Booqed matches empty work spaces with potential tenants

/ EdgeProp Singapore
November 29, 2019 10:00 AM SGT
Booqed - CEO Wong: Booqed was set up in 2016 to alleviate the main pain points of finding and booking short-term business spaces (Credit: Booqed)
CEO Wong: Booqed was set up in 2016 to alleviate the main pain points of finding and booking short-term business spaces (Credit: Booqed)
Companies or restaurants that have unused meeting rooms or private dining space can now let them out as venues for one-off events via Booqed, a digital platform for reserving work spaces. In other words, Booqed acts as a bridge between landlords aiming to lease out underutilised work spaces and potential tenants who are seeking for a flexible office arrangement.
With a focus on enterprise clients, the startup curates listings on its app platform, filtering out the “right” space in terms of quality and location, says David Wong, CEO of Booqed.
Operating out of Singapore, Hong Kong and Shenzhen, Booqed has over 1,600 real estate listings on its platform, with half of them provided by co-working and serviced office partners.
Booqed’s key corporate clients are primarily from the financial services, consulting, insurance, and retail and services industries as well as technology start-ups.
Indeed, CEO David Wong says Booqed was set up in 2016 to “alleviate the main pain points of finding and booking short-term business spaces”.
These include time needed to search for a venue, lack of knowledge about options related to meeting and event spaces, and the inflexibility of long-term contracts, adds Wong.
Although listed work spaces range from a single desk to a 100-seat office, Wong says tenants typically demand spaces ranging from four to 10 seats.
At present, Booqed plays different roles in each of its markets, says Wong. In Hong Kong and Singapore, the team works with clients who are seeking flexibility in their work and meeting arrangements due to high costs or changing space needs.
In Shenzhen, Booqed finds itself “helping domestic enterprises planning to open a branch overseas, or multinationals needing a short-term space,” he says. Some of its services include helping global firms familiarise themselves with the business space options in new markets and helping to bridge the language barrier between landlord and tenant.
Locally, Booqed aims to partner with co-working and serviced offices; restaurants and cafes with off-peak availability; companies that have underused space they can legally sublet as well as dedicated venues for one-off events.
Demand is expected to come from start-ups as they prefer shorter leases with room for expansion; global firms looking to set up shop in Asia but lacking the know-how; and larger companies that are looking for shorter leases.
As for Hong Kong which is currently facing socio-political unrest, Wong is undeterred when it comes to Booqed’s prospects.
“In uncertain times, business planning prioritises flexibility and agility. But long-term leases run counter to this need. Booqed’s model facilitates the pay-as-you-go flexibility for meeting rooms and workspaces,” he explains, adding that one of its clients has just signed another 12-month lease with the start-up.
However, Wong did note that US companies are taking a wait-and-see attitude in Hong Kong and planning contingencies in case there is pushback against the protests.
In October, Booqed managed to raise US$1.68 million ($2.3 million) in seed funding from investors including Colliers International, Techstars and Lazard Korea.
Wong says the funds will be utilised to promote growth. These include launching pilots with developers, conducting marketing activities, and hiring of talent.
“Over the next 12 to 18 months, our main priority is to go deeper into our core markets,” says Wong.
Looking ahead, he sees growth opportunities in North Asian cities like Seoul and Tokyo, South-east Asian cities like Jakarta, and Sydney and Melbourne in Australia.
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