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How To Successfully Fundraise For Your Business In An Overcrowded Market

Keep that grand vision and being execution focused top of mind

CEO Turochas T Fuad is attributes his coup to his vision to disrupt the co-working sector through using technology and value-added services.

Businesses today have never been more spoilt for choice when it comes to picking the location of their working address – this thanks to the burgeoning co-working space scene, numbered at more than 80 in Singapore alone.

One of the latest to enter the fray is start-up Spacemob, which opened its first location at Claymore Hill in September 2016. Two months later, it announced that it had closed Southeast Asia's largest seed funding round at US$5.5 million. Chief among the investors was Temasek Holdings-linked Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia.

Spacemob’s founder and CEO Turochas T Fuad is obviously one happy camper. He attributes his coup to his vision to disrupt the co-working sector through using technology and value-added services, his ambitious regional expansion plans, and his track record as the owner of Travelmob, an Asian competitor of Airbnb.

“Spacemob believes that co-working spaces need to offer much more to its members than a desk, amenities and networking opportunities. We are committed to helping our members bring their business vision to life, and we do this by providing a host of value-added services, such as complimentary group health insurance and payroll software, so that members can focus on what they do best,” says Fuad.

Also worth highlighting is the unconventional business model. Rather than lease the space from the landlord, Spacemob co-invests in the hardware and operates it to generate a return that is shared.

“[It is] much like the relationship between a hotel owner and manager – Spacemob is the hotel manager. The increased yield is property-specific, but developers can expect double-digit growth in most circumstances,” he reveals.

To other start-ups who are hoping to replicate Spacemob’s funding success, Fuad is candid about just how to do so, “Study the industry and search for gaps in the market. Most importantly, make sure you are creating something that customers will have a demand for.

“It’s also really important to be very execution-focused, yet have a grand vision that guides the enormous effort that is required to make a start-up work. Both these elements need to be at the top of your mind at all times.

“Our grand vision is to build a network of over 20 spaces across the next three years, whereby space is a service that follows you wherever you are, and is not limited to co-working spaces. In the near future, that could mean co-living spaces too.”

As it is, Spacemob has opened its second location at the Science Park, in partnership with Ascendas-Singbridge, which is Asia’s leading provider of sustainable urban and business space solutions. It also has aggressive expansion plans for 2017 with spaces opening in Jakarta, Thailand and Vietnam.

Fuad comes to the table with a strong track record, having established Travelmob that was later acquired by Nasdaq-listed vacation rental site HomeAway in 2013. It allowed him to gain a profound understanding of how hotel operators work with property owners. He saw an opportunity to bring this model into the co-working industry.

“Spacemob was born out of the premise that space is secondary. What’s most important is the support provided to members, and the ecosystem built within the space,” he explains.

The tech experience he has accumulated through Travelmob was also advantageous to his current business. To date, it has a centralised booking system to manage membership, wireless payments and a directory of members and services they offer and seek.

“As someone who has first-hand experience starting businesses from the ground-up, I am in a position to provide members with the services and skills that they require to take their business to the next level.”