Sequoia Capital invests $20 million in Awfis, a shared workspace start-up | Mint

11 May 2017

Sequoia Capital invests $20 million in Awfis, a shared workspace start-up | Mint

  • LiveMint

Shared workplace start-up Awfis Space Solutions will use Sequoia Capital’s $20 million investment to fund its expansion plans

Awfis Space Solutions, a start-up that provides shared workspaces, has raised $20 million from Sequoia Capital India to fund its expansion plans.

Awfis, which operates 21 workplaces across the National Capital Region (NCR), Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune and Kolkata, will use the funds to expand to more than 100 centres in two years, the firm said. It plans to raise the total seat count in its centres to 35,000 from about 7,500 now.

Sequoia’s investment displays the growing investor interest in the area of shared offices, which has seen a number of branded co-working facilities mushroom in metropolitan cities in the past few years.

Currently, the biggest entities in the segment are 91springboard (present in NCR, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Bengaluru), Y Combinator-incubated Innov8 (Delhi, Chandigarh and Bengaluru) and InstaOffice (Gurgaon, Bengaluru and Delhi), besides smaller region-only firms like CoWork India (Bengaluru), AltF Coworking (Delhi and Gurgaon) and Blume Ventures-backed BHIVE (Bengaluru).

WeWork, a leading shared workspace provider with a presence in 15 countries, has also entered the subcontinent.

The New York-based firm will open its first centre in Bengaluru this year and has leased a 16-storey building, representing almost 190,000 sq. ft area, in Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex, Mint reported in January.

Awfis, which opened its first facility in Delhi in 2015, is a joint venture between Amit Ramani, the founder and managing director of real estate design consulting firm Nelson India, and The Three Sisters: Institutional Office, a family-run investment firm managed by Yes Bank founder Rana Kapoor’s daughters.

Both parties had invested $11 million in Awfis in April 2015.

Awfis has since expanded its footprint to six of the eight metros in India, with a facility in Chennai expected to come up in three months, CEO Ramani said.

He said the focus is to place smaller co-working centres in the vicinity of the user rather than to have fewer big facilities. “We have identified a sweet spot of 350-400 seats per centre, where our unit economics works and this kind of scale gives us the best-suited setting for a community-based environment,” Ramani said.

Awfis co-working centres are typically of the size of 15,000-20,000 sq. ft. and offer facilities like high-speed internet, video conferencing and printing and have cafeterias.

The space is rented out on a per-seat per-month basis. One seat is priced at Rs3,500-5,500 under the flexi plan (where the seat position is not defined) and Rs8,500-10,000 for a fixed seat. A seat in a private cabin starts at Rs13,000; besides clients have the option of booking an entire cabin or meeting room.

Awfis takes a property on lease typically for a five-nine year period and invests in its renovation and refurbishment. It has also deployed what it calls a ‘managed aggregation model’ wherein the property owner offers its property to Awfis for no upfront cost and takes a higher share of the revenue.

Ramani said that over 50% of its facilities are on the latter model and expects to sign up at least 70-80% of the new properties on this model. He claims that Awfis spaces see about 90% occupancy.

(This Awfis coverage appeared on April 26, 2017 in Mint newspaper. You can access the original story here: http://www.livemint.com/Companies/0FWcMgxPD02MyvDjl2gOEL/Sequoia-Capital-invests-20-million-in-Awfis-a-shared-works.html )

Small-town real estate gets a pandemic boost

02 September 2021

Small-town real estate gets a pandemic boost

  • Posted by Arathy Nair

Come October, once its employees are fully vaccinated, consumer durables major Usha International Ltd intends to get a small team up and running out of a co-working centre in
Zirakpur, a satellite town on the outskirts of Chandigarh.

Zirakpur is a strange location to have an office for a Gurugram-headquartered firm such as Usha. “If you want to grow your business, you need to be strategically located. Zirakpur has great connectivity and is close to national highways, and it is part of the (Chandigarh-Panchkula Mohali) tri-city area,” said Manmohan Bhutani, sales administration head, Usha
International.

What is left unstated is a set of new post pandemic realities that have compelled firms to reconsider forgotten geographies. The persisting allure of ‘work from anywhere’, reverse migration of employees to their home towns and cost rationalization have all come together to push many firms to seriously consider a tier-2 strategy in recent months. The essential thrust of this strategy: diversify base locations, open smaller offices, hire local talent where possible and retain those who have relocated to their hometowns. The ‘Bharat’ foray is temporary in some cases. Usha, for instance, plans to rent 50 seats from Awfis, a managed workspace provider, instead of acquiring any new real estate. The Zirakpur base will be the 85-year-old consumer durables firm’s first-ever managed office space.

Property analysts believe that as more firms walk down a similar path, the increased job creation and expansion will create a trickle-down effect in several tier 2 towns, leading to a rise in the overall demand for housing, workspaces and warehouses. This will inevitably bring big town developers to India’s small towns. A recent report on the future of workplaces by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (Ficci) and real estate services firm CBRE showed that the expansion of flexible workspaces in small cities, which was largely a tier-1 phenomenon so far, will be demand-led. Driven by the availability of local talent and infrastructure, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Indore, Lucknow, Coimbatore, Thiruvananthapuram and Nagpur will all see a rise in flex office stock, the report said.

Awfis’ founder and chief executive officer, Amit Ramani, said that in the next 6-18
months, a lot of firms will have some presence in smaller cities, even if the initial requirement is small. “It indicates a strategic shift. Companies want to leverage local talent in the so-called Bharat geographies. The requirement is (from) a broad mix of logistics, new-age fintech and healthtech firms and IT and tech employers too,” Ramani said. Awfis has recently opened a new co-working centre in Ahmedabad. The firm also plans to open workspaces in Indore, Chandigarh and Bhubaneshwar.

If offices shift, demand for new homes will inevitably crop up. Until now, India’s real estate market has been skewed towards just a handful of metros—Mumbai Metropolitan Region, Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad, along with tier-1 cities such as Pune and Kolkata. These seven cities account for about 70% of the overall organized residential market in terms of volume.

This story appeared in the September 02, 2021 issue of  Mint and was originally published at: Small-town real estate gets a pandemic boost (livemint.com)

Shared workspace concept catches on in India

25 August 2021

Shared workspace concept catches on in India

  • Posted by awfis

A few smaller developers are in talks with providers of shared working space as they seek to monetize underutilized commercial assets.

Shared working space, a concept popular among start-ups and entrepreneurs in the West, is starting to find takers in India.

A handful of smaller developers have initiated talks with providers of shared working space as they seek to capture the trend and monetize underutilized commercial assets.

US-based office rental firm WeWork, which announced plans to enter India on 15 January, is in talks with developers including Bengaluru-based RMZ Ltd and Embassy Group, Mumbai-based Wadhwa Group and K Raheja Corp., according to people involved in the discussion.

The Wadhwa Group, which operates high-end commercial office buildings in Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), confirmed that it is in discussion with the New-York based firm.

“It is at discussion stage right now,” said Navin Makhija, managing director, Wadhwa Group, refusing to divulge further details on talks with WeWork.

Spokespersons for RMZ Ltd and K Raheja Corp. declined to comment.

“We have no comments, confirmations or announcements at this point,” said a spokesperson for Embassy Group in an email response.

Similarly, a spokesperson for WeWork said, “We have nothing to share at this time but we’ll be in touch if this changes,” in response to an email query sent on 14 January 2016.

Some deals for shared office spaces have already been closed.

Last month, Mumbai-based Hubtown Ltd, formerly known as Ackruti City Ltd, partnered with office service provider Awfis Space Solutions Pvt. Ltd to create a co-working office at Akruti Trade Centre, a commercial property owned by the real estate firm in Mumbai’s Andheri East.

Awfis Space Solutions will convert the 12,000 sq.ft space into a 200-seater office area targeting start-ups or those looking for a flexible workspace for a limited period.

With a minimal fee ranging between Rs.400 per day for renting a desk to as much as Rs.13,000 per month for taking up a private cabin, tenants can have access to facilities such as a common cafeteria, meeting rooms and other office facilities within the building.

Hubtown, which has entered into a revenue sharing model with Awfis Space Solutions, expects the concept of shared workspaces to catch up in the next three to four years and says that it is looking at replicating the model in other buildings as well.

“It is a new concept in India. It is a bit of risk but globally it has worked pretty well, particularly in the US for the last four-five years. One thing that works with this model is the utilization of space. It is easier to give the space that is lying underutilized,” Rushank Shah, promoter and director at Hubtown Ltd, said.

Awfis Space Solutions has also leased around 10,000 sq.ft of space from Poddar Developers in central Mumbai’s Lower Parel area, where it is currently operating a 230-seat co-working office.

Around 30% of the total seats have been occupied in a span of less than two months since it began operational in December last year, said Amit Ramani, co-founder, Awfis Space Solutions.

“Historically, the idea of shared workspaces was more about a providing short-term solution by developers for their long-term clients. They would rent out a small area, provide them an incubation space for a few months or a year till the building is ready. Now they (real estate firms) want to run this as a business,” said Ram Chandnani, managing director (transactions), CBRE South Asia Pvt. Ltd, a real estate consultant.

The concept, however, will work better in some markets and areas than others.

Wadhwa’s Makhija said the concept of shared workspaces will find more takers in tier II and tier III office buildings where the rentals are relatively low. It will be a challenge to popularise such a concept in high-end buildings. Ramani agrees that grade A office spaces are not suitable for shared office spaces.

Awfis launches e-commerce portal for WFH professionals

12 April 2021

Awfis launches e-commerce portal for WFH professionals

  • Posted by Arathy Nair

Bengaluru: Flexible workspace provider Awfis Space Solutions Pvt Ltd has launched its e-commerce platform to offer work-from-home (WFH) focused products as remote working continues to be the norm in the wake of the second wave of covid-19.

The e-commerce platform is in line with Awfis being an integrated workspace solutions provider, the company said on Tuesday. It will offer a range of desks and ergonomic chairs from affordable to premium price range.

WFH furniture has seen steady demand since last year across different e-commerce platforms. In line with this, Awfis said it has launched a direct-to-customer opportunity for easier accessibility by the consumers, primarily professionals between 25 and 55 years of age, who are currently working from home.

“We are excited to launch shop.https://www.awfis.com/inspiration/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/shutterstock_3835072871.jpg.com in line with Awfis’ vision to be a leading integrated workspace solutions provider. Through this offering, we aspire to continue to cater to the evolving workspace demands of discerning clients, across the spectrum,” said Amit Ramani, Founder & CEO, Awfis. “Most of us today are facing the new reality of hybrid work models and working remotely is now here to stay. Awfis Shop is the first of its kind offering by a co-working player, which combines functionality with convenience to offer both individuals and enterprises with best-in-class products while working remotely.”

Last year, Awfis had launched Awfis@Home that provides the flexibility to efficiently work from home while replicating the setting of a productive office work environment. Till date, Awfis has sold over 2000 units of work-from-home setup and the success of the offline model has led to the launch of the new e-commerce portal, which is an extension of the Awfis@Home offering.

The online Awfis shop would cater to both business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) customers and will supply across all the key metro cities, Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets.

In the coming months, Awfis Shop plans to add more products to the platform.

This story appeared in the April  6 2021 issue of  LiveMint and was originally published at: Awfis launches e-commerce portal for WFH professionals (livemint.com)