Awfis Vs WeWork: Real Estate’s Ola Vs Uber Battle In The Making?
BloombergQuint’s Aayush Ailawadi catches up with the founder and CEO of Awfis, Amit Ramani
India is home to the third largest number of technology driven startups in the world, according to a study conducted by ASSOCHAM in association with Thought Arbitrage Research Institute. But with such a boom comes an increased demand for work space. And if you’re just setting up shop, chances are you wouldn’t want to splurge your precious seed capital on a swanky office.
That’s perhaps one of the reasons that startups like Awfis have grown so rapidly in the past couple of years. Awfis is a technology-driven venture that provides ready to use, plug and play, co-working office spaces for startup and SME enterpreneurs. The company’s founder and chief executive officer Amit Ramani told BloombergQuint that his company is the largest player in the co-working space in South Asia. He adds, “Currently, we have 13 centres which are operational, which will go up to 25 in the next three months and which will go up to about 60 in the next six months, which will be around 10,000 seats in seven cities across India,” he added.
Awfis has over 2,600 desks in 13 centers across cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. The company has also come up with a mobile application where customers can book, manage or review a co-working space on a flexible lease tenor ranging from an hour to even a year or more. The app also lets users book third party meeting rooms in Indian hotels. Like most co-working spaces, Awfis offers its customers facilities like a desk, high-speed internet, printers, meeting rooms and a permanent address – all for as little as Rs 300 a day!
According to global real estate consultant JLL, the number of co-working tenants worldwide has been increasing steadily, and is expected to reach 3.8 million by 2020. That’s a trend that Adam Neumann, co-founder and chief executive officer of WeWork seems to have identified back in 2010, when he and his team founded the company. The New York City-based company provides shared office spaces to entrepreneurs and independent workers. It now has over 50,000 members and is valued at a whopping $16 billion.
Neumann discussed plans to enter India at the launch of the government’s Startup India programme in January. But, what’s interesting is that the world's largest co-working startup is adopting a new business model for India that would let it avoid costly leases. According to Bloomberg, instead of leasing office spaces in India itself, WeWork’s first Indian offices will be paid for by Bengaluru-based real estate firm, Embasssy Group. WeWork will collect a management fee for its services.
On whether he sees WeWork’s India entry as a threat, Awfis’ Ramani said, “We feel that similar to what happened with Uber and Ola, a category gets created. We have a pole position being the largest here and real estate is not an easy place to be in and we feel that we have indigenised the model and are ready for all players to come in.”