Coworking spaces are hubs for founders, remote workers, contractors, and startups who prefer to focus on scale over office logistics. And although WeWork looms mightily in the U.S. market, its shadow (and enormous amounts of cash) hasn’t completely covered international markets.
GoWork, an Indonesia-based coworking startup, has raised a $13.8 million Series A from Gobi Partners, The Paradise Group, and others. 500 Durians, the Southeast Asia investment arm of 500 Startups, participated in GoWork’s seed investment.
The startup claims it has 16 locations across Jakarta, Bali, and Surabaya. Meanwhile, WeWork is only known to have four spaces located in Jakarta, with no known coworking spaces in Bali or Surabaya. GoWork also claims an additional 30 spaces due to its partnership with Ismaya Group, a company that owns and operates restaurants and bars across Indonesia.
Those partnerships, and roots in the country, appears to be a selling point for investors. Kay-Mok Ku, a managing partner at Gobi Partners, said in a statement that GoWork has an “exceptional, locally-led team that is revolutionizing office space and real estate in Indonesia.”
A local connection may be enough to fend off WeWork. Unicorns have a history of entering international markets all over Asia and subsequently backtracking after cultural hurdles and typical models of disruption fail to captivate local consumers. As Savannah Dowling put it in her article documenting the failure of startups to expand in China: “Language (and people) matter.”
GoWork has also demonstrated its ability to keep a hold on the coworking members it attracts, an important metric to keep tabs on if WeWork continues to expand in the region. GoWork’s CFO Richard Lim said in a press statement that it has “90 percent renewal rate” among its 8,000 members. Lim also noted that the startup plans to use its funds to target “over 100,000 square meters” of office space “by early 2020.”
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