By Philipp Werner, Principal @ Project A
The pandemic triggered a paradigm shift in how we think about the workplace: While some organisations are currently asking their employees to return to the office (with limited success), the white collar workforce is becoming increasingly distributed with many companies embracing hybrid or even remote first setups.
This Covid-induced trend leads to an unprecedented amount of office space left empty for long periods of time and landlords experiencing a new unwillingness to sign long term leases. At the same time, the flexible workspace market is the fastest growing segment of commercial real estate: In 2018, 2.5% of global commercial real estate was flexible — this is projected to increase to a whopping 30% by as soon as 2030.
To date, there is little transparency into availability across operators for companies in need of flex workspace or for brokers like JLL, Colliers, CBRE or Cushman & Wakefield, who are important gatekeepers in the industry: Tasked by enterprise clients to find flex workspace solutions that fit their requirements, these players constitute a significant part of the revenue flex workspace operators like WeWork, Industrious or Spaces generate and are responsible for most enterprise contracts.
Much like individual users, brokers do not have access to up-to-date information on prices and availability of flex workspace, nor do they have adequate solutions to filter by amenities their clients require and thus spend a lot of manual time to come up with adequate proposals. On the other hand, operators have little control over how their brand is being presented as well the information about their properties that brokers possess and find it difficult to benchmark their pricing and manage their leases efficiently.
Valve partners with brokers, resellers and client-facing platforms like Desana, Deskpass or Upflex on the demand-side, and with flex workspace operators and landlords on the supply-side via their global distribution system (GDS) and booking API — much like Amadeus does in the travel industry. In addition, they built their own powerful SaaS enabling brokers to easily identify suitable workspace for their clients, create proposals and transact with operators, who in turn can promote their buildings to brokers globally, ingest price and availability data and keep building information up to date.
When we first met Nick Roveta and his team, we were impressed by their vision of digitalising a rapidly growing industry still largely running on manual processes with a clear focus on the infrastructure layer — and a very convincing go-to-market approach. Having signed some of the biggest logos in the industry, Valve already operates across more than 10,000 buildings in 250 cities and processed $4.2 bln of flex workspace contract value.
Today we are happy to announce that we led Valve’s $4.5m Seed funding round with participation from Discovery Ventures to expand their reach across North America and EMEA and help their partner to further accelerate the adoption of flexible workspace.