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Co-working spaces are catching on with a growing number of entrepreneurs and freelancers who are opting for these to accelerate their careers

Written by Abhishek Chakraborty |
July 14, 2013 4:46:30 am

When Jogesh Grover,CEO of Retasaan Management Solutions,needed help getting a legal approval,the only thing he had to do was walk over to the next desk at work. Sitting next to him were a bunch of legal experts who solved his query in a jiffy. Grover is one amongst around 100 entrepreneurs and freelancers working out of Delhi’s 91Springboard that he and two others launched in January this year. According to the website,91Springboard “provides an ecosystem where freelancers,entrepreneurs and creative professionals meet to accelerate their start-ups”.

Co-working,or people from varied professions working out of one office,was not a common phenomenon till recently. It’s only in the past two years,with places like 91Springboard and Moonlighting in Delhi,Bombay Connect and SutraHR Co-working in Mumbai,and CoWorkIndia and Jaaga in Bangalore,that

co-working has witnessed significant growth.

“My website stopped working once. I just had to share my problem and someone was there at my desk to help me. The environment,mentoring and support are other factors that suit people like us working here,” says Grover working at 91Springboard,which,spread over 10,000 sq ft,offers all that an entrepreneur might need during the course of a regular day—conference rooms,high-speed internet connectivity,in-house IT and administrative support,24×7 power backup and a cafeteria,among other amenities. The co-working space charges R7,000 per seat for a month and R3,999-4,999 for 15 days.

In 2011,Delhi-based entrepreneur Yatin K Thakur opened his small office for co-working to get access to a verified and trusted network of people and common infrastructure that could reduce operational costs. The result was Moonlighting. Besides regular services such as shared desks and internet connectivity,it provides access to start-up mentors,investors,accelerators and incubators. It also provides accommodation at an additional cost of R750 per day. “We also have team membership options for groups of three or more people. Under this,each team enjoys a 15% discount on our co-working membership,” says Thakur. Moonlighting offers a co-working space for R999-6,000 per seat per month depending on the requirement.

Bangalore-based CoWorkIndia is open to freelancers and small firms that provide services such as design,public relations,digital marketing,development,accounting,human resources,and legal and administrative support. It operates purely on a rental basis and there is no equity involved (although there is a screening process in place). CoWorkIndia,which started last year,offers a co-working space for R3,500 per seat per month. It also has a daily plan starting at R300. “A professional office space not only improves productivity,it also helps in gaining a customer’s confidence and winning the battle of perception against larger companies when it comes to hiring,” says one of the founders,Nanda Kishore. “A technology start-up begins with two people but grows fast once it finds traction. Therefore,flexibility in an office space is important for

a start-up.”

Providing bare and essential office maintenance services to keep its overheads low,CoWorkIndia’s current capacity is around 150 seats. The founders,however,are planning to add another 60 seats by August-end. “We earn around R400 per occupied seat per month. Our break-even point is 80% occupancy,” says Kishore,adding,“economies of scale for an office space kick in only at 100 or more seats. It was always a challenge to find a professional yet economical office space in Bangalore for less than 15 people. In 2012,when the primary lessee of a shared office space moved out,CoWorkIndia was set up to become a primary lease owner. Since then,it has grown four-fold.” Jaaga,another start-up venture in Bangalore,charges R500 per seat per month to R100 per day.

Varun Chawla,one of the three founders of 91Springboard,was himself a struggling entrepreneur before founding the co-working space. “I wanted to give a plug-and-play (facility) to all new entrepreneurs. 91Springboard gives people infrastructure,access to service providers,networking and,if required,funding also to new start-ups,” says Chawla,whose previous start-up,a travel portal providing quality budget accommodation in India and abroad,was acquired by online travel firm


However,for most entrepreneurs who have started co-working spaces,it’s not about profit. The focus is instead on meeting interesting people and creating a network. “Moonlighting is a community-driven space where we do not target profits. We look at comfortable sustainability and creating value through a secured network,” says Thakur.

Some ventures,in fact,don’t even advertise and instead use social networking sites as the only form of marketing. Says Kishore of CoWorkIndia,“Our business is based purely on word-of-mouth. We reach out to customers primarily through Facebook.” An informal approach to a serious job—but one that obviously works.

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