In a developing country like India, one of the problems that corporate people face is commuting. To work with big companies, employees travel around 2 to 3 hours each day. Developing nations cannot afford this much time wastage. Neighborhood coworking space are the obvious solution.
To solve this problem, Aditya Verma has stepped up to solve this problem. Aditya Verma is the founder of TOP( The Office Pass) that provide neighborhood coworking space. We had an amazing interview with Aditya Verma, where we discussed his achievement, challenges, and many more aspects. Check out the full interview below
How will you Introduce Yourself to the world?
I would like to introduce myself as the owner of The Office Pass (TOP) that is a Coworking company that connects companies & professionals to warm, friendly, ready to use & high-quality Neighborhood Coworking (NCW) offices.
Tell your readers about your achievements till today (Be Honest)!!
My achievement until my journey till now is that my company, TOP takes pride in being an operationally profitable company unlike most startups in India and across the world. This reduces our dependence on external financial support and we can grow the company on our own terms.
Tell us about your start-up!
In developing countries like India, people waste significant time, effort and money just commuting to work. In large cities, this can be over 2-3 hours each day. Developing nations can ill afford this time wastage. This time can be effectively utilized to grow the business and improve productivity – only if someone solves the problem of commuting. TOP is the only company in the industry offering Neighborhood Coworking spaces (NCW). NCW, as the name suggests, is different from conventional coworking as it caters to the target audience nearby (< 5 km).
The fundamental premise is that people love to work in a high-quality office facility close to their place of residence/business rather than commuting long distances. This makes NCW; unique in its target segment, pricing, marketing, size of facility & unit economics, etc.
“What’s the most important thing you’re working on right now, and how are you making it happen?
TOP currently operates 7 NCWs in the Delhi NCR area. 5 of these NCWs are in Gurgaon and 1 each in Noida and Delhi. The business is operationally cash positive and we take great pride in running a profitable company. One can scale much faster, at the cost of unit economics, but we do not want to build such a business. We believe in real money and not paper money. Real money will bring paper money – not the other way round. Currently, 166 companies are using TOP offices. My focus right now and over the next 3 years will be to do 50-60 offices with a wider geographical footprint catering to over 1000 companies.
What’s your take on your segmented/targeted Market?
Our target audience is MSMB (# 30 Mil) & Freelancers (# 15 Mil). It is easy to find these companies on Google & FaceBook at a significantly lower cost of acquisition. TOP has been successful in ramping its customer base without the need to have a field sales team. This helps us in keeping our costs lower compared to other players.
What are the challenges you have faced and what are the current challenges? Mention the top three challenges for both.
Unlike the popular belief, demand is lesser of a problem in the Coworking space business. There seems to be a huge demand for Coworking space but the real challenge is in aggregating supply on favorable terms. Landlords and property owners are not willing to relent on the rentals.
Coworking office takes time to scale and the initial rent-free period is critical to minimize the cash burn which sometimes is difficult to realize. I, however, feel these issues will get resolved when the company & the brand is relatively better known.
Why you have started up? Be specific with your reasons!!
Before starting The Office Pass (TOP), I was the Co-founder of Makaan.com – India’s leading real estate site. We sold the business to NewsCorp in 2015. Post the sale of Makaan.com, my initial idea was to start a managed serviced apartment business in India. It was the logical extension of what I did at Makaan.com where I was the co-founder and CEO. While studying this concept I stumbled upon a company called WeWork which was doing Coworking in the US and was gaining traction.
Over the next 4-5 months, I studied both the model and concluded that the Coworking space business has far greater scale and margin compared to the serviced apartment business. I also figured that unlike the developed countries where commuting to work is not a big hassle with multiple means of transport; the situation in India is very different. So I customized the developed world’s Coworking model to make it suitable for the Indian scenario. This led to the coining of the term Neighborhood Co-working (NCW) which we are successfully pursuing now. The Office Pass (TOP) was borne out of this extensive study.
Where do you want to see yourself in the next 5 years?
Currently, 166 companies are using TOP offices. Over the next 3 years, we hope to do 50-60 offices with a wider geographical footprint catering to over 1000 companies.
Please share your learning for fellow Entrepreneurs?
The most important learning is to adapt a successful international model for the local market before launching your product. Most entrepreneurs, in their drive, to launch the product, forget to customize/adapt. They have to pay a very heavy price to course correct in the middle of their journey. This is completely avoidable.