Coworking as a business was introduced back in 2013 by some Mafias who dared to take the step and introduce this concept in India. Under this series, we talk to the guys who introduced Coworking in India and know first-hand their experiences, challenges and what drives them. We spoke to 91Springboard co-founder Pranay Gupta and asked some questions about his and the co-founders’ experience while building the brand.
91SpringBoard Co-Founder Pranay Gupta shares his experiences
Varun Chawla, Anand Vemuri and Pranay Gupta had laid the foundation of 91Springboard in the year 2013 with their first space in Mohan Estate, Delhi. We spoke to Pranay Gupta from 91Springboard and received some candid answers about their journey towards becoming one of the largest players in Coworking industry in India.
Us: How was the experience of setting up a coworking space back then?
Pranay: It was an awesome experience. We had several Sleepless nights while setting up the space. We as founders had to take care of everything, from creating the space, to taking care of operations, getting the network servers up and everything. It also involved a lot of explaining and convincing the early customers about what is Co Working, how is the concept different from a conventional office space or a business centre. But it was an exhilarating experience for sure.
Us: Was it difficult to explain the concept of coworking to startups/businessmen/freelancers?
Pranay: Yes. It indeed was. It wasn’t a recognised term in India. I think we kind of introduced the word “Coworking” itself to people. The virtue and advantages of ‘community’ is just hard to explain. Invariably we would end up facing questions like “isn’t this like an incubator, or isn’t this like a business center. etc.”. And after all the effort, I would just reply “think of it as a community-led-incubator”.
Us: What were the biggest challenges you faced while starting the brand?
Pranay: The biggest challenge was exactly what you asked in the question above. Communicating what “coworking is”. The term was very new in India and obviously rarely anyone had experienced it. Once they came in, they were able to experience it and understood it exactly. In fact, this is one reason too why a lot of our customers were through referrals itself.
Us: Which moment or situation made you realise that this is the model we want to work on and you decided to scale 91springboard?
Pranay: When we saw our customers happy, willing to pay us month on month and sending in referrals, we realised that we are fulfilling a real need for these startups. That was the moment of Eureka when we decided to scale the hubs and communities overall.
Us: What roadblocks did you face while scaling up?
Pranay: In hindsight, a lot of these looked like roadblocks then, but now they feel like normal business challenges. For example we faced challenges like finding the right employees, having them aligned on the vision and executing really well.
Similarly, VCs and investors wouldn’t look at us in the starting. That said, this was a blessing in disguise as it allowed us to lay stronger foundations for the business.
Us: How does the emerging competition in the present scenario affect 91springboard?
Pranay: Right now I don’t feel we think of each others as competitors. We are more of collaborators. It is a really huge market and all of us coworking providers are basically just scratching the surface of it and growing the market together.