Radha Kapoor is taking the creative route to business

23 April 2016

Radha Kapoor is taking the creative route to business

  • Business Standard

With Awfis, a quirky co-working venture, and other offbeat ideas, Radha Kapoor, the daughter of the Yes Bank CEO, is taking the creative route to entrepreneurship

The full weight of being a “creative entrepreneur”, a term uses to describe her role, has gradually become apparent to her. Most notable among her recent partnerships is a somewhat reluctant friendship with mathematics. The daughter of CEO was never a number cruncher, often relying on experts to guide her through them. But some years of running her own investment company have taught the “right-brained” businesswoman that “finances do matter, and at the end of the day I have to see what the returns are.”

In the creative aspects of her work, the 31-year-old Mumbai resident has always felt more at home. After completing her studies in fine arts at the Parsons School of Design, New York, she began freelancing and taking up projects for friends. It was her father who nudged her in the more serious direction of private equity. “He pushed me to think bigger.” So Kapoor began scouting for offbeat, less-explored ideas in businesses, and set up Do It Creations to launch or support them using the family office funds.

First, she started Brand Canvas, which created artworks for that would help convey their brand philosophy. This included graphic wall art, murals, decorative paintings, panel designs, and video installations. Then came Pressto, a high-end laundry and dry cleaning chain from Spain, which she helped bring into India some years ago. Next in line was perhaps her most ambitious idea, of founding a design school in association with her alma mater, Parsons, in 2013. It proved easier than expected as serendipitously the New York-based institution had at the time been looking to expand into South Asia.

At the appointed hour for our interview, Kapoor is still busy and suggests having a look at the school while she wraps up meetings. Her team offers a whirlwind tour of the fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth floors of a commercial complex in Lower Parel, which serve as the campus for her Indian School of Design and Innovation (ISDI). Work is still in progress as new wings and laboratories are being added. Last year, Microsoft Ventures partnered with the institution for a “creative accelerator” programme, encouraging a boost in enrolments. From 30 at the outset, the number of design students has climbed close to 500, says Kapoor.

The Lower Parel space also hosts a communication school, and a management school is set to be launched too. While it might have been easier to build a big campus in the suburbs, it was a conscious decision to have the school in the heart of the city, says Kapoor. She believes in educating students closer to the business ecosystem.

Kapoor says she decided to step into education in the years after her return from New York because more young people here were looking at edgy, alternative careers in fields such as media, advertising or hospitality, rather than merely opting for jobs. The startup culture was burgeoning too. In the climate of those times, she decided to set up a platform for both to flourish. Students are actively encouraged to create startups for incubation. So far, the school has spawned ventures, including an aggregator for fitness centres and an ed-tech startup that tailors content based on a student’s level of proficiency.

Other than her schools, the entrepreneur is most excited about Awfis, a co-working space firm that she and Amit Ramani co-founded with an investment $10 million. The startup, named with a play on the words “awesome” and “office”, spruces up underutilised spaces in buildings of prime areas and rents them to freelancers, startups and SMEs. Equipped with most trappings of modern workplaces, the spaces come with options of single desks, cabins, meeting rooms or larger offices. She describes it as “an Uber for commercial real estate.” The idea is that users can plug and play there, instead of choosing to work out of, say, a Starbucks. To help them make that switch, there is even an unlimited supply of coffee and tea.

In its first year operating in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru, has added 1,500 seats but plans to grow to 10,000 by the end of 2016. Apart from the usual mix of startups and SMEs, even corporate offices have opted to use Awfis’ centres in Delhi, says the company. Kapoor notes there is a healthy presence of women entrepreneurs and employees in the startups signing up for spaces at Awfis. Hopefully, that will only increase going forward, she adds.

This set-up may be the first of its kind in India but co-working space startups have sprung up internationally. The most popular example is US-based WeWork, which offers a free keg of beer at its centres. The firm recently announced its intentions to come to India and according to some reports, is already in talks with local developers. Like WeWork, Awfis wants to create an environment where different entrepreneurs can network. It further offers to connect users with services like legal advisory, auditing, and cloud computing.

“There is a lot of enthusiasm among aspiring startup entrepreneurs but quantity outruns quality at the moment,” says Kapoor. She continues to eye potential investments. Her approach is to look for gamechanging ventures that have scalability. She also evaluates ideas based on design, innovation and creativity.

The number of names under Kapoor’s umbrella company is growing. As she gets busier, Kapoor’s involvement in initial ventures such as Brand Canvas and Pressto has reduced. She shares the firm’s progress with her father at dinnertime or over Sunday lunch. When the requirement for capital grows, she may look outside the family office fund to raise money. But as she talks with relish about making spaces young and energetic, and of the need for good business to have design sense, it is clear that finance will still finish second to creativity for Kapoor.

Awfis to triple number of co-working seats to 12,000 in Pune

06 November 2018

Awfis to triple number of co-working seats to 12,000 in Pune

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Co-working operator Awfis plans to expand aggressively in Pune by tripling its number of centres to 21 over the next one year driven by huge demand for shared office space in the city from startups and corporates, a top company official said.
Awfis, which was founded in April 2015, entered Pune market 18 months back and has established seven centres with a seating capacity of over 4000. Now, it has chalked out a plan to add 8,000 seats more by opening 14 new centres over next one year.

Overall, the company has 55 centres, comprising 25,000 seats, across nine cities. A seat costs anywhere between Rs 5,000 and Rs 15,000 in its centres.

It posted a revenue of Rs 57 crore last fiscal and the same is expected to reach Rs 170 crore this financial year.
“Pune has proved to be an ideal eco-system of startup entrepreneurs, SMEs and corporates, where Awfis is determined to continue its growth trajectory and provide best in class shared workspaces to facilitate businesses. We aim to open 14 new centres over the next one year, taking the total capacity to 21 centres and 12,000 seats in this city,” Awfis founder & CEO Amit Ramani told PTI.
“We have recently tied up for one centre in Pune with over 600 seating capacity,” he said, adding that the company would soon lease space for other centres.

Awfis has opened its workspaces across all key business centres in the city and is catering to clients such as Vodafone, Hinduja Group and Michelin Tyres.

The company aims to create a strong ecosystem for corporates, SMEs and startups to nurture the spirit of innovation and enterprise in the region.

Sumit Lakhani, Chief Marketing Officer, Awfis, said “Pune is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing cities in India and is seeing a lot of demand for superior workspaces by MNCs, SMEs and startups.”

Awfis currently has centres in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune and Chandigarh. In wants to expand operations in Tier II markets to achieve its target to establish over 200 centres with 1,00,000 plus seats by 2020.
The company had in July raised USD 20 million (about Rs 137.57 crore) from a few investors, including Sequoia India, for expanding its operations and could raise more if required. Since inception, the company has raised USD 51 million.

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Awfis to expand co-working space four-fold by 2020; to be profitable in FY19

28 September 2018

Awfis to expand co-working space four-fold by 2020; to be profitable in FY19

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

With rising demand of shared office space, co-working operator Awfis has chalked an aggressive plan to expand its business by four times to 200 centres comprising one lakh seats over the next three years.

The company had in July raised USD 20 million (about Rs 137.57 crore) from a few investors, including Sequoia India, for expanding its operations and could raise more if required, its founder and CEO Amit Ramani said.

Awfis, which was founded in April 2015, will become profitable at entity level from next month, while centres are already making money, he added.
“We currently have 55 centres in 9 cities, comprising about 25,000 seats with a member base of over 15,000,” he told PTI.

Its centres are in Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune and Chandigarh.
The target is to reach 100 centres and 42,000 seats in the next 10-12 months, Ramani said. “By 2020, we are targeting to reach 1,00,000 seats in about 200 centres,” he added.
Asked about the revenue, Ramani said the company achieved a topline of Rs 57 crore last fiscal and the same is expected to reach Rs 170 crore by end of this fiscal.

On further funding, he said the company has recently raised USD 20 million in series C funding from marquee investors Sequoia India and Innoven Capital as well as TTS:IO. Since inception, the company has raised USD 51 million.

“We have been successful in attracting institutional investors’ money,” Ramani said.
Besides cities where Awfis has presence, he said the company plans to enter tier II cities like Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Bhubaneshwar, Kochi and Indore.

“Our priority is to deepen the penetration in existing markets and enter new cities with focus on tier II locations. By 2020, we will have more than 50 centres each in Mumbai and Delhi-NCR,” he added.
With the growing demand for co-working spaces, Ramani said there is a focus on transforming under-utilised real estate assets and providing affordable work spaces for entrepreneurs.

Awfis provides co-working space in a price range of Rs 5,000-15,000 per seat.
Ramani said the company has developed a tailor-made mobile application that enables users to find, review, book work spaces in its centres on real time basis.

“We are now focusing on mobility solutions, like national pass, virtual office, Awfis roaming and bulk meeting room hours, that have been designed with the aim to enable professionals to work seamlessly from anywhere,” he added.

To read this article visit the below links:

Business Standard- https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/awfis-to-expand-co-working-space-four-fold-by-2020-to-be-profitable-in-fy19-118092800286_1.html

Times Of India- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/awfis-to-expand-co-working-space-four-fold-by-2020-to-be-profitable-in-fy19/articleshow/65990943.cms

Economic Times- https://realty.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/commercial/awfis-to-touch-rs-170-crore-revenue-by-mar-2019-ceo-amit-ramnani/65991493

MoneyControl- https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/awfis-to-expand-co-working-space-four-fold-by-2020-to-be-profitable-in-fy19-2995551.html

Outlook India- https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/awfis-to-expand-coworking-space-fourfold-by-2020-to-be-profitable-in-fy19/1392398

Co-working firm Awfis eyes aggressive expansion after fund infusion

27 August 2018

Co-working firm Awfis eyes aggressive expansion after fund infusion

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

The firm aims at its raising seat capacity to 40,000 in a year and it aims at foraying into six new cities including Chennai and Bhubaneshwar.

With a war chest of $20 million raised from Sequoia Capital and a family fund run by Yes Bank founder Rana Kapoor’s daughters, home-grown co-working operator Awfis is planning to expand aggressively in the next one year taking its total capacity to around 40,000 seats, 60 per cent more than its present level of 25,000.

The company, which eyes spreading its geographical footprint to 15 cities from the present nine, may also explore the possibility of going public in the next three years when it hopes to touch a turnover Rs 12 billion. The company’s revenue in FY18 stood at Rs 1.5 billion.

Currently, Awfis operates in 9 cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata, Noida and Gurugram, and is planning to enter into Chennai, Ahemdabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kochi and Bhubaneswar by March 2018.

“Our supply side acquisition cost is much lower than other players which give us the flexibility to grow faster than them. Currently, apart from the straight leasing of space, we are partnering with the landlords where we don’t have to incur any fixed cost,” said Amit Ramani, Founder & CEO of Awfis.

“With decent EBIDTA margin and a pedigree of profit for three years, IPO is definitely an option and we will certainly look at it as an opportunity in next 3-4 years,” he added. The co-working operator, which claims to be already operational profitable, is hopeful of posting an entity-level profit in October this year.
The country has seen a number of entrants in co-working space in recent years, including companies such as Regus, 91springboard, InstaOffice, Innov8 and CoWork India. Global shared workspace provider, WeWork which has a presence in 15 countries, has also started operating in India in a tie-up with Bengaluru-based real estate developer, Embassy Group.

According to a report by real estate consultancy firm Colliers International, co-working operators absorbed seven per cent of total office space transactions in the first half of this calendar year, which stood at 24 million square feet.

Apart from partnering with property owners, Awfis is also leasing space in malls to meet the growing requirement. It operates around 30,000 square feet office space in Ambience mall at Gurugram. It has also opened centres in Raghuleela and Heera Panna mall in Mumbai and Nucleus mall in Pune.

“80 per cent of our customer base comes from corporates and SMEs while the rest comes from startups,” Ramani said.

Established in 2015, Awfis has so far raised $50 million in venture funding in multiple rounds. In the last round raised in April this year, the co-working operator raised $20 million from its existing investors Sequoia Capital, The Three Sisters: Institutional Office (TTS:IO) led by Radha Kapoor, and Temasek Group company InnoVen Capital.
“With the current round of fund raising, we are sufficiently capitalised till March of next year. Post this period, we will take a call,” Ramani added.

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