Short-term space provider's long view

JustGroup founder and chief executive Kong Wan Sing says businesses need his facilities to swiftly implement their plans.
JustGroup founder and chief executive Kong Wan Sing says businesses need his facilities to swiftly implement their plans.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

JustGroup rents out work spaces, connects clients with one another

A local business is looking to capitalise on other companies' need to stay nimble and to wait out the looming economic slowdown.

JustGroup, which rents out serviced offices and work spaces for the short term, intends to more than double its size within the next two to three years.

It has 150,000 sq ft of office space on long-term lease from landlords in Singapore and Shanghai. It rents these spaces out to clients. And it is eyeing new markets in Asia.

Founder and chief executive Kong Wan Sing said businesses need his facilities to implement their plans swiftly.

He said if Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, for example, has a business idea, he would not wait for, say, six months for office lease terms to be negotiated and office renovations before acting on it.

"Once he has a product he wants to launch in Singapore, he's going to say, start tomorrow. (For) space, who do they talk to? Us," he said.

Firms whose leases have expired and want to assess economic prospects before committing to a longer lease also find JustGroup's spaces attractive. "They will move here where everything is ready (and say,) 'let's hang on for six months, one year, and see how it is'."

Companies such as Facebook, Volvo and Salesforce have rented space from JustGroup, as have start-ups. Seventy per cent of the firms come from the IT, service and financial sectors. About 2,000 people are using its spaces now.

Access to the community of firms using the office space is another big attraction for clients, Mr Kong said.

JustGroup seeks to connect clients within its community. For instance, it put a boutique recruitment firm which needed a software solution in touch with a software development firm.

"We linked (them) up - (they were) so happy. We see the power of this community. It would be beyond my imagination if I have 50,000 or 100,000 members."

JustGroup, founded in 2012, offers spaces in eight buildings.

Mr Henrik Petersen, sales and marketing director at cloud-based software provider Deskera, said leasing space from JustGroup gives him flexibility in expansion.

"The problem with the traditional model is.... usually you have to sign a minimum two-year office lease, (meaning) I would need to predict how many people do we need space for in the next two years.  

"That can be challenging... If I predict wrongly and I need a bigger space, then I have cost associated with moving to a new place."

Also, Deskera could end up paying for unused space if it rents a larger office space and uses only part of it. But with JustGroup, Deskera pays only for the space it uses.

Also, the spaces Deskera leases are located in the Central Business District, and their designs are evocative of a dynamic start-up environment. This helps Deskera attract the talent it needs, he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2016, with the headline 'Short-term space provider's long view'. Print Edition | Subscribe