Some Effect, But All is Well at WeWork India, Says Karan Virwani

Apart from sharing what has changed in terms of Indian operations after the WeWork episode in the US, Karan Virwani, CWeO for India, talks about three features that will make WeWork India stand out

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Karan Virwani, CWeO of WeWork India, bought the Indian franchise in 2017. Virwani is the son of real-estate mogul and founder of Embassy Group, Jitendra Virwani.

While the Indian arm of the global iconic company became an instant hit, the last few months have been tough for WeWork. The events that have unfolded after shelving of the IPO plan have damaged the company's reputation. Even for WeWork India, it is difficult to escape the noise surrounding the company.

Entrepreneur India caught up with Virwani at the "Workplace Trends Conclave' held recently at Hyatt Regency in Delhi. Virwani shares what has changed and how he plans to spearhead amid the trouble that has been brewing over the past few months.

What has Changed for WeWork India?

Virwani says that his reaction is the same as that of everyone who is reading news. "At least for India, nothing has seriously changed," he said, though admitting, "There has been some effect."

When asked is overcapitalization could be the reason for the failure of the IPO, Virwani says, "Our parent business is a traditional real-estate business. The way we operate the business is always looking at the returns from the capital that we invest. This is the same philosophy that we follow with WeWork India."

He also shared that in the coming times, there will be more focus around investing in areas where they are likely to get larger returns.

Instructions from Backers

When asked if WeWork India's backers have been given any instructions on how the company needs to run in the wake of the IPO aftermath, Kirwani denied getting any such instruction.

Virmani said, "As a country we have been performing well," adding that he has confidence in Masayoshi Son and the new management to pull the company out of the crisis.

Son recently came up with a $9.5 billion rescue package for WeWork. The effort to bail out WeWork from the crisis came at the cost of its co-founder and CEO, Adam Neumann, stepping down.

Strategy Shift

The key strategy, according to Virmani, for the company going forward is to focus of profitability. He says, "We are focusing on controlled growth rather than hyper growth, and also maturing the company."

Virwani highlighted a key shortcoming in today's start-up ecosystem. According to him, a lot of start-ups focus on high-valuations rather than meeting other important metrics of growth including profitability. Instead of adopting the gradualist approach, companies resort to the extremist approach of increasing the size of the company at any cost. As a result, they start burning cash and becoming profitability goes south. Such companies going for a public listing are sure to fail, he added.

Virwani confirmed WeWork India is in the process of raising $200 million.

When asked about three features that will make WeWork India stand out in the Indian co-working ecosystem, Virwani pointed out—scale, global community and design.