TimothyTiah.com

Startups grow market share, scale and raise more money. Whatever happened to building for profits?

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“Our focus in the next two years is to scale and to grow market share. We’re not focus on profits.”

That is an increasingly common line we’re hearing. Hell it’s a line that the entrepreneur in me has used before and it’s propagated by successful Silicon Valley companies like Facebook or Amazon that have had to burn truck loads of money in its earlier years in order to reach its highly profitable and defensible positions today to make abnormal profits.

Having to burn money for a number of years before seeing money is not exactly a new concept. Traditional industries like mining for example go through the same cycle and it certainly applies for certain tech models that have very significant network effects like Uber or Lazada. The problem though is that we’re beginning to apply the Uber argument of scaling first, profits later to industries that it really shouldn’t even apply to.

I happen to exist in an industry now that is a perfect example of this: The Co-working Space Industry. Here’s how the typical co-working space pitch is like:

  1. The workforce is changing. There are more freelancers and startups today than anytime in history and that is going to grow even more.
  2. Millennials want a work environment that is community based for networking and collaboration.

If these two lines sound familiar it’s because this is WeWork’s pitch. Then it goes on.

3. Look at WeWork. It’s worth over $20 billion and is the 5th largest startup in the world. We want to be the WeWork of <Insert geographical region here>.

4. We have opened one, two or three locations now and they’re all at over 80% occupancy in a matter of months.

5. We’re not making money yet at 80% occupancy but that’s because we’re giving heavily discounted rates and free seats to first build the community and scale. Just like Uber. Once we’ve scaled we can raise our rates and we’ll make abnormal profits. Oh and we’ll probably sell to WeWork or URWork.

It’s with this (oversimplified) pitch that the co-working space industry is raising millions on and heck as a player in this space I’ve been tempted to sing the same song and serve the same fluff. There’s one problem though. This pitch, this approach and chase for occupancy gets in the way of building a sustainable business.

Here’s why:

Co-working spaces sell leases for office space it has. Selling leases isn’t like selling coffee. Not everybody needs a lease today or right now. Some might need it now, some next month, some next year. So the sales process is slow. You don’t just get 100% occupancy within a few months of launch. A typical service office takes at least 12 months to sign up enough leases to hit a monthly breakeven. After that every new lease for workstations that they sign goes into profits for them.

The only way to realistically achieve 80-100% occupancy in a matter of months is to sell seats at heavily discounted rates. Rates so discounted that people are willing to break their previous leases and pay the penalty. Or give away free seats to bloggers or influencers or… well anyone so that it makes the place look full.

The problem with that strategy though is that if you heavily discount your product, say if people are used to paying RM500 per head for an office with your co-working space, it’s going to be hard to get them to pay RM1,000 ever. So while that gives you short term occupancy, it totally kills the medium to long term profit potential of your business and location.

So here’s our strategy with Colony to make sure we’re putting in the building blocks to build a sustainable and very profitable business for the future.

  1. We make sure our product is good. The design of our space has to WOW (so far it does) and our location has to be PRIME (so far it is). We also have a huge focus on service levels and hospitality (this one we’re not there yet. I’ve been reading books on hospitality and learned that the Ritz Carltons of the world take decades to build the hospitality culture they have today).
  2. With a good product we can charge a high price. Our average price per work station in Colony is RM1,000. We don’t give heavy discounts and have had to turn away many potential customers because of that.
  3. With a good price, we get good people. The kind of companies in Colony are very professional and pay their rent on time so we don’t have a problem with receivables and they’re all great growing companies that are willing to pay for a great office.
  4. With a good price, we break even at even very low occupancy. We launched in 28th July 2017. In September we had about 30-40% in actual paid occupancy and believe it or not, with help from ancillary revenues we just about broke even (and this includes paying our full rent… not some rent-free months from the landlord). In our second month of operation. October our occupancy has grown to 40-50% and assuming our ancillary revenues keep up we’ll be in the money.
  5. When we make money we can afford to continuously reinvest in our product. In Malaysia we can sometimes build beautiful things but we don’t maintain them well. With Colony we’re constantly reinvesting even in the small things like maintenance. Last week for example, just two months after launch we got painters to come repaint some parts of the walls that had scruffs on them.
  6. When we first launched Colony I was asked by the press when I intend to reach full occupancy. My answer was that my target was 60% by December and that I would be worried if occupancy grew quicker than that because I fear not being able to scale my service levels proportionately in such a short period of time.

The truth is that I didn’t come to all this on my own. I’m a newcomer in the co-working space and service office industry. I’ve been fortunate though to speak to a lot of veterans in the service office industry and they’ve passed on the values I need to build a profitable Colony.

The modest success we’ve had in such a short period of time, I wish I could say that it was part of my plan but it wasn’t. I told my investors that I would take at least 6 months before our first Colony will hit a monthly breakeven point, so imagine my (and their) surprise when we did it in 2. I owe all this to a lot of luck, our great customers and the awesome team we have in Colony. They’ve been through thick and thin for it.

All in all though, I know that a quarter doesn’t make a year. I’ve been in business long enough to know that hey we could be doing really well at some parts of the year and then poorly in others. Business and building a profitable company is a constant struggle and a rollercoaster ride (does anyone remember how even Sunway nearly went bust during the Asian Financial crisis?).

The good thing about building a profitable business though is that you have a lot more options. Your survivability isn’t based on whether you can close the next round of funding or not. It’s secure.. and any funding rounds that come with it is a bonus.

My ambition isn’t to build a company that is valued highly on paper based on the last investment round. My ambition is to build a company that the most traditional banks would be clamouring to lend lots of money to. That’s the real acid test because if a bank is willing to lend your company money, it means it believes you have the profits and cashflow to pay it back.

So wish me luck.. and if you’re looking for office space and resonate with our mission to change the experience at work, please book a tour at Colony.


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How our lives now are actually much worse than our cavemen ancestors of the past…

I’m reading a book now called Sex at Dawn. It’s really a book about how human beings are not meant to be monogamous but more interestingly it goes deep into studies and research about us as human beings.

Here’s the shocking things I’ve learned from the book about what human beings were like in our earlier years:

  1. We shared everything. Our very early ancestors were foragers ie hunter-gatherers. We often lived nomadic lives and exist in small communities where we shared everything. In small communities, there was very little need for laws or enforcement because everyone knew each other. If someone did something that harmed another person then that person would have to deal with the shame of doing so from everyone else. So people generally don’t do these things. Compare that to the world of today… people do bad things because they don’t know the people harmed by their actions. They aren’t close enough to feel the shame.
  2. There was little reason for war or conflict because nobody owned anything and everything we needed was available around us. When you consider that nobody had the concept of owning land, or owning anything or anyone.. then there really is nothing to fight about.
  3. No leaders could oppress its people. Because everything that we needed and wanted was available around us, no leader could oppress or exert influence on everybody else because if you weren’t happy you could just leave. So people followed leaders then not because they were forced to, or it was a given right or anything.. but because that leader had gained their respect.
  4. There was no poverty. That’s right. Think about it. Poverty is man-made. Man created money, man created the social classes that have and have-nots. Man created all of that. In our early years, there wasn’t a rich or poor or middle class. Everyone had a chance to eat whatever they wanted to eat or do whatever they wanted to do. The Earth provided for everything. Nobody starved.
  5. The lives of our ancestors weren’t as bad as we think they are. There was a story in the book where European explorers visited a South American tribe at the time and took pity of their impoverished lives. They lived in little huts, they ate insects or bugs and they didn’t have nice proper clothes to wear. They decided to bring back two people from the tribe to Europe and train them how to dress, how to eat with a fork and knife and eventually brought them back to their tribe a year later to hope that they would go back and teach their tribe. After leaving the two natives for a year, they went back with disappointment to find that they had went back to their old usual lifestyles. The explorers offered to bring them back to Europe but they didn’t want to. They were happy in their tribes with their community, and what the explorers saw as poor living conditions, they saw as their way of life.
  6. There was no stress. And there was a lot of free time. Hunting for food, taking care of household chores all took only a few hours a day. Researchers found that it was very common for our ancestors to sleep 3 hours in the afternoon every day because really… there wasn’t really anything to do. There was no empire we needed to build, no legacy. We just needed to take care of ourselves and raise our kids.

After reading about all this, I began to think that HOLY SHIT! It’s entirely possible that our modern human lives are the worst possible lives in our existence as human beings., Today we worry about stress, we have a large number of the population living in poverty, crimes, wars, violence… none of these existed in the early days when we were hunter-gatherers.

The flip side about this made me think. What is it that makes us so stressed these days? What matters? What do we really need? If we were to be hunter-gatherers of our current generation, maybe that’s just the equivalent of having jobs that earned just enough for us to survive. Do we need to pursue wealth at the expense of being able to spend time doing what we loved doing.

All the stress, all the pressure we feel now. That’s all man-made and in many instances. it’s something we can choose to do or choose not to do.

That’s all food for thought for me this weekend. Maybe it might be for you too 🙂

If there is one thing you care about talks, what would it be?

Things has been really busy for me since my short staycation. It is only the 3rd day of the week, and I already feel like time is running out for me. Other than the plans that we have for the expansion of Colony is now in its development phase, I am also busy preparing for my upcoming talk that will happen tomorrow (check them out here if you haven’t already). Apart from preparing the content, I am also thinking how should we create an environment that is conducive and engaging for the audience so that it truly benefits the participants who are joining.

My team has been really helpful throughout the planning, but now that I have more control over the venue and settings, I really want to deliver that superior experience to all my guest. So I thought I could turn to all of you – if there is one aspect that you care about during talks or conferences, what would it be?

Also, we still have a few spaces left for the talk so do sign up in the link above if you haven’t already. Looking forward to see you there!


 

5 Reasons Why we should start doing more Staycations

The past few months have been taxing on Shorty and me. We’ve been really lucky that the response of our 2-month old Colony has been great. The insane growth of Colony though comes with a price. It’s been heavy on both of us work-wise and hard with her too having to juggle work and the kids.

Bogged down with the daily grind we realized we’ve hardly had time to spend with each other. We’ve thought about doing holidays together but that runs into a whole bunch of scheduling problems. Our coming weeks are so packed that we can’t put together a meaningful window for us to make a long overdue trip together. We normally go for a trip together, just the both of us at least once a year. I can’t even remember the last time we did that now.

I realized that what we needed wasn’t to go anywhere fancy or experience anything new. Both Shorty and I are fortunate to have had the chance to travel a lot in the past and another trip to Japan wasn’t going to move the needle. What we needed though was to be able to spend time together. Just me and her.

So one day after work I decided to explore the idea of a staycation. Choosing a nice hotel to spend the weekend at in KL. I looked around at a number of hotels and I found that The Majestic Hotel was the best value.

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There were a number of different rooms in the pictures I could see online though so I contacted them wanting to see what the difference was and what kind of room we were getting.

The great news was that they unexpectedly recognized my name and offered to sponsor us that weekend. They were amazing hosts and now that the staycation has come to an end, I can safely say it was a much needed break away from home and work.

Here’s why I loved the staycation experience:

  1. It takes away all the anxiety that comes with travel

We don’t have to worry so much about having to make or miss a flight, or changing to different currency or even packing. If we ever forgot to bring something we could just go home and get it. No worrying about getting a local SIM card or how much it could cost if you were to answer that roaming call. Removing all the anxiety that come with traveling allowed us to focus on the destination itself.

2. The kids are just a short car-ride away.

If you’re like us, parents who struggle to be away from their kids for more than a few days… then Staycations are perfect. Because if we ever miss them we can go back and spend time with them in the afternoon which was exactly what we did. Heck we even brought them over to enjoy the lovely suite that The Majestic team gave us.

3. Going from a world of doing many things to a world of doing nothing.

What did we do on our staycation? Well we went for a 2 and a half hour massage and scrub at the Majestic Spa which was awesome and we ate at the restaurants on property. The rest of the time we were just in the room chilling and doing whatever we wanted to do. There was no expectations about how we should or shouldn’t be spending our time. Shorty was playing a lot of candy crush and reading about this Canadian lady who tattooed her eyeballs. I on the other hand was reading my books and watching David Blaine on TV doing magic tricks in front of Hollywood Celebrities.,

It’s a liberating experience to just have time to do whatever you want. No need for any sight-seeing, no need to think about where to find food and no toddlers calling after you for immediate attention halfway reading your book.

4. There was adventure!

Okay so I’ve been to Majestic Hotel many many times before. Every year I go there at least once for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. I’ve once attended Bryan Loo’s daughter’s birthday at Contango… but what I have never ever explored was the Majestic Wing. That is the really old colonial building that was the original Majestic Hotel that went as far back as… well I hear it was one of the earliest hotels of KL.

Instead of posting pictures of the hotel now, I’ll leave it to you to Google it.

5. It’s a lot more affordable.

For the money we save on air tickets, or airport shuttles and stuff like that we get to stay in a nicer hotel than we normally would. Not to mention we don’t have to budget for falling for tourist scams which is something I always tend to get when I go to foreign countries

All in all I am now in love with the idea of Staycations and I’d highly recommend Majestic Hotel in KL for one if you ever wanted to do one.

Do you have to be an asshole CEO to get shit done?

If you read all the best practice management books about how to manage people, they always talk about how we should treat our staff respectfully. They teach us that great leaders should never have to shout at their subordinates, nor belittle them in any way.

Yet some of the most successful tech leaders in the world be it Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Travis Kalanick and Jeff Bezos are known to be precisely like that. They don’t shy away from putting people down if they don’t get what they need done. These leaders then inspire a whole breed of CEOs who all believe that they can treat their staff poorly but not just that… that it’s a necessity in order to get shit done. People have to fear you.

My confession here is that in my earlier years as a leader I totally drank the same Kool-Aid. I believed that I had to be strict, call people out for their mistakes in a mean way… and occasionally raise my voice on issues that I wanted to stress was important.

At the end of last year though I went through a very intense phase of self-reflection. I realised that I didn’t want to be an asshole CEO and I wanted to prove to myself that I could NOT be an asshole and still get results done. Colony was my first experiment of such a thing. Ask the founding team that was with me in my Nuffnang days if they had ever seen me shout or scream and they’d all nod like an Elvis Bobble Head on the dashboard of an SUV going through cross-road terrain.

Ask my team at Colony now though and I’m pretty confident they’d say that they have never seen me lose my temper and bang tables in the manner in which I had in my earlier days of Nuffnang. That’s not necessarily because things always go right. Heck no.. things often go wrong in the day to day of Colony too but I realize that freaking out on them… is a choice. I could choose to flip out of frustration and take it out on somebody, hopefully motivating that person (out of fear) to fix that problem asap. Or I could understand that problems we face is part of the journey of business and calmly address each problem.

When talking about this recently, I was asked the big question. “Great you can be NOT an asshole… but does shit get done?”.

My response was that I only ask you to look at the results.

Today few people would deny that Colony is one of the most beautiful co-working spaces in KL (if not the most). Despite being less than two months old, we’re one of the most well-known co-working spaces in town and recently JLL, one of the largest property firms in the world referred to Colony as a “major co-working space operator” in KL. The result of where we are today isn’t because of just me or my wife. It’s because of the team we work with… and we did it… without me having to be an asshole CEO.

That’s not to say that asshole CEOs don’t drive results. Some people just prefer that kind of management style and yes it works for some but comes with some pitfalls. People normally put up with asshole bosses if they have a lot of respect for that person. Which was probably why Steve Job’s or Elon Musk’s team stuck with them. Why? Because for all the bashing, these leaders they follow help them achieve things that they would never have thought of achieving on their own.

The respect that a team would have for an asshole boss remains only as long as that boss continues to be a star. Once that boss fails to achieve results, that respect wanes and people start wondering why the fuck they’re putting up with all this shit.

So I’m not saying that being an asshole boss doesn’t get you results. I’m saying that if you’re going to be an asshole boss… you better be inventing the next iPhone or Model S.

Because if you’re not… then you’re not Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. You’re just an asshole. 

How I used social media in my journey as an entrepreneur…

One of my friends is a guy named Jonathan Quek. He’s a professional speaker who makes a living giving seminars that people pay to attend just to learn from what he knows.

Sometime a few months ago he sat across me at The Barn and wanted to know more about my social media experience. How I had used social media in entrepreneurship to help level the game when it came to  business. So I told him whatever I knew in my past 10 years of social media experience ranging from the days of Friendster to Twitter to Plurk and well today’s Instagram and Snapchat generation.

After hearing all that he said “Why is it you have never shared this with anybody?”.

My reply was that I didn’t think anyone would be interested and besides I’m not a professional speaker. That though was precisely why he thought I should do it and why people would listen. So he asked me who else had used social media very prominently to help him in business and I named a few… one of them being Bryan Loo of Tealive.

Bryan happened to be a good friend of ours so Jonathan went to speak to him and asked him if he would be a part of a talk we would put together. Bryan happily agreed. Just like me he thought it would be fun. So this is what we put together.

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Click here to learn more or to check out more details.

I’ve used digital (not just social) media so much for business. Even when it comes to Colony. All the hype we’ve been getting, the press coverage and even the fact that we’re on the first page of Google whenever anyone searches “Coworking space KL” is no accident. The results have been really powerful. The organic effects of all this work has driven more leads and more cost efficient leads than all the ads we could buy.

But speaking about it… that’s a whole different thing altogether. I can’t help but feel somewhat nervous about it. Somewhat worried that… hey what if what I had to say wasn’t that important or meaningful after all.

Well we’re a few weeks away and at the very least I think I’ll have fun. Heck the 3 of us are friends… so at the very least it’ll be all of you guys hanging out with 3 friends.

I asked Jonathan if he could give Bryan and I a promo code so that we could give like a 50% discount for our followers and he gave this to me.

So if you want to sign up click on the link above and go ahead

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and sign up.


I wanted to bring hospitality to the office. Here’s what I’ve learned

Yep! That’s right. This article is probably the first time you’ve ever seen the words hospitality on my blog. Heck my background has been in digital media and entrepreneurship and all that but hospitality?

How did that come about?

Well a big part of what we wanted to achieve with Colony as a co-working space in KL was to bring a far better working experience to people at work. The word experience is key here because an experience is not just delivered by how nice our co-working space looks. Nope… experiences are delivered with hardware (how physically nice the space looks) to software (how the staff treat you).

That’s when it hit me. It never occurred to me before because most co-working spaces operate like motels. You wash up after yourself, clean up after your own mess, even have an honesty jar for the stuff you take from the pantry. But what I wanted the Colony experience to be like is not that of a motel but of a 5-Star hotel. It then occurred to me how far away we were from achieving that vision and how much work we had to do.

So that very weekend I committed myself to reading books about hospitality, I picked up a number of books to read… like one about how Disney creates their experiences and enhances hospitality called “Be Our Guest” or another about Ritz Carlton.

I’ve also started looking to add members to our team that come from a hospitality background. I’ve been lucky there because some of our current team already have hospitality backgrounds.

Here’s what I learned and implemented at Colony in these few weeks:

  1. I’ve learned that the words we use to refer to the people we serve influence how we treat them.

So instead of calling our tenants members, or tenants… we now refer to them as our guests. And we their cast. The term cast is something Disney uses in their resorts too to refer to their own staff. The idea of that is to get everyone used to the thinking that we are cast members in a performance aimed to create a good experience for our guests. I like that so we adopted it for Colony too.

2. I’ve learned that Disney focuses on 4 main pillars to deliver the experience they do. Setting, Cast and Process (there’s a 4th one but that’s for another day).

i) Setting refers to how the space looks like every day? Is it messy? Are some pillows on the sofas caught out of arrangement at any time of the day? What we’ve done then is that we’ve taken a lot of care about making sure everything is presented as it should be down to the music that we play in the space.

ii) Cast refers to our team members, How we dress, what kind of language we use, how do we show directions to people? Do we just point or do we take them all the way?

We’ve made revamps to that, even putting in dress code. The dress code for the team at Colony isn’t formal like hotels, but smart. Kinda like what I’m wearing here.

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iii) Process

This is important to make sure things run smoothly. When guests move in how do we make sure they get what they need fast and efficiently. How is information delivered to them so they can quickly get acquainted with the space and the surrounding areas. How do we make the most annoying things not annoying.

3. I’ve learned that people want to be serviced… but invisibly.

You know how we love the feeling of coming back to our hotel rooms to see the mess all cleaned up? What we love about it isn’t just the tidiness of the whole situation but how it all happened without us looking. It’s like magic.

So what we did at Colony was manage our cleaners such that they would clean the rooms (empty the thrash and all) at the end of each day and just before the guests come in the next day. So by the time you come back to your office in Colony, everything has been cleaned.

4. I’ve learned that experiences are created by frontline staff.

The Community Managers, the receptionist or anyone who faces our guests. So in order to create great experiences for our guests we need to empower them to make decisions of their own.

So what did we do at Colony? We implemented an initiative where every cast member can spend RM100 each day per guest for any reason that would make that person happy. This can be done without any approval required from management. That sounds like a lot of money because if you think about it we have like a 100 guests now in Colony each day and growing. That means if this is maxed out, our team could spend a maximum of RM100,000 A DAY.

This has been great so far though. One of our guests from overseas needed a travel adaptor and a cast member of ours was able to quickly go out and buy one. We’ve had other requests too like one wanted to change the colour of the lights in their office, or we saw one of our guests having a bad day at work so we bought her some donuts to pick her up.

The impact of these small stories here and there have been amazing and it’s only been a few weeks.

The truth is that we’re still pretty far off from where we want to be. I’ve learned that hotels like the Ritz Carlton take decades to build the culture and processes they need to deliver the service they have and it’s still evolving. So we’re definitely not there yet… but we are making progress step by step into achieving our purpose.

Imagine going to work and having a team of people at work who are just there to make your life there easier and serve your every need and want. That’s the future of office and it’s what Colony stands for.

How identifying this one passion of mine has changed my perspective of stress

I’ve been reflecting about what I enjoy doing lately. Trying to figure out what you enjoy is harder than it seems. We’re often influenced by what society tells us we should enjoy… like going for holidays, or shopping, or hanging out with friends or watching a movie. But that doesn’t mean we all enjoy these things. Some people just don’t enjoy traveling even if it’s for holidays. Some people don’t enjoy hanging out with people but rather stay at home.

So in the past few weeks I’ve been really thinking hard about what it is I enjoy and I found the best way to figure out what I enjoy is to take away the things that I thought I enjoyed from my life. So I’ve cut down on the holidays, I’ve limited my shopping to only things I need rather than things I wanted and I’ve only gone out whenever I felt like going out.

What I came to realize was that playing games (something I love), or going on holidays or retail therapy or any of these things create temporary highs that go away as fast as they come. That then creates the life that we have now… chasing one high after another. That whenever we get a bit of stress we’re tempted to feel that we should react by going for some shopping, or drinks with friends or a beach holiday.

Gaming or social media or any applications that were made to be addictive run on the same basis. They all need to be able to give you a high.. and in order to get that high, you need to have points of the game where you have your lows too. That’s why winning feels good only if it’s hard to win.. and if it comes off the back of some losses.

After some reflection, what I found I really enjoyed was learning stuff. Instead of keeping up with what my friends are doing on social media, the things I find myself doing is reading articles on Quora or Googling stuff and getting lost in the world of Wikipedia. I suddenly saw my life as a constant pursuit to learn about different things. My time on YouTube isn’t spent watching a PewDiePie or any funny Youtubers but instead watching documentaries.

I’ve found that I read a lot of books too and funny enough I realize why I enjoy my time with Shorty so much. It’s because she tends to have this natural desire too to learn about random things from the books or articles she reads and she tells me about them. She recently read a book about the evolution of human beings and how human beings were not meant to be monogamous… the studies she told me about from that book were mind blowing.

More importantly though it has changed the way I view stress. We often face stress because we are put into situations that are outside our comfort zone. Think about it though, if we’re constantly in our comfort zones then we don’t learn anything. So to be stressed… is to be learning something new.

That’s changed how I view everything. I now appreciate the stressful challenges I have in life and in business. I see it all as an opportunity to experience more… and to learn more. Suddenly with this new perspective, things aren’t as stressful as I thought they once were anymore.

Here’s what a well balanced SUV for a working family man should have

This article was written in collaboration with VW Malaysia

Some people say the car you drive tends to represent where you are in life. I can resonate with that. Looking back I found that I craved different types of cars at the different phases of life I go through.

When I was a student, any car that can fit 5 or more friends is very much appreciated. Ideally a car that isn’t too expensive to own and maintain too.

Then came the phase of the young working professional. Single, with a little bit of money to spend the cars I craved were cars that were a little flashy, sporty or both. The utility of a car took a backseat and more weightage was given to how cool a car is or what people would think of me if I drove this kind of car.

Then came the phase I am in right now. Married with kids.

Sports cars became almost totally irrelevant because they were too small or uncomfortable to fit a baby seat and stroller. Family vans became the most utilitarian car we could buy. It was high so it’s easy to load the kids into the baby seat. They had a lot of trunk space so we could keep a stroller and more and they were comfy.

The problem with vans though is that when I’m not going out with the family and going on my own, it’s a little bulky and the driving experience of a van isn’t exactly to die for. So came the SUVs or what I call the mini-SUVs. They have all the benefits of a van albeit being a little smaller but was still fun to drive around when I’m on my own.

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The tricky part is finding the right car of this category and this week I’ve had the chance to drive this around.

The new VW Tiguan.

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I’ve had it for a few days now at the time of writing and I gotta say I love it. As how I always review cars I’m not going to go into the technicalities of things but rather on why it’s great from a lifestyle perspective. Here’s why:

1) It comfortably fits two baby seats at the back and because it’s higher than a regular sedan car it makes it easier to get them in and out.

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2) It has lots of trunk space.

3) It’s a fantastic car to drive. Powerful enough to excite you when you hit the accelerator and stable enough to not make you feel insecure when you’re traveling at a high speed.

4) It is safe. This is a big thing for me when it comes to family cars and I have this impression that VW cars generally feel solid and have a good number of safety features, airbags and all.

5) It is affordable. With all of the above what I couldn’t believe was what the price tag was.

Then there are all the other tech features. The dashboard is purely digital.

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It gives you a lot of little information you never had before like every time I turn off the engine it tells me how far I’ve driven and for how long. It has censors all around it and has this safety feature that would have the car automatically stop if it senses it was going to knock something while parking or otherwise.

Oh and the car’s Bluetooth seamlessly connects with my phone and allows me to play Spotify from it into the car speakers. I can’t describe how important this is and how few cars actually do this really well.

The car also comes with a lot of other things. If you want to look at the specs, pricing or more pictures you can look here.

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I’d recommend this car if you’re in the phase of life where I am. Family man but at the same time want a nice cool car to drive around on your own that isn’t too big. It’s no surprise there’s a bit of a waiting list for it.

Thoughts on marriage

Last night Shorty asked me “What if one day you fall in love with someone else?’.

My answer was almost a reflex: “I won’t”.

When she dug deeper on why I explained how even though I’ve had a decent number of girlfriends in the past, what I have with Shorty is something that I’ve never experienced before. We have been married for 5 years now, together for 9… and till today I always look forward to spending time with Shorty. Even if it’s just following her home on a car ride and talking to her.

So the thought of falling in love with someone else is really foreign to me.

“Still.. you could change…”.

I guess I can’t ever deny the possibility that things in life might change but even then I’m not sure how much of an impact it will have on our marriage. The way I see it, once we have a family, our relationship is more than just us. It’s our kids. We owe it not just to ourselves but our kids to keep a good healthy relationship running. Even if I do fall in love with someone else, I don’t know if I can be the one breaking off our marriage and letting our kids grow up in a broken marriage. No matter how many times I try to convince myself that maybe it’s better that way, rather than letting them grow up in an unhappy marriage.

Because that’s not the point. When I say we owe it to each other, we owe it to each other to find a way to be happy in our marriage no matter how unhappy  we are. It’s something of course that works only if both sides are happy to work on it and I guess it becomes really challenging if only one side is trying hard.

My marriage with Shorty has reached a new phase though. Now that she’s also my business partner in Colony, I feel that I see her in a new light. No more the blogger, influencer, mom or wife… but a businesswoman. When I look at what she’s done with Colony I can’t help but pause for a while in admiration. It’s amazing and a part of me is still looking forward to what she’s going to do next.

Why am I writing this here? I guess writing about this helps me crystallise my thoughts. It helps me mind map my thoughts on marriage. Marriage is a long journey, and it’s something that will constantly grow, evolve and change so it’s good to lock in a memory of what my thoughts are on marriage at this particular point of my life.

Colony