Silicon Valley-based venture capital arm of JLL, JLL Spark, has invested an undisclosed amount in India’s largest flex-space technology platform, Qdesq. Through this investment, the proptech focused fund has marked its first India focused investment, it said in a statement today.
Founded in 2015 by Paras Arora and Lavesh Bhandari, Qdesq is a digital platform that allows companies to transact flexible workspaces, managed workplaces, virtual offices, and individual offices. The company lists India’s largest inventory of available flex spaces in near real-time and currently transacts one desk every 20 minutes on behalf of corporates looking to avoid locking themselves into long term leases. At present, Qdesq has approximately 2,200 centers, lists over 500,000 desks in near real-time, covering the top 35 Indian cities and has rapidly emerged as a dominant distribution channel for co-working operators like WeWork, 91Springboard, AWFIS, Regus, Smartworks, Innov8, and Oyo.
With this investment, the company plans to invest heavily into the analytics capabilities of its technology platform to allow enterprises to better self-solution their future real estate footprint and to allow commercial asset owners to create viable co-working and flex spaces within commercial complexes.
“The investment in Qdesq taps into the growth opportunity that the flexible workspace segment offers. JLL’s strong corporate relationships across the globe, combined with Qdesq’s technology platform and preferred partnerships with flex space operators, will help us provide a more comprehensive solution to our clients across 35 cities in India,” said Ramesh Nair, CEO & Country Head – India, JLL.
Demand from corporates, startups, and entrepreneurs in India has resulted in a huge jump in the co-working share in total office leasing. According to a JLL study, the share of co-working office leasing has risen to 15 percent in the first six months (January to June) of 2019 from the 8 percent level seen in 2018. The segment has absorbed 10.1 mn square feet of cumulative space from 2017 to the first half of 2019, according to the findings.
“Qdesq sits at the cusp of one of the largest disruptions in commercial real estate. Companies are no longer interested in inefficient leases with long lock-ins. Businesses are increasingly looking for the flexibility to easily expand or contract their footprint. With their comprehensive inventory of real time availability of managed spaces, Qdesq is able to dramatically reduce the lead-time to occupancy for companies,” said Anuj Nangpal, Asia Pacific Lead, JLL Spark.
As per JLL estimates, currently, there are approximately 325 to 330 flexible workspace operators in the top seven cities in India. The study finds that the average size of transactions in the co-working segment increased from 37,000 square ft in 2017 to 52,000 sq ft in 2018 and further to 97,000 sq ft in the first half of 2019.
“The average time it takes to close a fixed time lease today is anywhere between three and six months. In comparison, Qdesq is able to close even large enterprise occupancy requirements within days. Our transaction volumes have been growing over 400 percent year-on-year and, with our shared vision with JLL, the opportunity is to scale the platform across Asia,” said Paras Arora, Co-founder of Qdesq. The company recently launched in the Philippines and plans to be present in most of Asia’s gateway cities in the near term.
Qdesq has solutioned real estate occupancy requirements for a wide variety of clients ranging from super high growth technology companies like Zomato, Phonepe, and Zerodha to more established corporates like Bank of Baroda, Nagarro and Hyundai. India is one of the largest potential markets for co-working spaces in Asia, second only to China.
NA Shah Associates and Fortitude Law were advisors to the transaction.