Beautiful Disruption of Indian Co-Working Real Estate
“There is nothing special about co-working… .” What’s disruptive about Innov8 is that they have these incredibly beautiful work spaces.
Beneath Ritesh Malik’s amicable façade lies a warrior spirit. His business demands that. Co-working is a booming market and the fight to acquire spaces is on full throttle in India. Sure, there is a race to add the most desirable locations to one’s co-working list of real estate, but according to Malik, it is not a ‘winner takes all’ market. “First, you have to be present in a locality to serve people who would like to work there. Second, there’s plenty of room for us all,” says Malik. “It’s actually a good thing WeWork came to India.” The Innov8 founders think the billion-dollar, American startup coming to India could mean people will start taking co-working as a serious real estate business.
No more Monday blues
“There is nothing special about co-working, there are lots of those in the market,” admits the Innov8-ers. What’s disruptive about Innov8 is that they have these incredibly beautiful work spaces. Innov8 has truly made an effort to make their real estate aesthetically pleasing and inviting.
It is their trade mark style. Spotlights, exotic plants, matte walls, wooden floors, Silicon Valley-like raw cement ceilings, rare images of Mughal emperors, Warren Buffett, Abraham Lincoln, Che Guevera and more – several details put together make Innov8’s offerings beautiful.
Malik, who comes from a family of doctors, was left no choice but to study medicine. His true calling was always to become an entrepreneur, to help more people than he would have had he been a physician. Using funds from selling his stock in Adstuck, an augmented reality platform developer, to The Times of India group, and funds from his family office, Malik has invested in over 30 startups so far.
The problem all the portfolio startups had in common? Terrible office spaces. “That’s when I realised it’s about time we started making beautiful offices,” he says. “I wanted to create spaces so beautiful that we would want to come to work even on a Monday.”
The trade secret
While Malik is handy with most of the business, co-founder Shailesh Gupta, an IIT-Kharagpur alumni, manages finances. “I know what I am good at and what I suck at. I asked Shailesh if he would want to join me as a co-founder,” says Malik. Gupta has even worked at UIDAI and is founder of a US-based co-working business.
Beautiful work spaces don’t come cheap. Nor do prime locations. Innov8, to bring a balance, partners with landlords who own prime real estate and who can afford to set up co-working spaces to suit Innov8’s designs. “We don’t spend for any of the locations, nor do we own them. We have agreements with each of our property owners for timelines to pay back whatever dues,” says Gupta.
Launched in November 2015, Innov8 is now a profitable company. They started with two centres and will end 2017 with 11. Their busiest centre in Koramangala, Bengaluru, is 35,000 square feet and can house over 500 people. The waitlist to work there stretches beyond 200; the wait list for people wanting to get into their Connaught Place, Delhi, work place stands at 140.
Malik and Gupta raised angel funding from influencers like Paytm’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma and Google’s Rajan Anandan (who typically never invests in real estate) because they liked working in the ambience Innov8 had created. Malik and Gupta will soon be raising a series A round.
Malik’s approach to entrepreneurship is simple: “Make a product that is great”. Gupta agrees: “Build something that is practical and doable”.
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