As the startup ecosystem in India saw rapid growth over the past decade, so did real estate prices. This resulted in most startups and aspiring entrepreneurs finding it difficult to find an affordable office space to work out of and grow their ideas, especially in cities such as Mumbai and Bengaluru.
Then came co-working spaces. Offering flexible workstations at lower prices, the co-working spaces industry also saw a rapid growth in India. In fact, a CII-JLL report states that by 2020, co-working spaces in India will not only double, but will overtake the traditional office format.
But what about freelancers, or individuals who may want a seat just for a few hours, or an on-the-go space to work out of? This gap is what Shyam Sundar identified and decided to fill by reinventing the existing co-working culture in India.
Cafes usually are the place of choice for such meetings and working space requirements. But more often than not, it ends up becoming expensive due to the obligation of ordering something at the café.
“The current workspace choices from co-working space providers or business centers are broken for the ‘on-the-go’ workforce segment comprising of startups, freelancers, independent professionals, and sales teams,” Shyam says, who along with Srivatsan Padmanabhan co-founded GoFloaters, an on-demand, pay-as-you-use service for working spaces.
How it works
GoFloaters ties up with cafes, restaurants, hotels and underutilised office spaces, making it available for others to use on a shared economy basis starting from as low as Rs 25 per hour. And at any of the spaces, there is no obligation of choosing any other service such as ordering food at the cafés. The gamut of offerings ranges from coworking cafés and lounges to shared offices, meeting rooms and event spaces.
Users can find spaces on the GoFloaters app. A user can select a workspace on the app, after which the business owner confirms its availability. Once the confirmation is received, the user needs to make a payment for the space and go use it.
While the pricing for café spaces in standard across all cities at Rs 25 an hour, The conference, meeting rooms are priced from anywhere between Rs 150 to Rs 1000 an hour depending on the capacity, amenities, locality, etc.
When a user books the space, the amount is paid to GoFloaters, who then settle it with its spaces on a revenue sharing basis.
“We are bringing to fruition two new paradigm shifts. One, we help cafés and restaurants to monetise space and time as against just the food. Two, we are making use of underutilized spaces in offices and making it available for others to use on a shared economy model. GoFloaters philosophy is to create sustainable on-demand workspace eco-system for the consumer (workforce), occupier and asset owners. This is possible by addressing the effective utilisation of existing real estate spaces leading to 100% occupancy instead of lean period loss, leading to an increase in the regular income and collaborative yields of all the stakeholders in addition to the average user saving up to 40% on office rental costs by using GoFloaters spaces,” Shyam says.
GoFloaters founders Srivatsan and Shyam
GoFloaters claims that this results in effective utilisation of real estate spaces, increasing their occupancy and hence their regular income.
The target audience for GoFloaters is remote workers, freelancers, digital nomads, independent professionals, consultants, artists and creative folk, travelling sales people, and most importantly women workforce.
“While traditional co-working spaces cater to tech startups and mostly medium size companies, we aim to serve freelance population. We want to be equally viable and flexible for companies and creative people,” Shyam adds.
“Hundreds of startups, freelancers, and independent professionals are on our platform and many of them are active/daily users. We are extremely excited to be able to help women get into freelancing to pursue their professional aspirations. We also are helping early stage startups avoid a fixed cost every month and also from locking their working capital in security deposits,” Srivatsan adds.
And to add value to its workspaces, GoFloaters also offers a wide range of knowledge sharing sessions based on the latest technologies in areas like Blockchain, Design Thinking, AI and Machine Learning, and Augmented Reality, catering to its independent clientele. It also offers early stage startup teams an opportunity to talk about their business plan and seek feedback from co-work audiences and other by-invite guests and mates. Apart from this, there are also collaboration efforts to bridge the gap between demand and supply of skilled freelancers in startups, among others.
Currently, GoFloaters has over 120 spaces across Chennai, Bengaluru, and Coimbatore and most recently, Hyderabad. Its plan is to now expand operations across India by the end of 2019.
“Our vision is to be the incubator for freelancers and help build a strong ecosystem to support the ‘tribe of freelancers’ in India,” Shyam says.