To boost the startup ecosystem in Eastern Uttar Pradesh and help entrepreneurs get the right infrastructure and resources, two friends have launched the first co-working space in Gorakhpur.
With the startup boom, co-working spaces are soon emerging as the growth hub of the startup ecosystem. Today, shared working spaces not only provide basic infrastructure for entrepreneurs, who often do not have very deep pockets, but also present opportunities to collaborate, network, promote ideas, and share knowledge.
As per a PWC report, ‘Workforce of the future: The competing forces shaping 2030’, “This is a world where workers and companies seek out greater meaning and relevance in what they do. Social-first and community businesses find the greatest success and prosper. It’s a world where humanness is highly valued.”
Industry experts estimate that $400 million as investment per year, for the next five years, is expected to be poured into the setting up of co-working spaces.
Identifying this untapped business idea in Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Arunn Guptaa (30) launched StartUp Cafe, the first co-working space in this part of India, in August 2017. Arunn, who is a graduate in business studies with a Master’s degree in animation, has previously worked with e-commerce giants like Amazon, Snapdeal, and Flipkart. To accomplish his mission of shaping the entrepreneurial ecosystem in eastern UP, Arunn roped in his school friend Vibhore Jaiswal. Vibhore holds an MBA degree and has worked for organisations like SpiceJet, Deloitte, and PwC for e-governance projects pan-India.
Arunn Guptaa, Founder of StartUp CafeArunn believes that a co-working space is a new solution for entrepreneurs and freelancers who are short on funds and space. “It lets people work at their own pace. It gives you your freedom within a work set up so that you can take a break whenever you want,” he says.
In the city of Gorakhpur, StartUp Cafe offers ready to use work space at a prime location for professionals on a daily and monthly basis.
With an aim to offer an affordable workspace as opposed to high rentals and maintenance hassles, often associated with a traditional office space, the cafe provides a day plan of Rs 999 and a monthly plan of Rs 4,999 per seat. At present, it has 50 seats.
Apart from providing basic amenities like electricity, unlimited high-speed internet, printing facility, meeting room with video conferencing facility, fully air-conditioned office room and cafeteria with coffee/tea machines, the space also offers additional facilities including mailing services, company registration, GST registration, address provision, among others, at an extra cost.
“StartUp Cafe provides individual space with a designated area for taking a break or having a snack — we are fully equipped in all aspects of modern facilities,” says Vibhore.
Speaking of the growing number startups in the city of Gorakhpur, Arunn says, “Startups here face problems related to investment, infrastructure and daily recurring expenses, as they can't bear a huge office rent.”
However, in a Tier II city like Gorakhpur, people are still unaware of the concept of a co-working space. Creating awareness about the idea was the first challenge the duo had to take up while establishing the StartUp Cafe. For this, Arunn fell back on his background in animation and graphic design, and the founders advertised the concept behind co-working space and its benefits with the help of white board animations.
“Once people understood the idea, they started enrolling for the space,” highlights Vibhore.
The two-month-old co-working space has seven clients and wants to focus on getting more startups onboard. Going ahead, the brand is planning to increase its seating capacity and expand to different cities of Uttar Pradesh. To inspire and provide monitoring to startups, the founders also want to organise TEDx events, startup seminars, and classes.
Currently, the space is self-funded, earning revenue through a subscription model and also through rental charges of co-working/shared office seats and meeting rooms. The founders aim for profit sharing by partnering with other startups and sharing ideas.
Vibhore hopes that Gorakhpur will grow exponentially in terms of innovative projects and startups. “Our ultimate goal is to build a community where people come from different trades and mingle, adding up to a wonderful experience,” he says.