We are publishing an interview of Mr. Mishu Ahluwalia, Founder & CEO. GoHive- a co-working space community.
Please tell us about the founders
(e.g., Their names along with their skill-sets, specific domain expertise & designated roles, Whats the Story? When did you start working together etc.)
- Mishu Ahluwalia: Mishu is a successful entrepreneur with more than 18 years of overall experience across domains like Operations, Technology and Real Estate. He is the brain behind GoHive and heads the strategy and operations for the company. Mishu’s experience across 3 ventures, of which 2 were his own, make him an expert on the co-working heatmap in India. A few ventures he has to his name, aside from GoHive, include Roofpik (World’s first property reviewing platform), Trustbanq Realty & Winspire Consulting (a boutique real estate brokerage firm).
- Saurabh Singh: Saurabh has 10 years of experience in real estate brokerage. At GoHive, Saurabh is responsible for identifying the right propositions, working with the landlords to structure the deals, and ensuring the execution of the interiors of the place. He is also responsible for vendor management and for negotiating the right deals based on the designs as proposed by the interior designers.
- Kumud Pratap Singh: A young co-founder fresh out of university, Kumud’s superpower is his unflinching enthusiasm. Kumud’s previous experience in Marketing makes him a go-getter with a never-say-die attitude. This is his first venture and he is committed to watching it hit the big time charts.
Give us a brief background of what founders were doing before starting the venture.
Mishu’s experience across 3 ventures, of which 2 were his own. Apart from GoHive, the other startups under his name include Roofpik (World’s first property reviewing platform), Trustbanq Realty & Winspire Consulting (a boutique real estate brokerage firm).
Saurabh has 10 years of experience in real estate brokerage.
Kumud’s previous experience in Marketing makes him a go-getter with a never-say-die attitude.
List all the names of the core team members, along with their skill-sets, specific domain expertise & designated roles. How do you see them evolving over time?
- Mishu Ahluwalia – Founder & CEO
- Kumud Pratap Singh – Co-Founder & Head-Operations
- Saurabh Singh – Co-Founder & Head-Acquisitions
- Ayesha Kazi – Director-Marketing
- Ritesh Khorana – Digital Marketing Expert
What is the problem you are trying to solve? Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
Having extensive experience in real estate, the founding team made an experimental foray into co-working to measure responsiveness to alternate office styles. The response was immediate and surprisingly, extremely warm. When we probed further, we realised that there is a lack of places which allow young companies (6-10 employees) to build their own legacy without imposing a specific type of culture in the company. We developed newer GoHive centres keeping that cultural identity fluid so each centre could evolve into the needs of its members rather than following a brand bible.
What challenges did you face when you were starting out?
Considering the startup culture in the country, the need for collaborative workspaces is constantly increasing, and the ones which are able to offer a workspace solution along with a strong community to foster cross-selling, up-selling & transactional possibilities amongst its members, will be able to create a niche for themselves.
How did you get the initial capital? What returns does it have? Tell us about the investors (if any)
Initially, we started out bootstrapped. The first quarter of this financial year (18-19) saw us working with a few angel investors.
Please tell us about the Product / Solution. Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
Whilst most coworking space operate at the top end of the spectrum (read premium office space) or at the bottom end (read unorganized coworking players), there is a vacuum in the budget segment, which is best suited for early-stage startups and SMBs. Also, we intend to offer them value beyond just cost-saving by offering an ecosystem of services like Legal, HR, Accounting, Digital Marketing, etc., and also by developing a strong community where coworkers thrive by collaborating and helping each other.
What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learning that you have?
We entered the market with the assumption that people were looking for cost-effective workspaces in Gurgaon and Delhi. We started with a humble space for 25 to test how markets would respond. Within a year, we realised that people look for the right atmosphere and energy more than just cost-effectiveness. While a lot of younger companies are bound by limitations on their op-ex, there are small changes which can make a place more endearing for them, while not being too cumbersome. Active efforts to create a collaborative community; creates customer stickiness.
What is the insight that you have about this market, which no one else has? Uniqueness about your Startup.
GoHive is focused to build a community of like-minded entrepreneurs who can draw from each other and grow with each other. Co-working spaces work like any other institution are recognised for their community, alumni, culture and learning elements. We build to provide startups with an experience where all this is available aplenty and in richness.
What is the strength of the startup and the scale of operations? Who do You Perceive as Your Competition?
We currently have 4 centres running in Delhi NCR with 2 more launching shortly. Our next foray is into the city of Bangalore where we launch in Indiranagar.
GoHive is to Co-Working what “Courtyard by Marriott” is to Hotels, and “One Plus” is to Mobile Phones. Affordable but not cheap, functional but not basic, accessible but not expensive and people-friendly.
AWFIS and 91Springboard are our most significant competitors in the space.
What is the revenue model? What is the logic behind it? What is the model you are following – Free / Freemium / Premium etc. ? Explain your thought process.
The revenue model is a per seat membership premium. We are in a SpAAS (Space As a Service) business. Different types of memberships are priced basis utility and space requirements. All members, however, have access to the same set of services and associations with partners and events.
Who are the consumers that you are targeting? How is this going to affect them?
We are targeting a mix of SMB’s and early-stage startups. At GoHive, they will be able to focus on their core business without having to worry about the office infrastructure, which is inspiring, modern and yet easy on the pocket.
How did you get your first customer?
Startups, young enterprises and innovation labs or innovator cells within larger enterprises
What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product leading to something bigger? If so, how?
We currently manage more than 700 seats, adding around 800 more seats in Delhi, Gurgaon & Bangalore by end of 2018. We would be focusing on reaching profitability for each of our centres by mid of 2019, post which we will be in a situation to aggressively increase our presence in other parts of Delhi-NCR & Bangalore.We are looking to grow upto 10,000 seats by end of 2022, across 9 cities in India.
Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture? What is the current turnover? (From Launching till date total no. of visitors on website/persons registered/enquiries and enrollment). Please explain in details:
We are currently operating on an Annual Run Rate of almost $375K, and our target is to cross the $1Mn ARR by end of Mar 2019.
We currently have more than 250 coworkers operating out of our 3 centres and will be adding almost 300 more by Dec 2019. The GoHive community will be 1000+ strong by end of fiscal 2019.
What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
We’re looking to establish a location at most metros with a network in tier-2 cities which are bustling with new business opportunities and entrepreneurial efforts these days. We hope to provide a systematic community of co-workers across India to help each other grow.
What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
When you choose your first office (or any office for that matter) you are inherently directing your team’s morale and the culture your team will build. Pick a space that helps your team deliver their best, which is comfortable, inspiring and is like an extended family for your team. Once this is taken care of, your team will stick through, with lots of positivity and enthusiasm, because the call is stronger than just work. Work is suddenly a seamless extension of the fun aspects of their day.