Germany’s Optionspace wants to be an ‘Airbnb for office space’

Optionspace, a new Berlin-based startup, sees its official launch today with a service that is something akin to an “Airbnb for office space.”

Specifically, prospective tenants — which, of course, includes startups — are able via the online service to rent furnished and unfurnished office space for short durations, starting from a one month rental period.

It’s already rolled out in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Frankfurt, but Optionspace says it plans to expand to further German cities “within the next weeks.”

“Most lease agreements in the office space are long-term and inflexible,” says Optionspace co-founder and CEO Moritz ten Eikelder, who was previously global head of finance at Rocket Internet’s home services company Helpling. “This, however, is not compatible with the planning horizon of most companies. For many companies, therefore, entering long-term rental contracts can pose a significant financial risk.”

In comparison, the Optionspace marketplace only offers office space that can be rented flexibly. This includes lease agreements that are open-ended but have short-notice periods. You also can specify desired office type, number of persons and minimum office size. The entire transaction takes place online, although there is still the option to have an in-person viewing beforehand.

“On the supply side, we have two types of customers: We allow companies, that have excessive space, to monetize unused rooms. Also, we work with property owners or asset managers, who benefit from tenants’ increased willingness to pay for flexibility,” adds ten Eikelder.

Optionspace’s business model is quite traditional. Once a lease agreement has been signed, the startup receives a monthly 10 percent fee of the rent from the landlord, capped at a maximum of 12 months.

On competitors, the Optionspace CEO had this to say: “Looking at the current offer for flexible workspace, we primarily compete with business centers and co-working spaces for tenants. We have worked in such spaces for several months, but never felt like it was a real alternative for an office. Apart from the high costs, most business centers or co-working spaces do not meet the requirements of a company once it reaches a certain size.”

The company is backed by Vito One (the seed investment arm of the Viessmann Group), pre-seed investor Makers, Factory founder Udo Schloemer, Helpling founders Benedikt Franke and Philip Huffmann, Andrew Goldstein (co-founder of LMU Entrepreneurship Center) and Paul Bauwens-Adenauer and Dr. Patrick Adenauer (owners of BAUWENS Unternehmensgruppe).