Dash Living anchors presence in Asia

By
/ EdgeProp Singapore
|
April 23, 2021 6:00 AM SGT
SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - Undeterred by the pandemic, co-living player Dash Living has its eyes on expansion. Just this year, the business announced a tie-up with Ascott; acquired Easycity, a Singapore-based co-living operator; and secured over $8.8 million in Series A funding to grow its roots across the Asia Pacific.
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Citadines Balestier Singapore, one of Ascott’s properties, is available for reservation on Dash Living’s website (Credit: Dash Living)
In its collaboration with Ascott, six of Ascott’s international-class properties in Hong Kong and Singapore will be available for reservation on Dash Living’s website. Guests will be able to choose from five serviced residences — Somerset Victoria Park Hong Kong, Citadines Ashley Hong Kong, Ascott Raffles Place Singapore, Citadines Balestier Singapore and Citadines Fusionopolis Singapore, and lyf Funan Singapore, Ascott’s co-living offering.
“The value we bring [Ascott] is long-stay [demand],” says Aaron Lee, founder of Dash Living. This can range anywhere from eight to 12 months and above.
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Lee believes that such demand stems from customer stickiness, which in turn is driven by community and events. “The element of community at Dash Living refers to the combination of perks that our tenants get to attend outside of the building, shared everywhere, across different countries,” says Lee.
The other factor that engages its tenants is events. These can either be organised by Dash or generated by users, shares Lee.
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One of Dash Living’s residential offerings in Clementi, which spans condos such as The Clement Canopy, Parc Riviera and The Trilinq (Credit: Dash Living)
Due to Covid-19, Dash has had to move its events virtual, organising sessions on beer-tasting, yoga, and HIIT workouts online, for instance. Now, “a lot of it is happening on Zoom and that unlocks a lot of potential — communities across different buildings, communities across different countries. We have Singapore, we have Hong Kong. People are attending these events from everywhere around the world,” Lee says.
At present, the co-living player operates some 1,300 units of serviced apartments, co-living homes and hotel rooms in Hong Kong and Singapore, with over 280,000 sq ft under management. Residents in its Hong Kong properties have to stay for a minimum period of 28 days, whereas the minimum stay duration in Singapore is three months for residential properties.
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At the 56-room The Sheung Wan By Ovolo in Hong Kong, guests get to choose from studio, one bedroom, to family room options for stays under seven days. This is part of the co-living player’s partnership with designer hotel group Ovolo (Credit: Dash Living)

How Dash Living works

Dash Living adopts an asset-light approach to its business. “We don’t own any of the buildings although a lot of our investors are very much property-focused individuals and funds,” says Lee. In its latest funding round, inventors include the Asia-Pacific arm of UK property firm Grosvenor, Asian venture capital firm Gobi Partners and Sydney-based Taronga Ventures.
Dash Living works with building landlords through a combination of leases and management agreements, although Lee shares that “a bulk of the growth is focused on management agreements”, adding that “we don’t take the inventory risk”.
He explains: “The revenue-sharing [model] is a very good way for us to align our interests. The more we make, the more they make. But if we do tenancy agreements, the more we make, the less they make right? So we don’t like tenancy agreements in that sense.”
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Lee also notes that management agreements are “much more defensive and drive a lot more value for the landlords”.
The company is “always making sure that we add value to the properties to make sure that there is a win-win situation. The key here is to have good cost control because we don’t operate the buildings individually. So if they are 10 buildings, we don’t have 10 operating teams, we centralise on top with one team, with a chatbot that is helping us answer questions and serve the customers. Cost control is very important. So that is number one,” says Lee.
What helps too is that “the facilities are shared by tenants across different buildings in different communities. So that’s another value add for us,” he says, leading to better efficiency.
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Dash Coliving Argyle in Mong Kok, Hong Kong, features 36 ensuite units with full-height windows, custom furniture and interior design and decor (Credit: Dash Living)

How the idea was seeded

Dash Living started in 2014, initially offering property management services. But “we eventually repackaged and pivoted the business model into co-living in 2018,” says Lee. He wanted to solve the problem of expensive accommodation in gateway cities. “I looked around and all of my friends and colleagues are facing problems with expensive accommodation.”
The business, therefore, aims to make real estate more efficient. “The idea is when you walk into a building, you see gyms and facilities that are underutilised. Nobody’s using it,” says Lee. “So the idea came that way ... Why aren’t the resources being shared?”
To that end, residents who stay at Dash Living’s properties do get to share common facilities and parks outside of their building. Operations such as security and the front desk can also be streamlined. Dash members can go straight to their room and unlock it with a mobile app.
“That’s very important because if there’s a front desk waiting for you to do the arrival, that’s one person waiting an entire night. If there are 10 buildings, 10 people are waiting. That’s very inefficient.”
In the near term, Dash Living plans to open up properties in Japan and Australia. But beyond that, it is looking elsewhere in Asia. “Anywhere that’s got a high density of millennials with real estate that is expensive, that’s our target market,” says Lee.