Interestingly, even large corporates have started taking interest in opening branches and offices in co-working spaces. However, as conventional and accommodating co-working spaces might be, they often lack certain aspects of traditional office spaces such as privacy of single tenant offices. Further, as these companies begin to scale in terms of operations and staff, their office needs change respectively.
For instance, in 2018, Accenture's Seattle office was looking for a space to accommodate 10 people to serve their client T-Mobile. This is when they reached out to extraSlice, a flexible workspace facility in Bellevue, few miles away from Accenture's office. Some months later, the tech giant's team expanded to 75 people and they were moved into extraSlice's larger office space in the same building. Fast forward a few more months, the team expanded to 150 people and they were moved again into an even bigger space.
Six months later, the team was reduced to 75 people again. In this period of two years, extraSlice successfully accommodated the changing business needs of the tech giant.
Founded in 2016 by Indian-origin couple Meghana Subramanian and Binu Reghunathan, extraSlice provides flexible office space arrangements dedicated to technology companies. Hitting the sweet spot of flexibility of co-working and privacy of a single-tenant office, extraSlice brings the best of both worlds to its clients.
"extraSlice believes in maintaining the office culture and best practices of a company while at the same time offering agility in its office space. Our tagline is 'Best Business Case Office Space'. Many businesses focus on the economics and the resources they leverage for their business, we concentrate on providing office space and services that better equate to comparable options in the marketplace," Subramanian told ET Digital.
The place for tech
The co-founding duo has a combined industry experience of 35 years, working with tech big-wigs such as Ericsson, Oracle and IBM. extraSlice started as a product development company based out of the duo's home. It didn't take long for them to understand that they need a secure office space to hold client meetings and grow extraSlice. However, they were unable to find one which would fit all the requirements of a flexible tech workplace.
There were either rundown incubator spaces lacking infrastructure to support a tech company or subleases that required lengthy lease terms and deep pockets.
"We realised that an agile tech workspace didn't exist. So, we created it. Bootstrapping this venture, we self-funded the first 3500 square feet space and separated it into private offices. We met with dozens of landlords in an attempt to secure long-term leases, however, they all insisted on their tenants providing substantial business credit history and a track record of managing real estate. So while we achieved success in a smaller space, the majority just didn't get the vision and weren't willing to take a risk," she said.
What worked out was a meeting with Larry Benaroya of Benaroya Company. Benaroya had developed over 20 million square feet of commercial real estate in the Seattle region. Through his help, the duo was able to launch extraSlice's new location at Bellevue, near Factoria in Benaroya I-90 building.
"During this time, we helped tenants, landlords, commercial brokers, and enterprise clients see that a revolution is not only needed but is also underway," she said.
Today, extraSlice provides dozens of space plan offerings, giving tenants the ability to choose what's ideal for them today and make changes to their space plans as their business plans change over time.
extraSlice's services have expanded from a 3500 sq ft office space to a larger 40,000 sq ft of space since its inception. During this time, the customer base was expanded from 15 to 60 businesses and with clients such as Accenture, HCL, Slalom and UST Global.
Fit for Covid era
Running a brisk business, 90% of extraSlice's facilities were occupied until Covid hit the country. With a sudden lockdown enforced everywhere, office spaces were no longer usable. Bucking up, nine months into the pandemic, extraSlice is witnessing occupancy of nearly 60% from a low of 35%.
"The biggest challenge today is to identify the few tenants actively searching for office space (maybe 5% of normal demand) to demonstrate our solutions. Notably, our deal conversion has risen from about 10% to more than 30%," Subramanian said.
The extraSlice team believes that the requirements of flexible workplaces and contract term lengths are now more than ever. With uncertainty looming around the new normal and office infrastructure, extraSlice's offerings might be the need of the hour for tech businesses.
"We've already made changes to our agreements and offerings to make all this possible. What's more is that we are developing innovations that promise to revolutionise the way commercial real estate transactions get done," she said.
When asked about their plans for India, Subramanian said they are planning to launch AI-based flexible office software worldwide including India.
"As an example, through this platform, Indian companies will be able to easily lease and manage their office spaces in the US as part of their expansion and similarly US companies can lease and manage their office spaces in India faster and easier," she said.
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