Can the game of Chess and entrepreneurship have a common thread?
It certainly can, proves the winner of quite a few national chess championships Kruttika Nadig, founder and director of Idea Mil, a brand new co-working space for freelancers and small startups in the emerging favourite town of entrepreneurs – Pune.
Kruttika calls her startup a ‘sweet spot’ between a sterile office and a distraction-filled home. “We have blended the best of both worlds here to make our members feel comfortable – in place are modern desks and a fast Wi-Fi along with a library of books and a cheerful balcony,” says Kruttika, a romantic at heart.
Given that co-working spaces are very relevant in the startup culture, Kruttika felt the urge to acquire more skills and expand her worldview as she stepped into her 20s. A wandering writer, bookworm and a national chess champion all rolled into one, Kruttika always had an independent bent of mind, right from the beginning, she recalls.
I boarded my first solo flight at the age of seven and the pleasure of solitude increased as I grew older and won a few national championships in that highly competitive game,
A freelancer, she found the concept of working spaces useful
Kruttika did a postgraduate residential programme from the Asian School of Journalism, where she learnt how to write stories. It is starting here that she met people with diverse views and interests. Thereafter she worked briefly at The Economic Times. An avid traveler, Kruttika has visited 25 countries till date, some to play chess tournaments and others to write her travelogues – for the Lonely Planet magazine India.
“A few months ago I stumbled upon an online article about cool co-working spaces around the world. I’d never heard of the concept before and it instantly clicked, because as a freelancer I know how challenging it is to work productively from home. I’d been toying with the idea of starting a useful enterprise for a while, something that would make money but also make a qualitative difference to my hometown Pune,” says Kruttika.
Many hours went into research and she had hours of long conversations too with people and finally got convinced. She indeed felt the growing need for social work spaces that are not as clustered as home neither are they as impersonal as corporate offices.
So recently Kruttika launched her startup, a 16-member co-working space that feels like an intimate studio with lots of sunshine and trees all around. It has all the essentials of a modern work space too.
The look and design of Idea Mil
Kruttika’s family had an apartment in Pune which they had rented out for a while. She used that space to her advantage and used it to build her studio. She redid the whole space and as she says, she wants her office to grow organically.
Currently, the place is open for all members between 9 am and 7 pm on all seven days. Later, she intends to start a buddy plan as well where two people can work on a single desk by sharing time between themselves.
As the name suggests, my aim is to make Idea Mil a dynamic hub where all sorts of collaborations and learning can happen. The members can expect hangouts, talks, workshops, film screenings and even outdoor activities – when they aren’t working that is, because Idea Mil is primarily a comfy workplace for entrepreneurs, creative professionals and even students who need to stake out a corner to study for their exams,
says this 27-year-old entrepreneur. At the studio, they can now accommodate individuals and small teams of up to six people.
One of Kruttika’s friends who was working on a manuscript for a novel got into a fight recently because his laptop was tampered with when he stepped out of the cafe for a smoke, she recollects. So a place like Idea Mil would be a welcome relief for individuals who need a sane, affordable and stress-free workplace, she says.
So she put in all her savings and for two months advertised on social media and word of mouth before setting up this space.
It is her parents, both educationists, who never stood between her dreams and Kruttika. With an academic and a management background respectively, her mother and father are now involved in the running of a company called Shikshangan Education Initiatives in Pune while her sister runs a design studio called Twist Open in Bengaluru.
“I have taken several cues from them while conceptualising this venture and have got a notebook full of plans as well as back-up plans. It’s exciting, and I’m now devoting all my time and energy to building Idea Mil as a valuable local experience,” she says.
A perfect balance
Kruttika knew from the very beginning that she wanted to pursue her own thing alongside playing chess. Of course, she was very ambitious as a chess player but now she engages in it rather infrequently. “I don’t believe in shutting any door, so I have kept the chess door open as well. If anytime I wish to return, I can do so by practicing seriously for a couple of months, after all it’s a mental game with no upper age limit for retirement!” she signs off.