Co-working is a niche which has experienced unprecedented growth and momentum, in the last few years. WeWork, the biggest player in the niche is about to raise funding at a massive valuation of $35 billion – an amount never heard of in this space.
We managed to catch up with Pratik Potnis, who is the Founder of TRIOS, a rising co-working startup from Pune.
We asked him about the challenges he faced while launching his startup, and his views on the industry as a whole.
Here are the highlights of this exclusive interview:
Question #1: We Work, it seems, is the biggest player of co-working space niche. Analysts are predicting $35 billion valuation. Do you think such massive valuation is justified for a co-working startup?
It’s too early to say whether the valuation is overwhelming as the business segment is still in very early stage. However, as the momentum is catching up in coworking business there will be more companies like TRIOS which will come on the horizon.
Question #2: WeWork has expanded into Bengaluru and Mumbai now. Will it threaten smaller startups in this niche?
It really does not make lot of difference for the other companies as the market size is very huge for coworking.
Question #3: Do you think co-working locations are the future of work-places in 21st century? Why so?
Getting to focus on the work and not having to manage the office space gives a lot of breather for Startups and even Multinational companies alike. For distributed teams co-working is boon as they can get connected virtually from their own locations while enjoying the professional office ambience in a coworking space.
Question #4: What is the biggest challenge you face, while convincing startups to join your co-working space?
For startups, we believe that once they understand that a professional office environment is needed to run their business in an efficient way, instead of running it from a residential space or a coffee shops.
Question #5: Owning your own office is an asset, whose value increases over time. Co-working spaces are basically rented location. Why should a startup choose a rented location over their own asset?
Businesses are actively choosing to go Asset light as the Lean model for running a business has been beneficial for all kinds of companies. Trend will grow even more as the world where people are choosing to have rented furniture in home would find rented office even more lucrative.
Question #6: How did the idea of Trios come up, and what initial obstacles did you face while launching it in Pune?
I (Pratik Potnis) used to run Software services company – Quexa Systems before this venture. Which later got acquired by US based firm. In those days, one of the rooms in the giant bunglow office space used be always empty although the size of team had grown to 60. I put up small desks and required IT equipment in that room and asked my friends if they needed an office to work from. Most of them showed interest immediately and started using the facility on regular basis and paid us for number of seats they occupied. They also called their acquaintances to use this place and Quexa System’s overheads of electricity, internet, tea / coffee bills were covered from this small establishment that had seen dust and spider web for quite some time. It triggered from this idea that we can create a larger coworking or shared office space for rest of the entrepreneur fraternity as well and create a business out of it.
Question #7: What one message will you give to struggling entrepreneurs?
From day one if an entrepreneur can fix his or her focus on one model for one product or one service that they wish to sell to their clients – they will be travelling on the path of the success.
We will shortly present another exciting interview with a startup founder. Keep watching this space!