Startup Automating Office Space Planning & Design

Startup Automating Office Space Planning & Design Gets US$20m Funding

USA – Saltmine, a San Francisco-based startup that is automating the way companies are planning and designing their office space, has raised US$20 million and entered into a strategic partnership with property consultancy JLL, reported VentureBeat on Tuesday morning (23 February, SGT).

The 110-employee firm was established in 2017 by Shagufta Anurag, who also established Livspace & Space Matrix, one of Asia’s biggest interior design companies. Given her background, Anurag saw the same difficulties and unmet needs in the office market that she did in the residential sector. As such, she founded Saltmine, which compiles workplace information and provides insights to businesses to help them optimize their property portfolios via Saltmine’s design platform.

In particular, the startup’s tool digitizes floor plans into 3-dimensional (3D) models and helps companies assess property costs by taking data from pricing, catalogues, materials, branding, signage, graphics in-office sensors, and other available information.

Saltmine’s software can perform a series of iterations based on different scenarios and options chosen by clients. It can also facilitate audits and generate virtual 3D walkthroughs of proposed office space. From the tool’s dashboards, customers can check analytics, reports, space planning & budgeting, as well as set timelines for development phases, or tweak workflows.

Last spring, the startup launched a new feature to ensure proposed office space will be able to follow social distancing rules even before it’s built and maximize headcount. This is because the software can algorithmically identify work areas, meeting rooms, and social areas within the office, and apply “distance rings”, as well update the distance criteria when needed.

Last May, about 50 million sq ft of workspaces were processed by Saltmine’s tool for the benefit of 35 clients, as they plan their return to the office once the COVID-19 outbreak is under control.

“Real estate is the second largest cost for companies and has a direct impact on their largest cost — their people. We’re thrilled to have the support of our investors who are committed to the creation of great workplace experiences. Their support is paramount as we enable our customers to digitally transform and optimize their portfolio and bring employees safely back to work in a space that supports the future of work,” said Saltmine’s Chief Executive Shagufta Anurag.

Saltmine’s software has a crucial role to play as businesses review their office space requirements amidst the pandemic. Even before the health crisis, it is estimated that unused commercial property across the United States has reached a whopping US$1 trillion in overall value, according to the US Commercial Real Estate Services.

Last August, Capital Markets also reported that direct commercial property sales across the world declined by 29 percent to US$321 billion in H1 2020 on an annual basis.

Anurag shared that Saltmine has also teamed up with major companies in the property industry, such as Newmark, Interior Architects, Space Matrix, and Cushman & Wakefield (C&W).

Furthermore, the startup said it intends to use the US$20 million funding to further improve its platform and increase its global headcount. Notably, Saltmine has offices in New York City, Boston, Washington D.C., Vietnam, Budapest, and Singapore.

Apart from JLL, the company has also received investments from Xplorer Capital and Jungle Ventures in the latest series A funding round. Looking ahead, JLL stated that it will team up with Saltmine to offer its services directly to the property consultancy’s customers.

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