URWork, the Beijing-based shared office unicorn, has flexed its fundraising muscles once again by completing a new funding round for RMB 200 million ($30 million) from KCC, a state-owned developer based in the city of Kunming.
The $1.3 billion startup founded by former Vanke executive Mao Daqing will also partner with KCC to invest a combined RMB 1 billion ($150 million) in a new 30,000 square metre project in downtown Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province. Upon completion, the complex dubbed an “innovation centre” will be URWork’s largest space.
Founded in 2015, URWork has built a network of 88 co-working centres in more than 22 cities in mainland China, Hong Kong and Singapore. The company says it aims to open another 160 centres in 32 cities worldwide, covering seven million square feet of space over the next three years.
URWork Amasses Funds for Overseas Drive
URWork, which is backed by a roster of investors including mainland VC heavyweights Zhen Fund and Sequoia Capital China, has demonstrated a knack for raising large amounts of capital. Earlier this month it brought in two new mainland partners, Prosperity Fund and Beijing Capital Land, to wrap up a RMB 1.2 billion ($178 million) round of financing.
The funds are intended to fuel URWork’s overseas expansion drive as the company plans to unveil its first US facility in Manhattan this October and eyes further locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco and London.
Start Up Wants to Know Its Customers by Face
As it scales up, URWork is also seeking to enhance its platform by harnessing some high-tech features. The company is partnering with Alibaba’s Ant Financial, the world’s largest fintech firm, to create a fully staff-less experience in its flexible office centres using face recognition software and digital payment systems.
Similar to the experience of a cashier-free coffee shop that Ant Financial opened last month in Hangzhou, URWork wants its customers to be able to buy snacks and enter a conference room, gym, or karaoke room within its centres by scanning a QR code or blinking at a screen – all without the aid of a human worker.
Adding some innovation to its brand may help URWork in its intensifying battle with rival WeWork, the $20 billion Manhattan based co-working giant, which recently announced a pair of $500 million investments to grow its presence in Asia.