FlySpaces, an Airbnb for office space in Southeast Asia, raises $2.1M


Now is a good time to be in the co-working industry in
Southeast Asia, it seems. Barely days after WeWork announced plans to enter the region,
which is home to over 600 million people, through the
acquisition of Singapore startup Spacemob, now a company that
operates like an Airbnb for office space rentals has raised
money.

FlySpaces, a startup headquartered in the
Philippines, raised $2.1 million this week in funding
round described as pre-Series A.

The company operates a service that aggregates a selection of
co-working spaces in six cities across Asia — Manila and Cebu
in the Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong/Macau, Kuala Lumpur
and Jakarta. It was launched in 2015 with $500,000 in initial
financing, and CEO and co-founder Mario Berta was previously
with Rocket Internet’s Uber rival Easy Taxi.

While its core focus is office space rentals, Berta told
TechCrunch that FlySpaces has diversified into other enterprise
verticals including event venues, retail space and corporate
dining. He said other expansions may see it move into billboard
spaces.

“We’re looking at how we can cross sell other things into this
space once we acquire a customer,” Berta said.

On the business side, the FlySpaces makes money through
commissions on bookings made through its site. It retains a cut
when a customer that first found a space through its service
signs on for a longer leasing, Berta confirmed. That seems
essential when most people might book a day or another short
lease to test an office before committing to a longer booking.
In addition, the company also runs some ads selectively, but
that accounts for less than 25 percent of income.

Berta said his company is already profitable but it sought out
investment to ramp up its growth through hiring, increased
marketing and product development. The backing comes from
undisclosed players in the retail space — although one named
investor Net Group co-president Raymond Rufino — because
Berta found that tech VCs “don’t understand” the FlySpaces
business. But he admitted that there’s the potential to be more
strategic with these backers.

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FlySpaces already covers the main markets where English is a
primary language for business in Southeast Asia, and Berta said
that while there is no immediate plan for expansion he’d like
to be in all ASEAN countries eventually. That’ll necessitate
moves into Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia at some point.

Speaking generally on the industry — which now includes WeWork
in Southeast Asia — Berta said that one of his biggest
frustrations is that co-working spaces are commonly thought to
be focused on tech startups and freelancers. A point he said
isn’t true.

“It’s huge misconception, the money is in SMEs and
corporates,” he argued. “It’s ideal for companies who
don’t want to invest in capex and want to maximize their office
space.”

Some of the customers that have used FlySpaces include Google,
P&G, Media Corp and Uber, according to its website.


Featured Image: Lewis
Mulatero
/Getty Images

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