As with anything in Zhongguancun, Garage Cafe is tech-centric, start-uppity and uber-entrepreneurial. It’s a space where, if you have an idea, investment manager-turned-café founder Su Di can probably help you find someone who can inject capital into it, integrate it or develop it.
Su Di is at the café every day, regardless of weather or holidays, and works at the same tables as everyone else. He greets everyone who comes in, inquires into their progress, and drinks iced coffees amid the soft din of conversation and fingers tapping keyboards.
Su Di's not-so-typical office space
Via a translator pulled from the bookroom lined with programming texts donated by investors and entrepreneurs, Su Di tells us the café is the outcome of his desire to find a way to “improve investment and venture capital efficiency.”
“A lot of entrepreneurs end up working at Starbucks or other traditional cafés. I want to provide a single space for them to get together.” In addition to office equipment, the café is equipped with plenty of electrical outlets, several Wi-Fi networks and a job board plastered with flyers. Also available are four small meeting rooms and one large one. In essence, the café has everything that a start-up would need, save their name on the door. Even the coffee is bland, just like your typical office.
Garage Cafe's job board
But that’s where the similarities end. The atmosphere is incredible and worlds away from a Dilbert comic. Wonderfully absent are drone-filled cubicles and the guy who spews the same jokes every day (every office has that guy, right?). And every weekday at noon, work teams are invited to give half-hour presentations, something Su Di hopes will further boost the community spirit and networking opportunities. “Very few teams actually get venture capital,” he says. “But I do hope that start-up teams will be able to help each other take better steps.”
“Garage Café offers a very friendly community for start-ups, along with a very social environment,” says Liu Huanqing, a regular patron who operates from home during the week and frequents the space on weekends to work on his project.
In a few months, Garage Café will be launching an online platform for “early start-ups,” opening this convivial open-office community to those of us too busy brainstorming on the next big thing to make it to Zhongguancun.
Find it: 2/F, Xinding Binguan, 48 Haidian Xi Dajie 海淀西大街48号鑫鼎宾馆2楼, Tel: 8262-7127