BENGALURU: Entrepreneur B Renuka Prasad's startup is based out of Hubballi, and the major operations are done from Bengaluru. Being 450 kms from the city, the entrepreneur's travel back and forth has been part of his daily routine. His startup, Havenow Food Tech Private Limited, looks at bringing back traditional food products in and around Karnataka. One of the main challenges that entrepreneurs like Prasad face is the expense they have to bear to stay in the city.
If it's routine visits, like with Prasad, people rent out a place, and the ones who don't have a specific travel schedule, check into a hotel room.
A lack of space for entrepreneurs has been a challenge, and has contributed to the growth of many hostels here, which allow startup ecosystems to thrive. As Prasad puts it, "When I started off, I took up a one-bedroom on rent in Jayanagar to carry out our operations. But that got expensive. That's when I found out about Aao Hostel, which is economical, centrally-located (Koramangala) and is convenient. It provides us with a space to work out of, while also helping you connect with other entrepreneurs."
Low-budget, adaptive spaces
Gyanendra Singh, an entrepreneur from Madhya Pradesh, handles two startups, and travels to the city often for meetings. Earlier, with each trip, he would spend around Rs 4,000 for a night at a hotel. But with hostels, he gets more than just a roof over his head for Rs 500 per night.
Though we hear of the dying startup culture often, there are a number of spaces that have mushroomed, which provide a conducive environment for a business to survive. Aao started off as a backpackers hostel with a 'community living space'. Aao, has been seeing a lot of entrepreneurs check-in.
Saurabh Jain, co-founder, Aao Hostel, says, "Startups are looking for a space for business meet-ups. They are low on budget, are adaptive and don't need luxury. We have people coming in from different places, who stay together and get to share a lot of ideas with each other. Some of these ideas have also led to the advent of new startups. We also provide a 15-20 per cent discount to those looking for work."
Cuckoo Hostel is another such space that holds sessions, provides opportunities and gives direction to budding entrepreneurs. Lekhaa Eswarraj, community manager of the hostel, says, "Everybody needs a platform to be heard and look for ways to boost their business. We put them in real-life situations by conducting mock sessions."
Individual growth through networking
More than providing a physical space, these hostel have activities and events that help the entrepreneurs get together and brainstorm. Shashi Kiran, founder of Construkt, says the hostel looks at connecting people from the startup community on a gobal-level. "It's more of a commune. We have joined forces with other such startups, and have set up spaces - two in Bengaluru, one in Bali and one in Singapore. Our dream is to build spaces across Asia and connect them through these events. We are also looking at a way in which these ecosystems come together, so we build a community together."
Lekhaa says, "We provide entrepreneurs with the right exposure to connect with others, and lot of them use this community for individual growth. Many of the artists here want recognition, so we organise several events and provide a platform that helps them build a community and network."
Similarly, Gyanenda, who frequently stays at Construkt Hostel, says the space is like a live ecosystem. "I have met a lot of founders and entrepreneurs like myself, and there also a lot of people who visit from outside India. It's helpful for first-timers like myself, who need to connect with people in the city."