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Instant office

Is your start-up business not yet ready to plunk money into a new office? Here's a company offering ready-to-occupy space or just an office residence
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<>It's good to have one's own business, but putting up an office for it is not that easy. There just are too many things to do and too much expense required to get things off the ground.

For the start-up entrepreneur, however, there's now a very convenient and cost-efficient way to have an office in no time at all: the CEO SUITE solution. CEO SUITE, which started operations in the Philippines only in the middle of this year, offers ready-to-occupy office space for start-up businesses or just an office address for those that are simply testing the waters for a prospective venture.

The company provides two types of services: an instant office for chief executives on the go and for mobile entrepreneurs, and a virtual office with a specific a business address and dedicated phone numbers for clients who don't find a need to put up an office of their own.

Either way, CEO SUITE's instant office services can spare businessmen all the hassles of looking for an office, designing and furnishing it with all the necessary equipment and furniture, and hiring a full-time staff to take in calls and messages.

CEO SUITE started ten years ago in Jakarta, catering to different businesses in different industries. Its founder and president, Mee Kim, is a highly experienced manager who was educated in Seoul, New York, and Sydney. She has worked in many of Asia's leading urban cities as well as in the United States and Australia.

While in Sydney, Mee Kim had worked full time as manager of Servcorp Australia, which runs a business similar to that of CEO SUITE. In that capacity, she played a key role in the opening of Servcorp's new centers in Bangkok, Japan, and Jakarta.

In Jakarta, she met the man she would later marry, Joseph Siswanto. With his support and with her seven years of experience with Servcorp, she decided to go on her own and established CEO SUITE in 1997. With an initial investment of between US$1.5 to $2 million, she opened her first CEO SUITE center at the Jakarta Stock Exchange Building that same year. The center consisted of small offices with areas of between 20 sq m to 70 sq m, each furnished with the necessary corporate amenities.

She did not have an easy time at the start. This was primarily because during her very first few months in the business, the Asian financial crisis hit Jakarta very badly. As a result, the occupancy rate of the center was so low it could not even cover its day-to-day operational costs.

Two years later, in 1999, Mee Kim opened a second CEO SUITE center in Jakarta, followed in 2001 by a third center in Kuala Lumpur. In 2002, Mee Kim opened a fourth center in Singapore, followed in 2004 by a fifth center in Shanghai.

The rates of CEO SUITE start at US$50 a month for clients that only need an office address. For those who need a dedicated phone number or an assistant, the rates range from US$60 to US$200 a month. The rates for a physical office space range from US$550 to US$4,000 depending on the size of the office and the services required.

Ems Llanes, country director of CEO SUITE for Manila, says the company decided to enter the Philippine market in June this year because of the fast-growing market for office space in the country.

"The office space market in the Philippines has been experiencing a boom because of the continuing growth of the country's call center industry and business process outsourcing industry,” she explains. “There are now very few available office spaces left in the Philippines, so it is one of the countries that office space investors would have in mind for expanding their business.”

This shortage of office space has jacked up the cost of office space in Manila, a problem that CEO SUITE now addresses with its instant office services.

Precisely what kind of services does CEO SUITE offer?

Llanes says CEO SUITE can make its instant offices immediately available for the client's use for an hour, a half day, or a day or on a weekly or monthly basis. For entrepreneurs who are just starting a business, CEO SUITE provides services that can link them with the appropriate contacts for business registration and other start-up needs.

She says that CEO SUITE has a ready list of contacts with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company can thus help clients that engage its services in going through the step-by-step process of business registration.

CEO SUITE can thereafter make the necessary follow-up calls for the processing of the client's business applications. “We help speed up the process and provide representation for our clients,” Llanes says.

She says that for start-up businesses, CEO SUITE has a package that can go as low as P2,000 monthly for clients needing mainly a business address. Its P5,000 monthly package, on the other hand, provides a business address as well as a telephone answering service and other basic office amenities.

For its virtual office offering, CEO SUITE provides a client company a respectable business address, a dedicated phone line, and a skeletal office staff to take in calls and messages for the client. The virtual office service costs around P2,000 per month, depending on the duration of the service.

For its serviced office offering, on the other hand, the client will be provided with the following additional amenities: a pantry area and a Private Automatic Branch Exchange or office PABX. "We can transfer a client's calls anywhere and we will also provide for the client world-class board room facilities,” Llanes says.

The rates for the serviced office are similar to the rates of five-star hotels, ranging anywhere from P12,000 to P40,000 per month.


37th Floor, LKG Tower
6801 Ayala Avenue
Makati City
Telephone: (02) 859-2888
Fax: (02) 859-2882

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