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.

Create healthy work environment with creative workspace

18 February 2019

Create healthy work environment with creative workspace

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

A healthy work environment through a blend of active urban setting as well as a stress-free ecosystem with sustainable measures can go a long way in improving employees’ productivity, say experts of workspace design.
Praveen Rawal, Managing Director of Steelcase, Southeast Asia and India, Shaishav Dharia, Regional CEO, Lodha Group and Amit Ramani, Founder and CEO of Awfis, share a list of tips:

* Creativity enhanced by technology: We’ve reached an era of peak screen time. Right now, screen time limits our impact with the physical environment, but that’s changing. Help is coming from our workplace and technology. Our spaces will become less about passively consuming what’s on our screens and more about how we interact with technology and tools.Incorporate technology to design and create an environment which will enable colleagues to work freely in-turn enhancing productivity.

* Design by data: Data has entered the work environment, adding significant value to the conversation between designers and customers. Does everyone need their own workstation or private office? Or would more private enclaves and collaboration spaces better serve the team? Sensors in the workplace can help organisations learn how often people are at their desks and what kinds of spaces will best support their people.

* The digital effect: Combining aesthetics with algorithms, multiple traditional offices and co-working spaces are infusing technology and digital tools to facilitate a conducive environment, ease in day-to-day functioning for businesses and employees as well. From smart access, smart spaces to smart meeting rooms, making use of a dedicated one app solution for a range of tasks such as QR-based visitor management, booking a conference room etc. to enabling parking allotments based on an organised number plate system through smart cameras, further aid in streamlining experiences in office spaces.

* Celebrate communities: Designers are explorers searching for inspiration in buildings being renovated into more creative workplaces. By connecting new work culture in a meaningful way to the collective identity of the location, community and brand, designers are creating authenticity in the workplace in the world. Additionally, to foster innovation and community building, office spaces are enabling collaboration through multi-use grand lobbies with activity-based settings to encourage networking, informal meeting zones etc. Such amenities also culminate in creating authenticity in the workplace and boost productivity as well.

* Biophilia 2.0: The innate desire to connect and bond with nature is experiencing a resurgence because of the balance we need from our digital world and the benefit nature’s restorative qualities provide our wellbeing. Synergising elements like embedded greens, infusing revitalising exterior elements, complying with sustainable standards and ensuring use of material and colours that offer calm and comfort, are majorly attracting the millennial workforce.

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This article was also published in the below online publications:

The New Indian Express – http://www.newindianexpress.com/lifestyle/health/2019/feb/18/here-is-how-you-can-create-healthy-work-environment-with-a-creative-workspace-1940039.html

The Morung Express – http://morungexpress.com/create-healthy-work-environment-with-creative-workspace/

Socialnews.xyz – https://www.socialnews.xyz/2019/02/17/create-healthy-work-environment-with-creative-workspace/

Newsd – https://newsd.in/create-healthy-work-environment-with-creative-workspace/

Devdiscourse – https://www.devdiscourse.com/article/entertainment/385301-healthy-work-environment-enhances-employee-productivity-experts

Outlook India – https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/create-healthy-work-environment-with-creative-workspace/1480450

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.

To read this article visit the below links:

Times Of India:


Business Standard


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