On Nov 8, Thai developer Sansiri invested US$12 million ($16.3 million) in JustCo, Singapore’s biggest co-working operator. The Series B funding round by Sansiri gives the Thai company a 6.09% stake in JustCo, and values the company at close to US$200 million.
Kong Wan Sing, founder and CEO of JustCo, recounts how the deal came about five months ago. “We got connected through LinkedIn,” he says.
The way Kong remembers it, Sansiri had commissioned Boston Consulting Group to study the co-working sector and evaluate the operators. BCG had in turn connected with Kong via LinkedIn and requested a meeting. “They talked to a lot of different co-working operators in Singapore, not just us,” Kong adds. Eventually, it led to the deal.
With the investment, JustCo intends to open four co-working premises in Bangkok next year. Kong has already identified two prime Grade-A office towers to open JustCo: AIA Sathorn Tower and Capital Tower. The two locations will provide JustCo with close to 80,000 sq ft of co-working space. Kong hopes to secure the remaining two premises in the coming days, which will bring the total co-working space to at least 150,000 sq ft. “It’s important to be able to scale up quickly, and our partnership with Sansiri allows us to do that.”
In addition, JustCo intends to have 30 coworking spaces across Asia-Pacific by next year. The group plans to expand into other key cities in Southeast Asia, including Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh City and Manila.
The rollout of the co-working spaces around Asia-Pacific will also provide Sansiri with access to JustCo’s 12,000 members. This means greater opportunities to collaborate and expand around the region, says Kong.
In Singapore, JustCo has four co-working premises at 120 Robinson Road, 6 Raffles Quay, UIC Building and Marina One, and occupies close to 200,000 sq ft of office space.
Slated to open next year is a new 57,000 sq ft JustCo at Marina Square. This will be the first JustCo to open in a mall. “We hope to rejuvenate the mall and bring new energy to it,” says Kong.
JustCo intends to introduce pop-up stands for start-up companies to showcase their products. There will also be rooms for retail companies to lease as storage space. JustCo is expected to take over the premises in February, with the new coworking centre to open in the middle of next year.
Kong sees consolidation taking place and, eventually, only two to three big players remaining. “A lot of people can come up with coworking spaces,” he says. “But what is important is the vibe and the community, something that many lack.”
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