ChrysCapital leads $30 million round in Awfis

06 August 2019

ChrysCapital leads $30 million round in Awfis

  • Economic Times

Proceeds from the deal will be primarily utilised to expand capacity, according to Amit Ramani, chief executive of Awfis.

ChrysCapital, India’s largest homegrown private equity firm, has led a $30 million (about ?213 crore) equity funding round in coworking space provider Awfis Space Solutions, both the firms said on Tuesday.

Proceeds from the deal, which was first reported by ET in its May 30 edition, will be primarily utilised to expand capacity, according to Amit Ramani, chief executive of Awfis.

“We’ve been pretty prudent with the capital raise that we have been undertaking, and the capital has been deployed very judiciously. This round allows us to expand our capacity to over 100,000 seats by 2020, and 200,000 seats by 2022,” Ramani told ET.

Sequoia Capital and Three Sisters, the family office of Yes Bank promoter Rana Kapoor, the two existing investors in Awfis, also participated in the funding round.

ChrysCapital has invested from its seventh fund, the 2016 vintage, $610 million ChrysCapital VII. Ramani also said the company plans to cap the round at $30 million.

Maple Capital Advisors acted as the sole financial advisor to Awfis for its latest round of fund raising. The Delhi-headquartered company, which competes with the likes of SoftBank-backed WeWork and Oyo-owned Innov8, among others, has raised a shade over $80 million in a mix of debt and equity financing till date.

The four-year-old company, which manages about 2 million square feet across India, also counts Temasek-backed venture debt firm InnoVen Capital as an institutional backer.

The development comes as India’s still-nascent co-working sector continues to expand, with investor interest keeping pace with what is seen as a real estate play underpinned by a technology foundation.

“The whole (Awfis) team and systems are originated around providing customers with flexibility… Ultimately, this is a services-led product, and not just a real estate play, which makes them a great fit for us,” Kshitij Sheth, vice-president at ChrysCapital, told ET.

Earlier this year, SoftBank-backed OYO Hotels & Homes acquired a majority stake in Gurugram-headquartered co-working space provider Innov8 for an estimated Rs 200-Rs 220 crore.

On Tuesday, ET was the first to report that BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, had led a $53 million (about Rs 375 crore) debt financing round in Gurugram-based co-working startup GoWork, marking its return to the Indian startup ecosystem after more than five years.

ChrysCapital’s investment in Awfis is its first in the broader co-working segment, and also a rare one by the storied investment firm, which manages assets of over $4 billion, in India’s new economy sector, given that it has primarily preferred to back companies operating in core sectors ranging from financial services, information technology and consumer.

“Co-working has changed the way commercial real estate business is conducted globally and has picked up a lot of steam in India, with Awfis leading the disruption. Awfis’ sustainable approach to business, superior performance and strong customer focus has encouraged ChrysCapital to associate with them,” Sheth said.

Awfis, which currently has 30,000 seats across 63 centres spread across nine cities – Mumbai, Delhi NCR, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune and Chandigarh – plans to enter Tier-2 cities, including Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Bhuvaneshwar, Kochi and Indore.

For the financial year 2018-19, the company said revenue grew to Rs 165 crore from Rs 56 crore. It has reportedly projected a topline of Rs 300 crore in the current financial year.

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This article was also published on other news portals:

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Second half of 2021 to bring new opportunities for the commercial real estate market: Experts

19 July 2021

Second half of 2021 to bring new opportunities for the commercial real estate market: Experts

  • Posted by Arathy Nair

The commercial real estate market will be expecting growth and getting ready for a post pandemic recovery with the roll out of vaccines in India,according to experts.

In the webinar by home-grown flex workspace provider, Awfis, on the strategies that needs to be adopted by the CRE market to successfully navigate the second wave of the pandemic, experts said that traditional sources of capital – banks and NBFCs, will be constrained at least for the next 24-36 months.

From an investor’s perspective, they will think through before they deploy capital to consider the contingencies, they have faced in the past 12 months.

“Last year, the pandemic changed the CRE sector in fundamental ways that no
one predicted. With the pace of improvement driven by the availability
and effectiveness of a vaccine in 2021, the long-term outlook for commercial
real estate looks positive in many facets.

With the CRE industry likely to recover in the coming months, 2021 foresees a strong partnership between occupiers and developers,” said Amit Ramani, CEO
& Founder, Aw@s and Vice President, Indian Workspace Association.
Sanjay Dutt MD & CEO, Tata Realty and Tata Housing said that they have seen
significant changes from an occupier’s point of view.
“Occupiers are exiting leases, which do not meet the new benchmarks of
environment, health, safety and wellness (EHSW) standards and willing to pay premium and renew & consolidate where they do. Majority of occupiers have deliberated on the work from home vs work from office options and a lot of emphasis has been on building the right infrastructure to make sure one inculcates the culture of the organization in the workplace for the people since they want them to come to the office. They are expected to
repurpose the office,” said Dutt.

Experts believe that the latter half of 2021 brings with it a lot of new opportunities for the CRE market with respect to the strategies and planning that is required for the evolving nature of the industry.

“For the short to medium term outlook, the developers must listen to their clients and synchronize their supply to real, tangible demand and redesign/repurpose their products for what is the new normal (post pandemic). Additionally, developers also need to focus on stabilizing rather than chasing growth and be disciplined about the capital they raise and focus on executing to deliver as committed,” said Arpito Mukerji, Managing Director,
Apollo Global Management.

Going ahead, occupier’s health and wellbeing will be crucial to future CRE strategy and investments. Developers need to reinvent their strategies accordingly, although the response to restructuring their portfolios varies from developer to developer.
“The entire focus currently is to stand by our customers and help them tackle the
ongoing crisis. In the long run, developers will need to recognise the importance of digital technology across the value chain, right from investments to design / construction and to operations. There will need to be tremendous focus on green power, energy efficiency, cost optimisation, improving customer experience and health & wellness using PropTech –
developers who will do this will stand out in the market,” said Vinamra Srivastava, CEO, Business Parks, CapitaLand India.

The growing demand for more sustainable, smart, and flexible options among occupiers will have an impact on the demand for commercial real estate, as corporates consider a hybrid work culture to reduce excess space from their portfolios.
“Certain developers have taken the decision that would like to offload capital intensive portfolios from their balance sheet and redeploy the capital into their core development business. Most asset owners are focused on rapidly upgrading asset level
technology, processes, and standards,” said Amit Diwan, MD & Country Head,
Hines India.

According to Vinod Rohira, MD & CEO, CRE & REIT, K. Raheja Corp, REITS is a
fantastic opportunity for India and right now it is in the stage of infancy.
“If you look at the developed markets of the world, they are way ahead of us and
there is more to learn from a governance, compliance strategy, development, and asset management level. If we can get this right, it will be a massive opportunity for India, going
forward,” Rohira said.

This story appeared in the May 31  2021 issue of  The Economic Times and was originally published at: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/services/property-/-cstruction/second-half-of-2021-to-bring-new-opportunities-for-the-commercial-real-estate-market-experts/articleshow/83108066.cms?from=mdr

 

How coworking players are enabling India Inc's return to office

12 April 2021

How coworking players are enabling India Inc's return to office

  • Posted by Arathy Nair

While working from the office space provides employees with an adequate work environment, corporates are also partnering up with coworking spaces to ensure equal opportunities for the workforce working remotely.

In almost a year, the Covid-19 pandemic has upended decades of conventional wisdom about the nature of work. With things slowly returning back to normalcy and vaccine distribution being in full swing, companies are gradually looking to return to the workspaces thereby requiring them to realign their workspace strategies to adhere to the new normal.

There’s no question that the workplace will never quite be the same again. So, what will return to the office look like? While there are still many unknowns, the ideal future workspaces will be a balance between remote working, collaboration and social distancing. Companies must reconfigure how they operate to help meet the new demands of workers, prioritizing effective communication and safety.

Most corporates are adopting a hybrid model of working to ensure a more seamless return to work. A hybrid model of work allows some employees to work remotely while others work from the office premise thereby ensuring safety of all employees. While working from the office space provides employees with an adequate work environment, corporates are also partnering up with coworking spaces to ensure equal opportunities for the workforce working remotely.

Today, coworking spaces are playing an instrumental role in this realignment process of returning to work given the various benefits these players can provide to organisations across sectors with their wide network of centres through hybrid and flexible working options.

Let’s look at the role coworking spaces play in supporting the concept of new workspaces in the short and long term –

From Touch to Tech

With the fundamental shift in workspaces, transformational technology is going to play a critical role. Flexi players have already adopted the status quo by leveraging digital tools to improve business operations and communication. Existing technologies have been upgraded to completely eliminate the need for any surface contact which now allows QR code-based touch-free access, geo-tagging of attendance, touchless transactions, ordering of F&B, managing seats & meeting room bookings, and raising & tracking of issues.

Redesigning for the new normal

Keeping the social distancing norms in mind, coworking spaces have redesigned their existing floor plan to ensure that every workstation has the stipulated six feet distance from each other. Additionally, an adaptable floor layout at the new centres can be easily modified to the needs and requirements of community members. Capacity of existing meeting rooms have been halved and seats have been tagged to ensure safety of each member, which instil a sense of confidence for the workforce to operate out of a coworking space.

Safety first

Apart from implementing social distancing measures, flexi spaces are following stringent standards of safety for optimum protection of the community members. UV sanitization of meeting rooms after each use, thermal scanning at the entrance and visitor management system further facilitates for a safe working environment.

One office many addresses

An added support that flexi spaces provide are their large network of centres spread across multiple locations in various cities for the convenience of the employees. Work from home has made employees realize the value of time and money spent on commute. To ensure safety by avoiding long commutes in public transport and to save on time and money, the workforce is increasingly focusing on work near home options. With their vast presence, coworking spaces can emerge as the optimum choice for individuals as well as organisations to meet their needs.

As workers begin returning to work, the coming months will prove to be a pivotal moment for employers and employees alike. Coworking spaces will help organizations chart a strategic course towards ensuring a safe return to work by continuing to be the partner of choice amidst this new normal.

This story appeared in the April 8, 2020 issue of  Economic Times -HR World  and is authored by Amit Ramani, Founder and CE0, Awfis. This article was originally published at : How coworking players are enabling India Inc’s return to office, HR News, ETHRWorld (indiatimes.com)

Hybrid working model will help employees save time and money on commute

15 March 2021

Hybrid working model will help employees save time and money on commute

  • Posted by Arathy Nair

The future of work will be about ‘anywhere, anytime’ as office spaces will act as a central hub for collaboration, innovation and organizational culture, according to experts.

In a webinar by Awfis, home-grown flex workspace provider- India Inc’s Return to the Workplace: Strategies for the New Office’, experts said that pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation for businesses by providing an opportunity to reimagine the future of work. Companies are trying to adapt to these changes to provide a solution that works best for their employees.

“We are in the midst of some of the largest transformation of the decade that will forever redefine how work gets done in India Inc. While WFH did help businesses survive the lockdown, there is a general fatigue that has arisen from lack of social interactions significantly affecting company cultures,” said Amit Ramani, CEO & Founder, Awfis.

While WFH was proclaimed as the new normal, it has proven to be a non-viable solution in the long term for substantial portion of the workforce which has resulted in employees across the globe to look for solutions that offer ample flexibility and collaboration.

Furthermore, the inability of Indian households to support a long term WFH due to infrastructural constraints has led to the adoption of hybrid work models by various companies.

The hybrid model of working answers all aspects, whether it is related to employers, employer or the environment. It is an effective and efficient way for companies to adopt the future of working. An amalgamation of all these facets has demonstrated that the hybrid model of working is here to stay,” said Sameer Saxena, India Real Estate Services Leader at Marsh & McLennan Companies.

Niraj Basotia, Group COO, Usha Martin Technologies said that the evolution and preparedness of companies in terms of infrastructure and cyber security will determine how fast they are able to adapt to a hybrid culture and make it successful for their employees.

Additionally, employee discipline and management’s trust in the employee will go hand in hand in defining how the hybrid model of working will take shape,” Basotia said.

Experts said that blurring of lines between personal spaces and professional space can cause fatigue amongst employees and put into question the feasibility of a WFH scenario.

The new office will become the meeting point driven by quality. Today, organizations are evaluating and experimenting until a new model for real estate evolves. Focus of organisations is on maintaining and enhancing social capital and culture,” said Viral Desai, National Director Office Transactions, Knight Frank India.
According to Shamsher Sindhu, Vice President & Head RES, APAC, Mastercard, the three key pillars that basis which organizations were able to curate a seamless employee experience in a pre-pandemic world were – organizational culture, technology and physical space.

“While these three pillars remain will remain essential, it is imperative to note which of these pillars will be more important in the current scenario,” Sindhu said.

Organizations are focusing on contactless solutions, proximity based solutions and IoT based solutions. Most of these solutions will help productivity of employees and support them to work on the go. Smart offices will be the future with more focus on agility and collaborative spaces.

Work has moved from a workplace centric world to a work centric world. Organizations are now looking at converging work, workforce and workplace.

The pandemic just changed certain dynamics of the physical workplace and has hastened the realization that work is not somewhere you go, but something you do. It’s not a change, but a fundamental shift,” said Praveen Vasudeva, Country Head, India- Global Real Estate & Facilities, SAP.