Robin Chhabra on designing a productive coworking space and the art and science behind it: in conversation with Ajay Poonia, Founder Talks
The constant spotlight on the changing working models of companies post-pandemic has stirred up conversations around business centres and the coworking space culture in the country. Flexible work options and fluid norms have given rise to the demand from companies for coworking spaces that offer custom made designs, ready to move in spaces for hosting events, meeting rooms with state of the art amenities and end-to-end support to help them work effortlessly and seamlessly.
Colliers International stated that flexible workspace operators would see tremendous growth in 2021 by leasing about 3 million square feet across the top six Indian cities. This affirmed CEO & Founder Dextrus Robin Chhabra’s belief in designing spaces that offer a #MoreWorking experience to professionals.
(Mentioned keyword “designing a productive coworking space” in first 100 words)
In a conversation with Ajay Poonia on Founder Talks, Robin delved deeper into the secrets of designing a productive coworking space and the art and science behind it. (keyword “designing a productive coworking space” is present after 100 words)
Excerpts from his interview are taken below.
On Starting Dextrus
“We started Dextrus officially in March 2018 with our centre in Bandra Kurla Complex right at the heart of the financial district in Mumbai. We started with one centre as we wanted to test our theories, USPs and target audience. The most important thing that mattered was bringing my design expertise to real estate. I wanted this to be the defining part of Dextrus.”
His research on the possibility of establishing a coworking space.
“We did a lot of research around the city as well as the country and I was fortunate enough to get a chance to go abroad to check out other coworking spaces in different countries in the US and Europe. This gave us a good understanding of the different models and the little nuances that made them unique. This period of research lasted for six to eight months and was very crucial from the design as well as business perspective. We were very keen on creating a premium grade, high level of infrastructure with services where people would love to come to work every day. We were really keen on working on the aspect where we would bring the learning of business and design together and create a beautiful synergy to define Dextrus ”
On the struggles of starting Dextrus
“It has been an interesting journey as we had to figure out a lot early on. We didn’t know how to negotiate. We wanted to keep the cost low but not compromise on quality- these were early challenges we had to overcome. However, we were fortunate to find the right kind of contractors and vendors whom we could trust. Figuring out day to day issues of running a company that no one talks about was a challenge for me with no background in running a business. However, it was fun and I thrived in such a challenging environment.”
On what makes Dextrus stand out from competitors
Design: Our architectural background helped us design a place that people don’t end up seeing everywhere. For us, design is about aesthetics, but it’s more than just the look of the space. In real estate, it’s everything. Therefore, we were careful about designing the space from the beginning in terms of quality and cost-effectiveness. For example, Something as simple as the walls were constructed very thoughtfully because walls, once put, cannot be moved easily, which means it is a permanent fixture.
- Flexibility: Our design was conceptualised to keep flexibility in mind and understand the different companies that will work here. With our
Lower Parel centre, we’ve taken customization and configuration to a whole new level to suit the needs of people.
- Quality of Service: We go the extra mile to help you and keep you happy. We want to offer more than what you bargained for.
On surviving COVID
“We worked mutually with our clients to figure out long term benefits for us and short term benefits for them during the challenging period. We had to create a win-win situation and manage solutions that would not increase our costs. Our Lower Parel Centre was delayed which stretched timelines, but we closed multiple deals after the second wave itself which made our team very optimistic and we now know that even if another wave or lockdown hits us, we will work together and sail through the storm.”
On future expansion
“We are considering expansion and we are very keen on leaping to the enterprise space, offering customized and tailor-made offices to suit client’s needs. We are hoping this offering of ours will work and the learning from this will decide our way forward. We have a lot of thoughts on design ingenuity and services offered to build a real estate business that holds value. We want to spread our presence to other cities but we are not rushing into this. There are a lot of avenues possible at the moment for expansion but which path and direction we would be going ahead with, is something we are keen to see unfolding.”
On giving advice to entrepreneurs beginning their journey
I think it is important to take a leap of faith. Seek advice from your loved ones and talk to your friends and mentors, keep your eyes open and have faith and courage, which will allow you to leap at the right moment. Sought advice from the people you love because they are the ones that will give you courage and motivation to go ahead. Have patience! Time is very important for us to learn and have things falling in place to work in the larger scheme of things.”
Watch the entire video of Robin Chhabra’s interview here.