This start-up aims to be Southeast Asia's Airbnb of office space

This start-up aims to be Southeast Asia's Airbnb of office space
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Flyspaces, a start-up based in Manila, is aiming to become Southeast Asia's Airbnb of office space, offering flexible rentals, the CEO and founder told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Wednesday.

Mario Berta said his company wasn't a physical player in the office-space business.

"Flyspaces is an aggregator of existing co-working spaces, serviced offices, boutique hotels, landlords that have extra office space," he said on the sidelines of the Innovfest Unbound conference in Singapore.

The Flyspaces website offers the opportunity to rent space from periods ranging from an hour to by the month.

The company first launched in 2015 in Manila, before expanding to Singapore a couple of months later. It's since added listings for Jakarta, Macau, Myanmar, Cebu, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong.

The company raised $500,000 of seed capital in 2016.

Flyspaces has positioned itself as interest in co-working spaces has surged. Last year, Cushman & Wakefield estimated that 15 per cent of Southeast Asia's office rentals would be occupied by co-working spaces by 2030.

Co-working allows entrepreneurs from various businesses to rent a cubicle, an office or suite month-to-month and get access to office resources in a shared environment, often including shared events.

The more traditional serviced office space tends to be more conservative, with less interaction between tenants.

But while in the US co-working spaces tend to be aimed at the start-up crowd, Berta said his business had a different audience.

"In Southeast Asia, we just don't have enough entrepreneurs and tech start-ups to justify a business model around them," he said. "The majority of the clients for co-working spaces and serviced offices in Southeast Asia are actually SMEs (small-to-medium enterprises) and multinational companies."

Berta doesn't expect the surge in interest in flexible office space will necessarily hurt regional developers' planned new office buildings.

"To developers, I always say I have good news and bad news. The good news for developers is the world, specifically Asia, which is on the rise, will still need developers to build beautiful buildings," Berta said. "However, the bad news is they will need to start realizing less and less customers, less and less tenants, will commit to a three-years' contract."

Berta expected more tenants will want to sign on for just a few months at a time.

"It's the monetisation of the space that will change," he said.

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