Without our lows, how can we fully appreciate our highs? This is, perhaps, the success mantra of Mr. Yatin Thakur, Founder of Coworkin. Having seen lows with some 8 ideas, Yatin better knew what works in the startup industry, and what simply falls out. Knowing how important a space (and well, a community) is important for one to give the idea a full structure is, he came up with now popular coworking space context in India. Here we present to you excerpts of our interview with the person himself.
Q1. Hello Yatin. Could you give us a quick intro about yourself and Coworkin.
I am a serial entrepreneur, having initiated about 8-9 ventures till date. I launched my first startup in 2003 when I was 16 and since then, this is all I know. After running companies for about 8.5 years and becoming bankrupt twice, I decided to support the eco-system and that’s when coworking came to life. Coworkin is a chain of coworking spaces, primarily providing entrepreneurs, startups and freelancers an open space to innovate, ideate, experiment and pursue their dreams at the minimalist cost. Coworkin has 4 available spaces as of now, with plans to expand to 10 locations by year end.
Q2. How were you introduced to the idea of coworking and startup ecosystem, and what are your thoughts on the movement as a whole?
After running my own startups for about 8 years, I was trying to address the challenge of starting up, creating a space where people can share their ideas, get some validation and also work in a peaceful environment. When you get into the depth of things, the biggest challenge for an entrepreneur is to justify themselves to the world, get out of seclusion and launch with minimal capital. This is when I thought of creating a space for people sinking in the same boat as me to come and express themselves to someone else, who would understand their situation and contribute towards sustaining the space. Little was known to me about the boat, and by the time I jumped onto it, I realized it was a submarine and there was a hoard of people looking for support. The journey started in 2011 with just 1 space which was also acquired by me as it was running in losses and no one had an idea about a coworking space in India. From there on I started bringing more people together, started hosting meet-ups and got involved with Startup Weekend, which provided a completely new direction. Today, we have got over 450 startups in our network who have directly been impacted by our efforts. With a growing youth population and heavy unemployment rate, entrepreneurship is the only hope and with technological integration at all levels; there lies a big opportunity in all of it.
Q3. What do you think are the most important factors for developing a successful coworking space?
Coworking spaces can be successful only when they are affordable, provide access to all segments of society, are centrally located and ensure a collaborative work culture. Coworking is all about bringing people together and getting rid of silo’s. I would like to emphasize on the fact that each coworking space needs to promote diversity resulting in complimenting skill sets amongst coworkers, the better diversity you have, lesser conflicts arise at each space. Other than that, you need to build the space with a communal feel, where everyone should be involved in small and big decisions of a coworking space. Coworking space is a meeting ground for entrepreneurs; it’s something similar to clubs and community centers of olden times. There needs to be an event space, working space, breakout area and a good kitchen with tea and coffee.
Q4. Do you think coworking is a good choice for freelancers and startups?
Coworking is a good starting point for freelancers as well as startups. It provides you access to a ready community and relevant network. I can just say that coworking spaces help you get out of silo’s and connects you with like-minded people. Usually as a freelancer or a single co-founder we are restricted to our own group or have limited connect with the outside world. At a coworking space, you get the opportunity to meet diverse set of people on a daily basis. This does help every entrepreneur and freelancer in getting the right exposure and opportunity to get business from this diverse group looking for complimentary skills.
Q5. What sets your coworking space apart from the others, and what are some unique aspects to working at Coworkin?
Well, that’s a tough one to answer. I think all coworking spaces are doing a great job. The biggest acknowledgement is the fact they even considered opening a coworking space as coworking in itself may not be a very profitable business but it does have a very strong impact on the community around you. At our space, we ensure a communal culture, diversity, low cost infrastructure & a fun and positive environment.
Q.6.What are the things an entrepreneur should keep in mind before joining a coworking space?
Coworking spaces are meant to collaborate and are not a shared office. The purpose is to help you throughout your entrepreneurial journey. Today you might start as a coworker but tomorrow you might be promoted as an ambassador to support other fellow entrepreneurs. When joining a coworking space, the law of nature has to be clear in the mind of each and every entrepreneur, which is the more you support your surroundings and community the better results you would get. This support can be compared to gardening or farming, where all you need to do is protect the land, ensure the soil is correct and it gets the right ingredients, flowers and fruits will follow soon. Once you learn the formula, it is a never-ending process. 🙂
Finally, when it came to discussing about his expansion plans, he more than chirpily announced his idea of mushrooming up to over ten locations by this year end. More to fetch, Yatin!