SINGAPORE – Media_OutReach – 11 June 2019 – GorillaSpace , the Singapore-based online marketplace for workspace, announced that it has raised an undisclosed seed round of investment led by top Japanese real estate developer Mitsubishi Estate Co., Ltd. (MEC), with additional participation from a consortium of investors, including Silversea Media Group, a leading immersive media solution provider in Asia.
[https://release.media-outreach.com/release.php/Images/Thumb/400×0/21294/ GorillaSpace-Full-Team-300-dpi.jpg#image-21294] ** The GorillaSpace team aims to build the marketplace of choice for workspace. **
This investment from MEC marks the first proptech investment outside of Japan, as well as the first seed level investment for the property giant. The investment from MEC is part of their initiative to discover new business projects and to develop synergy with existing businesses. MEC has already committed 10 billion yen(US$100 million) to this purpose, of which the GorillaSpace investment is part.
“We believe in the founders who have deep commercial real estate experience and technical capabilities. GorillaSpace represents a fresh and exciting way to showcase office spaces and help businesses find workspaces more efficiently.” said Kyota Kobayashi, the General Manager of MEC’s Business Creation Department.
Founded in 2018 by Ben and Ginny Eckblad, GorillaSpace empowers businesses to more easily find and lease office space, coworking spaces and serviced offices. The platform is the first property marketplace to offer both long-term office spaces and flexible workspace options, as well as a hybrid of the two categories – the so-called “Core and Flex” that is gaining increasing attention in corporate real estate circles.
GorillaSpace is creating an ecosystem that serves businesses looking for space, space operators, landlords, as well as brokers. GorillaSpace is unique in its partnership approach with brokers.
“We believe brokers play an important role in delivering the more complex transactions, where expertise in negotiations and in the preparation of documentation is a requisite,”said Ben Eckblad, Founder and CEO of GorillaSpace.”By the same token, simple transactions with flexible space operators and requiring only a license agreement can be concluded online.”
Key advantages of the platform for businesses include:
● Verified Listings Workspaces offered on the platform are verified in-person by a dedicated team to protect users from wrong information about the space’s price, area and availability, as well as fraudulent advertisers.
● 360° Panoramas, Videos, 3D/VR Virtual Tours & High-Definition Images Users can experience each workspace through high definition images, 360° panoramas, videos and 3D virtual tours, enabling faster selection of spaces before making the physical visits.
● Smart Recommendation Engine Unlike other workspace platforms that depend solely on search, GorillaSpace also offers a personalized and curated smart recommendation engine to quickly match businesses with the right workspace for their needs. Using this solution, businesses can reduce up to 75 hours of their search time.
“With the support of our strategic investors, we are able to accelerate the reach and scope of our online marketplace always with the single focus to delight our users,” said Ben. “The commercial property market is experiencing a shift from multi-year office space leases to more flexible options. Businesses want less commitment upfront and GorillaSpace helps them see all available options . Businesses now have the choice of combining a long-term lease together with flexible space to house specialised teams or temporary additional headcount.”
In the first four months of 2019, GorillaSpace has helped over 1,000 businesses find solutions to their workspace needs. Since the end of 2018, GorillaSpace has seen a 21.5% month-on-month growth in traffic to the website, as well as a growth of over 30% in listings on the platform.
Chang HuanJian, from Funding Societies, found their workspace through GorillaSpace and commented: “The space we found was just like the photos and 360° panoramas shown online. I was able to communicate the shortlisted options with our co-founders.This service really saved us a lot of time and helped decision making.”
*** About GorillaSpace *** GorillaSpace is the marketplace of choice for workspace. Businesses use GorillaSpace to more easily find and lease office space, coworking spaces, serviced offices and other workspaces. Users can experience the workspaces via 360° panoramas, high resolution photographs and videos. The GorillaSpace leadership team has over two decades of experience in commercial real estate and technology. Our mission is to make it easy for all companies to find the perfect workspaces at every stage of their business growth.
About Ben & Ginny Eckblad Ben and Ginny first met at college some 20 years ago, when they were both studying at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA. Ben brings 20+ years of commercial office transaction experience as well as the vision on how GorillaSpace can help companies of all sizes with flexible space requirements. He brings tried and tested best practices from tech companies, bringing tech into real estate. In her previous work experience in a highly successful FinTech company, Ginny was the go-to person to start projects and quickly scale them globally. She is passionate about building products and creating new businesses. Both founders are fluent in English, French and Mandarin, with over two decades of experience working in Greater China, Europe and South East Asia.
About MEC Mitsubishi Estate Co., Ltd. (MEC), listed in Tokyo Stock Exchange, is a leading international property development and investment company with a substantial commercial and residential portfolio in Japan, which includes over 30 major buildings in the Marunouchi area, Tokyo’s premium central business district. MEC operates in Singapore through Mitsubishi Estate Asia Pte. Ltd. (MEA), its wholly owned subsidiary, to seek opportunities in Asia. MEA and other MEC bases in London and New York cover MEC’s global operations as one team.
About Silversea Media Group Singapore’s Silversea Media Group (SMG) is a multi-national technology company offering immersive media solutions. SMG has a proven track-record of deploying immersive and interactive virtual tour experiences across SE Asia, through strategic partnerships with top-tier real estate players across the region.
The UK’s National Data Strategy – Too Much Love?
By Julian Hayes, Partner at BCL Solicitors LLP
“We want the UK….to be the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business”. With this ambitious aim, the Government has laid out its National Data Strategy, focusing on unlocking the value of data, establishing a pro-growth data protection regime, and championing international data flows to promote economic development. Already a feted success, the UK’s digital sector now stands behind only the US and China in global venture capital funding and directly employs more than 1.5 million people in London and other major UK cities. Despite its laudable aspiration, however, the Data Strategy signals post-Brexit regulatory intentions which risk inhibiting and choking off the future growth of this successful UK industrial sector.
Bonfire of data obligations?
Though it emphasises the importance of public support and maintaining trust in how personal data is used, the Data Strategy highlights business’ lack of clarity about current data protection rules, takes implicit aim at the burden of the current data regime on innovators and entrepreneurs, and laments costly over-compliance and consequent risk aversion. In response, the Data Strategy foreshadows alleviating data compliance obligations, particularly for SMEs, once the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December 2020. Although the Data Strategy carefully avoids specifics, the complexity of the GDPR’s principles-based system and one-size fits all approach have long been a bugbear for micro-enterprises. Indeed, acknowledging concern in its recent two-year review of the GDPR, the European Commission (EC) itself urged national data regulators to lend SMEs a helping hand by offering ready-made templates, training and consultancy helplines. Nevertheless, the EC rejected calls to exempt smaller businesses from GDPR obligations, arguing that data risks were not dependent on an operator’s size.
Cross-border transfer dilemmas
Equally contentious is the Data Strategy’s approach to cross-border data transfers, cited as being of fundamental importance for economic development. The Data Strategy complains that such transfers of personal data are currently being inappropriately constrained and celebrates that the UK will be able to make its own ‘data adequacy’ decisions to allow for extra-territorial personal data transfers in a post-Brexit world. Unlike EC adequacy decisions which involve consultation between the Commission, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) collectively representing EU data regulators, and member state representatives, UK adequacy decisions will be in the gift of the Secretary of State, subject only to Parliament’s rarely used negative resolution procedure. The Data Strategy effectively suggests UK adequacy decisions will be ‘up for grabs’ in future bilateral trade negotiations.
The transfer of personal data from the EU to ‘third countries’ has been a running sore in relations with the US which has not been granted an EC adequacy decision. The European Court of Justice (CJEU) has twice torpedoed hard-negotiated EU-US personal data transfer mechanisms, first ‘Safe Harbour’ and most recently the ‘Privacy Shield’ on which an estimated $7.1 trillion of annual transatlantic digital trade relied. US-UK trade documents leaked to the media in late 2019 suggested the US was seeking to weaken European data protection in its ongoing free trade negotiations with the UK.
These revelations merely added to pre-existing concern in Brussels, based on the UK’s Investigatory Powers Act (IPA), that Britain’s legal regime already falls short of offering an “essentially equivalent” level of personal data protection to that enjoyed in the EU. Aspects of the IPA have been repeatedly criticised by the European Courts, most recently in Privacy International’s challenge to the UK’s bulk retention powers. UK data sharing with third countries for law enforcement purposes has also raised concern in Brussels, with reservations at the UK’s participation with non-EU allies in the ‘Five Eyes’ agreement and expressions of disquiet by the EDPB and Members of the European Parliament at the implications for personal data protection of the UK-US bilateral data sharing agreement signed in October 2019.
Data adequacy – wait and see
Against this unpropitious backdrop, the prospects of Britain being granted an EC adequacy decision by the end of the Brexit transition period – something which the UK is pursuing – appear somewhat forlorn. From the Commission’s perspective, in the face of concerns over US authorities’ access to personal data, how could it grant an EC adequacy decision to the UK, allowing the free flow of EU personal data to Britain when the UK could, in turn, grant its own adequacy decision to the US, theoretically facilitating EU personal data to flow westwards to the US without what the EC regards as adequate protection? Even were the Commission to grant a EC adequacy decision to the UK, it is likely the decision would quickly face challenge in the CJEU from privacy campaigners. In any event, with the Data Strategy foreshadowing imminent changes to UK legislation, how could the Commission practically compare its own data protection regime with one which is morphing into something as yet undefined? Logic surely dictates it would delay making an EC adequacy decision until the future outline of the UK’s data protection regime becomes apparent.
Tech unicorns tethered
Avowedly aiming to drive UK economic growth by alleviating the deadweight of data protection obligations, the Data Strategy envisages digital entrepreneurs and innovators of the UK’s digital economy powering the country to success after the COVID-led downturn. But with the status quo of the Brexit transition period drawing to a close and an EC data adequacy decision potentially on-hold until the UK’s data protection regime becomes settled, the UK’s tech start-ups may in fact find themselves hamstrung by having to satisfy the EC’s data protection requirements in other ways, including the use of Standard Contractual Clauses and Binding Corporate Rules, if they wish to do business in Europe, adding an unwelcome layer of bureaucracy and expense to their overheads. Looking across the Atlantic, even if a US free trade deal is agreed, those same UK unicorns which the Government wishes to prosper would confront the formidable stranglehold of the US tech giants when seeking to break into the North America market. That would leave them reliant on the altogether smaller domestic market which would likely inhibit their growth. Despite the Data Strategy’s good intentions, its inadvertent consequence may in fact be the stifling of the very sector it was designed to assist.
B2B plays a big role in our economy, but how can it contribute to our recovery?
By Richard Parsons from True, creative B2B marketing agency, discusses the current state of marketing and looks ahead to what the future might bring.
The average consumer will likely be unaware that more than half of the companies listed on the FTSE 350 operate purely in B2B transactions. Not only that, but 50% of our economy is generated by B2B transactions and 82% of companies derive some or all of their income from B2B. There is also a global B2B trade surplus, unlike in B2C. The significant conAltribution of B2B is routinely missed but could hold the key to economic recovery.
The famous essay “I, Pencil” by Leonard E. Read, founder of the Foundation for Economic Education, lays out the different skills, materials and jobs utilised in the production of a pencil. An inexhaustive list includes cedarwood from Oregon, logs from California, graphite from Ceylon and clay from Mississippi. The list was so comprehensive that Read even named the lighthouse keeper signalling the ship in and the factory worker sweeping the floor as part of the employment dependant on the pencil.
B2C might dominate brand awareness for obvious reasons, but what is less obvious is it’s inescapable foundations in B2B. These companies play a vital role in our ongoing economic recovery and – drawing on lessons learned during previous economic challenges – here are some of the trends that we expect to play out over the coming months and into 2021.
Below the Line to Above the Line
Even in normal times, businesses tend to place a skewed emphasis on lead generation and brand conversion when they should be focusing on the top of the funnel. Typically, 90% of marketing spend is allocated to short-term lead generation, which translates as telemarketing and mailshots. This balance should be much closer to 50%, with the remaining 50% spent on building brand equity. A shift from Below the Line to Above the Line is essential if brands want to recover well.
Lead-generation tactics do have a role to play. Still, the B2B industry can be guilty of neglecting emotional marketing in favour of rational campaigns, and here they lose their power to attract new interest. The B2B Brand Index Study – the most extensive global study of its kind – established that creative campaigns are 12 times more efficient at delivering business success.
While there are clear differences, B2B and B2C also share certain similarities. For instance, brand awareness among a target audience will always be a fundamental part of securing revenue. A B2B decision-maker will not be as impulsive as a consumer, for example, choosing Coke or Pepsi, but it is still vital that your brand is well known.
This brings us to the Rule of Three – a well-documented concept of brand market share and consumer decision making in a developed market. When looking for the answer to a problem, a prospective customer will have around three known brands that could solve the issue immediately spring to mind as a result of exposure to memorable campaigns and sustained awareness building. Further research will often expand this pool of options to around ten brands, but when it comes to the crunch, one of the original three will win the purchase between 70-90% of the time.
Value for Money
Marketing budgets have been understandably pared back this year. In an April 2020 survey, 90% of respondents said their budgets were delayed or under review. The full economic impact of the COVID-19 is not yet clear, but we are a long way from normal market confidence, and many businesses are increasingly cautious when it comes to allocating marketing spend.
We know that this approach is wrong. According to System1, advertising ability to connect with people remains as strong as before, and media consumption has risen during lockdown. The CPM of Facebook advertising has gone from $1.88 in November 2019 to $0.81 in March 2020. In short, the ROI for marketing spend is better now than before and so those who can spend, should.
The events industry has clearly been badly hit, with months of planning, investment and time redundant. But seminars can become webinars and conferences can become virtual, and while this is small consolation for a devasted industry, virtual versions are generally cheaper than in-person events. This will leave a surplus of budget previously earmarked for events which means a reallocation of money to other facets of marketing to stimulate new revenues and a better recovery.
Think Long Term. Hold Your Nerve.
Institute of Practitioners in Advertising case studies show that brands that maintain marketing investment in recessions grow 4.5 times faster than brands that cut spend. Those that cut spend also struggle for longer and take five years to recover revenue. A marketing black-out might alleviate damage to bottom lines in the short term, but it will breed serious problems and long-term profit loss.
Of course, many brands will pursue the short-term fix and cut marketing costs, and this presents an opportunity for those willing to be bold. It might not feel like a wise investment as profits tumble alongside the rest of the sector but maintaining or increasing spend will allow brands to outflank competitors and for smaller brands to increase their share of voice and gain ground on more cautious industry leaders.
It remains to be seen how short-term marketing cuts will pan out in the mid to long term, but changes are indeed afoot. Crises are catalysts for change and, like any crisis, the current one will have winners and losers. Brands that hold their nerve, innovate and invest in their recovery are likely to see the benefit in the long term. The current economic uncertainty is accompanied by changes in other aspects of the way we live, work and travel. Rather than a threat, it presents an opportunity.
UK leads the way in sustainable finance with the first set of requirements for investment management
BSI, in its role as the UK National Standards Body, has today published the first specification for responsible and sustainable investment management. It addresses the policies and processes needed to create and embed a responsible approach to investment management.
It is the second publication from the Sustainable Finance Standardization Programme delivered in collaboration with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the UK financial services industry in support of the UK Green Finance Strategy. Its launch coincides with the UK preparing to assume the G7 presidency and host next year’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), placing a spotlight on the need for business to unlock sustainable finance in order to build resilience, particularly for those operating in the world’s most climate vulnerable countries.
The new standard, PAS 7341:2020, Responsible and sustainable investment management – Specification, sets out the requirements to establish, implement and manage the process of integrating responsible and sustainable considerations into investment management.
It is structured across five key principles of sustainable investment:
- Governance and culture
- Strategy alignment
- Investment processes
- Investor rights and responsibilities
It underlines the importance of effective disclosure to appropriate stakeholders, and builds on existing industry guidance, principles and regulatory developments.
Scott Steedman, Director of Standards at BSI, said: “The financial system is playing a crucial role in helping to rebuild a more sustainable future through responsible economic growth. This is the first consensus for delivering responsible investment management at corporate level. The new standard, called PAS 7341, creates a way for financial management organizations to transition from ‘responsible’ to ‘sustainable’ investment management. In our role as the UK National Standards Body we are proud to support the government’s Green Finance Strategy with this globally relevant, pioneering and practical standard.”
Kwasi Kwarteng, Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, said: “Transforming our financial system for a greener future is crucial as we build back better from Covid-19 and to meet our legally binding target for net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Building on our pioneering Green Finance Strategy, this new standard will help the UK investment sector become even more sustainable as we strive to lead the world in tackling climate change.”
This free to download standard has been produced by a steering group1 of technical experts made-up of organizations from the UK finance eco-system.
The UK’s National Data Strategy – Too Much Love?
By Julian Hayes, Partner at BCL Solicitors LLP “We want the UK….to be the best place in the world to...
B2B plays a big role in our economy, but how can it contribute to our recovery?
By Richard Parsons from True, creative B2B marketing agency, discusses the current state of marketing and looks ahead to what...
UK leads the way in sustainable finance with the first set of requirements for investment management
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