Today's feature about Awesome CoWorking Spaces in India is about Pune-based, The Daftar. 

The Daftar is a shared workspace for start-ups, freelancers and independent professionals with an environment that inspires creativity & collaboration.

Here's an in-depth interview with Sunanda Verma, Co-Founder, The Daftar.

What is the one sentence pitch of The Daftar?

We are the most loved workspace for startups, freelancers and corporates with a well-knit community of members who continuously add value to each other’s professional and personal lives.

Tell us more about your team? And brief profiles of the founders. You can also send us your team/office culture photos.

Sunanda - Marketing & Branding Expert

Wears multiple hats at The DAFTAR - Marketing & Finance,

Super Organized, Loves Travelling, Reading, Meeting new people and is the grounded element at The DAFTAR. She would always give you a reality check on things.

She is the Calm & Composed, the more thoughtful one.

Vandita - Sales & Business Development Background

Takes care of Space Design and Events at The DAFTAR

Mother of two boys, loves travelling, Reading, exploring new opportunities, Jack of many Trades & Master of some. She is, let’s do this that and everything element and always needs a reality check.

She’s the energetic and enthusiastic one, can say Yes to everything.

Amit - Business Intelligence & Management

Takes care of Operations, Expansion & Funding.

Loves to cook, read, bike, drive, play multiple sports, travel and explore new places. What thrills him is the adrenaline pumping activities like Scuba Diving and Paragliding. He’s the one who’s amazing at crunching numbers, making business plans and at the same time has the capacity to mobilize all the resources from people to money to achieve the desired outcomes. 

Well, we call him the dependable one.

Abhishekh - Sales & Research

Participates in the strategy, planning, and all brainstorming.

Loves to travel, read, research on multiple subjects, deep dives into the things to come up with new opportunities and identify the trends. He’s the calmest and silent one - always available to bounce of any idea you have and when he comes to talking he asks just the right set of questions to help you get clarity on whatever you are working on. As he’s not involved in day to day operations, he brings in the unbiased third party view and suggestions to all the plans.

We all wear multiple hats and need to fill up for gaps in different departments when needed. We all are absolute opposite personalities types which bring in lots of different flavors on the table. We have different perspectives to literally everything which helps us understand, analyze & conclude better.

And the topic of how we such different personalities can go on forever :p:p, so will skip that this time.

How did you come up with the idea of Daftar?

It all started when Sunanda and Vandita were looking for an office for themselves and taking an office for two of them was not financially feasible. 

They also checked out a few coworking spaces and shared offices but none of them really appealed to them. Vandita had worked out of a few coworking spaces in US and what she liked about them was the fact that those workspaces were very vibrant and colourful which was completely missing here. 

So, the idea of setting a coworking space came up and this is how The DAFTAR came into existence and it’s been a great journey so far!!

What problem are you solving?

For Startups & Freelancers:

  • Inability or huge expenses of having an organized workspace
  • Mundane, cubicle set ups
  • Individuals/ Teams working in silos with limited resources
  • Limited work life balance
  • Time and energy spent on non-core activities

For Corporates:

  • Rigid agreements with the landlords with lock-ins
  • Capital Intensive set up
  • Limited flexibility to ramp up and down the teams
  • Time, energy and resources spent on non-core activities

We offer a great combination of inspiring and lively fully equipped space where you can focus on your core work and all the peripherals are taken care of. 

To add to it, the charm is the like-minded community where learning, sharing, and collaboration never ends.

What is the revenue model of Daftar?

We generate revenue by giving out the memberships for right from an hour to a year. A part of our revenue also comes from conference rooms, training rooms and offering event spaces

What is your competitive advantage?

Coworking has become a fad word these days. So, it is being used for all types of shared workspaces – whether it be a business centre, a serviced office space, a work cafe, or an incubator, therefore, leading to confusion amongst the masses. 

However, we believe that coworking spaces are a sustainable, profitable business model with the community at the heart of it. The Daftar is more than a workspace and infrastructure, it’s a strong knit community of more than 750 like-minded individuals coming from diverse backgrounds who not only work together but to network and collaborate with each other adding value to each other’s lives and work.

One spends almost one third of the life at a workplace and our idea is to make this time happy and fulfilling. We invest a lot of our time and thought process around how to create an amazing member experience at The DAFTAR. 

We constantly strive to make our members’ lives more meaningful, productive & balanced by giving them the best services possible, organizing different types of workshops & events, having strategic tie-ups and associations so that they get time to unwind, relax and get to know each other better.

How do you engage with your community (i.e. CoWorkers, Partners, Mentors, Employees etc.)?

The entire space is designed and run in the manner to promote the community. 

For coworkers, we conduct multiple events and activities to introduce them right when they join the space, to make them comfortable in the space and with the other members and then give them multiple platforms to interact, know each other better, network for business, share common interests and add value to each other’s professional and personal lives. 

All Hands, Brain-A-Thon and Happy Hour are a few of the signature events conducted at The Daftar. Apart from them, we host and conduct regular Expert Talks, Workshops, Seminars, Fire-side chats to help our community members to enhance their knowledge, skills and upgrade themselves continuously.

How do you minimize and/or manage the conflicts between CoWorkers?

We believe that it is imperative to have some basic house rules outlined for any social place to thrive and so we too have the same. Since there are multiple personality types coming from different backgrounds at one place, there is bound to be the conflict of habits, patterns, and interests which the do’s and don'ts of the place can help to neutralize. 

We not only make the rules and communicate them as a part of the induction but make them a part of the place, reiterate them from time to time and most importantly ensure that the cofounders and the team live by them on day to day basis to set the right trends.

Most importantly the sense of community makes that difference. Once a member knows the place and the member starts connecting to others and feels that it is his own place then everything starts falling into place automatically. 

So, the trick is to build the right like-minded community.

What are your growth plans for Daftar?

We are expanding, we are continuously becoming bigger & better. Very soon we will share the news of our two massive upcoming locations in Pune. 

This year we have plans of expanding to 2000 seats in Pune and then taking it to 5000 with expansions into other cities of India and abroad.

What sort of support and feedback are you looking from the community?

Though feedback is very important to stay on track and measure the output of our efforts, however, it is one of the most difficult things to get from our members and other stakeholders. We continuously strive to engage with our members and get regular feedback from them on the place, the operations and how we can we make them better through multiple platforms like weekly huddles, monthly feedback forms and frequent one to one interactions with them.

Also, like mentioned before, a community place cannot run and thrive without the support and cooperation of the members, so this is definitely what we need, right from running the operations, to participating in the events and activities that we conduct to being there with us through our thick and thin times.

You can ask any questions to The Daftar team in the comments section.
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