Hong Kong has the most expensive office space in the world – nearly double New York’s rates. The city of swaggering skyscrapers has held that dubious title for two years in a row.
That’s not deterring Mario Berta’s #startup, which is an Airbnb for workspaces.
The site just took a big step forward in its ambition to cover Southeast Asia by launching in Hong Kong. Flyspaces is now active in the important business hub, offering up short-term offices, co-working facilities, business centers, and event spaces to businesses of all sizes.
A former Rocket Internet exec who served as Easytaxi CEO for two-and-a-half years, Mario is based in the Philippines – and it’s where he set up Flyspaces.
The startup’s Hong Kong expansion comes nearly a year after we first looked at the new startup and nine months after Mario secured US$500,000 in seed funding to take it into Singapore. That early investment is being used primarily for marketing, international expansion, and product development, explains Mario to Tech in Asia.
“We have more than 30 partners in Hong Kong and counting. We add new ones every week,” he says of the recent launch.
“In Singapore we are working very well with companies that simply have extra office spaces and want to sublet their excess. They bring inventory in the market that did not exist before and also a cheaper price as they are not there to make profit but just to offset the rent to their own office,” Mario explains.
“Hence due to the unit economics of Hong Kong being similar to Singapore, we expect the same response” in the newest market.
So the service – which is like US-based Liquidspace – might be able to take a little of the sting out of Hong Kong’s painfully pricey office spaces. Plus it makes renting more flexible and gets rid of the hefty upfront cash requirement that many landlords want in in-demand cities, which can sometimes stretch to six months worth of rent as a deposit and another six months in advance.
And Flyspaces won’t discriminate against scrappy young startups either.
“When I was working for Rocket Internet, I had to submit a company profile to every landlord in Manila and I kept being rejected just because the word ‘startup’ was in it. As landlords were afraid of defaulting tenants, they wanted a safe bet. I started labeling it an IT company and finally got a space,” Mario told us last year.