Tell us about your startup and what it does? What specific issue or challenge it is trying to address?
Kowrk is a platform to connect users with coworking spaces, business centres and providers of shared work spaces.
For users, Kowrk simplifies the process of finding, comparing and booking a coworking space or shared office. Ordinarily, this is a long, arduous process involving searching the web to discover potential spaces, visiting several locations and negotiating terms with shortlisted providers. Evaluating the fit of a space with requirements and style is more difficult. Kowrk shortens and simplifies this process by providing a location-based search that lists all available spaces, their amenities, user reviews, photographs and indicative prices along with the ability to book or contact the provider. Thus we make finding a coworking space or shared office as simple as finding a hotel room.
For providers, Kowrk simplifies the process of leasing underutilized shared office space. Ordinarily, this long process involves marketing to attract potential users, responding to queries and visits by customers, and managing uneven demand. Kowrk’s multi-country presence results in increased awareness among a bigger customer base. Kowrk also gives providers the ability to differentiate listings by highlighting specific amenities and incorporate customer feedback collected and shared by Kowrk. Providers are able to manage demand patterns by being informed of customer’s bookings in advance and by being able to customize the time of availability of their space.
Tell us about the team/founders behind this? What is their background and experience?
Kowrk.com has been founded by Honey Jain Kathuria and supported by her life partner, Dr. Abhishek Kathuria. Together they have a combined work experience of 28+ years in management consulting and relevant industries, spread across 5 countries.
Honey’s experience of managing the offline business in the Asia-Pacific region for Hotels.com helped her recognize the future of coworking spaces and develop a deep insight into the nuances of connecting users and providers of perishable real-estate inventory. She leverages her 14 years of consulting and management experience gained across 5 countries and 3 continents to manage Kowrk. Her visits to 95+ coworking spaces in Asia and interactions with founders & managers of such spaces, have provided her an in-depth knowledge of the coworking industry.
Dr. Abhishek Kathuria, co-founder of Kowrk.com, is a consultant on business performance improvement, enterprise value creation, business and IT strategy to start-ups and medium & large sized firms in manufacturing and service sectors in the United States, China, India and the Middle East. He is an Assistant Professor of Innovation and Information Management at The University of Hong Kong, where he teaches technology entrepreneurship related courses to BBAs, MBAs and Executive MBAs. Abhishek provides strategic vision and guides innovation at Kowrk. He has conducted research on the coworking industry through surveys and interviews of coworking space founders and users.
Where is it located? Any branches?
Head quartered in Hong Kong, Kowrk also has an office in Mumbai. Of course, we work out of coworking spaces in both the cities.
In which year it was launched? What is the current team size? Tell us about the team in short.
Launched in Oct 2015, Kowrk is almost a year old.
We are currently a team of 5 with plans to hire 2 more people by the end of the year. Along with two founders, we have a Sales and Marketing person coordinating efforts across continents. A Growth Hacker who is managing digital footprint on social media channels. A Tech Ninja to manage and grow the tech side of the business. We are actively looking for an Expansion Hacker to manage suppliers and operations and a Hustler to facilitate multiple initiatives.
We are supported by external organizations for Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Marketing, Accounting & Legal Services.
What is your USP? How is your startup impacting lives in India?
Kowrk believe in shaping the future of work for people in today’s and tomorrow’s world. We are a thought leader in this emerging industry. We not only provide one of the most extensive list of options across many countries, we are also involved in building & supporting the startup ecosystem in these countries. We annually survey founders of coworking spaces to understand coworking industry from their perspectives. We have formed an interactive group for the CXO of coworking spaces, giving them a robust and ready networking opportunity to connect with each other and share common ideas. Our recent initiative is the launch of a suave contest – titled the ‘Koolest Kospace Contest’ to hunt for and crown the best shared office in the world. Its creating exciting buzz all over!
How has been the journey so far? How tough has been the competition?
Unpredictable is the best word to describe our journey so far. We failed in doing few things but succeed in others, we learnt from ours and other’s mistakes, we experienced lowest of the lows and the highest of the highs. But we survived and we continue to grow and prosper.
The competition is fierce in this industry. We were the first platform in Hong Kong and Singapore but that is no longer the case. In India we see new players come and go every day but few have survived. USA is a mature market and we are one of the new entrants and hence the rules of game are very different there.
What is your plan or strategy to sustain in the long run?
Continue doing what is working for us and not repeating what didn’t work. We plan to improve our supply even further, make our platform more customer friendly and shape up start community in all the markets.
Did you receive any funding or investment?
Kowrk was funded by the founders.
Did you receive any kind of awards or recognition? What has been your biggest achievement/success so far?
Kowrk’s founders and its growth story have been covered in national and international media across following platforms.