Awfis: Working on the move

20 February 2017

Awfis: Working on the move

  • The Financial Express



Express Drives: How was the concept of Awfis conceived?

Awfis: We started in July 2015 and the concept was initially to solve what has been the perennial problem in India, which is the ability to find a use of real estate on-the-go where shared space models have become prevalent in taxis, hotels etc. this was an area which lagged in any kind of new innovation. The idea was the ability for people to book a space on -the- move, in a just-in-time basis anywhere, anytime and in any quantity they wanted. We first built the technology platform about 16 months ago and listed ourselves as we call it as ‘low working centres’ which today we have 18 centres in different locations like Pune, Mumbai, , Hyderabad, Bangalore, Delhi and have close to 4,000 seats which are projected to go up to 8,000 seats by March 2017. We provide the convenience, complete transparency in terms of price, complete flexibility wherein a user can book a space from one hour to 11 months or more. There is no security deposit or long term commitment. In addition to the seats, users can also benefit from the different alliances we have where there is a reward programme for example a discount coupon at a Hard Rock Cafe. Next is the locations we have. There is no restriction of an employee of a client wherein he/she can operate through just one centre. Such flexibility with regards to alliances with different outlets benefits not just the founder but everyone.

To give you a perspective, our largest competitor, Regus took about 15 years to come to 9,000 seats and we will get there in less than 15 months from now. By March 2018, we plan to get close to 30,000 seats. Another difference is that we have been able to convert not just the startup community, but SMEs or Small to Medium Enterprises as well, which is the backbone of the business today and some large corporates like FICCI, BNP Paribas, Snapdeal along with others.

Express Drives: Is it restricted to a minimum cap of employees who need to be in an organisation?

Awfis: Whether you want to occupy one seat or 100 seats, the choice is yours as our model offers that flexibility. Because our growth trajectory is fast, we are able to accommodate our clients in one centre or the other. For example, a client came to us and asked for 100 seats the same day. We did not, at that moment, have the requisite number of seats in that location and we asked if another location could work till the time we accommodate. It worked in their favour. In fact, another client had 200 seats in Gurgaon who is now looking at other cities.

So, the ability to expand on the go is only available with a firm such as ours because firstly, we don’t ask for any upfront fees and secondly, because of our growth trajectory and our path, as a client, you will always have enough seats available. In some cases, we have spoken to a large insurance company where they have setup 50 core locations with us. So they will take 50 fixed seats and the remaining, say, 150 seats can be given to other clients. Then 50 locations get setup that way. So, in a crux, changing the paradigm of real estate is what we are doing. Because the consumption of real estate today there are 130 million people working nationwide and considering they would require 100 sq ft of space, you need 1.3 billion sq ft of space. There is a complete mismatch here. Even at 500 million, there is 20 percent vacancy. So, the paradigm is shifting, but the real estate companies are not realising this because it is a large commitment that they do. For them to change on-the-fly is very difficult, but with a model like ours, the paradigm for a client can shift. If I am an SME and I have to accommodate 10 people, I will look for 10 seats. No one would say they need 1000 sq ft. So, that is the paradigm shift is happening.

Express Drives: Coming to the Awfis vehicle, lets take an example of an employee who is travelling from Mumbai to Delhi and then is headed for Jaipur for official work. Can he speak with you and take your 8-seater on-the-go mobile office

Awfis: The vehicle has a national permit and this can be done in the said example. It is as simple as you book a Toyota Innova or any other vehicle from a fleet owner. For four hours the charges are Rs 4,000, for eight hours is Rs 7,500 and so on. All one needs to do is go on to our mobile application, register and book the vehicle. The minimum we book it if for four hours. The most effective use we are currently witnessing people using the vehicle for their meetings as well as their city runabout. In fact, one incidence was a High Court arbitration wherein all members were picked up from different locations who went to the Judge’s house and the arbitration was done in the vehicle. The vehicle is a 26 feet Force Traveller that can seat eight people and has amenities like a washroom, conference area, wireless connectivity etc. all that would be present in an workspace. We are in the process of modifying a Toyota Innova which would be a four seater conferencing space with similar amenities. We are also looking at a Volvo bus which would cater to more people on the move.

Ride Experience: The Force Traveller is a vehicle that can be modified easily to suit a person’s need. Some people who purchase a Force Traveller, do it from the purpose of internal modifications that offers more space and amenities. The vehicle can seat eight people comfortably and amenities including a washroom are a printer, a wireless high speed connection, a television and arrangement of tea or coffee. This vehicle is apt for people who are on the move and want to be productive during their commute rather than spending unnecessary energy on travelling to their work. The concept of Awfis nullifies the situation of an employee to work less effectively and in the process give better results to their employer.

(This Awfis coverage appeared on Express Drives – Auto portal of The Financial Express on February 20 2017 under the headline ” Awfis: Working on the move.” You can access the full story here:

Covid reinforced need for flexibility & nimbleness

15 March 2021

Covid reinforced need for flexibility & nimbleness

  • Posted by Arathy Nair

How would you sum up Awfis’ journey so far?
When we looked at this landscape in 2015, we saw this as a SME solution, more than a start-up solution because start-ups at that point had less than 100,000 people in the ecosystem. So 60% of the commercial requirement was in SMEs and the rest was large corporate, mid-sized companies etc. So now we said how do we de-risk the model and that’s where the managed aggregation (MA) model came into play. We then started pursuing a part of our portfolio under MA. So between 2015 to 2018, that was the primary journey with SME focus. From 2018 we started seeing the trend of Managed spaces. So then our model evolved a bit where we did co-working centre. Third piece came when Covid happened which is our ability to provide solutions attuned to how people’s behaviour was changing.


What is the managed aggregation (MA) model?
It is essentially a profit sharing model where landlord was putting in the investment for infra build up. See one needs to understand that Grade-A real estate in India controlled by Grade-A landlords is 300 million sq ft (MSF) of the total 1 billion sq ft. Everyone talks only about the 300 MSF. India is a value for money market. So what we felt was that for that 700 MSF there was a big opportunity of being curated in the market which nobody was tapping.
Initial days were hard but today our credibility is strong and we are the only player servicing in the market, where you have a Grade-B or B+ facility with smaller floor plates and this could be not just be in CBDs, but in every commercial micro market. I think the fundamental piece is that there is a lack of trust in real estate. So the first thing we did was bring in trust. Second, we built a strong tech platform as well as a strong sales engine. Third, we were able to set up space which was more cost effective compared to others. Currently, MA is 60% of our portfolio and we will take it to 70%.

What has been your learning experience from Covid?
First, core is flexibility and nimbleness. You also have to figure out what if nobody comes back to offices. So those were the questions we were addressing, but at the same time we were pivoting for delivering and staying relevant for the ever evolving customer. For instance, the distributed model, Awfis at home solution, Awfis Transform and Powered by Awfis. We understood what was going to happen. We were able to do it as we were a pan-India player, we were a team of 200 people, we had strong understanding of customer base as well as real estate supply and demand. It’s not that everything worked out, but we evolved very quickly.

What are your expansion plans?
We were 30,000 seats pre-Covid roughly and we will go to 60,000-65,000 seats this year. We will double our footprint from around 2.5 MSF to more than 4 MSF this year. Also we will go from some 67 centres pre-Covid to almost 130 centres in 2021.

What are the challenges and opportunities for flex space?
Recently, JLL India said in a report that currently flex is 3% and will go to 5%. I don’t know what the ultimate percentage would be, but one thing is clear that it will grow from 3% in the next 3-4 years. Hard to predict but my optimistic view is that it will be 10% of the real estate industry. Second is the value of the brand, value of the network and the ability to deliver consistently for like-minded customers is important. Consolidation will happen and will be more with companies shutting shop rather than being acquired. Third, the customer base is not just SMEs and start-ups, but includes everybody even the government.

Final is the preference of workplace. Where work gets done is changing so work near home will become a reality and work from home for a small percentage will become a reality. Distributed work for every company is a reality. Also distributed work including in tier II towns is becoming a reality. For instance, we are getting queries from companies asking for 50 seats as a portion of its employees are working from Ahmedabad.

This story appeared in the February 26, 2021 issue of Financial Express  and was originally published at ‘Covid reinforced need for flexibility & nimbleness’ – The Financial Express

Why businesses need to realign marketing strategies to fit into the new normal

24 February 2021

Why businesses need to realign marketing strategies to fit into the new normal

  • Posted by Arathy Nair

With Covid-19 being the center of all our conversations with stakeholders in 2020, marketing has emerged as the nerve center of a brand’s pandemic response, across sectors. With a need for flexibility and strong internal relationships to navigate changing circumstances, it is imperative for organisations to realise crucial role that marketers play in connecting various parts of any business. From consumer insights and brand positioning, to building engagement and transparent communications, marketing teams, globally have delivered heightened value amidst the pandemic.


Adopting new-age channels of communication

In 2020 brands across sectors invested heavily in online marketing activations as compared to prior years, where marketers seemed to prefer a resource split between traditional and online methods of marketing. Even within digital marketing, content marketing was utilised as a key avenue to engage potential consumers beyond the product and maintain high brand recall. As we make our way into 2021, the marketing media mix will become more skewed towards digital media. While the overall marketing spends for real estate have reduced significantly, there is a shift from high investment channels like print, electronic and OOH to digital for its cost-effectiveness. Conventional marketing will continue to see decreased spend even post Covid but digital will see a considerable increase in spends by 50-60% in the future as brands will learn to look at it as the best marketing tool promising ROI evaluation. Most companies who haven’t experienced the power of digital media yet will use this time to lay the groundwork to engage with customers digitally be it through mapping the customer e-journey, creating 360 views or enabling online payments to attract more customers in the absence of site visits.

In 2021, a prominent trend will be the utilisation of machine learning to filter audiences for targeted campaign outreach. Implementation of machine learning in campaigns will help brands to improve both targeting and messaging by marketing to micro-segments with very well identified needs or interests.

Transparency and continued engagement amidst unprecedented times

This year, information sharing emerged as a key trend within campaigns with the growing universal inclination of customers towards sanitization, hygiene and social distancing. Marketers who were able to remain transparent of their policies and processes whilst keeping the end consumers informed about how their brand will ensure maximal safety amidst these times, emerged ahead of the curve. Brands need to be more cautious than ever in their communication with customers, emanating empathy and transparency in just the right amount. Marketing as the custodian of the brand has taken a centre stage in all kinds of communication going out to customers, partners and stakeholders across multiple channels ensuring consistency in the brand voice. The marketing team has become the first responders, whether it is crafting new ways of communication or being part of a Central Response Team to provide consistent messaging to customers. It can be the anchor, the voice of stability in such uncertain times.

In line with the above several brands adopted influencer marketing and advocacy as a key medium of customer outreach to maintain authenticity whilst also building brand equity.

Marketing will become the primary channel for demand generation

With limited budgets, zero business travel and social distancing norms in play, this is the time for marketing to hustle and step up to become the primary demand generation engine for the organisation. Sales will depend on marketing to enhance their reach and bring prospective customers closer to the table. In line with this in 2021, brands will curate 360-degree campaigns that extend beyond traditional advertising mediums and reflect across teams such as customer service and human resources, which deal with the two most integral stakeholders of any brand.

Embracing Agility

The year 2020 was privy to unprecedented times that disrupted all existing business plans, causing businesses across verticals to realign themselves to fit into the new normal. In line with this the year 2021 too, will be the year of constant re-invention. Brands who manage to stay ahead of the curve by adopting emerging trends and catering to the ever-evolving customer will emerge as successful.

This story appeared in the 5 January , 2021 issue of Financial Express and is authored by Sumit Lakhani, CMO, Awfis. This article was originally published at :  Why businesses need to realign marketing strategies to fit into the new normal – The Financial Express

Coworking: This startup makes shared workspaces more affordable for SMEs; launches new offer

16 September 2019

Coworking: This startup makes shared workspaces more affordable for SMEs; launches new offer

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial
Coworking spaces in India will be hosting 13.5 million users by 2020 as the demand for flexible offices – including coworking spaces and serviced offices – is growing faster in the Asia Pacific than anywhere else in the world.

 Coworking space provider Awfis in order to boost its enterprise and SME customer base will offer a 15 per cent discount on work desks (cabins, flexible & fixed seats), 20 per cent discount on meeting rooms and another 15 per cent discount on Awfis Mobility Solution products such as Awfis roaming, National Pass, Virtual office spaces, Bulk Meeting Room Hours etc., for Mastercard business cardholders. The offer would be applicable across the company’s 63 centres in 9 cities.“Coupled with Mastercard’s long-standing experience in electronic payments globally, the association targets to offer tailor-made solutions to drive thriving business opportunities, the company announced in a statement. The partnership with Mastercard allows Awfis “to reach out to the widespread user base through their extended network, which will, in turn, benefit from this collaboration with enhanced opportunities on offer,” said Amit Ramani, CEO & Founder, Awfis.

The development gains significance given the increased focus of the government on helping the MSME sector grow with respect to technology adoption, solving for delayed payments issue along with providing mentoring and handholding in scaling online. “MSMEs are a vital force for propelling India’s journey from cash to digital, and Mastercard’s commercial card business caters to this growing segment,” said Aman Ahuja, Vice President, Market Product Management, South Asia, Mastercard.

Coworking spaces in India will be hosting 13.5 million users by 2020 according to 2018 estimates by real estate services company JLL as the demand for flexible offices – including co-working spaces and serviced offices – is growing faster in the Asia Pacific than anywhere else in the world. “In India, the growth of flexible office space is expected to grow at 40 – 50% in 2018,” according to a JLL report. Around half of 13.5 million users will be from enterprises and would likely acquire 10.3 million seats. Freelancers and SMEs would have 1.5 million users worth of demand even as startups are likely to have a demand of nearly 100,000 seats by 2020.

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