As part of the current batch of Y Combinator, Deskimo wants to make it easier to find colleagues. 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 competitors are not vacancies like WeWork or other hot desk booking apps. Instead, its Starbucks, Deskimo usually caters to people who work from home, but occasionally need a place nearby where they can get out of distraction or take meetings. Deskimo becomes partners with employers and charges their workers by the minutes they spend in space in exchange for a monthly or annual fee.
Deskimo was launched in February by Rafael Cohen, former head of Rocket Internet Asia, and Christian Mischler, co-founder of FoodPanda, and served as its global chief operating officer. Following the Rocket Internet, the two launched Hotel Quickly, an on-demand booking app they sold in 2017.
The epidemic quickly changed attitudes toward remote work, with a McKinsey survey showing that 62% of respondents wanted to return to work only a few days a week, or not at all. As a result, many companies, especially startups, continue to offer flexible arrangements.
Misler and Cohen already have experience in changing the behavior of people after the launch of FoodPanda. “Back in 2012, people were saying that food ordering was no longer working online, that people were going to order at home or in person,” Cohen said. “What we learned from the on-demand restaurant delivery, shared market-based model is very similar to setting up with workspace partners.”
Deskimo now owns about 40 properties in Singapore and 25 in Hong Kong and wants to expand into residential and business districts, as many remote workers prefer to find a location closer to their homes. It works with a wide variety of property owners and reaches out to each group step by step. The first is to look for office spaces already set up for coworkers and deskimon as an additional distribution route. The second is hotels, some of which are converting space into co-op areas. Lastly, Deskimo plans to sit idle on weekdays in general with places like social clubs and event venues.
On the client side, Deskimo contracts with companies, who then provide the application to their employees. Each person receives a monthly budget on the deskimo and their owners bill only for the time they spend at the venue. The Deskimo app generates the QR code that workers use to access one of its fields and even scans it while checking to record how long they have been there. Prices range from about $ 2 per minute to US 4 USD, with desks in the central business districts usually the most expensive. Total invoices are sent to clients each month and revenue is shared with co-location owners.
“Most companies realize that people can save a lot of costs by working from home so that they can reduce their office space and, instead of adding more fixed costs, they add variable costs,” Mischler said. “They give their employees the ability to go to the office, but if they don’t want to because they have a great house to work in, employees are welcome to work from home.”
In Deskimo’s current markets, on – demand colleague space applications include Switch, Flydesk, Workbuddy and Booked. But Mischler has large F&B chains like its main competitors, Starbucks, because they are easy to find. He said that Deskimo works more efficiently for workers, they are guaranteed to table and do not 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 to its co-workers.
“Once we have company relationships and their employees use the deskimo for their bookings, there is a lot we can build on it, not just employee engagement or workforce management, office management,” Mischer said. “But we’ll focus on the transaction model right now because this is the biggest pain point.”