Veteran design management, business process improvement and facility planning expert Amit Ramani wants to build a shared-economy model for the real-estate industry in India.
Ramani launched Awfis Space Solutions (Awfis), a co-working space booking platform last July with a seed investment of US$10 million.
He says a year on, there are many shared office spaces available in the country. But SMEs and startups find it difficult to locate office spaces in real time with decent infrastructure at cost-effective rates.
And he maintains the growing trend in other countries, where consumers utilise their space on a just-in-time and flexible basis, has not yet taken off in India.
Based in Mumbai the company's Android and iOS app provides a booking system for ready-to-use offices across different cities.
Users can select a space for an hour to 11 months, without the complications of a fixed tenure or security deposits. Private cabins and meeting rooms can also be booked on a just-in-time basis.
According to an e27.co report, rent is determined based on the kind of inventory and services on offer. Awfis has created different packages targeting individuals and groups with different needs, aspirations and wallet sizes.
Its offerings range from flexi seats to fixed seats to cabin seating, in addition to meeting rooms at both its centres as well as third-party locations (hotels such as Marriot, Royal Orchid, Red Fox, Trident, Hyatt).
The report says offered prices are inclusive of add-on services like high–speed Internet, printing, F&B credits, meeting room credits, housekeeping and technology support.
Awfis currently manages around 2,400 seats across 10 operational centres, and it has a community of over 1,200 active members, claims Ramani. As of now, it manages and operates its own centres across Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai.
In addition to taking spaces on straight lease, Awfis is also ‘uberising’ real estate and is working on a managed aggregation model.
Unlike a P2P aggregator (like AirBnB), in managed aggregation, Awfis infuses funds for lease improvements, runs the operations, and manages the customer experience at the aggregated spaces as well, the e27.co report says.
Ramani tells e27.co 17 per cent of India’s Grade A office space is currently lying vacant with 27 per cent in Delhi and 20 per cent in Mumbai. Awfis aggregates this under-utilised space from owners and converts them into pro-working centres.
“We are providing solutions for monetising under-utilised commercial spaces, including spaces lying vacant due to softened demand, shadow vacancies, excess capacities, dead zones (uneconomical sizes),” he says.
Despite arguing the co-working phenomenon hasn't yet taken off in India, Ramani tells e27.co the rapid pace at which entrepreneurship, independent working and freelancing have grown has presented excellent opportunities for the co-working industry.
“In terms of employee head-counts, startups and SMEs are scaling at a much faster rate than before making their space requirements more fluid and ever–changing," he says.
"Co-working spaces provide them with the flexibility of acquiring space as per need and not invest in property in anticipation of future demand."