Building a company from the ground up is hard enough. Turning it multinational, and running it to great success all before the age of 30 seems to border on fiction, but it only describes the grind for Yoan Kamalski.
Kamalski is the CEO of Hmlet, one of the pioneers of the co-living concept. Established out of a single apartment, he built the business to what it is today, and with properties in Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney and Tokyo, and plans to expand to Melbourne later this year. His acumen and drive have led to his place on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2019, and in the same year, his plans to expand from 1,500 rooms available under the business to over 2,000 began to materialise.
Rampant success aside, Kamalski remains much of an everyday man. A conversation with him reveals a man steadfast in his beliefs, riddled with purpose, and yet still humble — completely aligned with the emblematic Man of Today that fronts the BOSS Bottled fragrance you know and love.
To find out more about how Kamalski best represents the Man of Today, we speak to him about his new year resolutions, his secrets to success and why grooming is essential to the latter.
What gave you the idea to start Hmlet?
I founded Hmlet in 2016 with my long-term friend and business partner, Zenos Schmickrath. After forming numerous friendships from renting out rooms of our semi-detached home, we realised the trend of co-living was becoming a necessity for working millennials and decided to explore this concept further.
Hmlet (pronounced “Hamlet” which means small village) not only makes finding a place easy but also offers a community to those who are moving into a new city or have left familiar surroundings. With community at the heart of Hmlet, our properties include numerous common areas such as lounges and rooftops where members can interact and engage in social events – an attribute not commonly found in traditional shared housing. Hmlet’s co-living spaces, therefore, fulfil a need for affordable, flexible, and secure accommodation that provide a sense of belonging.
When starting your company, what were some of the struggles you faced?
When Hmlet first started, co-living was a relatively new concept in Asia-Pacific. I knew there was demand for custom-designed move-in ready homes that supports the needs of young professionals. The challenge was to sell my vision to investors and landlords that co-living is a viable alternative investment strategy offering attractive returns.
In spite of that, Hmlet has become the fastest-growing co-living company in Asia Pacific and today operates spaces in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and Japan.
How did you feel when you were placed on the Forbes 30 under 30 list?
I felt it was more of a recognition of the Hmlet team. Without the brilliant people who have worked hard and smart along the way, Hmlet wouldn’t be where it is today. From a personal point of view, I felt very honoured to be recognised among the young, creative and bold entrepreneurs shaping the future. It’s so exciting to be part of a generation of game-changers innovating in technology, disrupting age-old industries and demonstrating visionary talent which will profoundly change the way we do things and change our lives for the better.
What are some milestones in your career you’ve been particularly proud of?
Meeting my girlfriend changed my perspective. She saw how much I believed in the concept of co-living and encouraged me to go for it. I was keen to set up a company, and she motivated me to make it happen, and this led to us raising numerous rounds of funding to make the vision a reality.
Today, I’m proud to make our members happy by offering them custom-designed living spaces and a thriving community they can enjoy. Receiving positive feedback from them gives me a lot of energy to improve further.
Being a CEO is one important role you play, but in this day and age, a man is more than his career.
Tell us more about these other roles you juggle on a day to day basis that people don’t really know about.
I’m a boyfriend, a dad of two French Bulldogs, a yoga addict, a gamer, and a poker aficionado. I also love going to the gym. Every day I wake up before 6 am and work out before touching my phone. My mind and body are the only things that will allow me to reach my full potential in both my private and professional lives, so it’s important to take care of both.
What are some of your new year’s resolutions, pertaining to both your business and personal life?
I want to do my bit for the planet and I aim to eliminate all use of single-use plastics in my life as well as cut down on meat consumption.
My new year’s resolution professionally is to block out more time to allow for more strategic thinking on the big questions for my business. Warren Buffett said he can buy anything he wants but he can’t buy time. Time is a rare commodity for everyone and I would like to protect mine better.
Grooming is imperative in your line of work as you always have to put your best face forward. How would you connect being well-groomed to your success?
To me, being well-groomed is a representation of the company I am building, it gives off a positive image.
Finally, which is your favourite BOSS Bottled scent, and why?
My favourite BOSS Bottled scent is BOSS Bottled Classic. My mother gave me a bottle as a gift before I went to university when I was 17. It was the first time I was leaving home and it has given me confidence ever since.