We’re exploring the rapidly developing world of Coworking India 2019, focusing on the innovation and excellence of the flexible workspace industry in India. With over 1.3 billion inhabitants and an entrepreneurial spirit, India is already at the forefront of the changing world of collaborative work. Cobot is highlighting some of these achievements and innovators as we prepare for CU Asia 2019; this year, we’ll be traveling to Goa to learn from coworking experts in Asia and around the world, to share what we learn with you.
We spoke with Sachin Sharma, the Manager of Communities at NUMA Bengaluru who has been in coworking for 2.5 years. He has worked with HackerEarth previously as the Campus Relations Manager and has a strong connection with the Universities of India. He has also worked with top MNCs.
NUMA Bengaluru is an innovation and learning Hub which aims at empowering mission-driven tech entrepreneurs to solve the global problems of 2030. Their synergic activities enable all types of entrepreneurs to collaborate in their spaces; including startups via multiple vertical acceleration programs (AI hub, energy, edutech, retail, food tech…); intrapreneurs from corporates and public institutions through design workshops; and innovators, freelancers, and knowmads via their flagship monthly events, community events, and of course coworking space.
Thanks for talking with us! Our first question: What responsibilities do you have as a Manager of Communities?
As the Manager of Communities at NUMA Bengaluru, my major responsibility is to keep the community strong and growing by understanding the needs of the individuals. There are a lot of things that matter and which build up to an actionable open-minded community. We organize community events (internal and external) keeping in mind the “Give-First” principle, NUMA Masterclass on innovation, tech and design trends in the Bengaluru ecosystem, NUMA Startup Window but also NUMA Social Night, NUMA Co-Lunch and different open and free curated workshops on different methodologies.
If we look at the responsibilities from a Coworking point of view, getting new people onboard and retaining the existing coworkers is very important so that we add value to the community by adding more like-minded people. We also keep engaging with the coworkers so that we keep them always motivated. I also watch over the place and make sure there are no operational glitches that would affect any processes.
How did you get involved in coworking and what does it mean to you?
I was working with Universities in India for nearly 2 years, I was handling the Community of Indian Developers and I really liked it. Therefore, I planned to move to NUMA as I would have to handle a much bigger community that goes beyond the space itself.. Moreover, my interest always lies in meeting new people, talking to them and maintaining actionable relations. Working with an innovation hub like NUMA and handling the Coworking space with the community was something I always wanted to do.
Can you tell us a bit about NUMA’s history in Bengaluru?
NUMA is an innovation and learning hub that operates worldwide. The story began in Paris in 2000. At this time, NUMA was known as Silicon Sentier, an association of more than 180 companies (start-ups, SMEs) active on the Web. The name “Silicon Sentier,” directly inspired by Silicon Valley, testifies to the will to create a strong French digital ecosystem.
In November 2013, the Silicon Sentier association regroups its various activities in one place, in the heart of the Sentier district, in Paris and officially takes the name of NUMA (contraction of NU-meric, equal to Digital in French, and hu-MA-in).
This evolution is accompanied by a desire for international development, especially in emerging countries. Currently, NUMA is located in 8 countries on 4 continents.
In 2015, NUMA Bengaluru was born, in partnership with the local Cobalt BLR coworking space (founded in 2013, one of the first coworking space in Bangalore). We have now 3 main activities:
- Accelerating and incubating startups.
- Supporting Corporates and public institutions: we just launched the DataCity program which aims at building innovative solutions to tackle the challenges of our cities, using data and technology, involving government, corporates and startups.
- Communities in our coworking space with hundreds of events on various topics related to tomorrow’s world.
How does NUMA engage with the local community?
What I would say is that throughout our three main activities we are all the time thriving to engage every part of our ecosystem:
- Focusing on our acceleration program, we are organizing many events to fuel and bond our community. It could be networking afterworks, discussions on specific themes, workshops, book launch…. For example, we are organizing a Startup Window this week on the following topic: AI for India Specific Challenges.
- For the Corporate Innovation Programs, we are engaging corporate teams by providing training and coaching to instill a “learning by doing” mindset.
- In general for all our different Communities, we also engage them via for example, NUMA Social, NUMA Co-Lunch, CEO breakfast, NUMA Movie Night, etc.
What do you think sets India apart from the rest of the world when it comes to coworking?
Before answering your question, I need to give you the figures. Indian innovation does not follow the classical European path: India is a country whose economy is growing by 7.7%. The size of its market is huge (1.2 billion inhabitants, 462 million have access to the internet and 80% of these users use their smartphone, against 20% in European countries or the USA), 22 official languages, the largest population of young people (574 million under 24).
Today in Bangalore, we have to deal with an increasing demand for renting collaborative spaces in our coworking space. Especially when we know that Bangalore, the city commonly known as the Indian Silicon Valley, now hosts more than 2,000 startups… We also have to deal with languages and cultural diversities that we cannot really find in the rest of the world.
What challenges do you see for Indian coworking and collaborative spaces in 2019? And what do you think the industry will look like in 5 years?
Our main challenge will be to still answer to entrepreneurs and innovators as best as we can, still listening to what they need and still be RELEVANT. We need to carefully keep listening and improving so as to see emerging trends and to be able to respond to the needs of our community in the best possible way.
Currently, we are attending an emerging and growing ecosystem. For example, 925 startups were funded in the year 2015. With this kind of current growth, I can only guarantee that the startup industry will be huge in 5 years. There would be new stakeholders to take into account.
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about coworking in India?
One of the biggest misconceptions is that “Coworking infrastructure in India is poorly developed.” This is far from being the case! To give you background, our NUMA coworking space is based in the middle of Church Street in Bengaluru. The street is pretty new and could compete with other major cities in term of architecture. Moreover, we have infrastructures which would make you want to work in our space!
Moreover, some people think that coworking spaces are distractive. They have this image of a very large space where lot of people are talking, laughing and not respecting the peace of each other. There are also all noises coming up from the outside, such as from roadworks or traffic jam which could distract our clients, especially in India. Which is, again, not the case. Coworking spaces are now designed to respect the peacefulness of workers. For instance, at NUMA we have both private rooms and shared rooms in our coworking spaces, so as to answer the best to our client’s needs.
Another misconception is based on the thought that every coworking spaces are the same. As a matter of fact, every coworking spaces are suggesting specific services to answer the fast-growing startups and entrepreneurs demand. The offer of coworking is diversified in order to attract clients. And I can assure you that our offer is totally different compared to the offer from the coworking space down on Church Street.
Thank you for sitting down to talk with us! Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I just want to add that at NUMA we strongly believe that a collaborative/coworking space is not about hipster interior design but about being a vibrant and actionable community of benevolent and innovative people.
How can people connect with NUMA online?
There are many ways to connect to NUMA online:
- Via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- To get in touch with the Community Manager @NUMA Bengaluru write to: email@example.com
- Through our Social Media profiles: LinkedIn, Facebook… Do not forget to follow us!
- Via our website: https://www.numa.co/bengaluru
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