Startup eSeries: Finding the Ideal Office Space - Common Sense Living Newsletter
 
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Startup eSeries: Finding the Ideal Office Space

Entrepreneurship
Jul 02, 2016

Startup eSeries: Finding the Ideal Office Space 

You're probably aware of 'co-working spaces'. You may have even used one at some point in your startup journey.

For those of you not in the startup world, still working out of old-school traditional business offices, here's what you're missing out on...

Co-working spaces, a fairly recent phenomenon, are available for rent by the day or month to solopreneurs and teams who are not looking for 'a fixed address'.

What they are looking for is a collaborative learning and working environment. They are looking for spaces to create from, spaces to network in, spaces to hustle 24/7, and spaces to grab a bottle of beer, read a few pages of a book, and maybe even run for an hour on the treadmill.

Today's co-working spaces provide what startups and entrepreneurs are looking for and more. They give young entrepreneurs a chance to meet fellow entrepreneurs, service providers, and even connect with potential investors.

Co-working spaces sometimes double as accelerators too - some of them present in the heart of academic institutions - providing startups easy access to mentors and other knowledge resources.

But how do you locate these spaces? Who can you consult to know when to opt for an independent office space?

In steps Meenal Sinha, who runs her own startup office space consulting firm called Aufklarung. Meenal positions her service as 'the ideal search partner' for all office space needs.

In this interview, Meenal deconstructs the co-working space concept and talks about the amenities that today's entrepreneurs need to be innovative and creative.

The full story...

You are in the thick of the startup action - tell us what entrepreneurs look for in office spaces?

Entrepreneurs are not looking for a fancy office but something that is practical, convenient, and falls within a shoestring budget. The key parameters are a location that is easily accessible for the entire team, clean surroundings, safety and security, functional yet interesting spaces, and basic amenities like air-conditioning, internet, beverages, etc.

Entrepreneurs need a zero-headache office... They don't have the time to run around and manage it. A functional plug and play option that lets them focus on their core business is the need.

How does your consulting service aid an entrepreneur's office hunt?

For us, the focus is on the customer. We match the needs of a business with the correct office space, as we have a deep understanding of both. For example, a five-person team from a creative enterprise needs space to bubble with energy and get their juices flowing, whereas a five-person legal team needs a sober and quiet environment.

Customers need their search partner to be independent and unaligned, ensuring they match needs not push certain properties. We offer the client's business the perfect space, and quickly. From a plug and play, ready to move in office, to something more bespoke and in keeping with the clients' image, Aufklarung understands client needs and delivers it all.

How do startups approach workspaces differently from traditional businesses?

Traditional businesses still believe in cabin culture, whereas new-age startups want more collaborative spaces. When starting a business, the team size is small, they complement one another's skill sets and work together most of the time.

Once the team size grows substantially, founders do move into 'corner offices'... But that's not possible during the concept stage or struggle phase. New-age startups also want space for employees to let their hair down.

If we look at the manufacturing industry or family-owned businesses in India, their offices are designed for less interaction and are more about working on your own.

What amenities do startups look for in their workspaces?

Most co-share workspaces and incubation centres have a plug and play model, where entrepreneurs can just bring their laptops and start work. Basic requirements are a cool and comfortable place to sit, tons of coffee, and a high-speed internet connection. In recent times, there's also an emphasis on safety and security. While the facility need not be premium, it has to be located conveniently for travel. The basic facilities of electricity, air-conditioning, internet, beverages, meeting areas, housekeeping, etc should be available and function seamlessly.

On the flipside, a lot of the co-share workplaces have timing restrictions. Entrepreneurs cannot be watching the clock while working... They may have to burn the midnight oil, and should have access 24/7.

What are the advantages of a co-working space vis-a-vis a traditional one?

  • You can move in and start work immediately.
  • You will avoid the costs, time loss, and hassle of office design, construction, and fit out.
  • You do not have to worry about any capital expenditure.
  • It prevents you from committing to more space than you really need.
  • It needs a much lower security deposit.
  • All administrative hassles are taken care of - like building maintenance, daily housekeeping, and rental charges for machines like photocopiers.
  • Additionally, meeting rooms, conference rooms, and event spaces are available.

It is only when your team size is 20-plus that a traditional space becomes a cheaper alternative. By choosing a co-working space, small teams can save anywhere from 30-70% on their office costs.

What made you enter the commercial real estate space...did you see a glaring gap?

One of the troubling complexities of this space is its opacity. Despite the numerous information sources available, discovery, accessibility, credibility, and transaction are difficult tasks.

The rise of the ubiquitous coffee shop resulted from the inability to identify, access, and use a verified meeting/flexi-work space... You're being dealt an unacceptable compromise - even though great solutions exist - because you can't find them.

In this space, one needs an in-depth understanding of the domain if you're going to service needs without upsetting sensitivities... We understand the buyer's needs as well as the supplier's perspective.

What's your take on the entrepreneurial climate in the country?

Startups are here to stay, but all businesses will not survive. Those focused on building a solid business from the ground up, and not just looking for a quick buck, will survive.

Terms like disruption and innovation have become mere catchwords that lack meaning. Some of the main challenges young businesses struggle with are:

  • Absence of a rational business model
  • The assumption that an app is a solution
  • Lack of clarity on how to monetize
  • Not realising that funding is not a sustainable business model
  • The days of one more 'me-too' product are numbered

What entrepreneurial challenges have you faced?

The initial days are a struggle, and getting the cash flows going is challenging. Also, you need to work extra hard in the beginning, and work-life balance goes for a toss. You have precious little time for the family... Hence, it's important that the family is aligned to your goals and supportive of what you are doing.

As a woman entrepreneur, the challenges just seem to multiply. People either don't take you seriously or are patronising. Then there are those who hit on you. It isn't easy, but having a supportive family, a great mentor, and a close group of business associates who are keen to help at all times is important.

What advice would you give entrepreneurs?

The business of business is to earn money and create value. If you haven't worked out those two, don't do the business. The corollary to that is god is in the details. Make sure you have those fixed firmly in place.

You can't begin and hope to work it out at some point. You may pivot or morph as needed, but you have to have your goalposts clearly mapped.

 
 

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3 Responses to "Startup eSeries: Finding the Ideal Office Space"

Mohan

17 Jul, 2016

We have just started a co-working centre for startup entrepreneurs in Koramangala, Bangalore.

Like (2)

Marlies

12 Jul, 2016

Interesting, but when pointing out the advantages of coworking she missed the 3 most important ones: the Community, with that the shared Network and the opportunities to Collaborate. A good coworking space is so much more then just the hardware she describes (my own experience as I run a coworking space in Fort, Ministry of New)

Like (1)

Sunil kejriwal

03 Jul, 2016

I have a office space in star mall whether i can give it with the concept you are talking about

Like (3)
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