JustCo plans to dominate Asia

By
/ EdgeProp
|
March 6, 2018 8:00 AM SGT
When CEO Kong Wan Sing founded homegrown co-working space provider JustCo in 2015, he had to rope in his wife, Liu Lu, and his brother Wan Long to help him grow the business. Today, the company is growing so fast that “our headcount has doubled over the past three months to more than 100”, says Kong.
The operator’s headquarters will be moved from 120 Robinson Road to Marina One East Tower, where a space that can accommodate up to 180 people has been allocated. Even with some staff assigned to hot desks instead of a permanent workstation, the team will outgrow that space “in no time because we are going to double again in the next couple of months”, says Kong.
JustCo has taken up an entire floor in West Tower Marina One, in addition to its 40,000 sq ft centre in the East Tower (pictured)
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The hiring spree is to support JustCo’s regional expansion. “We will have new centres opening every other month,” says Kong, adding that JustCo plans to open two million sq ft of co-working space by end-2019. “That’s a conservative estimate.”
JustCo opened a 50,000 sq ft co-working centre that spans two floors at UIC Building and another 40,000 sq ft centre at Marina One East Tower in 2017. The firm has taken up another 40,000 sq ft in the West Tower of Marina One that is slated to open in May, says Liu Lu, JustCo’s country head for Singapore and China.
In July, JustCo will be opening its sixth co-working centre in Singapore on the third floor of Marina Square. It will span 60,000 sq ft and cater for more than 1,000 members. Just- Co will be the first co-working operator to be an anchor tenant at a Singapore mall, says Kong. As the centre is positioned to attract retailers, and companies in the creative industry, it will feature a product showcase area with booths for members to display their products, says Liu.
Beyond local shores, JustCo’s head of Southeast Asia, Wan Long, has been busy preparing for the opening of two centres in Bangkok — one occupying 45,000 sq ft at AIA Sathorn Tower, to open in April; and another, 45,000 sq ft at Capital Tower, All Seasons Place, which will open in July — and a 20,000 sq ft centre at Sequis Tower in Jakarta that will also open in July.
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Kong (sitting, with Liu and Wan Long): We will have new centres opening every other month. That’s a conservative estimate.
The centres in the two new markets come hot on the heels of strategic partnerships. Last October, one of Thailand’s leading developers Sansiri invested an undisclosed sum in JustCo’s Series B funding round that valued it at US$200 million ($264.6 million). “Sansiri is very strong in Thailand, so they can help us to expand,” says Kong.
“We see strong demand in Bangkok, so we are quite bullish,” says Wan Long. “We hope to have four centres there by year-end and we are also looking at Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur and Manila.”
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Last December, JustCo formed a 65:35 joint venture with Indonesian conglomerate Gunung Sewu to develop a co-working business in that country. Sequis Tower, located in the heart of Jakarta’s Sudirman CBD, is one of Gunung Sewu’s premium properties. There are plans to have four centres up and running in Indonesia by year-end.
JustCo’s 50,000 sq ft co-working centre at UIC Building spans two floors
The breakneck pace of expansion is to serve JustCo’s community of members, says Wan Long. Many of the companies, such as web performance and security company Cloudflare and sound, display and voice technology company Dolby, are multinational. “They tell us to let them know when we expand into new markets,” adds Liu.
JustCo has been receiving enquiries from investors looking to deploy capital on a weekly basis, says Kong. “But we don’t want them to just bring capital,” he says. “We want them to bring strategic value that helps us grow, like access to properties.” The company is in talks with investors and partners in China, India, Japan and South Korea, says Kong. “By end-2019, you will see us in these markets.”
Artist’s impression of JustCo’s upcoming space at Marina Square that is positioned to attract retailers as members
According to Kong, JustCo is also on the lookout to make selective acquisitions, but the company is not simply looking to acquire more space. “It must be a talented team that has synergy with us and can be integrated so that we can grow together.”
While JustCo is currently hiring a small team in the US, it has no immediate plans to expand there. “Many of our clients are in the US and this [small set-up] is to help us serve them better,” says Kong. “Our current focus is on dominating our home ground — Asia.”