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ENTREPRENEURS

RENT AN OFFICE

MARQUEE PERFORMANCE
Marquee Executive Offices’s Lena Thong is just getting started with her serviced offices chain.
BY ALISSA GWYNN

LENA THONG KNOWS a good idea when she sees one. While working in real estate more than a decade ago, she learned about the best office spaces and buildings in Jakarta. She used those mental notes to help launch her business, PT Karya Central Bisnis, operating under the name Marquee Executive Offices. Beginning with only 900 square meters, Lena’s company now manages one hectare of serviced office space. She was recognized for her achievement by consultancy Ernst & Young as a finalist in its Entrepreneurial Winning Women program in 2011. For Lena, the transition from property consultant to entrepreneur was a natural progression in her career. Following her studies at York University in Toronto, she worked in marketing at property management companies Procon Indah and Plaza Business Centre before venturing out on her own in 2006. “I spotted the market demand for Marquee because, if you think about it, all companies need an office to start up their businesses. I felt like I was at an advantage to start my serviced office company because I was familiar with which buildings had great locations,” she says. As a native Jakartan, she was also knew that the country’s THE growth would attract international investors—who would need SERVICED office space. Thus, she estabOFFICE lished Marquee Executive Offices INDUSTRY, with an investment of $350,000. ALTHOUGH Her predictions were correct— following the opening of her first NOT A NEW office center in Mayapada Tower, CONCEPT, Marquee quickly took off and opened a new center every year HAS STARTED for the next three years. Lena TO BOOM IN now has eight serviced office centers in key buildings across Jakar- JAKARTA.
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ta—among them the Cyber 2 Tower, Equity Tower and Menara Karya. Lena positions her offices at the topend of the market. Marquee’s offices have personalized telephone answering, 24/7 accessibility, onsite IT support, conference facilities, video and audio conferencing, and free flow refreshments, among other services. Marquee also boasts a conference center that can accommodate 300 people, the only one of its kind in the Jakarta serviced office industry. Although the average office is about 25 square meters, Lena also offers a range of office spaces, from 12 square meters to 70 square meters with the average office 25 square meters. The rental prices also range from $500 to $7,000 per month depending on the size of the office. With such a large range in size and pricing, Lena can offer clients a great deal of flexibility when it comes to customizing office spaces for them. Lena says, “Nowadays, people look for effectiveness and efficiency, and using our serviced offices means flexibility. With us, you just pay for what you need and when you need it.” For example, clients can choose to rent meeting rooms—at an hourly or daily rate, along with additional equipment such as LCD projectors, flip charts or DVD players. The serviced office industry, although not a new concept, has started to boom in Jakarta. Todd Lauchlan, country head of real estate advisory firm Jones Lang Lasalle (and Forbes Indonesia columnist), says: “The serviced office industry is a barometer of the health of a country’s economy. When businesses are looking to expand and use serviced offices abroad, it means that foreign money will be going into that country.” Serviced offices eliminate the hassle, cost and risk of securing a permanent office—inter-

AHMAD ZAMRONI / FORBES INDONESIA

Lena Thong at one of her serviced offices.

national firms can quickly enter a market and get started, and they can later move to a regular office at their convenience (or stay in the serviced one). The flip side of having a growing market is that Lena’s international and local competition are also looking to take market share, either by entering the market or expanding their existing offerings, such as international firms Regus out of Luxembourg and Executive Centre, founded in Hong Kong, or local firms including Fortice. Although about 80% of Lena’s clients are international companies, and the rest are Indonesian. These tend to be startups, small-to-midsized companies, and project-based companies, for which serviced offices are a convenient, cost-effective option. Lena has found a profitable niche. Todd explains that a typical serviced office company is profitable at 70% occupancy, and today Marquee is well within that range with its 400 executive offices above 80% full. Marquee

declined to comment on 2012 revenue. However, serviced executive offices—priced at Rp 500,000 daily—comprise 75% of the company’s gross revenue, with the other 25% comes from additional services like virtual offices and rented meeting rooms and conference rooms. Forbes Indonesia estimates that Marquee’s gross revenues are at least Rp 60 billion, and net income of perhaps Rp 3 billion. Lena is now preparing for her next growth phase, from Jakarta to a national presence. With Bali confirmed to launch next year, Lena says, “Other big cities like Surabaya and Medan are in our pipeline.” Also in the works are plans to expand abroad as well, so Lena can provide offices to multinational clients in different cities. Lena says she is currently looking for partners abroad. The goal is to become the best known brand in the country. “When people want water, they don’t ask for water, they ask for an Aqua. My vision is to have companies come to Indonesia and ask for Marquee instead of a serviced office,” she says. F
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