There are many ‘middleman’ startups emerging in our ecosystem. Some of the most successful startups have essentially built peer-to-peer (P2P), business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) platforms – connecting people in ways that would otherwise be difficult if not impossible. The latest to enter this segment is SpareMetres, a Brisbane-based startup that graduated from the iLab accelerator earlier this year.
SpareMetres emerged as a response not necessarily to the paucity of suitable spaces in Australia, but the difficulty in finding them. Benjamin Forday was operating a CNT machining business and needed an industrial space to run the machine as the business had no cash flow. Forday visited factory after factory to find a suitable space, but the process quickly became tedious. It was this frustration that spawned the idea for a centralised platform to discover spare commercial spaces.
There are four types of spaces the startup is currently focusing on – industrial spaces, office spaces, commercial kitchens and health practices. Businesses can earn extra income from leasing spare spaces, while lessees can enjoy more cost-effective renting options in an unstable property market.
Currently, the service is only available in Brisbane, but will be introduced in Sydney and Melbourne in the upcoming months. Listing a space is also free at the moment, and a price will be introduced after the updated version of SpareMetres is launched.
Using SpareMetres is fairly simple. Businesses simply register, sign in and a list a space, providing necessary information such as type of space, location, rent price, the kind of tenant they’re looking for, and anything else they feel is necessary. SpareMetres will approve the listing before it goes live on the site.
Those looking for spare spaces to rent will use the platform like any other discovery engine – outlining criteria to narrow down the search and selecting a suitable option from the results. From there, the business and consumer can enter negotiations without any interference from SpareMetres.
At the moment, SpareMetres is in its very early ‘testing the market’ stages. Forday says he’s not 100 percent certain about what the business model will be. He wants to monitor the way people use it first before implementing any monetisation strategies.
Forday admits there’s been some surprises. Initially, the site was focused on industrial spaces because it was the frustration he experienced. But when people visited the site, they were searching for office and storage spaces, as well as commercial kitchens and health practices. This made him realise the potential for diversity in his offering.
He is also interested in creating a booking system where, for instance, commercial kitchens or meeting rooms can be rented out for short periods of time. SpareMetres would then take a commission on each booking. This, Forday believes, would make the startup more scalable, however he acknowledges that he’ll need legal counsel due to stringent property laws.
The business has been primarily bootstrapped to date. iLab pays up to $20,000 in expenses for each startup, and that has allowed Forday to outsource the long-term stable build of the platform. He plans on raising funds at a later stage to accelerate growth.
Although the concept behind SpareMetres isn’t unique – especially with services like HotDesk and Airspaced in the market – we think this startup has the potential to be the go-to place for discovering ANY kind of space, for any purpose, if executed well.
To check out SpareMetres, visit www.sparemetres.com.