in establishing themselves.

In contrast, the Web2 gaming space has far more titles that can claim such a large user base and revenue. 

Lest we forget — the figures being cited by Axie for their user base are for those who have the required three NFTs to play the game, not the number of active users. 

Number of Axie infinity players
Number of Axie Infinity players / Image Credit: BitPinas

This lack of scale is not unique to the game-fi ecosystem. While there are around 300,000 cryptocurrency transactions every day, there are around 1 billion credit card transactions every day — without including all other non-Web3 transactions such as cash, debit cards, or bank transfers.

For decentralised lending, there is an estimated US$43 billion in DeFi protocols, far less than the US$9.5 trillion that US banks alone have lent out.

Evidently, scale is an issue that the crypto ecosystem needs to overcome. Without the infrastructure, investment and utility that the Web2 world provides, how can the Web3 world hope to supplant the Web2 world? 

That being said, some aspects of the Web3 world have managed to grow in scale and attract mainstream attention. Celebrities have been buying into the NFT craze, with some of Singapore’s own artists releasing their own NFTs as well.

NFT marketplace Opensea recorded back-to-back record months last year, with volumes comparable to e-commerce sites such as eBay.

The story is, to some extent, tragic. Blockchain technology is immensely useful and holds great promise, but is being held back by the problem that has always plagued new technologies — that it is new and therefore, underdeveloped and underserved.

It should come as no surprise that at last week’s Token2049 event, several panellists identified mass adoption of blockchain tech as one of the core goals that the crypto community would need to push for.

But why should the Web2 world adopt blockchain tech, if blockchain remains ideologically bound to its ethos of decentralisation and air of superiority? 

Many have already realised the inherent paradox within this dilemma — in order for Web3 to supplant Web2, it must, at least for now, collaborate with Web2.

At the end of the day, the Web2 world is still far greater in scale, and for the Web3 world to grow, it must tap on this large market and bring value to both.

Fair-weather friends in crypto don’t last

The Web3 world that was founded as an anarchists’ dream without government or law worked well for a time. In that vein, crypto companies developed new protocols and new products — Ethereum and NFTs popped up, and other blockchains — each with their own unique functions — grew to become mainstream as well.

But an absence of government has not proven to be the same as an absence of tyranny, and the recent crypto winter has proven as much.

First came the Terra-Luna crash. While it is certainly true that Do Kwon and the Luna Foundation Guard were to blame for much of the carnage, what is interesting was the way that the company proceeded after the initial crash

Do Kwon, founder of Terraform Labs
Do Kwon, founder of Terraform Labs / Image Credit: Bloomberg

Citing a possible governance attack, the Luna Foundation Guard bought around 221 million Luna tokens, representing around 60 per cent of the voting power within the blockchain.

It was only then that the company put out a proposal for the community to vote on, which would decide the future of the Luna blockchain. The proposal for Luna 2.0 by Do Kwon passed easily, to the surprise of no one. 

https://twitter.com/JBDLR/status/1527563451576377344
Accusation of Do Kwon strong arming the Luna Vote / Credit: Twitter

Yet, this facade of decentralisation would soon prove to be generous when compared to what Celsius, under Alex Mashinsky, would do. 

On June 12, a month after the Luna crash, Celsius announced that it would pause all withdrawals from its platform — users were given no choice in the matter, and the next day, Celsius presented debtors with a choice to either top up their collateral or be liquidated

Alex Mashinsky, founder of Celsius
Alex Mashinsky, founder of Celsius / Image Credit: CNBC

In July, the company finally bowed to the inevitable and filed for bankruptcy. For those unfamiliar with the crisis, you might expect the company to liquidate, pay back any outstanding loans to the best of their ability, and release a public apology for the company’s failings. 

But not Celsius. In the company’s bankruptcy proceedings, Celsius’ legal team referred to users as unsecured creditors, and unveiled a new plan — to invest in cryptocurrency mining rigs to try and pay back the debt that the company owed. 

For reasons I have discussed in another article, this is a ridiculous and grossly irresponsible course of action. But what matters is that consumers and users were unable to stand up to Celsius, and that Celsius was able to abuse their position of power to ride roughshod over their users. Users were not given a choice to appeal the decision, partly because there were no institutions for them to appeal to. 

The most recent update? Mashinsky has resigned from the company, and the Financial Times has reported that he took US$10 million from the company before pausing all withdrawals.

The fates of so many users’ crypto, instead of being controlled by governments or banks, lay in the hands of Do Kwon and Alex Mashinsky.

And herein lies the second reason why the ideologues are no longer preaching the ideology of decentralisation — because the industry has failed spectacularly at self-regulation.

The industry has relied on self-government for so long, but has forgotten that power corrupts, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

While the masses might be fine to follow the companies’ ideologues and demagogues during the bull run, when the bear market arrives, the shoe will very much be on the other foot. 

The return of institutions

Once derided as unnecessary in the Web3 world and relics of the past, institutions within the Web2 world have not remained as they were while the Web3 world developed.

On the contrary, it seems that many institutions within the Web2 world are eager to participate in the Web3 world — and have been keeping a close eye on developments in the crypto ecosystem.

The onboarding of traditional investors into the Web3 world has brought far more utility and growth than the efforts of the Web2 world alone. 

Venture capital firms are investing into blockchain tech and Web3 companies, not with cryptocurrencies, but with fiat currencies. These investors are pouring huge amounts into the Web3 space.

Singapore’s state investor Temasek Holdings announced that it would lead a US$100 million funding round for Animoca Brands, and this came after Temasek had already invested in Binance and Amber Group, among others. 

Binance founder Changpeng Zhao and Animoca Brands founder Yat Siu.
Binance founder Changpeng Zhao and Animoca Brands founder Yat Siu. Temasek has invested in both of these companies / Image credit: Techcrunch, Binance

The Web3 world has also proven that many of these institutions are necessary for the smooth running of the ecosystem. The dispute over the BAYC #2162 NFT resulted in a landmark injunction for NFT owners when Singapore’s Supreme Court ruled that NFTs could be classed as digital assets, and therefore could be afforded protection under the law. 

As it seems right now, institutions — not individuals — are the significant players in the crypto ecosystem. 

When John Mearsheimer wrote “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics” and compared states to billiard balls, he was discussing politics in the international system. Yet, this analogy remains relevant to economic ecosystems as well — and chiefly, to the crypto ecosystem now. 

According to his theory, states are represented by billiard balls on a table, with the size of the ball representing the power that the state possesses. Large balls are seldom affected by other balls, and most affected by other large balls; while smaller balls are affected by all other balls — and must consider the position and movement of large balls to get to where they want. 

Individuals in the crypto system are not unlike the smaller balls on the table — lacking protection and power, and often unable to simply move as they please. Institutions, on the other hand, are large players — wielding control over capital and able to bully their way through if necessary, and only stopped by other large players. 

Rather than the free world of individualism and decentralised power and currency, the original crypto dream has morphed into something bearing a striking similarity to the Web2 world that many of the Web3 ideologues were fleeing from — a world of powerful institutions with the ability to oppress many individuals grew too large to stop.

So ends the tale of one of the greatest dreams of the Web3 ideologues — not of a heroic last stand, but an abject recognition that the new world of Web3 cannot be completely divorced from the Web2 world.

But what does this mean for the future? Is it the end of Web3 as we know it? 

Perhaps not. As investors and individuals begin to get more practical about developing blockchain technology, there is also increasing interest in Web2.5 — to function as a bridge between the Web2 and Web3 world.

This is where perhaps a new vision for the future can be built — one not based on conflict between the Web2 and Web3 worlds, but on cooperation to bring value to all players. 

Featured Image Credit: Medium

Also Read: From mass adoption to regulation: VCs and execs discuss the future of crypto to navigate ahead

This co-living hotel in Bangsar South suits digital nomads craving a long-term workcation

Hotel highlights
✓ Community spaces for those who enjoy socialising
✓ Coworking spaces for digital nomads
✓ Self-service kiosks for efficiency 
✓ Great location with many nearby food and leisure options 

Amidst the ever-growing skyline of Bangsar South lies Komune Living (Komune), a hotel that’s… not exactly a hotel. 

Yes, you’ll find its rooms available on sites like Expedia, Booking.com, and more, and it has the typical hotel amenities, but it’s not just a hotel. 

Another brainchild of UOA Group, which already has a strong foothold in the affluent address of Bangsar South, Komune is a co-living concept space that’s designed with shared experiences and community in mind. 

The facade of the hotel consists of plenty of greenery

But beyond the co-living spaces and experiences, what really drew us to Komune Living was what it could offer digital nomads. 

The space attempts to be a home, a workplace, and a playground all in one, and we were curious as to how that balance could be achieved. 

To find out, we decided to arrange something with the Komune team who then graciously extended a 3D2N workcation offer to us. 

Self-service for a streamlined experience 

Although there were staff members at the check-in counter, I couldn’t pass up trying the self-check-in kiosk. 

At one of the two available machines, I filled out the booking code then inserted my IC. As my colleagues and I were sharing a room, just my IC sufficed. In any case, if you do run into hiccups here, the staff is ready to step in.

All you need is your booking number and IC

After checking in through the kiosk, I got the key cards to our room. 

Before we went up to our room though, we had to check out the other self-service machine in the lobby. Opposite the Komune Cafe, there’s an unmanned Starbucks kiosk where you can purchase and “make” your own drinks. 

You can play pretend as a Starbucks barista here

(It only serves tall and short drinks, but if you’re looking for that Starbucks hit, there’s an actual one just five minutes away.) 

A few of us ordered drinks, and let’s just say, they taste better when you manage your expectations. It’s still a kiosk, after all.

Compact and comfortable accommodations 

Once we had dropped off our luggage in our room, we were given a tour by Cindy Chee, Assistant Director, Sales at UOA Hospitality. 

She brought us to see a few of the 648 rooms in the building to explore the different room types, which ranged from ones for individuals up to groups of four pax.

Each room type had its own theme too, from the Japanese zen-like Artist One Plus Loft to the moodier Thinker Two Type 2, for example.

According to Cindy, the current occupancy rate is around 65% to 70%, with long-stay guests making up around 20% to 30% of that figure, Ng Bee Fong, the director of marketing at UOA Hospitality, later added.

The most memorable room we visited was the Artist One Plus Loft. As the name suggests, this 38 sqm room has an upper storey (loft) where the second queen bed can be found. 

Here’s the view from the loft

There’s a glass panel on the upper floor which makes it feel more spacious and lets natural light in.

Waving from the loft window

In general though, most of Komune’s rooms are pretty compact, and they might not be too suitable for groups who aren’t close to one another, as every room type only comes with one shared bathroom.

If you’re looking for an ultra-spacious and lux hotel room, Komune’s ones might leave more to desire.

My two colleagues and I were spending the night in one of the larger rooms, the Thinker Two Type 2 mentioned earlier.

Our common area consisted of a kitchenette with a kettle, fridge, sink, and microwave. Mugs and teaspoons were provided, but there are no complimentary packeted drinks provided. Interestingly, there are also no sponges or dishwashing liquid available.

You can definitely work in the hotel rooms, but the WiFi is not very strong or stable

Komune provides a glass jug you can use to get water in the hallway, as each floor comes with a water dispenser providing both hot and cold water, reducing the need for single-use plastics. 

The water stations eliminates the need for plastic bottles in every room

The living area was tucked in the corner with a small coffee table, sofa, and a smart TV. Another common area was an average-sized dining table for four.

The sofa is quite small, but you can pull over some chairs for extra seating

Our room type consisted of two bedrooms of roughly the same size that came with a small desk, lamp, and a stool. 

Both bedrooms come with a working area

Each bedroom had a queen-sized bed and a safe for your valuable belongings, and you could also close and lock the sliding doors of each bedroom for privacy.

Working in bed is always a great option

The bathroom is admittedly quite small, and there’s only a glass slab separating the shower and the rest of the bathroom. No doors or shower curtains means that the water can splash out sometimes, making the bathroom quite wet. 

It’s rather compact, but we made do 

With that said, it was still a comfortable room with several options for one to work at. 

But since Komune Living is all about its communal spaces, we decided not to hole ourselves up inside the room and instead visited another great spot to work. 

Getting down to business

One highlight of Komune is that it comes with a proper coworking space. Taking up the entirety of the second floor, this coworking space offers hot-desking, permanent spots, conference rooms, and private offices. 

There are also first-come-first-serve telephone rooms for one to take calls in.

Komune kindly extended some hot-desking passes for the three of us to try the space over the duration of our stay. 

An overlook of part of the hot-desking areas

We found a spot near the windows as well as the kitchen/pantry area, which is fitted with a sink, water dispenser, microwave, and fridge. 

There’s also a low table for casual discussions and chit-chats near the pantry

For caffeine lovers, you’ll be happy to find complimentary tea bags, instant coffee powder, creamer, and sugar here. Just make sure you bring your own tumbler or mug, and clean up after yourself. 

Window seats are the best seats

The tables here were spacious with ample plug points for us to charge all our electronics, so an extension cord wasn’t necessary.

The fixed desks and private offices come with lockable cabinets, but the hot desks come without. If you’re hot-desking and want your own storage though, there are lockers you can book.

Permanent seats come with their own cabinets

If I had to point out one qualm I had with the coworking space (and the whole hotel in general), it would be the WiFi connection.

It was definitely usable and strong enough, but it would serve to be a bit more stable. If the WiFi connection does become too weak for you, there are LAN cables available. 

The open, spacious area was conducive to work

The staff manning the front desk seemed to leave at around 6PM, but we were allowed to stay back until 8PM to get our work done. 

According to their website, plan members of the coworking space actually get 24/7 access to the area. 

The prices for Komune Co-working are as follows, and residents can inquire about promotional rates there. 

  • Day pass – RM35/day
  • Hot desk – RM490/month
  • Dedicated Desk – RM690/month
  • Private office – RM790/month

Cowork hard, co-play hard

The laundry room is brightly decorated

Coworking isn’t the only communal space in Komune, of course. There’s also a community kitchen, community lounge, laundromat, and game base. All of these can be found on Level 1, which is accessed with a key card. 

You can wait at the community lounge nearby when your load is in the wash 

The laundromat costs RM10 to wash and RM10 to dry, but it’s inclusive of detergent and softener. Tokens (1 token = RM5) must be used, which can be bought with a machine nearby. You can also do some ironing here.

Detergent, sanitizer, and softener is included in the price

The community lounge that stretches outside the laundromat and all the way to the community kitchen can be used as another working space, but we saw it mostly being used as an eating area. 

If you do want to work here, you’d need an extension cord as sockets are limited, located near pillars and walls.

Briefly, we also checked out an outdoor seating area filled with lush greenery, but it was rather humid and a little too noisy for our liking, as it faced the road. On cooler, quieter days though, it’d make a nice working area too.

The greenery brightens up the space

Back inside, there’s the community kitchen that you need to make a reservation to use. We booked the last slot available, which was from 7PM to 8PM. 

The kitchen is spacious with four induction stoves available

As per their SOPs, the staff provided a pot, pan, spatula, tongs, colander, knife, and cutting board, which was perfect for our spaghetti dinner. The induction stoves were easy and safe to use, and we got to cooking without much issue.

A layout of all the utensils provided

That is, until it was almost time to eat, during which we suddenly realised there were no utensils or cutleries. 

We ended up having to head out mid-cooking to get our own paper plates and some cutleries, which soured the experience a little. 

It took a second to figure out the induction stove, but after that it was easy peasy

Another guest (long-stay, it seemed) who cooked alongside us had readily brought along his own.

After checking in with Cindy on whether cutleries and utensils generally aren’t provided at Komune, she told us that our experience was unusual and apologised for the inconvenience.

Whatever the case, it’s best to check in with the staff before you start cooking. After our homecooked meal and some cleaning up, we headed over to the Game Base.

None of us really knew how to play ping pong, but we tried

Inside, there’s a ping pong table, a pool table, a foosball table, claw machines, and a row of arcade machines. There was also an air hockey table, but it was sadly out of service. 

A copy of Anna Karenina stood out to me

For those like me who aren’t very good at these games, there’s a reading nook towards the back of the room with some interesting titles available.

My coworkers surprised me with their pool skills 

More recreational activities can be found on the 29th floor where the infinity pool and 24/7 gymnasium reside, encircled by views of the surrounding city. 

The infinity pool overlooks the city 

Although the pool is described as a rooftop pool, there’s actually a higher level you can access via a stairwell called the Lookout Point. 

It has everything you need for a workout

Due to the railings and walls though, not much can be seen from the Lookout Point. The view from the pool is definitely much nicer, so save yourself a trip up the two flights of stairs. 

Finding food inside and around the hotel

Komune comes with one food option within the building, Komune Cafe. Featuring a biophilic design, the cafe is green and cosy, much like the rest of the building. 

The fake plants hanging from the ceiling give a cosy vibe 

On our first day, we opted to try Komune Cafe’s RM15+ lunch meal. It’s somewhat buffet-style, but you can’t go back for seconds, so choose wisely. The drinks are bottomless. 

What RM15 on a plate looks like

With a small mix of heavier Western and Malaysian dishes, they were satisfying for a quick and convenient meal so we could get back to work. We revisited the cafe the next morning for our complimentary breakfast too. 

Since the cafe doesn’t open for dinner, we visited a nearby food court on our first evening. Housed in the neighbouring building of South Link Lifestyle Apartments, the food court is just a short walk away and includes rather robust choices. 

From wan tan mee to Japanese bentos, there’s a lot to choose from here, but unfortunately, it’s not halal, so Muslim friends might want to go for something else. 

If you’re up for a walk, there are plenty of malls within a 15-minute radius with more F&B options such as The Sphere, KL Gateway, and Nexus Bangsar South.           

Bidding goodbye 

Checking out was simple and stress-free—you can drop the cards off with the reception or just use the kiosks again.

Komune Living doesn’t provide any validations for its basement parking, but at RM5 for every 24 hours, it was a reasonable ticket, especially for the area. 

From our experience, we’d say that there could be improvements made to the rooms in order to provide a more comfortable “home” experience, such as readily providing dishwashing soap and sponges, handwash by the kitchen sink, plus cutleries and utensils.

However, Komune Living certainly satisfies as an office and playground, providing lots of opportunities to get work done productively and several fun activities to wind down with.

What workcation crowd is Komune Living fit for? Pro tip
Small to medium-sized teams Use the coworking space’s conference rooms or private offices to get team-based work done
Digital nomads Make sure to enquire about the promotional rates at the coworking space available 
Expats/long-term business travellers/students Make full use of all the facilities and amenities such as the laundromat, community kitchen, and inclusive breakfast
Families  The Game Base and infinity pool make for entertaining spots for kids. You can even let them try out the self-service kiosks

https://poll.fm/11212419

  • Read our other reviews of workcations we’ve been to here.
  • Learn more about Komune here.

Want to suggest a specific place for us to try that’s not in the poll above? Send the suggestion to our Facebook page!

Also Read: Health is no laughing matter, so Harith Iskander & wife Dr Jezamine launched a wellness line

Bet you didn’t know this 13 Y/O M’sian studio brought some of your fave AAA games to life

The Malaysia game development (game dev) scene has been flourishing and on the rise over the past decade.

Local devs have been showcasing their talents whether individually or through a company, and we even saw 15 local entries make it to the finals of LEVEL UP KL: SEA Game Awards 2022.

It’s an attribute that’s attracted many overseas companies to set up and expand their studios in Malaysia, providing even more opportunities to local talents. 

Additionally, with more Malaysian studios and homegrown intellectual properties (IPs) starting up, local talents are retained within the country. It’s giving the local industry the momentum it needs to push forward towards an even brighter future.

Passion Republic is one such game dev studio that’s fostering and growing the local industry. 

Games developed by Passion Republic / Image Credit: Passion Republic

What started as a seven-person team in 2009 has now become a company with 178 employees working on titles including Spider-Man Remastered, Injustice 2, The Last of Us Part 2, Batman Arkham Knights, Stray, and more.

Redefining a focus

Before Passion Republic was a game dev studio, the company was named Passion Fruit Animation House and focused a lot on creating animations for the film and advertising industry.

The company was founded to build an environment where people could pursue their passion for art in a meaningful and healthy way. However, its team told Vulcan Post that they did not have a solid business plan when they first started.

“We were just seven passionate artists with a lot of love for art and animation,” said Rohana Razak, Cheong Teik Mun, and Tiong Boon Chee, who are Passion Republic’s Senior Project Manager, Head of Animation, and Lead Modeling Artist, respectively.

“As the team gradually grew bigger and wiser, we eventually changed our name to Passion Republic in 2009.”

In the beginning, the company mainly worked on small, short-term projects for local TV commercials and animation for pachinko (arcade) machines. 

Passion Republic’s first big break came two years in. At the annual Game Developers Conference, a director approached the company’s Founder and President, Sern to collaborate on a project called Azureus Rising. 

Sern, founder and president of Passion Republic / Image Credit: Passion Republic

“The collaboration took about nine months, and Azureus Rising ended up winning several awards at film festivals,” the team shared, adding that this increased Passion Republic’s exposure on the international stage. 

From then on, Passion Republic’s clients grew, even drawing attention from those overseas.

The work behind a game

With over 13 years in the game dev industry, Passion Republic has built its reputation and nurtured long-term relationships. Clients are now the ones approaching the company with opportunities and projects for its team to work on. 

To ensure smooth workflow, employees are split into six different teams: animation, art, modeling, technical, VFX, and support.

Image Credit: Passion Republic

The workflow for projects is usually iterative, according to the team, whereby nothing is set in stone. 

Usually, there are four to five projects running simultaneously in the studio, with each having about five to 30 artists working on it together, depending on the scope of the work. 

Sometimes, team members need to jump from one project to another too, therefore requiring them to be flexible.

With their adaptability, they’ve been able to work not only on outsourced projects (which is their main scope), but they’ve also released their own IP, GigaBash.

It’s a multiplayer arena brawler featuring titans such as kaiju, larger-than-life heroes, and fully destructible environments for maximum chaos and fun.

Today, the game has found fans not just locally, but in countries such as America, Japan, Europe, and more.

Malaysians’ growing love for gaming

When Passion Republic’s team was asked about their perspective on the video games industry in Malaysia, they shared that they don’t believe it’s mainstream yet.

“There is more to be done in order to grow towards that direction. We need to provide more opportunities to young talents, greater exposure locally and internationally, more schools to nurture talents, funding for projects and startups,” said Rohana, Teik Mun, and Boon Chee.

Image Credit: Passion Republic

That being said, the local gaming industry is still continuing to mature, albeit at a slower pace. 

Nowadays, there are more studios opening up in Malaysia, which the team believes is a good thing despite that also pointing to having more competition.

“There are more options and platforms for local talents to pursue their passion or work on their dream title. This also inspires local schools to provide more intensive courses for young talents to learn more specialised skill sets,” they elaborated

Following that, Passion Republic hopes to become a trustworthy co-development partner in Malaysia and build an environment where talents can continue to be inspired by each other.

All this bodes well for the future of Malaysia’s game development scene, and it’ll be interesting to see what other local IPs will emerge in the next few years.

  • Learn more about Passion Republic here.
  • Read more gaming-related articles here.

Also Read: Health is no laughing matter, so Harith Iskander & wife Dr Jezamine launched a wellness line

Featured Image Credit: Passion Republic’s team

She put a zero-waste store on wheels to help M’sians adopt the lifestyle more easily

Growing up in the 80s, Oh Sok Peng lived through the copious mobile services that came to her doorstep. They ranged from uncles selling ice-cream potong, fried carrot cakes, and curry mee, to newspapers, mattresses, and grocery items like fish and veggies.

These businesses phased out when food chains and hypermarkets became more available around every corner. 

Hence, one of the goals for Sok Peng’s venture, Refiller Mobile, is to bring this mode of business back, with the motif driven by sustainability and convenience.

Driven to make zero-waste accessible

Sok Peng has never been comfortable with the idea of throwing bottles away. The ex-media producer of 18 years even once asked a shampoo brand manager why they couldn’t provide a refiller service for their products.

It was a time when refiller services like KitaRefill just didn’t exist.

Decades later, Sok Peng found a zero-waste store close to her new home and started refilling her shower gel. It bewildered her that not only were products more economical, but they were also just as good as commercial brands.

Image Credit: Refiller Mobile

Since then, she’s expanded these refills to all her household products and started her zero-waste journey, where Sok Peng would volunteer at Zero Waste Malaysia (ZWM) and Trashpedia.

The former is a non-profit organisation aiming to make sustainable living a normal part of Malaysians’ lifestyle and daily activities. Meanwhile, Trashpedia is ZWM’s service for people to learn about trash segregation. 

Meeting other volunteers, Sok Peng learnt that purchasing items from zero-waste stores didn’t come as easily for those who didn’t have such stores within their vicinities.

“So I asked myself, what if there is a mobile zero-waste store that can reach out to them and be accessible? How cool will that be? It will open up an option for them and encourage more people to reduce plastic waste,” Sok Peng realised. 

Thus, the first-time entrepreneur rolled out Refiller Mobile in June 2022.

Image Credit: Refiller Mobile

To start, she bought over a van from 24 Hour Travellers, a pair of travellers who transitioned from the van life to now the boat life. Then Sok Peng shared her idea with the micro-influencers, who introduced her to their friend, Rich Samuel, who offered to build Refiller Mobile’s van without any conditions. 

“It was such a big gift because I could never find anyone who can build the van in the zero-waste style better,” Sok Peng shared with gratitude.

A zero-waste store that comes to you

Operating from Wednesdays to Sundays around the Klang Valley, Refiller Mobile sells household cleaning agents, personal care, and dried food as its three main categories of products.

Image Credit: Refiller Mobile

Due to limited space in the van, Sok Peng has to choose what she carries very carefully. 

She told Vulcan Post that she’s selective when it comes to suppliers, requiring them to be on the same page as her business. They must also understand the importance of keeping the process as low waste as possible. 

Image Credit: Refiller Mobile

“It is important to find a business supplier who has the same mindset as us and is willing to grow together with us,” Sok Peng believes.

Household cleaning agents are sourced from KitaRefill, whose team have been in the industry for 10 years. Other products are from various makers and suppliers, including Langit, Soapan Santun, Nourish & Nibbs, and The Rain Tree

Prices of the products sold by Refiller Mobile can start as low as RM4 per kg of dishwashing liquid, to RM47 for a large Yak Chee Dog Chew (pet treat).

Among some of the challenges the business faces are Malaysia’s road conditions which can get bumpy and cause losses to the business, especially with spillage of liquid items and glass containers breaking from falling off shelves.

“We drive very slow and if anyone sees us on the road, please be patient with us,” Sok Peng shared hopefully.

Image Credit: Refiller Mobile

Refiller Mobile goes to neighbourhoods, campuses, offices, and private events for refills. It is done by appointment, as Sok Peng doesn’t want her van driving around blindly, creating an unnecessary carbon footprint. 

Usually, representatives from a neighbourhood will gather a group of interested households (about 10 to 20 families) and schedule the date and time with Refiller Mobile. 

Sok Peng will then remind customers to wash and dry their bottles before refilling. 

“Although we prepare some empty bottles on the side (limited ones and on a first come, first served basis), we want to encourage them to bring their own. Otherwise, it will defeat the purpose of reducing waste,” the solopreneur stated.

Making zero waste an easier choice

Sok Peng shared that over three months of operating, not all of her customers so far practice or know about zero waste. She finds this rewarding as her aim is to expand the community and get more people to do this together.

Image Credit: Refiller Mobile

“Why do they visit Refiller Mobile instead of the zero-waste outlets? I guess it is because of convenience and accessibility,” she added. 

“When Refiller Mobile is parked in their neighbourhood, it is easier for them to run home and take a few extra bottles for refills.”

Customers can also pre-order products from Refiller Mobile that can be delivered to their homes. “Just like my late granny, she got most of her household items delivered to her in the 80s,” Sok Peng recalled.

In the near future, she hopes to expand her service to offices that practice recycling or BYOB (bring your own bottle) to go green. She imagines these office workers passing Refiller Mobile their bottles before they go for lunch and picking them up after lunch.  

Image Credit: Refiller Mobile

To add, the founder is open to scaling her fleet with like-minded partners to make Refiller Mobile available in other states.

Sok Peng clarified that she has no plans to open a physical outlet, simply because a mobile service gives her the flexibility to reach out to more people.

Speaking to Vulcan Post, Sok Peng is aware that the biggest challenge in running a social impact business is making a healthy revenue and keeping the business sustainable for the company. 

She joked that she’s not expecting to get rich from her venture or even make enough to feed her family, but she will be working on opportunities that come her way.

That being said, she requested that all her customers (current and future) be patient with her, as she’s still just a one-woman show running Refiller Mobile, and she can’t be everywhere at once (yet).

  • Learn more about Refiller Mobile here.
  • Read about other Malaysian startups here.

Also Read: MDEC’s IdeaKita programme aims to foster a new generation of tech startups, here’s how

Featured Image Credit: Oh Sok Peng, founder of Refiller Mobile

ShopBack raises US$80M from 65 Equity Partners, bringing total Series F funding to US$160M

shopback 65 equity partners

Singapore-based shopping and rewards company ShopBack announced yesterday (October 3) that it has entered into a subscription agreement with 65 Equity Partners for US$80 million of equity capital in an extended Series F funding round.

Earlier in July, ShopBack had raised US$80 million tranche led by Asia Partners, bringing its ongoing Series F round to a total of US$160 million.

The raise will provide the Group with additional capital to build its platform across Asia Pacific.

It will also be invested into launching new shopping products for users, developing growth and payment solutions for merchant partners, extending its services to more markets, and building capabilities for public market readiness.

Over the coming months, ShopBack will be rolling out features that will enhance the shopping experience for its users.

“We are thankful to have successfully raised an oversubscribed fundraising round during these tumultuous times, underscoring strong fundamentals of the ShopBack business model. Our new partners bring a wealth of expertise and knowledge which will be critical for the next phase of our journey. We are excited to welcome onboard the 65 Equity Partners team and look forward to a fruitful and fulfilling partnership in the years to come,” said Henry Chan, co-founder and CEO of ShopBack Group.

ShopBack sees steady growth

shopback app
Image Credit: ShopBack

The Group has made significant advances in product innovation and regional expansion this year.

In January 2022, it launched ShopBack Pay, where over two million users in Singapore and Australia can now check out conveniently at more than 3,000 merchant outlets. This launch came following its acquisition of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) firm hoolah last December, as part of its foray into financial services.

Then in August this year, it launched its cashback service in Hong Kong.

ShopBack also recently strengthened its management bench to spearhead its growth efforts, bringing onboard Chief Technology Officer San Oo from communications giant Slack Technologies; Commercial Managing Director Alessio Romeni, who is formerly Chief Revenue Officer of fashion e-commerce powerhouse Zalora; and Global Accounts Managing Director Alexander Yardley, who previously headed up commercial leadership roles at Agoda and eBay Inc.

Following the investment, 65 Equity Partners will join ShopBack Group’s Board of Directors and play a direct role in supporting the Group’s public readiness efforts. The completion of the raise is subject to customary regulatory approvals. 

“We are excited to partner ShopBack in their next phase of growth, as the company further strengthens its position as the leading shopping and rewards platform in the Asia-Pacific. This investment aligns strategically with our mandate of supporting high growth businesses led by founders and entrepreneurs in their continued business development, as well as facilitating their potential listings on the Singapore Exchange,” said Tan Chong Lee, CEO of 65 Equity Partners.

Featured Image Credit: ShopBack

Also Read: Hiring talents to building products: Co-founder Joel Leong reveals story of how ShopBack started