Genies once existed only in Disney movies and fairytales. While it takes more than rubbing a lamp to make wishes come true, Asia-based company, SpacesGenie.com, is one genie you need to take note of.
The New Savvy spoke to the man behind the business, Pushpendra Sharma- or Push – and found out more about his business ethos, what drives him and his view of women in the business world today.
I was never one who adhered to social conventions. When I graduated with a degree in Architecture at 22, I started working in one of the world’s leading real estate consulting firms, developing my skills in a much broader sense than a regular architecture internship would’ve allowed.
I wasn’t the one who’d be shying away for sure — I was elected class president when I pursued my Master’s at Columbia University, New York, and captained multiple sports teams throughout my educational years.
Fast forward to today, in my years doing real estate private equity — investing and asset managing a diverse portfolio, I know one of the key asset management strategies is to find creative ways to monetise vacant or transient spaces by offering them on a short term basis.
In my experience, this has proved to be highly beneficial in uplifting the overall new asset value and productivity. The attractiveness of short-term rentals, from a landlord’s perspective, has stuck with me ever since. Plus, short term rentals offer space owners a higher ROI (return on investment) versus a traditional lease.
As a retail consultant, I often found my clients struggling to find information and spaces to test their products, or conduct flash sales or raise funding, expand via franchising or form JV partnerships, etc. Since Singapore, Tokyo, and Hong Kong are expensive retail real estate markets, it’s tough to get access to short-term retail spaces and one-stop shop services to open Pop-up stores.
With this in mind, I realised that there was an opportunity to create an online platform that connects the owners of short-term retail spaces, with potential tenants and that’s how the idea of Spaces Genie was born.
We list all kinds of spaces such as, malls, high street spaces, push carts, kiosks, shop-in-shop spaces and we connect the owners of these spaces with brands, artists, designers, in a seamless online transaction. We assist mall owners to maximise their asset value and provide unique end to end solutions to brands.
Before our inception, a centralised listing platform that provided information on short-term spaces across different markets or curated spaces or offered an end to end service platform didn’t exist. We simplified the process to list, search, book and open pop-up stores in Asia.
Our vision is to be the centrepiece for creating a retail world without borders – where buyers and sellers can interact freely and efficiently. So far, we have received support and visibility — on both the demand and supply side. We are now expanding this network, and we are forming strategic partnerships with some of the leading names in the business.
My job is one that I enjoy obviously, and it involves skills like people, money and time management, but something that I find particularly challenging is travelling – in particular frequent international travel.
I am often asked if I have any regrets – I have a medium risk with a mid to long-term view of investments. My only regret is perhaps wishing I had launched SpacesGenie a lot earlier, perhaps with a simpler beta-version so I could test and learn.
Q&A with Pushpendra Sharma
- What is the one advice that impacted you the most?
- Start small. Whatever you do, keep it simple.
- Which Three Adjectives Describe Your Strengths?
- Passionate. Hard Working. Motivated.
- What are your attitude and outlook towards personal finance? Has it changed?
- Not much has changed. Cash is still king for me and more so now, given the slowing down of the global economy.
- How do you improve your financial knowledge?
- Mostly by reading and there is a lot of information available online.
- How do you decide on what to do financially?
- I always take an informed decision on investments, so I often speak to the experts in the field based on what specific instrument or asset class I am looking to invest in.
- How do you think modern women can be more fulfilled in their lives?
- I think the biggest challenge for the modern woman is to achieve better balance in their lives. With technology advances and greater diversity focus in workforces, women have a lot of options open to them – whether that’s running a business from home or having a high flying corporate career.That said, there is no one route to fulfilment and it comes down to personal choice and what makes one feel satisfied.
- Do you believe in the traditional roles of men and women?
- No, not at all. I have always had strong women in my life – my mother (doctor), my sister (doctor) and my wife (marketing guru) are all professionally qualified and are successful in their careers while still balancing the demands of home. I believe all men and women are equal and everyone, regardless of gender, has to share the load.
- What is a skill you think all women should learn and why?
- I strongly believe financial literacy is an important skill that everyone should have. This helps in safe-guarding financial independence and also ensures wealth creation.