Exclusive: Q&A with WeWork India Director Karan Virwani – Plans & Expectations from the Indian Market

The Indian coworking market has been abuzz with the news of  Wework launching in India and its probable impact on the existing coworking startups. Indian Coworking brands are also expanding their operations rapidly by adding thousands of square feet of spaces. The anticipation of Wework entering the Indian market cannot be denied. Thus, we interviewed Mr. Karan Virwani, Director – Wework India. He shared some valuable insights about Wework and the global giant’s business plans for India.

Check out the exclusive interview with Mr. Karan Virwani, Director – Wework India :

When will the 1st WeWork launch in India?

We have plans to launch the first WeWork location in the silicon city of India, Bengaluru this July! Also, our intent behind starting with Bengaluru lies in the very fact that it is a demographically diverse city. Furthermore, it is the second fastest-growing major metropolis in India which has a very robust start-up ecosystem.

Please share something about your background. How did your alliance with WeWork take place?

WeWork is a New York based collaborative workspace brand launched in 2010 and is the 9th largest start-up in the world! It is a platform for creators, entrepreneurs, and businesses of all sizes to collaborate, innovate and follow their passions.

Launching in India this July, we seek to be partners with the Indian government as they promote India’s businesses and entrepreneurs and develop market leaders. We are glad that the Indian Government has launched a promising initiative – Make in India campaign. The campaign was launched in 2014, to transform India into a global design and manufacturing hub. It aims to attract foreign investments in the country as well as encourage national and multinational companies to manufacture their products in India. India emerged as a top destination globally for foreign direct investment, surpassing USA and China.

I firmly believe in the unique ways of building communities and propagating the work culture of ‘Do What You Love’ in the Indian scenario with WeWork, where one joins as an individual ‘me’ but ultimately becomes a part of the greater ‘we’!

– Karan Virwani, Director – Wework India

Hence, it’s the right time for WeWork to enter India, and help the businesses coming up, help foster innovation, and provide the space, services, and community that creators, freelancers, start-ups, SME’s and large enterprises are looking for.

What are your expansion plans for India?

We are currently opening in three primary cities in India, namely – Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi, in the first year. As of now, we are focused on launching successfully and making sure that the initial round of members has the best experience possible. If we get that right, the rest will follow.

What/who is WeWork’s major competitor in India according to you?

At Wework India, we are fostering a culture of ‘Do What You Love’. We saw this movement towards following your passion, doing what you love and have been at the forefront of this new way to work, which has allowed us to expand globally.

We are a brand today which is able to provide multinational companies seeking to expand to India a home base that can help them attract talent and navigate the local landscape, collaborate with other creative thinkers and business leaders in the region, and grow. And with 100+ locations around the world, we’re the perfect place to start for Indian companies looking to grow their business abroad.

Hence for a global brand like us, our competitors are those who have an international presence like us and provide world class facilities that redefine collaborative workspaces.

– Karan Virwani, Director – Wework India

India is a money-minded and discount-driven country. Do you think it is extremely risky to introduce a premium service like WeWork in India?

India is the fastest growing economy in the world with the youngest demographic. The sharing economy trend in India is gaining traction as more consumers, particularly urban millennials, are finding it convenient and cost-effective. Further, the pricing of all WeWork India Centres would be at par with the market. 

What drove you to the alliance? What is your motivation for launching WeWork in India?

The government’s Make in India campaign is fostering the growth of a lot of business and entrepreneurs in the country and has been a major catalyst in the last few years. It has successfully created innovation and disruption in a lot of different industries.

Freelancers and start-ups deal with several issues while setting up their offices in India. In a traditional office space, business owners need to deal with landlords, contractors, brokers, security deposit, lock in period etc. which is extremely time consuming and takes about 6-8 months from the time they start looking until the time they move in. SME’s are spending more time trying to figure out the right environment or support in terms of logistics, infrastructure, and technology rather than focusing on their core business.

With WeWork, we hope to bring in a new way of working that meets the needs of creators in this market, while helping our member businesses grow and succeed, and supporting the creators here to explore global resources and partners.

What do you Predict for the Indian Coworking Ecosystem in the Next 5 Years?

As per JLL study, the co-working industry in India is expected to receive $400 million in investments by 2018. The industry is expected to grow by 40- 50% this year.   

The co-working industry in India is still in its nascent stage, with several players emerging in the market. The sector is slated to grow exponentially because of the increase in SME’s and start-ups.

By 2025, it is predicted that India will have about 42% of its population in urban cities, which in turn would lead to a large number of people adopting the concept of shared spaces. 

 

Gaurav Bisht

Blogger by profession and a writer by heart. I work from a coworking space and love writing about Coworking Industry in Coworking India Magazine

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