Building a Platform for startups to thrive

  • afcb643f2a3f336b82e906c6653eb5ca.jpg
Building a Platform for startups to thrive

Entrepreneurs are usually flying towards big dreams in a budget flight. They are juggling in between their business objectives and managing few resources they have to achieve them. According to Platform Inc., the average monthly cost of renting an office space in Kathmandu is NRs. 60,000. This figure is huge for startups and it is equally difficult to meet the monthly overheads when sustaining the business. 

Prasan Shrestha and Krishant Rana idealized a solution to this problem. It is called The Platform Inc.. The Platform Inc. is a co-working space that provides a cost-effective option for startups and freelancers to come together and work on their projects, or as they put it, “Focus on your business while we run your office.” While startups solve problems of everyone around them, here is how Platform set on their journey to solve one of the biggest problems faced by startups themselves. 

 

Co-working in Nepal 

Co-working is when different people from diverse backgrounds come together to share a common workspace while they work on their individual goals and objectives. It provides them an opportunity to connect and collaborate with people and ideas that are beyond their own. 

The concept of co-working has not fully developed in Nepal and is often mistaken for office space. Office is renting a space and opening up your own office because you are only dealing with people of your own company. You are sheltering yourself from other communities. 

Co-working was first introduced by Biruwa Ventures in Nepal around three years prior to Platform, but soon lost the essence of co-working. Prasan explained why, “In Nepal, people are not ready for collaboration and networking. People aren’t still ready to work without privacy. If you share idea with people here, they will probably steal it or open something similar the next day.”  

 

Building Platform to build a co-working culture

Both the founders of Platform Inc. spent most of their lives abroad and Platform Inc. came about as their option to understand the marketplace and the startup ecosystem of Nepal.

Prasan, who is an engineer, and Krishant, who is a designer, saw that the idea of co-working provided them an opportunity to not only remain focused in one industry in particular and meet different kind of people, but also learn problems faced by startups in Nepal and support them.

 

Re-building the team dynamics

During the process of building Platform, the co-founders split their ways for the best interest and fulfilment of the company’s vision. Both the co-founders have other commitments apart from Platform and the venture required at least one of them to focus on it. “For a company that’s just starting, where no one knows the name, no one knows about their work, it is important to lead the company and make sure you spread the brand as much as possible while maintaining and improving it. It’s a lot of work between two people, and when both of us couldn’t give 100% time, it made it harder. It wasn't personal. We wanted the best for the company, and it is not necessary if you are in it or not. We wanted to fulfil that vision,” recounted Prasan. Krishant decided to leave.

To take the vision of Platform forward, they have built a team of three. Prasan is the founder and Director. Kushal Bajracharya, who was an intern in Prasan’s other company, joined Platform as a Marketing Director and Priyanka Shakya is the new addition to the team who is currently handling events as well as general management. 

 

Building the co-working culture

Building Platform wasn’t enough to solve the problem, they also had to build the co-working culture. When they started, they didn’t have market data that would give them any insights of the effectiveness of the idea. But they were still confident that the idea will find its place among people. “When we received inquiries, we realised Nepalis don’t understand the concept of co-working,” said Prasan. “For a long time, 90% of our customers were foreigners. They are already well aware of this concept and it’s easy. It is hard to convince the Nepali startups and freelancers. They don’t have a sharing culture, they are sceptic about it. Sometimes the customer would bargain to get the space of one person and adjust five people in that because they could only see the value of a desk and ignore the opportunity of collaboration and networking, while at other times, they would ask them if they could build partitions on it and create a separate office inside the premises.”

They realised Platform would only be relevant to its customer if the customers were educated about it. They helped them assess the benefit of co-working by integrating it into their promotion strategy. “We breakdown both service and market to cater the need of our customers. We make it simple and personal. For example, we all are facing the issue of load shedding. We try to touch that feeling by saying that we will provide you electricity facility and you can focus on your work instead,” says Kushal. They also constantly take feedbacks from their customers and that has come handy to improve their operation. 

Moreover, they also organise events to reach out to more startups. ‘Train of Thought’ is one event where startups come together to share their experiences with each other. So far, they have conducted two rounds of the event and in both the rounds, startups that are less than a year old joined the event to share about their journey.  

 

Building sources of revenue stream 

Providing the co-working space only wasn’t the best way to keep the revenue intact. “Some months are slow when all the membership ends. It makes it hard to meet our operating cost. Even if one person is using the space, we must give them 100% service, and that’s hard,” says Prasan. They provide hot desk, a huge table shared by people from different backgrounds, personal desks and private rooms. Startups and freelancers can book the space for a day, week or month as per their plans, with no long term obligations to Platform. Moreover, events also feed their revenue stream. Similarly, as a part of providing all the necessary services to support startups, they provide a ‘Design menu’. It provides inexpensive design services for startups, from logos to catalogue designs. They are branching out their services, such as consulting services, company registration service and so on, which best serve the needs of startups. 

 

Final Words

Platform Inc. is building a support system for the startup ecosystem of Nepal. Today, they are taking care of our offices. Soon, they are growing to take care of our needs that don’t add much value to our big dreams and let us focus on what truly matters. 

 

 

Comments

  • No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

Leave your comment

Guest
Guest Tuesday, 11 May 2021