Being part of the current batch of Y Combinator, Deskimo wants to make it easier to find coworking spaces. Its on-demand booking app is currently available in Singapore and Hong Kong, with plans to enter more markets after Demo Day. Its founders are former Rocket Internet executives who say their main competition isn’t places like WeWork or other hot desk booking apps. Instead, it’s Starbucks, since Deskimo is for people who typically work from home, but sometimes need a place nearby where they can get away from distractions or take meetings. Deskimo partners with employers and bills them based on the time their employees spend in the space, instead of a monthly or annual subscription.
Deskimo was launched in February by Raphael Cohen, former head of Asia at Rocket Internet, and Christian Mischler, who co-founded Foodpanda and was its global managing director. After Rocket Internet, the two launched HotelQuickly, an on-demand booking app they sold in 2017.
The pandemic quickly changed attitudes towards remote working, with a McKinsey survey revealing that 62% of those polled said they only wanted to return to the office a few days a week, if at all. As a result, many companies, especially startups, will continue to offer flexible packages.
Mischler and Cohen have already observed the change in people’s behavior after the launch of Foodpanda. “In 2012, people were saying food ordering won’t work online, people just order over the phone or in person,” Cohen said. “What we’ve learned from on-demand restaurant delivery, the shared market-based model, is very similar in this case to setting up with workspace partners.”
Deskimo now has around 50 properties in Singapore and 40 in Hong Kong, and is keen to expand into both residential and commercial areas, as many remote workers prefer to find a space close to their home. He works with several types of owners and takes each group step by step. The former are office spaces already fitted out for coworking and see Deskimo as an additional distribution channel. The second are hotels which transform part of their spaces into coworking spaces. Finally, Deskimo plans to partner with spaces such as social clubs and event venues that typically remain empty on weekdays.
On the customer side, Deskimo contracts with companies, which then offer the application to their employees. Each person gets a monthly budget on Deskimo, and their employers are only billed for the time they spend in a space. The Deskimo app generates a QR code that workers use to access one of its spaces, and they also scan it during verification to record how long they stayed there. Prices range from around US $ 2 to US $ 4 per hour, with offices in central business districts typically costing more. Aggregated invoices are sent to clients each month and the revenue is then shared with the coworking space owners.
“Many companies are realizing that they can save a lot of costs by having people work from home to reduce their office space, and instead of adding fixed costs, they just add variable costs,” Mischler said. “They offer their employees the option of going to an office, but if they don’t want to because they have a great home to work in, employees are also more than welcome to work from home.”
In Deskimo’s current markets, other on-demand coworking space applications include Switch, Flydesk, WorkBuddy, and Booqed. But Mischler says his main competitors are big restaurant chains like Starbucks because they are easy to find. He adds that Deskimo is more efficient for workers, who are guaranteed a table and don’t have to worry about finding outlets or the quality of Wi-Fi. In addition to expanding into more markets , Deskimo also wants to add other services in addition to coworking to give it a competitive advantage.
“Once we have established the relationship with the company and their employees use Deskimo for their reservations, there are many different things that we can rely on, whether it’s employee engagement or customer management. workforce, not just workplace management, ”says Mischer. “But we’re focusing on the transactional model right now because that’s the biggest problem.”