At the Startup Warehouse, we noticed that a lot of startups had basic existential problems which we could help solve with our experience. So we come up with a simple plan: We can spend one hour per day for a week in your startup and help in any way we can. And in return, we will request you to give us a space to work for the week.
One thing we learnt about garage startups very quickly is that our houses don’t have garages…
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We decide to work out of our homes to brainstorm on the next big idea. The problem: Kids’ summer vacations have started too. And it is chaos at home. We have tried shifting our work times, sending the kids off to their friends’ homes, buying new games to play outside and more. Nothing works.
Coffee shops are the real startup hubs of Bangalore…
Except that most cafes have now learnt not to offer free (or high speed) wi-fi to ‘resident’ folks who will occupy their space for a full day and drink 2 cups of coffee. Or they have built-in the cost of hanging out for a long time into their menu prices. This clearly isn’t sustainable!
No office? No problem! Co-working is the new mantra…
While co-working spaces are more economical choices, their pricing is very different from what it used to be in 2013 when we last looked them up. And we still think it’s better to get an office (even a shared one) once we are in the hiring phase. So this option is shelved for now as the worst-case scenario.
During our early days at Windsleeve, we worked out of an empty apartment with plastic Nilkamal chairs and a foldable dining table. We interviewed about 10 candidates who never turned up again after they saw the ‘office space’. One guy went out for a smoke break and took off, and switched off his phone for good measure! To give ourselves a semblance of credibility, we applied and moved into the NASSCOM 10K Startup Warehouse
Can I ask a favour, please!
We then asked our dear friends at VC firms to let us use their conference rooms for a day or two. And they happily obliged. A big thanks to all of you, you know who you are!
Again, it is a short-term fix but not a sustainable solution. You don’t want to use up your Rolodex before you start pitching to them!
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. But there’s also a hustleneeded to find it…
While we were at the Startup Warehouse, we noticed that a lot of startups had basic existential problems which we could help solve with our experience. So we come up with a simple plan. We write the following message to a couple of entrepreneur groups that we are a part of:
For startups in Bangalore — you can use our experience and expertise to solve problems that your startup is facing. We can spend one hour per day for a week in your startup and help in any way we can. And in return, we will request you to give us a space to work for the week.
Voila! At least eight startups responded to offering their office space for a week. A couple of good friends (and strangers too!) say they will gladly host us even without the need for help or advice. Within half a day, we have our office space booked for the next two months!
Moral of the story: The sharing economy works! You should try it sometime.
Ganesh Balakrishnan is an entrepreneur currently building a consumer brand in the footwear space. He founded two startups earlier – Momoe (mobile payments) and Windsleeve (retail tech).
Startup Stories is a series of accounts by startup entrepreneurs on how they built their businesses and found success. Read them here.
First Published: Apr 24, 2019 12:23 PM IST
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