The Global New Dining Experience- Co-working Kitchen

What exactly is a co-working kitchen?

The concept of a co-working kitchen, while relatively new in Malaysia, has actually taken off and become quite popular in other countries of the world. Co-working kitchens have been known by different names, including cloud kitchen, shared kitchen, food incubator, satellite kitchen, etc.

What exactly is a co-working kitchen? Simply put, it is a co-working space, but this time, for the purpose of making food. Co-working kitchens are kitchen facilities which are set up and equipped with every equipment and utensil a food maker would need, and it is then rented out for people to cook in. Typically, a co-working kitchen houses multiple people/small food business. Just like a co-working space, these people can work together, bounce ideas off one another, get inspiration from each other and so on, at low cost and usually, high returns.

The idea of a co-working kitchen is to give aspiring food entrepreneurs the chance to start up their business at a very low cost. When a new food business first sets up in a co-working kitchen, the cost of renting a space is greatly lowered. Not only that, the business does not have to buy its own equipment. It rents it from the shared kitchen facility. This also cuts the amount of capital needed by a big chunk. It is no wonder then that traditional dining is fast making way for the concept of shared kitchens.

Certain co-working kitchen facilities also offer extra services to their clients. For example, Union Kitchen, a shared kitchen facility in Washington, builds relationships with vendors in other fields, such as accounting firms, design firms, marketing firms, etc and connects their clients to these vendors. The idea behind this is to give their clients the opportunity to focus on cooking up good food, while they take care of the business side of things.

The benefits of co-working kitchen are immense, and they far outweigh the downsides. Apart from the low capital required to start up a business in a co-working kitchen, a co-working kitchen also offers a community of other food businesses which would be more like family and less like competitors. This sense of community was clearly seen in Brooklyn last year when Pilotworks, a co-working kitchen, was suddenly closed down and its tenants forced to move out in a few days. Instead of most of these businesses crashing as would be expected in such a situation, they all came together to share their resources and helped one another remain on their feet. Following the close down of their shared kitchen space, many of the business which operated in Pilotworks opened up their own space a few months afterwards. Others found new spaces to work in and also have plans to scale their businesses. All of these were made possible because working together had forged a bond among these tenants, which held true even when they were faced with adversity.

For other food-preneurs, co-working kitchen, or more aptly, food incubators, are where they experiment and perfect their recipes before opening up to the world. Other entrepreneurs use their time in cloud kitchen to spread the word about their products, thus ensuring they have a substantial customer base by the time they finally launch their own kitchens.

This concept of co-working kitchens, although new to Malaysia, is already in operation. Residents of KL, the country’s bustling capital, will be familiar with Dahmakan, a company which is best known for food delivery. What many do not know is that Dahmakan is in fact, a cloud kitchen. Dahmakan has been successful enough that it bagged $5million in series A funding. This just goes to show that in the nearest future, co-working kitchen will become a common phenomenon in Malaysia.

Statistics show that the time is just ripe for it, with demand for online food delivery estimated to be about $145million in 2019 in Malaysia alone, and the revenue from food delivery expected to rise to about $956million by 2026. With a rapid rise in demand for food delivery and a concurrent decline in traditional dine in options, co-working kitchens seem to be the way forward for food-preneurs who want their creations to be appreciated and bought by other people.