Commercial office space planning startup Saltmine today announced that it raised $20 million and formed a strategic partnership with real estate firm JLL. Saltmine, whose customers include Snowflake, Fidelity, and Workday, says it plans to put the funding toward advancing its platform and expanding its global workforce.
The shift to working from home and financial headwinds have companies reevaluating the need for physical office space. Even before the pandemic, U.S. Commercial Real Estate Services estimated unused commercial property in the U.S. is worth about $1 trillion. In August, Capital Markets reported that direct commercial sales of real estate fell 29% globally to $321 billion in the first six months of 2020 year-over-year.
Saltmine was founded in 2017 by Shagufta Anurag. Having founded Livspace and Space Matrix, one of the largest interior design firms in Asia,Shagufta saw the same pain points and unmet needs in office real estate that she did in the residential market. She created Saltmine to house workplace data in one place and enable insights that help companies to optimize their real estate portfolios.
Saltmine offers a design platform that ostensibly helps in this regard. The company’s software digitizes floor plans into 3D and evaluates costs, drawing data from catalogs, pricing, materials, branding, graphics, signage, in-office sensors, and more. Saltmine can iterate through different options and scenarios and facilitate auditing, generating virtual 3D walkthroughs of proposed workspaces built using predefined kit-of-parts. From dashboards, employees can view analytics and reporting for programming, space planning, and budgeting and set timelines for project phases or configure workflows for approval processes.
Saltmine has partnerships with commercial real estate and design firms including Cushman & Wakefield, Newmark, Interior Architects, and Space Matrix, according to founder and CEO Shagufta Anurag. As of May 2020, its 35 customers had run 50 million square feet through Saltmine to plan for reentry to the workplace during the pandemic.
Last spring, 110-employee Saltmine introduced new features to promote social distancing to reduce the chances of infection spread. The platform can algorithmically identify work points, conference rooms, and social areas and apply “distance rings,” maximizing headcount while following physical distancing policies. Saltmine can also update this criteria so that as updates occur, customers can quickly integrate these new requirements.
“Real estate is the second largest cost for companies and has a direct impact on their largest cost — their people,” Anurag said in a statement. “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.”
Saltmine, which is headquartered in San Francisco with offices in NYC, Boston, Washington D.C., Budapest, Vietnam, and Singapore, attracted investment from Jungle Ventures and Xplorer Capital in this series A round, in addition to JLL. Going forward, JLL says it’ll partner with Saltmine to sell its service directly to JLL clients.
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