According to various studies, coworking spaces are likely to jump by about 30 per cent to 40 per cent in 2018 and by 2020, around 13.5 million Indians will operate out of shared spaces. This coworking spaces start-up in Delhi offers well-furnished office spaces to its clients across segments including new-age start-ups, independent working professionals and mid-sized companies.
Akshita Gupta, along with another co-founder Ankur Gupta, started ABL Workspaces in 2017 and focused on addressing the challenges around the availability of 'Premium office spaces at an affordable price' for budding entrepreneurs. ABL, headquartered in Delhi, is currently helping companies, new-age start-ups, and independent professionals unlock their potential by catering to their real estate and hospitality needs. We spoke to Akshita about how coworking spaces are the future, life as a woman entrepreneur and more.
Excerpts from an informative conversation:
Do you feel coworking spaces are the future, as workplaces seem to be more open to being flexible?
Yes, of course, coworking is going to be the most sought-after business in our country. The industry has not only changed the way companies work today but has given a boost to the start-up sector by helping them cut down their cost and earn more. As an industry, coworking spaces in India have grown tremendously in the last two years at a much faster pace. In a country like ours, unique benefits like shared resources, networking opportunity and reduced investment cost are driving this trend.
How would you say ABL Workingspaces is helping in all of this?
We offer our services to all the new-age start-ups and corporates who are looking for affordable co-working spaces. We have designed our interiors for their comfort and convenience and offer the best of services at value for money as compared to players in the industry. In fact, more than 30 per cent of our clients are start-up companies which indicate that we don’t restrict our workspaces only for corporates or MNCs.
Akshita Gupta, Co-Founder, ABL Workspaces
When was ABL set up? And how does it help students and young entrepreneurs?
We started ABL Workspaces in December 2017. We (Ankur and I), as entrepreneurs were quite inspired by the shared economy concept and wanted to pursue something in this exciting domain. After a lot of deliberation and research, ABL Workspaces came into being by utilising a space which was already ours in Green Park, Gurugram. One of the major challenges that we faced was to ensure optimal utilisation of the real estate space so that it doesn’t look or feel cramped. Also, since it’s a service industry, operations were a bit of a challenge, which we overcame quite smoothly with time. Coworking is a place where people come and meet from different backgrounds, different fields, and it becomes very easier for youngsters and freelancers to seek advice on their business front from the existing client. It serves as a great networking platform for everyone since they refer and generate business within the community.
How are you planning to integrate AI and Virtual/Augmented Reality in the co-working space?
We are in constant search of innovation that can empower the industry in the digital era. The co-working industry will change big time with the help of technology, for example, having facial recognition to access the space, setting the temperature according to one's preference etc. Technology will make the working environment safe and more productive by eliminating the repetitive process and understanding patterns of human behaviour.
How do you charge for the spaces? Why would someone choose ABL over others?
We strive to deliver the best to our clients without compromising on quality and that’s what sets us apart from other coworking spaces. We have designed our interiors keeping their comfort and convenience in mind. Our premium interiors, services and locations are the things which we are proud of. We have a friendly environment and our clients have the option of choosing from private spaces to conference rooms as well as co-working spaces to engage with other clients for their business to grow. We are also India’s first co-working space that has installed air purifiers in its premises. We also give special attention to cleanliness and ensure that we have enough housekeeping service executives for the same. Additionally, we also provide valet services at selected centres, free internet and printer services. The prices are dependent upon the location. Our cost ranges from Rs 7000 to Rs 20,000. For example, for our Two Horizon location in Gurugram we normally charge Rs 24,999 but its open to negotiation depending on the organisation and their requirements. In Cyber City and CP, we charge Rs 15,900 for a cabin space, which is again open for negotiation.
One of ABL's co-working spaces
Tell me about your journey as a woman entrepreneur, how challenging has it been?
So far, it’s been great, and I have learnt a lot. I am glad that my previous ventures didn’t work out because it helped me understand the nuances of a business and that was a great learning experience. My biggest learning was that you need to have your system and processes in place from the very first day of your business and should never wait for your business to grow at a certain level and then work to put things in place. Honestly, when I started my journey as an entrepreneur it wasn't easy. It's sad that our society thinks if you are a woman, people find it hard to believe in your strength and that you can pursue something that you have faith in.
Things are more even complicated and challenging if you are a married woman and sometimes, managing home and family is no less than running a successful office. To balance between the two is an art and needs patience, dedication and of course, perseverance. That’s where I thank my stars that I had my life partner as my business partner because he really helped me in balancing and managing both.
Has the scenario for women in this field changed from what it was 10 years ago?
Yes definitely, it has changed. Things were quite different even five years ago. With fewer avenues, limited resources and lack of awareness, there were only a handful of women entrepreneurs who were risk-takers or wanted to try something new. But now, with so many resources and technological advancements, they work on their own while sitting in some remote area away from metros and connect with their customers even in Europe, UAE or across the world. They are not afraid of trying and failing and that’s the most amazing and exciting phenomenon of this era.