How a bus driver's son quit college and started a Rs 1 Cr turnover coworking space booking platform
Gurugram-based Flexispaces has grown quickly and partnered with over 100 coworking spaces run by Awfis, Cowrks, 91springboard, Instaoffice and more.
Gurugram-based Sandeep Singh’s father drove buses and the financial situation did not permit Sandeep to get a professional degree.
He had to drop out of Kirorimal College in Delhi, but this didn’t stop the college dropout from pursuing his dreams of becoming an entrepreneur.
“I started watching videos on YouTube and picked up skills in website development. I started a web service agency, Guru Infosys, when I was just 23, and I later started education portal Edunuts” he tells SMBStory.
But things didn’t go as planned.
He says, “My last product failed to take-off as per expectations, and the failure took various shapes and negative experiences. It was not just product failure, but it was a failure of time, effort, capital, and most importantly, a stunning team which I built over four years of hard work,” he says.
But every cloud has a silver lining, and Sandeep found his calling when his days were the darkest. After losing office space because he couldn't afford it, Sandeep looked into working out of a coworking space.
The demand for coworking was rising and shared spaces are seeing an exponential growth in India. The country has become the second-largest market for flexible workspaces in APAC, second only to China.
Further, medium and large-sized businesses were increasingly making use of coworking spaces and the affordable infrastructure they offer.
However, Sandeep saw there were no direct online and offline systems to book office spaces. He felt there was potential to build an on-demand marketplace for meeting rooms and shared office spaces.
This inspired him to take the entrepreneurial plunge again and start Flexispaces in 2019. Sandeep started to offer customers instant and convenient experience in booking spaces without the need for calls, availability checks, or follow ups.
They say third time’s the charm, and this was true in Sandeep case. Flexispaces grew quickly and partnered with over 100 coworking spaces run by Awfis, Cowrks, 91springboard, Instaoffice and more.
Flexispaces is making over Rs 1 crore since its inception, Sandeep says.
In an exclusive interaction with SMBStory, Sandeep narrates how he started the company and describes its value proposition.
SMBStory (SMBS): How did you go from looking for coworking spaces to finding a business opportunity?
Sandeep Singh (SS): My previous startup’s team and I had lost an office space of 80 seats because I couldn’t afford it. I wanted to start a different business, so I looked into coworking spaces and how much it would cost me. I ended up taking two seats in a coworking space in Connaught Place.
I had initially seen some gaps in the coworking space segment but I was cautious, so I did some in-depth research. I found a lack of direct systems to book office spaces, and users were availing free meeting hours but it was still done manually and there was no clear picture of how it could be taken online. Further, there wasn’t much awareness about shared office spaces and the facilities available. This inspired me to solve the problem and start Flexispaces.
SMBS: How does the product work and what are its applications?
SS: The entire work at Flexispaces is done digitally. A user starts searching for coworking space online based on the requirement, and we help him/her find the best space and reserve it. The process completes only when the host approves the bookings, whether it is an immediate booking or a future booking.
The platform is based on solving for companies that found it difficult to book spaces to conduct off-site meetings and events. We built a technically-advanced platform where one can seamlessly book preferred spaces in just five clicks through the app or website. As the days passed, we also started to fulfill the needs of booking classrooms. Today, we offer eight different categories of flexible spaces to our customers.
SMBS: What has been the impact of your work on the customers and society?
SS: We have saved nearly 50 percent of the cost for teachers who use our on-demand classrooms. Now, they don't have to pay security deposits and rentals of unused and idle classes.
Startups and corporates use our meeting rooms to save costs of 5-star hotels meetings.
Coworking spaces have found additional revenue streams and are able to decrease their marketing efforts. Also, a significant footfall happens through us, which brings more customers to them.
SMBS: What are your challenges in terms of sustaining and growing the business?
SS: It’s an emerging market in India and everyone is not aware of such flexible options. The market is going through the initial stages of growth and maturity here. The list of challenges is not less when it comes to a new business. The venture tries to recognise and overcome every problem which occurs in terms of sustaining and growing the business.
SMBS: What is your advice for budding entrepreneurs in a similar segment?
SS: I advise similar businesses to get started and keep moving forward, do more with less and always keep the expenses low in the beginning. People need to know the business and build trust with you. But since it’s a new and emerging market, we haven’t company across reports of shared spaces and how other companies are competing in the same segment.
SMBS: How do you manage critical areas such as supplier management, cash flow management, and capital management?
SS: Fortunately, we are the first in the market to introduce these offerings and have the opportunity to organise the space. So, space owners are more likely to work with us and cooperate with us in every manner. Our channel strategy considers factors such as customer habits, competitive environment and constraints such as costs and capabilities.
SMBS: What are your future plans?
SS: The shared spaces market is growing year-on-year and we believe we will be able to serve most of the segment in the future. The company is planning to add five more cities by the end of this year. Right now, we are on desktop and Android, so we will launch an iOS booking platform by next year.
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