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January 4, 2021

Saltmine's Vision to Disrupt the Workplace: An Interview with Our CEO

A decade ago, a workplace revolution was just beginning.

Offices had embraced a tired "butts in seats" strategy for years. But a new wave of employee engagement initiatives, productivity improvements and brand creation strategies were shaking the foundations of the workplace. All that the companies were missing in their journey to recreate the office was a tool to measure and strategically respond to the needs of their unique workforce.

Read on for the story of that solution, as told by Saltmine founder and CEO Shagu Anurag.

Why the Workplace was Failing Workers

The corporate approach to office space hadn’t evolved much with the new millennium. Few companies were concerned with exploring the power of the built environment on employee and company success.

It was tech industry giants like Google who first began seriously experimenting with the deep relationship between office environments, cultural needs and employee productivity. The Google “campus” atmosphere became a radical model for putting people and their spatial needs at the center of the workplace equation, and the world took notice.

In Singapore, Saltmine founder and CEO Shagu Anurag felt the ripples of change. From her hands-on experience managing complex design projects, Shagu knew a critical gap was about to emerge: the budding corporate redesign projects would only be as effective as the technology and systems designed to back them up.

And so, Saltmine was born—a startup with a mission to help businesses create workplaces where their employees love to work by transforming the workplace design, strategy and optimization process.

Shagu-1

Reworking the Workplace Strategy Process

By supporting workplaces with better data and collaborative tools, Saltmine bridges the gap between business' visions and office space realities — cementing its status as a pioneer of enterprise workplace technology.

Saltmine’s success began with Shagu’s innate understanding of key pain points in building an office from the ground up.

These insights come from her personal experience as an architect who created highly successful, design-oriented startups like Space Matrix and Livspace. Space Matrix has cemented itself as the industry-leading design and strategy brand, garnering global awards and reaching a market value of over 160M. Livspace has similarly exploded, creating a new category for home design and projected to reach 500M.

All of those projects, Shagu says, are based on one key thing: “a desire to help people create space that satisfies their emotional needs.”

As a precursor to Saltmine, Livspace was born out of Shagu’s frustration with available tools for residential design projects.

“Funnily enough, I ended up designing my mother's house—and the available tools made the process so laborious. I thought, if the process is hard for me to manage as the head of a large interior design firm, how difficult is it for the common person to put their home together? I had a belief that everybody deserved an opportunity to have a good home, regardless of their income level.”

Livspace’s success was due to the way it addressed gaps in design management for the everyday home planner. As corporate attitudes towards design changed in the late 2000s, it was evident to Shagu that businesses were going to need the same type of solution on an enterprise scale.

Pioneering Technology for Enterprises

In the wake of the spatial revolution started by Google's campuses, Saltmine created its own waves in the realm of enterprise solutions. The team envisioned Saltmine as a solution to help businesses fully realize their workplace as an extension of their culture and a source of inspiration. The platform was designed to help offices manage their workplace design from earliest conception to final execution with actionable data, virtual modeling and tools for better collaboration.

Saltmine stands alone in this newly created category as the only solution that offers modern software, an emphasis on data collection and real-time design changes to enable agile business growth.

This evolution is a major departure from systems that rely on significant manual labor and fragmented data management across spreadsheets and PDFs.

Its software serves corporate real estate teams by letting them:

  • Digitize their real estate portfolio
  • Explore space options that best fit employee needs
  • Collaborate using digitized design guidelines
  • Gather qualitative and quantitative data via surveys and utilization tracking
  • Make data-driven decisions around their entire portfolio, as well as individual design projects
  • Streamline the entire workplace optimization process to make it more agile, collaborative and enjoyable

Says Shagu, “Today, CEOs know that office space is a reflection of their culture and brand, and has a massive influence on hiring and retention. Saltmine works with clients to bring this vision to fruition with design technology that draws on data sources to truly reflect a company’s cultural heartbeat.”

Saltmine Workday

Becoming the Industry Standard

The Saltmine team felt it was key to get a product out as quickly as possible for businesses struggling with space overhauls. The early feedback Saltmine got along the way would prove invaluable to its later success.

They therefore launched an MVP tool that evolved with deep collaboration and real-time feedback from collaborators and users, building a solution that came to encompass strategy as well as optimization. And so began the painstaking process of creating an industry standard while defining a new industry category.

Says Shagu, “The original Saltmine interface reflected our vision. We spent a good 12 months getting as much product feedback as possible and truly spending time with our customers.” She continues, “I am not emotionally attached to a product — I'm emotionally attached to solving their problem, and working with them to arrive at the best possible solution.“

Global Success Stories

Saltmine’s mission is to empower companies to create the best possible workplace for their employees. The collaborative, data-driven approach is vital to accurately respond to the needs of employees. It’s also critical for optimal business processes: collaborations and innovations thrive when space is custom-fit to the needs of businesses and their employees.

A key part of that success stems from Saltmine's integration with and adoption across the entire workplace ecosystem, from designers to employers. Top partners include:

  1. Businesses: Workday, Snowflake and Blackrock
  2. CRE firms: C&W and JLL
  3. Design firms: IA and HOK

Working Towards a Better Future

Despite the challenges office spaces face in the coming years, the human need for connectivity and customized space will still be key as businesses open their offices again. Saltmine continues to focus on providing businesses with the best technology to efficiently create space that works for their employees, even if the future is a hybrid of remote and in-person.

Says Shagu, “Whatever the balance in the space is, it’s always a custom hybrid that's different for every customer. With Saltmine, you have data to make that decision — you know how that space responds to the people.”

No matter what the future of work entails, businesses still need to put employees’ needs first and use technology to intelligently evolve their space as the world changes. Saltmine’s platform is the key to success:

“More and more organizations have realized how important it is to have data on how people work. It’s important that they’re able to create effective, efficient spaces to give people an amazing experience when they come back to the office.”

The mission remains clear: enable people with the right services and technology to make their culture, vision and dreams a reality through their spaces — and make it easy for them to respond to whatever the future brings.

If your business is ready to redefine its space and confidently adapt to the changing needs of today's employees, Saltmine is here to help. Get in touch with our team today to learn more.

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