The growth of flex space continues to gather momentum as we witness the transformation of the office market in Southeast Asia. I caught up with Mario Berta, CEO and Co-Founder of FlySpaces one of the region’s leading digital platforms for flexible workspace solutions.
ND: What led you to found FlySpaces?
MB: I had just resigned after three years working at Rocket Internet (at the time they went IPO). Coming from that School I was looking at successful business models in other parts of the world and how I could adapt them for Southeast Asia. I saw a perfect fit at launching a platform dedicated to flexible workspaces at a time the co-working boom was only getting started in the region, and the experience for searching and booking workspace was generally very poor.
ND: How does FlySpaces differ from other similar platforms out there?
MB: Most Real Estate Marketplaces have a similar model where they connect available inventory with potential tenants or buyers. How do you do this? Build a simple and easy experience for users, as well as the scale and growth that makes the difference. We are arguably Southeast Asia’s leading platform. The biggest by far for country of operations, team and as a consequence revenues and technology across six countries. Anybody can set up marketplaces nowadays but being interconnected with more than 700 brands and dealing with hundreds of customers and thousands of transactions every month requires a solid technological and operational backbone.
ND: What do you see as the biggest challenges that corporate occupiers are facing?
MB: The market is still not familiar with flexible office space, especially in countries like the Philippines or Indonesia. We constantly deal with companies and when we mention flexible office space they still think of co-working with young kids working for startups or doing some consulting job. The market is still not educated enough on the potential and benefits of flexible office space, this is our n1 mission.
ND: What are the biggest benefits of flexible spaces?
MB: Flexibility and cost, very simple. You can extend or contract your real estate requirements each month if you want total flexibility and at no cost.
ND: How do traditional brokers view your business?
MB: We somehow compete with them on certain deals and we also co-broke with them on others. Ultimately we both want to serve customers so there is the opportunity to work together on certain deals. The big brokers also focus more on the big occupiers and much less on SMEs. Today SMEs have only listing websites to go to and they will need to deal with a local broker. However, with us an SME can discover, negotiate, book and pay for the office space within one platform.
ND: What's been your funding model so far, and are you currently raising capital?
MB: We have been very successful in raising capital from real estate stakeholders like developers who understand the value of our business model.
ND: What's the next big step in terms of growth?
MB: We are not an e-commerce type of company that’ll grow 100% a month and burn millions a year in marketing. We are a tech enabled brokerage firm. We want to cover all ASEAN and potentially Australia, develop more technology to reduce the lead time between deals and provide a great user experience for all stakeholders in our platform, this is our daily obsession.
FlySpaces was a Featured Technology of BWT Asia 2019.
Interview conducted by Neall de Beer, Director, Built World Technology Alliance.