Creating co-working spaces

Collaborative working hubs are finding increasing acceptance with startups in major metros. By M.A. Siraj

The concept of collaborative working space is giving rise to new work hubs in Indian cities. Among them all, Bengaluru occupies a prime place for the entrepreneurial activity and has a lot of traction for co-working spaces. With the city witnessing a steady growth of startups, the scope for such spaces coming up across the city is limitless.

These emerging hubs provide clean, inspiring environment with high speed Internet facility, abundant parking space, pantry and canteens, and if needed filing cabinets, libraries, rest lounges, rooms for conferences and presentations, table tennis rooms, and mail, packaging and handling facilities. In short, these office spaces are business alternatives for what were conceived as common facility for industries in the 1970s in the erstwhile industrial estates. With a number of professionals like designers, chartered accountants, and lawyers also taking up spaces, these are turning into active hives of commercial activity.

‘WeWork’ Hub

Earlier this week, WeWork commissioned its first co-working hub, ‘WeWork Galaxy’, in India in Bengaluru. Located on Residency Road, the swanky premises provides 140,000 sq. ft. of working space which can take around 2,200 individuals. Part of the New York-based WeWork collaborative workspace firm, the Bengaluru premises boasts of a swimming pool, gym, and work spaces ranging from a dedicated desk to cubicles to full-fledged office rooms which can be occupied on payment of monthly rent. According to Karan Virwani, Director, WeWork (India), they chose Bengaluru as their first location as it is demographically the most diverse city, rated as the second fastest growing major metropolis in India, and has a robust startup ecosystem.

Started in 2010 in New York, WeWork currently has offices in 191 locations covering 49 cities around the world. It annually leases over 7 million sq. ft of space with around 10,000 member-companies. While it is planning two more such work hubs in Golf Links and Koramangala in the city by December, it is looking for opportunities in Mumbai and Delhi too.

Juggy Marwaha, Lead, WeWork (India), says India has around 28 million people working in the private sector and business potential for co-working spaces is vast as nearly 10% of the entrepreneurs are startups. He says WeWork intends to tie up with incubators and accelerators.

‘Hive’, a premises offering customizable co-working space within the VR Bengaluru Mall on the road to Whitefield, is yet another such facility which offers around one lakh square feet of co-working space. According to CEO Ankit Samadariya, the top three floors of the mall premises are dedicated for the co-working space. The space was designed by artists, designers and architects with deep insights from the ethos as well as culture of Bengaluru. Hive currently reports 90% occupancy with nearly 400 startups and businessmen working there.

‘Startup Warehouse’

Curiously, the earliest of such workspace was conceived by NASSCOM in collaboration with the Karnataka government in 2013 in Domlur. Known as ‘Startup Warehouse’, it offered a seat for Rs. 3,500 a month with a maximum of six members in a team.

These spaces are considered ideal by firms as they minimise the rental expenses for startups that are generally treading an uncertain path.

They also bring support services such as handling, mailing, packaging, courier, designing, and accounting under the same roof.

These premises also come with security, janitorial services and amenities included within the rentals, thereby sparing the tenants of all such worries.

Alpha Labs

Bangalore Alpha Labs (BAL), one of the earliest co-working hubs, came up around four years ago offering 2,200 sq. ft of working space in J.P. Nagar Second Phase. According to Admin Manager Nagendra Kosur, it was set up by Ahimanikya Satpathy and Asha Satapathy in 2013. It currently offers seating space for 50 startups. The occupancy ranges from 60 to 70 % at a point of time. Membership costs around Rs. 4,000 plus taxes a month.

Plug-and-Play model

Typically, the co-working spaces work on the plug-and-play model with startups occupying spaces without starting hassles. As of now, this is considered a red-hot sector of the commercial real estate and is sprinting forward with each passing day.

It offers great cost advantage for budding entrepreneurs, greatly subsidising fit-out, utility, managerial and maintenance expenses. It also offers substantial benefits for flexible entry and exit into a branded commercial premises.

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