Igloo: a cool working space for hot startups in Mumbai

Dalberg Global Development Advisors is a strategy and policy advisory firm that works for global development and innovation. Established in New York in 2001 with a network that now includes 12 offices in five continents, it works with a mission to mobilize effective responses to the world’s most pressing issues and to raise living standards in developing countries.

Dalberg Asia has launched its first co-working space Igloo in Worli, Mumbai, two weeks ago. Along with a co-working space, Dalberg is also offering its consulting, research and advisory services to startups.

We got in touch with Jyothi Oberoi, who is co-leading the Igloo initiative, to know more about Igloo, the rationale of a consulting firm starting a co-working space for startups and what value proposition it offers to entrepreneurs.

YS: Which startup sectors is Dalberg focusing on in India?

JO: Our work in India focuses on energy and environment, access to finance, agriculture and food security, education, gender empowerment, global health, technology for development, inclusive growth, strategy and performance, and water and sanitation.

But, the startups we’re looking to house at Igloo need not fit perfectly into any single mould mentioned above. What we’re looking for is catalytic organizations that are tackling issues like no one else has before. If your business model is innovative and if you thrive in a setting where you are challenged and inspired by your peers, we want you.

YS: How did the idea of starting a co-working space come up? 

JO: We’re not thinking of Igloo as a traditional co-working space, but as an entrepreneurs-in-residence initiative of sorts. We are an impact-maximizing firm and not a profit-maximizing one and are really invested in the issues we deal with and the projects we work on. We want to be able to work with solid organizations that are making a huge difference in the space they operate in, not just the ones who can afford us. Gaurav Gupta, our partner and regional director for Asia, thought of Igloo as a way to be able to extend our services to new and growing organizations, collaborate on exciting new work, build relationships, and create a fun office environment for those who can benefit from us but may not be able to access us without such a model in place.

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YS: How does Igloo fit in with Dalberg’s overall vision? Are there any other similar initiatives taken earlier by Dalberg?

JO: We see Igloo as an avenue for us to be able to support and strengthen growing organizations that we believe will leave a mark. Firm-wide, historically, we have focused on creating value for our clients and creating social impact through engagements with these clients.  Dalberg also founded the Global Development Incubator in 2007, which is now an independent non-profit organization that supports initiatives aiming to achieve large-scale social change.

YS: What makes Igloo different from other co-working spaces?

JO: What really sets us apart is that we are offering free Dalberg consulting services to each Igloo member, as well as access to our global networks and platforms. Igloo does offer a professional, comfortable, and affordable workspace—but that’s only where it begins. What we’re most excited about are opportunities like brainstorming about business strategy together, helping growing initiatives measure their impact, providing industry or skills-specific trainings, and partnering with Igloo members on new projects. Our vision is to provide our members with strategic support in an environment that nurtures growth, in addition to a conveniently located office where they can be productive and confidently host clients or investors.

YS: What is the value addition Igloo aims to provide to the entrepreneurs?

JO: Our unique method of tackling development issues and also organizational issues that can improve not only impact but also profit is what we hope to bring to entrepreneurs at Igloo. Startups on conservative budgets wouldn’t normally be able to access consulting, research, analytics, and advisory services from specialized firms. But, because we’re genuinely keen to make our services available to young and exciting organizations that we otherwise wouldn’t have an opportunity to work with, we have started Igloo. Being a part of Igloo will help startups have the right conversations to think through their strategy, and will give them the right environment to thrive in.

YS: What is the value addition Dalberg is expecting to get from startups at Igloo?

JO: The value of Igloo goes in both directions. We knew from the start that for Igloo to work, our team would have to be invested in the opportunity to engage with organizations at different stages of growth – ones that we may not have normally been able to work and collaborate with. And we are. We truly believe that small catalytic organizations are capable of huge impact and we want to be the ones supporting these teams. We also believe that bringing together people from different ends of the spectrum who are working towards achieving the same goal–of creating solid impact–leads to a space that is highly conducive for interesting joint work and sustained solutions. And by doing this, we hope to be able to build lasting professional relationships within the Dalberg-Igloo family that sustain and grow and make room for more entrepreneurs to benefit from what we offer.

YS: What does Igloo offer to entrepreneurs?

JO: Igloo offers everything a new and growing organization needs, including a fully-equipped professional and shared workspace with phones, projectors, a functional kitchen and big and small meeting rooms. Being an Igloo member means access to our consulting, research and advisory services as well. Members can also tap into our global training, mentorship and events network. And, to top that, if necessary, we also arrange for other business services support like legal, accounting, recruiting, and editorial and design at a competitive cost.

Igloo members can choose from a variety of options that fit their organizations’ needs. Members opting for permanent workspace have access to a medium-sized desk for Rs. 10,000 per month, a large desk for Rs. 12,000 per month, or a closed-door office for a team of four for Rs. 42,000 per month. You can even look at our floor plan on our website.

The above which is exclusive of taxes, gives members access to the following too:

  •  Ten days per year per organization of Dalberg consulting and advisory services
  • Attendance at trainings, events; access to global networks
  • Dedicated desk space in a professional office
  • Personal storage space
  • Access to shared meeting and board rooms, including projection equipment
  • High-speed wireless internet
  • Air conditioning and other utilities
  • Shared incoming phone line and use of mailing address
  • Unlimited tea/coffee, use of kitchen, dining room, and breakout space

Temporary rentals for meeting rooms are also available at an hourly rate, so please feel free to reach out to us for specific requests.

Website: Igloo


Kirti Punia

Kirti Punia

A computer engineer from VIT University, Kirti does a little more justice to words than code snippets. Not finding Deloitte her cup of tea, she moved on to find her relishable brew at YourStory. Connect with her at kirti@yourstory.com or @kirtipunia