JLL Spark, the Silicon Valley-based venture capital arm of real estate consulting firm JLL, has invested an undisclosed amount in one of India’s largest flex-space technology platforms, Qdesq. This marks the property technology (proptech) focused fund's first India specific investment.
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.
Currently, Qdesq has approximately 2,200 centres, lists over 500,000 desks in near real time across 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.
On its part, Qdesq plans to use this investment from JLL Spark towards building 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.
On the other hand, given JLL's global corporate relationships, the investment in Qdesq will help the real estate consulting firm provide a more comprehensive solution to its clients across the 35 Indian cities that the proptech platform is present in, said Ramesh Nair, CEO & Country Head – India, JLL. The investment by JLL Spark into Qdesq was advised by NA Shah Associates and Fortitude Law.
The investment comes at a time when 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 i.e. January to June period of 2019 from the eight per cent level seen in 2018. The segment has absorbed 10.1 million square feet (msf) of cumulative space since 2017 to the first half of 2019.
At a time when businesses are increasingly looking for flexibility to easily expand or contract their footprint, Qdesq is able to dramatically reduce the lead-time to occupancy for companies with its comprehensive inventory of real time availability of managed spaces," 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.
What also sets the proptech platform apart in the flex-space is its speed in closing deals. "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.
Going forward, Qdesq, which recently launched in the Philippines, plans to be present in most of Asia’s gateway cities in the near term.