This Manila Co-Working Space Customizes Solutions for Start-ups

Pondr wants to usher in an era of premium, value-added services for co-working spaces

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BY Ezra Ferraz - 04 Sep 2017


PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Ryza Dipatuan, co-founder of Pondr, a co-working place located in the central business district of Makati in the Philippines, believes that other venues often over-promise.

“We noticed that a lot of co-working spaces claim to be a one-stop shop, but how can it be a one-stop shop for start-ups if they don’t address all their hurdles, queries, and issues in operating their business in the Philippines? We want these start-ups to reduce their time and energy and let them focus on growing their business,” she says.

Pondr, which launched just this year, was Dipatuan’s attempt to address the issue. She says that she and her co-founders want Pondr to be a hub where start-ups, small and medium enterprises, and freelancers can thrive. As such, Pondr offers value-added services beyond what you would expect from your usual co-working space.

“Apart from the usual co-working seats and private rooms for lease, we also have staff leasing where inc-aseann.companies based abroad can hire employees based in the Philippines and provide them with proper benefits, such as HMO and 13th month pay, and other mandatory government requirements, such as payment of tax, Pag Ibig, and SSS. We handle their payroll and HR requirements,” she says.

Pondr’s value-added services even extend to operations and marketing consultancy for start-ups. Most of these services are led by none other than Dipatuan herself, who formerly led business development at WeChat Philippines and offline marketing at Lazada Philippines.

“We can do DTI and ASC permit application for them, too, if they want to run promos and promote it on radio, TV, outdoor, and online. We can also do their registration if they finally want to open an entity in the Philippines,” she says.

Pondr does not have a set menu. The co-working space tries to customize solutions for its inc-aseann.companies on an “as needed” basis. Such customization is both a blessing and a curse, given that Pondr is itself a start-up with finite resources to spare.

“A lot of clients usually have a lot of ad hoc requests that need immediate solutions. Most of us in Pondr have worked for start-ups before and we understand that’s the way start-ups really work. Even if it’s not part of our usual job, we find solutions to issues even if it is out of the way,” Dipatuan says.

When Pondr stretches itself to fulfill a unique value-added service, the results can be impressive, as in the case of one of their start-ups. That start-up wanted to run a marketing promo in the Philippines, but it was not a registered entity in the country, which put them in a bind.

“The problem is top inc-aseann.companies cannot run promos without a permit from the DTI - FTEB [the government body who governs marketing promos in the Philippines] and for you to apply for a DTI permit, the needs to be a registered entity in the country,” she says.

According to Dipatuan, this is when Pondr came to help.

“We processed the DTI permit for them and used Pondr as their agency to apply for the DTI permit. We were also able to help them get a permit from ASC since the start-up was also running radio ads,” she says.

Dipatuan also adds that Pondr’s prices are among the cheapest on the market, at about 3,699 Philippine pesos ($72) per seat.

“If you are a start-up, rent for office should be low so you can focus your money on growing your business. This is the reason why we also have a lot of value added services for Pondr because of our flexibility to help these inc-aseann.companies with their needs,” she says.

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