The next interview in the Meet Our Shop Owners blog series is Jay Catalan, Co-Founder of The Network Hub.
What do you love most about owning and managing The Network Hub?
“What I love most about The Network Hub are the people. Being surrounded by entrepreneurs and freelancers who love what they do and hearing them talk about their work is always inspiring. You get to hear about the latest, most interesting stuff happening in different fields. I remember what it was like working by yourself from home, your world starts getting limited to only those within your own industry. However, in a coworking environment, you can’t help but expand your point of view when you work alongside a diverse group of professionals, designers, developers, entrepreneurs, and community organizers. It’s like being immersed in a living, breathing Twitter feed.”
What inspired you to start a coworking space?
“It started with the usual Sunday night sushi get together we’d have with some friends and coworkers, we would discuss articles we read during the week and brainstorm ideas on how to improve our work and services. One problem became apparent after discussing feedback from our clients. We had all been running client meetings in various coffee shops like Waves, Starbucks, and Blenz, and the consensus was that the noise, chaos and unpredictability of a coffee shop left a bad impression on some of our clients. We needed to find a more professional workspace to meet and work from. The only viable option that was available to us at that time was the executive suite rentals. We decided to try it out, but quickly realized it wasn’t for us, everyone was wearing a suit and tie, and we’d be wearing jeans and t-shirts. We knew other colleagues that were in a similar bind, but the solution we were looking for did not exist. So when a friend of my co-founder, Minna, told us about this decent sized space in Gastown that’s been sitting empty, I think it used to be an old tailoring shop, the gears started turning for us. We took a look at the space, it was dark, dingy and required a good amount of work. But we could see the potential, we could make a space for us and our friends from the ground up. It would be a space that would satisfy our professional needs, a space that we’d actually enjoy going to, and would be filled with like minded folks that we can share resources with. That’s how The Network Hub got started, we asked ourselves what should exist, but didn’t, and we decided to take the next step of actually creating it.”
What do you like to do in your spare time?
“I like spending as much of my time with my family as possible. We recently had a baby girl, she’s 22 months old now. Also, we have two young boys, 7 and 8. My wife and I love being able to take our baby to the free kids music hour at the Music Box on Friday mornings. I hope the word spreads about that class.”
What are your favourite eats at River Market?
“I frequent Longtail Kitchen so often that it almost feels like my own personal kitchen. I can’t get enough of their Chicken Wings, and I also love their Pad Thai and Chinese sausage fried rice.”
What is your favorite family tradition from your childhood?
“Christmas Eve in the Philippines. Everyone would attend Midnight Mass, including family members that aren’t regular churchgoers. Everyone in town would pack the church wall to wall, then we’d walk outside and all the street vendors would be selling Christmas treats to snack on while you walk home. Then everyone would sit down for the Noche Buena feast, and eat and talk late into the night. Christmas caroling was also big in my neighbourhood, my friends and I would make instruments from old cans and bottles then go house to house singing for coins, then we’d split our earnings at the end of the night.”
What is a secret fun fact about you?
“I co-founded Tulayan, which means ‘To Bridge’ in Filipino. It’s a non-profit organization I started with some friends. Through classes and workshops, we provide a way for Filipino Canadians to reconnect with Filipino culture and learn a little bit more about Filipino history. Over the years, we’ve held several Tagalog language classes for adults in Vancouver and New Westminster. We find that a lot of Filipino Canadians who were born here or immigrated here when they were young do not grow up learning to speak Filipino. Our long-term goal is to help bridge the gap between them and more recent Filipino immigrants. In the coming year, we also hope to bring some fun Tagalog workshops for little kids. It’s a real priority for me, as I’d like more opportunities for my daughter to be exposed to our language and culture, this is probably the most ideal age for her to absorb it all.”
If you had a million dollars, how would you spend it?
“Hmmm, I’d give a chunk of it to my parents and siblings, then get a nice place by the beach in the Philippines that my family could eventually retire to. I’d also invest it in The Network Hub to expand it to more areas, I love what I do and I would love to keep doing it even if I had a million dollars.”
If you could meet anyone (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
“I’d spend my day with US President Barack Obama. I’d love to hear his take on service and the presidency after his two historic terms, and what his plans are afterwards. I’ve read that he’s been taking every opportunity to host unofficial dinners in his travels, inviting CEOs, designers, authors, inventors, artists, and whatever intellectual sparks his interest. He must be one of the most informed human beings on the planet right now, given his curiosity about the world and his desire to learn from others.”
If you could be any superhero, who would you be and why?
“I would have to say Charles Xavier, aka Professor X. I like how he started a school for mutants, to help them control their powers, and use it for good. These were mutants that were in dangerous situations and had powers that could be a danger to themselves and others. I like the idea of finding them, assembling them into a team of powerful superheroes, and working together for the common good, for peace.”
If you walked into work one day and found out that there was a zombie apocalypse, what would you do?
“Easy. I’ve given the Zombie Apocalypse a good amount of thought, and I don’t know why ‘The Walking Dead’ hasn’t mentioned how zombies would swim in the water. I’d imagine it would take a lot of coordination for zombies to swim, they can barely walk as it is. So the logical move would be to take my family and go on one of the tugboats. Get on a boat, head towards the ocean, end of story. We’re also at River Market, which would have a big stash of food!”
Think back to when you were little, do you remember what you wanted to be when you grow up?
“I’ve always wanted to be some kind of engineer. As a kid, I watched a lot of robot anime shows, like Transformers and Gundam Wing. I dreamed of creating stuff that has never existed before, stuff that will help improve people’s lives. I find the creative process exciting and rewarding. Being able to conceive something in your mind, make it real, and see its impact in the real world is an incredible thing. I think there’s a lot of similarities between engineers and entrepreneurs.”
How do you see the co-working culture changing in the next 5 years?
“I think the trajectory is towards a continued increase in the demand for coworking spaces, and with it, maybe more diversity in the types of coworking spaces. Joining a coworking space would be more of a natural step in the growth of a startup, small business, or a new freelancer starting out. I believe this is the case because I think the inevitable trend is that more people will be working for themselves or working for companies on a very short-term basis. Today’s technology makes it much easier for people to start their own companies; thus, transforming ideas into reality is a much quicker process. Mobile technology also makes it easier to work from anywhere. A lot of information is in the cloud nowadays, not stuck in the home office in some filing cabinet. People are also realizing that isolation doesn’t work. Meetups and networking events are becoming more popular. There’s an acknowledgement that a good network is necessary for growing a business. Coworking spaces provide an organic relationship-building environment for such growth.”CONTACT
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