13 Oct 2017, 09:48 — 7 min read
With the growth of the economy comes a burgeoning number of SMEs in the country. Increasingly, these SMEs are realising that it is not in their interest to rent or buy office space as was the norm in earlier times. Shared workspaces are gaining in popularity especially for businesses just finding their feet.
Meenal Sinha, Founder and CEO of meetingsandoffices.com has created a portal that allows people in big cities to compare meeting rooms, workspaces which they can then take on rent short or long term. Her dream is that her company grows to a point that in every major city a person will never be more than 2 kms from a meetingsandoffices.com flexible workspace.
In conversation with GlobalLinker (GL) Meenal Sinha (MS) shares her story. Watch this video to learn more:
GL: Tell us about your business.
MS: I’ve been a part of the shared space ecosystem almost from the time it appeared in India. Having set up and managed the Indian operation of a global brand for close on seven years gave me deep insights as well as the opportunity to watch the global evolution of this segment.
During that period, I also realised that the need for shared workspaces was growing explosively and while we were doing a good job of putting up new spaces and optimising the costing, there was still a huge gap in terms of accessibility, visibility, credibility and ease of transaction. There was tremendous perishable inventory being allowed to lapse.
As it happens there are others who had the same insight. However, I think my long term connect with the segment made me better prepared to create a solution. That’s what I did. I believe in simple and comprehensive, so that is the solution we’ve built. For the users, it’s a place where they can search, compare, review, book and pay within minutes. For the space partners, there is a comprehensive dashboard that allows complete visibility and control of inventory regardless of source of booking. We’re an industry solution built from the inside with due consideration to needs of all stakeholders.
Meetingsandoffices.com is a credible, hassle-free, easy to use platform that connects potential buyers with curated, verified flexible shared workspaces across the country; it’s the bridge that both users and space providers need.
GL: What are the challenges you have faced in establishing your business?
MS: I’m from the business side and this business model needs a technology backbone. While searching for a credible, trustworthy development partner, I had to learn very quickly how hollow our IT credibility claims are and how difficult it is to secure robust technology solutions even from companies which are in the development business. Otherwise also we have a difficult to navigate business paradigm, which brings its own challenges.
The upside was that it was a great learning experience. I’m also tremendously grateful for the encouragement and support I’ve received not only from old friends and business partners but a whole bunch of people who simply extended their support because they believe in ‘what goes around, comes around’ and they just wanted to help.
GL: Do you believe that the ‘ease of doing business’ in India has improved?
MS: I believe we are on a journey, but we still have a very long way to go. The effort required in starting and closing businesses, contract enforcement, obtaining relevant paperwork, authorisations etc. It is still difficult. Things need to be made easier for young businesses.
GL: What is the USP of your business?
MS: Almost everyone in this business segment sees shared workspaces and their leverage as either a real estate play or a price play or a tech play. It is none of the three. There are humongous community considerations and opportunities. The DNA of the business is in the term ‘shared economy’ and we have to play to that.
As I’ve said we’re not just another aggregator building a business model from an ‘outside in’ perspective, we’ve built a deep understanding of, and empathy for, stakeholder perspectives and situations. We have applied business intelligence to our roadmap. I think I can confidently say that even though we are at no more than 20% of the product we are building, we already have the most comprehensive and robust solution available. This is a habit altering play and we’re helping create value far beyond mere accessibility and bookings.
We’ve been undertaking significant community facilitation, activation, creation of platforms and interfaces to help build a supportive ecosystem for our main audience – growing businesses. We have been driving footfall through shared workspaces, getting the target audience exposed to their benefits, while creating pipelines for the space providers.
GL: What are some of the milestones of your business?
MS: I think the fact that today we host and leverage more inventory than anyone else in the ecosystem in India, speaks of our business commitment. We were a late entrant, but are doing our own thing in our own way. We have the confidence of the organised space providers and their friendship.
GL: What role do you feel GlobalLinker plays in connecting & assisting SMEs?
MS: I think GlobalLinker is a wonderful connector. Growing businesses have tremendous strengths that could be collectively leveraged. Helping businesses emerge from their silos is a big thing. There are quite a few institutions that claim to be creating platforms for growing businesses to interact and showcase their business, but GlobalLinker is one of the very few that is not simply an events business driving a hidden agenda and fleecing their community.
GL: What is your big business dream?
MS: Wherever one maybe standing, anywhere in an Indian city, they should be able to find a flexible workspace on meetingsandoffices.com within two kilometres.
GL: What is your message to aspiring entrepreneurs?
MS: There are a million people out there ready to tell you a million reasons why you can’t and won’t succeed. Don’t listen to them. Focus on the customer, focus on business logic, focus on processes and people, and focus on why you wake up in the morning. The best response to ‘you can’t’ is to go ahead and do it.
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Posted byGlobalLinker Staff
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