The Real Deal New York

WeWork ramps up India expansion

$16.9B co-working giant forms partnership with one of country’s largest CRE landlords
December 07, 2016 10:30AM

Adam Neuman and Taj Mahal

Adam Neumann and Taj Mahal

Facing competition from dozens of new co-working operators, WeWork is feverishly working to expand into India, one of the most lucrative markets outside the United States.

The $16.9 billion startup has formed a partnership with Embassy Group, one of India’s largest commercial property owners, and is planning to open locations in Mumbai, New Delhi and Bangladore in the first half of next year, the Wall Street Journal reported.

WeWork TRData LogoTINY CEO Adam Neumann visited India earlier this year and said the company would speed up plans to expand in the country.

“Now that we saw the energy, we cannot ignore it,” he said in an interview with an Indian news channel.

Company executives declined to give specifics about locations, pricing or long-term plans, but they did say that the country’s young population, increasing number of startups and pro-business government policies make India a key location in the company’s global strategy.

“We think millions of square feet over the next few years,” said WeWork head of global development Christian Lee.

WeWork needs to expand rapidly to justify its outsized valuation, and India’s fast-growing economy makes the country a perfect place to do just that.

But the firm is facing competition from local startups like Nwook – which charges users as little as 44 cents an hour – and bigger players like Awfis Space Solutions, which already runs more than 10 locations in multiple cities.

Embassy Group director Karan Virwani said the partnership will pay special attention to customize spaces to Indian culture, such as recognizing that Indian food is “aromatic” and may not be enjoyed by everyone in nearby workspaces.

WeWork’s competitors, though, believe they will be able to compete because of their early start, local customer base and low prices.

“It’s sticky service,” said Awfis founder and CEO Amit Ramani. “If our members have community members that they know and like they’re not going to leave us.” [WSJ]Rich Bockmann