MillionSpaces is opening doors that were previously closed. Whether you’re a business that needs a quiet meeting space, or you’re throwing a party and need a funky new venue, MillionSpaces makes the process of discovering and booking spaces very simple.

What is MillionSpaces?

MillionSpaces is an online marketplace where users can discover and book unique spaces and venues around Colombo. It might sound terrifically simple—often the best innovations are—but it appears to be something the city needs. The beauty of the website is that it makes you want to host or do something that you hadn’t even thought about before! It’s very refreshing.

MillionSpaces.com homepage. Image courtesy: MillionSpaces.com

The platform prides itself on recruiting a rich diversity of spaces. It has options you would normally expect, such as conference rooms in hotels. But it also goes so much further than that. Now you can freshen up your meetings by welcoming your colleagues or clients to a dedicated cafe-space, or someone’s private garden. There’s thoughtful wedding venues and exciting party venues. There are also badminton courts and football pitches for the active. The spaces can be used “out of context”. A yoga studio for a photoshoot, maybe? Or a private garden for a live music performance.

Who’s behind it?

MillonSpaces is the brainchild of Prasath Nanayakkara and his team at Auxenta, a software engineering company. Auxenta, based out of Silicon Valley, were awarded the Best Startup of the Year 2016 by the Computer Society of Sri Lanka. They also have the prestige of having built the first fully functional app for matching buyers and sellers of Bitcoin on both iOS and Android platforms.

Badminton Court hire is one of the many quick and easy solutions MillionSpaces provide. Going on the website might just encourage you to do something new or ignite an old hobby. Image courtesy: MillionSpaces.com

Auxenta’s projects span the USA, Europe, and Asia. With this background, they clearly have the reach to make their product to go global. They decided, however, to launch the service in Sri Lanka for a six week trial period in December 2017. In that time they received over 2,000 website visits, 12,000 facebook followers, and, crucially, plenty of actual bookings.

Clearly, they were onto something.

What’s being disrupted exactly?

Airbnb is probably the best website to think about when visualising what MillionSpaces is disrupting. Airbnb burst into the travel scene back in 2008 with a collection of uncharted spaces for intrepid travellers to stay. They offered real people’s homes in place of traditional hotels. The travel market has never been the same since.

MillionSpaces is tapping this energy and disrupting the market in two very specific ways:

First, the slog of calling, visiting, and viewing venues for your next event doesn’t need to happen. Quality pictures, write ups, and reviews tell you all about the space. The real time calendar tells you of the space’s availability, and the price lets you know if you can afford it. Not having to cross the city just to view a venue that is too small, too expensive,or  unavailable, is a charade anyone who has had to organise an event has experienced!

Cafes’ gardens are available to breathe new life into any business meeting. Image courtesy: MillionSpaces.com

Second, anyone can go on the platform and list their space. So, like Airbnb before, MillionSpaces offers a business opportunity for anyone who owns or manages a space. Even if you use your office, cafe, or garden regularly, you can temporarily vacate it for a booking.

It’s all about maximising the property in a city to the fullest. Which is great for the economy, the soul of the city, and, of course, your next event.

How Does it Work?

If you’re looking to book a space, visit the website and browse the locations that are available. Either choose an event type to hone your search, or just explore. You can then choose a specific date for your programme.

MillionSpaces web interface is a fun place to hangout and search for space. Image courtesy: Millionspaces.com

If you’re looking to host a space, the great news is that the listing is free. You can register and describe the venue, tag its event category (a party, a conference, or just create your own category) and you’re almost ready.

Obviously, uploading quality images is key to getting traction for your space, which is easy enough given the superb cameras on our smartphones. That said, there is also a professional photographer available from MillionSpaces.

Once submitted, a team member from MillionSpaces will visit the site to ensure everything is in order and as advertised. Then the listing is published on the website and ready for hire!

Where next?

Clearly, with a service that is so simple, and one that offers something so appealing, the business model has the potential to scale and become a global force. Already, the team are looking at expanding into countries with serious heft, such as China, Russia, and USA. Perhaps MillionSpaces will have a million more spaces, in the near future.

Cover image Credit: MillionSpaces.com