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How Co-Working Spaces are Helping Start-ups Unlock their True Potential One of the major advantages of sharing workspaces is the fact that one can build relationships with potential leads, vendors or partners

By Monica Misra

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Co-working spaces are an exciting mixed bag. As an entrepreneur, one would see immense scope in the idea of shared workspaces that foster innovative ideas and possess an energetic vibe.

Communities of like-minded individuals work together, learn from each other's successes (and mistakes) and grow. For small businesses, the package has got all the benefits. It's cost effective and value-driven and has a productive environment. It's known for its high flexibility and zero loss of focus from the core work. But what began with start-ups didn't necessarily stop with them.

MNCs Opting for Co-working Spaces

Lately, we are witnessing an increasing number of established organizations and MNCs opting to work out of co-working spaces in India, as well as globally. While there are lucrative, and somewhat obvious, paybacks to large enterprises wanting to "co-work'- much lower overheads, reduced liabilities compared a long lease, a fun environment and the possibility to scale up or down instantly are just some of them.

The most compelling reason is the fact that they get to work alongside young innovators, and get to be directly in touch with their path-breaking work. This helps them stay ahead of trends and invest early into technologies of tomorrow. In fact, I think co-working itself, is one such trend — "the future of workplaces', and large companies seek a part of it too.

The increased consumption of co-working spaces as alternate solutions to traditional commercial office space leasing by large MNCs and businesses presents start-ups with a rare opportunity to unlock their true potential. For start-up founders, working alongside a heterogeneous mix of companies, has a few substantive benefits, beyond the bounds of cost, efficiency and flexibility. Here are some of them:

Attain Business Acumen: Regardless of team-size, an established business has a workflow that is extremely different from that of a start-up. Their scale is wider, and their scope deeper. Most large companies have business acumen that helped them reach and sustain comprehensive business activity, for years. They have an academic approach to business, which leads them to succeed in the long-run; and is an invaluable insight for an early-stage company.

Enjoy Professional Diversity

Every start-up wants to be a fun place to work with an inspiring culture and the right mix of professionalism to do great business. This is why it is important for entrepreneurs to seek the company of those with experiences diverse from their own. Large companies are also always on the lookout for newer trends to adopt and stay ahead of the curve, and engaging in everyday conversations with new-age companies as well as their employees is a sure-shot way to discover what's new and exciting in the business world. This inter-mingling between startups and large companies will bring a sense of professionalism to the startups while maintaining their fun exterior.

Discover Influential Networks

One of the major advantages of sharing workspaces is the fact that one gets to network within the workplace and build relationships with potential leads, vendors or partners. With the bigger businesses now looking to interact in an open environment, startups have an opportunity to get noticed and make use of these connections to improve their network. Several startups also find mentors, supporters and investors from their neighbors at the shared office.

Gain Global Insight

Co-working spaces are a hot favorite amongst MNCs entering any new country, as they give them the opportunity to test waters, before they invest elaborately. If they find a professionally managed workplace, with no hassle of maintenance and upkeep, they can center their entire effort on understanding the new environment, validating their product-market fit, and making a long-term plan.

For instance, at iKeva Bangalore, were hosts to a mobile phone giant from China, while they were still starting out in the Indian market.

The company spent over a year acquainting with the local market, building relationships with vendors and gauging their strategy, all while keeping their real estate and operational investment low. Today, "The apple of androids" has moved to their own facility next door. For the startup, this means that their office space is a gateway to striking conversations with multinationals, and understanding first-hand, any possibility of engaging them in business, and entering a new market, themselves.

If you envision your startup to have a global focus, choosing a co-working space that also hosts larger multinationals is a great approach. If you want to grow into a large company yourself, what's better than learning from them.

As co-working becomes a fitting option for established businesses, it bridges the gap between them and younger, upcoming companies.

Acting as a platform for cultural exchange, it offers mutual benefits from two mutually exclusive ecosystems that can potentially contribute to each other. We must note however, that to gain these advantages, it is important to spend enough time exploring coworking providers that offer such a diverse and heterogeneous mix of neighbors.

With the paradigm shift in use of workspaces, opportunities for a young entrepreneur and a large enterprise are only growing by the day. Co-working spaces that host large businesses and MNCs provide start-ups the ability to attain business acumen quicker, build professionalism while retaining their startup DNA, be part of influential networks and gain global insight. It is however imperative that he chooses the right space that provides not just a desk to rent, but "boundless' opportunities to unlock their true potential.

Monica Misra

Founder & General Manager, iKeva

Monika has more than 15 years of experience in hospitality and real estate industry. She is passionate about brand building, sales and in delivering high-quality service to customers.

Prior to iKeva, Monika was a part of senior management team at Servcorp, a premium Serviced Office provider and was an integral part of setting up and growing their business unit in India. She has also held senior management positions in boutique hotel chains, and has set-up small hospitality units in major metro cities across India.

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