Interview: Devendra Agarwal, Co-founder, InstaOffice, one of India’s fastest growing network of Coworking spaces and Business Centres


InstaOffice is one of India’s fastest growing network of Coworking spaces and Business Centres. Launched by Devendra Agarwal along with co-founder Vikas Lakhani, InstaOffice is funded by marquee investors including Globevestor, Zishan Hayaath, Mohit Satyanand, and Abhijeet Pai, among others. Currently operational in Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, Bangalore and Gandhinagar (GIFT City), InstaOffice provide custom made workspace solutions, enabling its users to outsource their entire workspace needs and focus on their core activities.

Devendra Agarwal, Co-founder, InstaOffice completed his Btech from IIT- Bombay. Thereafter, he worked in senior leadership roles and high growth environments in companies such as Resonance, where he served as the Chief Finance Officer, and later on, he launched Dexter Capital, a boutique Investment Bank, along with his wife, Anuradha Agarwal.

“Coworking spaces are rising, especially in the Asia Pacific region, and people are shifting their mindset from the traditional uses of an office space. There is a change in the perspective of landlords as well in regard to the end use and leasing of their space. This means there is an upcoming and an inevitable change, that is full of growth opportunities for the coworking sector.”- Devendra Agarwal, Co-founder, InstaOffice

In an exclusive email interaction with The Motiverge; Devendra Agarwal, Co-founder, InstaOffice tells more about the venture, journey so far, and future plans.

Excerpts:

The Motiverge: Tell us more about InstaOffice.

Devendra Agarwal: InstaOffice is one of the fastest-growing chain of co-working spaces providing end-to-end office solutions across the country. InstaOffice began its journey in February 2016 with its first business centre in Gurgaon. Since then, it has expanded to 9 centres across Delhi, Gurgaon, Bangalore, and Gandhinagar, and 5 more to be launched in the next couple of months across Noida, Delhi, Gurgaon and Bangalore.

InstaOffice has been disrupting the commercial real estate sector by establishing partnerships with the property owners, landlords, and commercial real estate investors & developers, helping them monetize their spaces and earn higher rentals for their properties and spaces.

InstaOffice

The Motiverge: What was the biggest turning point in your life that changed your mind to become an entrepreneur?

Devendra Agarwal: I come from a business family. Before I got into IIT, I use to work with my father at his small cloth shop in our village in Rajasthan. This is probably the reason that the itch of starting on my own was always there within me. In fact, I started off my journey of being an entrepreneur even before InstaOffice. In 2007-08, I started a foods business in Gurgaon with the name Homes Taste Food Solutions Pvt. Ltd. along with one of my cousins Sumit Agarwal, and later in 2013, I launched Dexter Capital, an investment bank, along with my wife, Anuradha Agarwal. Anuradha is also an entrepreneur and is the founder of MultiBhashi.

My InstaOffice journey began due to my association with Vikas Lakhani (my Co-Founder at InstaOffice) who is also a very close friend. Vikas was already doing something like this and we would constantly brainstorm on how this model could be scaled across multiple cities. In 2015, we decided to join hands and kicked-off our journey with InstaOffice.

(L to R) Vikas Lakhani and Devendra Agarwal, Co-founders, InstaOffice

The Motiverge: What motivated you all to launch InstaOffice?

Devendra Agarwal: Well, as a 1st generation entrepreneur, I tried getting an office space for Dexter Capital in business centres multiple times from then solutions existing at the time, but came to realize that either the charges were prohibiting, or there were too many restrictions and lock-ins in the arrangement. It was a big pain point and that is when I started brainstorming with Vikas, and the idea of starting a chain of co-working spaces really shaped up.

The Motiverge: How has been the journey so far in terms of resources, challenges faced, market response, etc?

Devendra Agarwal: The InstaOffice model is quite unique. We come purely as an operator and partner with a landlord where the landlord furnishes the space as per InstaOffice standards and we get on a revenue share arrangement.

This was an extremely challenging proposition to sell in the beginning. I vividly remember moving from Jaipur to Delhi on 2nd Dec 2015 and meeting over 100 landlords in Gurgaon over the next couple of months, trying to sell our vision and our proposition. Vikas and I faced a lot of rejection before we found a few landlords who were ready to hear us out with a reasonable degree of seriousness.

We are going to be eternally grateful to our first two landlords Mr. Madhukar Khosla whose space is in Nirvana Courtyard and Mr. Govind Rajan Ji whose space is in IRIS Tech Park, both being used as InstaOffice Business Centres today. We take extreme pride in our partnerships with more than 15 landlords and quite marquee names. Today, we get a favourable response when we meet a new landlord for a potential partnership.

The Motiverge: How big is your team?

Devendra Agarwal: We are a team of 50 members across 4 locations. InstaOffice has a team of professionals who not only hold an expertise in their field but have the zeal and the determination to be extraordinary, and make things happen, consistently!

The team at InstaOffice

The Motiverge: Who are major competitors of InstaOffice in India as well as globally? What makes you different from your competition?

Devendra Agarwal: Our major competitors in the coworking industry are global players like WeWork, Regus, Avanta, and Executive Centre, as well as local players like Vatika, Smartworks, Ikeva, 91Springboard, and innov8.

What makes InstaOffice stand out of the crowd is the quality we are able to provide to our customers at extremely competitive prices. We do not just offer a beautiful space to work out from. We provide comfort, convenience, and an energy that encourages and inspires productivity and success. Our crowning jewel is the vibrant community experience that we provide to our members.

Our aim at InstaOffice is to give our members convenience and a happy office experience!

The Motiverge: What are the business opportunities in your sector, especially in the APAC region?

Devendra Agarwal: The Coworking sector is growing and the competition is intensifying at a rapid pace with more centres and larger spaces coming up at premium locations. The key to a successful coworking business is providing the users with a healthy community experience and facilitating networking, collaboration, and learning opportunities within the space.  All upcoming coworking companies are realizing the importance of these factors and are creating spaces that can provide their end-users with what they expect from a coworking experience.

Coworking spaces are rising, especially in the Asia Pacific region, and people are shifting their mindset from the traditional uses of an office space. There is a change in the perspective of landlords as well in regard to the end use and leasing of their space. This means there is an upcoming and an inevitable change, that is full of growth opportunities for the coworking sector.

Meeting Room | InstaOffice

The Motiverge: Have you raised funds so far? Where do you see InstaOffice in coming 3 to 5 years?

Devendra Agarwal: Considering that we are extremely capital light (Zero Capex, Zero Deposit & Break-even in 2nd month), we don’t feel the need to have a large capital like some of our peer group. However, we have been fortunate to receive the backing of marquee institutional, angel investors and successful entrepreneurs like Globevestor, Zishaan Hayath, Brijesh Agarwal, Abhijeet Pai, Sorabh Agarwal etc.

The Motiverge: What keeps you going? How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?

Devendra Agarwal: Our vision is to scale the business to a level where anyone looking for an office space first thinks of InstaOffice. We want to scale InstaOffice to all key commercial hubs across the country through a landlord partnership model.

As an entrepreneur, you tend to lose out on a work-life balance. However, I have been fortunate to work with an amazing team that does a fantastic job at ensuring that Vikas and I don’t have to worry about the mundane things. There are times when things fall out of place, but we have found an amazing support system in our families who ensure that we focus on our work as much as, and whenever we need to.

The Motiverge: What are your messages for aspiring entrepreneurs/young generation?

Devendra Agarwal: Figure out where your heart is and chase your passion! Do ensure that the problem you are trying to solve is of value and significance, and you have at least one co-founder to support you. Entrepreneurship then, will be one hell of a ride which you will absolutely and thoroughly enjoy.


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