Community & Co-working Go Together. This Founder Explains Why
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
Be it in a rickety lane in a town or a plush complex in a city, co-working spaces have managed to find a home across all parts of the country. The concept of co-working has been such a hit in the country that it has become synonymous with starting up.
Almost every other start-up today prefers to work in a co-working space because of numerous reasons –networking, cheaper space, interaction with peers etc.
But it’s not easy to run a co-working space, for today it’s not just about having a real estate establishment but actually bringing together all the start-ups under your roof.
Entrepreneur India caught up with Monika Misra, founder and General Manager, iKeva as she spoke about how they are ensuring their start-ups feel like a part of the community and how they plan to grow in India.
Building a Community
Walk into a co-working space and it’s bustling with activity. Founders interacting with each other, coders huddled up in a corner even during late hours and cafeterias always filled with engaging conversation. This is what co-working spaces aim to achieve – build a community.
iKeva takes pride in establishing the community feeling in its spaces - ranging from startups and freelancers to SMEs and MNCs. A heterogeneous mix like this makes for a dynamic and vibrant environment. “The exciting bit is when they do business together, which is the ultimate impact a community can have. Equally exciting is the feeling of camaraderie – they all go through their ups and downs, they all celebrate each other’s success and extend genuine help when needed,” said Misra.
Every month they undertake a number of initiatives that are geared particularly towards encouraging interaction among members of the community – simple ice-breaking, fun activities, intense knowledge sharing, health and wellness, town-halls, and many more. “This is then extended to spaces outside work – off site/ retreats, sports to serious networking activities. Our team also acts as a bridge between our community and the outside world. We bring in associations and opportunities through which members (clients) get to communicate, connect and collaborate with external communities,” she said.
To offer better services to their start-ups, they have also partnered with companies Xioami, Nokia, Qualcomm, Amazon Web Services, Air Asia, Zadara Storage, Venture East, PwC, PayU, Oyo Rooms and Treebo
In fact, iKeva is where Xiaomi India saw its humble beginnings. They moved out when they reached a team size of 30 people as iKeva did not have the space for their exploding growth. “But guess what, in their new office they named a conference room as ‘iKeva’. Today, they have a 750-seater office in Bangalore and that too has a conference room named ‘iKeva’,” said Misra.
How do Co-working Spaces Work on Expansion?
Multiple co-working spaces in India have spread across the country, even though they have had humble beginnings. But how does one plan the expansion? Misra believes in enabling businesses through state-of-the-art infrastructure and great service delivery. They select cities based on the population, the industry ecosystem, initiatives taken by center government which will boost economy, quality of buildings available, the needs of the city and the value they will be able to add to the ecosystem in the city.
“Our basic services (infrastructure) are very standardised now, which is a product of our learnings and experimentation in 5 cities that we are currently present in (Bengaluru, Chennai, Gurugram, Hyderabad and Mumbai). We, however, believe that the flavour of the city should be reflected in our workspaces, which is embedded in our finer aspects of design. The choice of a micro market has a strong influence on the types of organizations that choose iKeva,” she said.
They have raised external funding through through angel investors, who are actively involved with iKeva as advisors and mentors.