Why Sequoia India decided to start a co-working space in its Bengaluru office
After three years of running operations in stealth mode, Sequoia India opens up about Greenhouse, its free, co-working space. YourStory caught up with Shailesh Lakhani, Managing Director, Sequoia Capital India Advisors, recently.
Sequoia India recently announced that it has set up Greenhouse, a short-term, co-working space, on its Bengaluru premises to support the tech startup community. The space was set up in June 2015 in beta stage, and was formally launched late last month. Three startups in stealth mode and early stages are working from the space currently.
Greenhouse is completely free of charge, for the space as well as the facilities offered. Like most co-working spaces, the Wi-Fi-enabled space provides 24x7 internet access, electricity with UPS backup, free unlimited tea and coffee, meeting rooms, discussion rooms, and conference rooms. It also has in-house security and maintenance staff.
Shubham Malhotra, the Co-founder of a startup in stealth mode working out of Greenhouse, says that the space has been ideal for ideation. The fact that they can get support from the Sequoia India team next door doesn’t hurt either.
In a conversation with YourStory, Shailesh Lakhani, Managing Director, Sequoia Capital India Advisors, highlighted the benefits Greenhouse provides for startups.
Edited excerpts of the interview:
YourStory: What was the need to start a co-working space and what sets Greenhouse apart from existing spaces?
Shailesh Lakhani: A few years ago when we were setting up our Bengaluru office, we thought it would be great to have some entrepreneurs in the office as well. A year or so later, we started the co working space. The main idea and driver was to support India’s tech community by providing a space for deep tech startups that typically need more time to bring their idea to life.
We believe that community matters, and we recognise that everyone in the tech ecosystem benefits when entrepreneurs take time, take risks and try to build something that is not easy.
At Sequoia India, we have the privilege of being connected to a talented network of people – across sectors like investment, technology, marketing, analytics and so much more. Not all young startups have the connect or the funds to tap into a support system on their own. Being a part of Greenhouse makes that possible.
YS: What are the benefits that a startup gets while working from Greenhouse?
SL: The key advantage to being a part of a programme like Greenhouse is the access to network and resources, community and partnerships. Sequoia India team members also invest quality time with the companies – we act as their sounding board, mentor them, and introduce them to key business partners in analytics, infrastructure solutions, payment gateways, marketing solutions, etc.
We help accelerate their development process, and extend the help of our internal specialists--something that is usually available only to our portfolio companies--to the founders at Greenhouse.
Participating companies also have access to events and workshops with both in-house and external experts along with a certain level of AWS credits which otherwise would have been available to them only after they raised a Series-A round.
We also take away the distractions of running a day-to-day business, and worries regarding facilities and infrastructure, thus making it easier for them to concentrate on building on their core business.
YS: Do they get investment opportunities and help from Sequoia India?
SL: The application and selection process for Greenhouse doesn’t include any funding commitment from Sequoia India. We are simply providing the space, along with help with industry connects, tech support, etc., where needed.
Some companies that were part of Greenhouse have gone on to raise funds, at times from other VCs that we helped introduce, including one that raised from a Silicon Valley-based investor.
YS: How many startups are present at the space?
SL: The space can accommodate around six to eight companies with up to six employees each, and the typical tenure is around six months. Currently, we have three startups working out of this space.
YS: Is there a sector preference?
SL: We view this initiative from an ecosystem lens, and we particularly like companies that are solving really hard problems in the deep tech space. We’ve seen 12-15 companies pass through Greenhouse so far, working on everything from consumer tech to B2B solutions, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Internet of Things (IoT).
YS: What are the plans for Greenhouse?
SL: Our idea is to support the tech startup community. The aim is to provide technology founders with time and space to get their ideas up and running. Companies can use this space to build their MVP, recruit a co-founding team, launch, market the product and acquire their first customers.