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A WeWork rival from Scotland: Desana grabs $7.4M funding to expand to the US


Several articles, research studies, and predictions have been made about the future of work. However, the world is still in the early stages of returning to work and implementing widespread hybrid models post-pandemic.

In response to the demand for flexible coworking, Edinburgh-based B2B hybrid workspace platform Desana developed an app that employees can use to book desks and meeting rooms across the workspaces the startup partners with. 

Now the Scottish company has announced the closing of a $7.4 million funding round. The funding round was led by PT1 – PropTech1 Ventures, Berlin-based proptech investors, and JLL Spark Global Ventures, another global proptech investor goliath. Additionally, Belfast VC Techstart Ventures, Groundbreak Ventures, and BGF (the business investment firm that backed Oxford’s Oxbotica)  participated as pre-seed investors.

Desana: ‘Uber’ of coworking?

The on-demand workspace provider Desana was founded in 2019 by Michael Cockburn, Steve Jeans, and Ro Ramtohul and now provides employers with Uber-like on-demand access to workspaces in over 600 cities across 60 countries, with a team spread across the UK, USA, and Canada. 

Funding from this round is expected to accelerate continued global growth, particularly in the US, where they see significant opportunities to expand their list of enterprise customers, which includes Github, Twilio, Sonos, Elastic, and Splunk. 

How is it different from competitors? 

The WeWork rival offers employers with the option of consolidating costly real estate commitments, reducing workspace overheads by 65% – 95%; a critical benefit at a time when costs are soaring and office space remains one of the highest business expenses. 

Through a single interface, customers have immediate access to the entire global flexible workspace market, on-demand, enabling consolidation of real estate commitments. The new technology allows companies to offer employees anywhere in the world access to workspace, and only pay for hours used. 

Furthermore, companies can integrate their own offices into the platform, providing a single solution to managing global hybrid working patterns and tracking accurate workspace data for long-term real estate decisions. It enables remote hiring strategies, which are in high demand by employees, as well as hybrid and flexible working cultures at scale.

Michael Cockburn, CEO and Co-Founder of Desana commented: “We’ve come a long way from launching our initial product from our living rooms in Edinburgh, to working at a global scale with some of the biggest companies in the world as they fundamentally rethink the way they utilise office space. We established Desana ahead of one of the biggest shifts in working culture for generations, and this unprecedented transition has driven a huge amount of growth for us. But, given the scale of the change in this industry, we believe that there’s still so much more to come. 

We’re very grateful to have such experienced investors that share our vision for the future of work. We’re all super excited to accelerate our growth trajectory and continue to empower companies by providing a way to use real estate that is good for their people, their business, and the planet.”

Tanguy Quero, Investment Principal, JLL Spark Global Ventures said: “Desana has developed a best in class platform to help companies address the challenge of managing a distributed workforce with a hybrid or flexible model. Their solution uniquely combines ease of deployment and scalability for management teams with great user experience for employees. We are proud to partner with Desana in their quest to tackle a major challenge in the real estate industry today.”

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