Can you give us a brief background on Servcorp?
Servcorp started in Sydney 35 years ago. It was really an entrepreneurial attempt by our current CEO, who was having trouble finding a small, nice office space in Sydney that could accommodate a startup team. He ended up renting a floor in an office building that he then rented out to other start-ups, thus starting the Servcorp model. Thirty-five years later, Servcorp has spread to 21 countries with 140 locations altogether. In China, we have nine offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Chengdu, and will be opening our 10th location this March. It's going to be our flagship center in Beijing with more than 90 offices.
What do you offer as a serviced office provider?
What we offer is a premium office space and location for small teams and start-up companies who may not want to invest in the typical minimum three-year lease term in China. We provide fully furnished offices and trained secretarial support. A phone number is allocated to each of our clients, and answered bilingually by our secretary. They can also do power points, presentations and help with travel plans, so if you're a small company you don't need to hire junior staff. We also provide a reliable global IT infrastructure. All our internet service in China sits in Hong Kong so our clients don't need to worry about limited access. With a global cloud network, we can allocate our clients a phone number anywhere in the world to where they're currently sitting, which makes it easy to do business internationally. We are also the world's largest provider of virtual offices.
What are the benefits to your clients who opt for a virtual office?
Servcorp is actually the pioneer of virtual offices, a concept conceived by our CEO which is basically a flexible mobile office. Our virtual offices cater directly to two different sets of clientele. The first is entrepreneurs who may have a great idea, but not yet the budget to invest in their own space. Virtual offices allow them to work from home but have access to our meeting rooms as well as someone to answer their phone professionally. The second group is traveling executives who aren't here to stay permanently but don't want to make all their business calls from a Starbucks, for example. They can book out space at a Servcorp office no matter what city they're in.
What do you see as the future of virtual offices?
I think the whole concept of virtual offices is gaining popularity. You'd be surprised how much of a new concept it is in Shanghai. The city's real estate has become so pricey in recent years and there's not a lot of new space to develop physically, so virtual offices is really going to become a booming industry. It's highly scalable, so that's where we see our growth. Whether you're an expat entrepreneur looking to do a start-up or a traveling executive, we want to make sure you understand that you can get the same seamless experience and service you would back home.