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The startup ecosystem of the country is getting huge at a rapid rate. With a new startup coming in every day, one major concern that has come up is finding the right office space. One startup that is making an effort to solve this problem for all others is myHQ. It provides creative work space at their partnered cafes with customized/discounted menus and unlimited high speed internet. Founded in year 2016, the idea behind myHQ and the approach to it is perfectly in sync with the ways of gig-working. Currently present across 15+ locations in NCR, customers can work out of any of these spaces with a single myHQ pass. Given the many advantages that co-working spaces offer (cost-efficiency, employee motivation and retention, increased productivity), this segment is gradually moving into boom mode across India.
MyHQ is the brainchild of two IIT-Delhi graduates- Utkarsh Kawatra and Vinayak Agrawal. Prior to myHQ, Utkarsh was an investment analyst with Helion Ventures, where he evaluated B2C start ups for investments & was also involved in co-founding BloodConnect (bloodconnect.org), India’s largest youth-run initiative in the field of blood donation. Vinayak, the other co-founder, was working at Goldman Sachs before launching this venture. MyHQ, which is based out of Delhi, started with an idea of using technology to leverage unutilized or underutilized spaces in cafes and restaurants, retrofit them with fast Wi-Fi, a payments system, connection points and sometimes even comfortable seating. Coffee houses and cafes see a large volume of customers frequenting their spaces during peak hours but see low occupancy at other times. So, looking at the supply and demand sides, Utkarsh and Vinayak decided to venture into this space with myHQ, which is positioned as a ‘Starbucks meets co-working space’ offering. Their main target audience includes freelancers, college students and startups. Apart from providing access to a consistent work-cafe experience, the startup is also leveraging location and other data that the user can share to enable networking and community-based experiences.
A freelancer or working professional looking to find a temporary working space or a place to relax and eat can download myHQ’s Android or iOS app to find nearby myHQ spaces. Users need to sign up through Facebook or email to see relevant details like photos, amenities, and other facilities of a space. Then they have the option of reserving that space by opting for one of the available passes, which range from a one-day pass to a monthly pass. Opting for a pass entitles a customer to go to any of the spaces in myHq’s network. With cafes, myHQ works on a revenue-share model. Utkarsh said, “We ensure that the lighting and seating is optimal and comfortable, the music from the cafe or nearby establishments is not too loud, and that there is certain variety in the menu. We’ve found that a more diverse menu ensures people keep visiting and are not bored with the food.”
Community and collaboration is what makes myHQ successful. Since myHQ workspaces are present across the city and users might not always visit the same space, they can connect with each other via the app. On the app every user has a profile page with their details. It is possible to search for other users based on their names, skill sets and interests. While a lot of connections happen virtually via the app, myHQ team also organizes offline events to help grow the community. Many users use the app for professional help and discussions.
MyHQ follows a prepaid subscription model for revenue generation. There are three subscription plans to choose from – 1 visit with worth Rs 299, 5 visits with worth Rs 1499 and 25 visits with worth Rs 5499. The plans are based on the number of visits instead of being valid for a month/week.
The subscription fee that one pays is fully redeemable on Food & Beverages at the cafes – hence making the workspace rent-free. As a myHQ member, one can also get exclusive discounts at the cafes. MyHQ’s value proposition for cafes is that they can increase occupancy rates during odd hours and also ensure that their cafe is booked optimally. The constant crowd is also an assurance for potential customers that they can network and is more inviting than a relatively empty cafe. Some coffee shops on myHQ’s network also offer exclusive areas for customers to work without any disturbance.
#Growth and Future Plans
To evangelize the generation of start-ups and freelancers and upbeat their creative quotient, myHQ is building a chain of work-friendly spaces. Within a year of its inception, myHQ has developed its present across 15+ locations in NCR & is already supporting a 350+ vibrant community of freelancers, entrepreneurs and corporate professionals. The startup is looking forward to double the number of workspaces in Delhi-NCR by April end and then expand to other parts of the country over the next three months. Having myHQ spaces in multiple cities would be extremely useful for frequent travelers, who could benefit from a multi-city pass. To reach out to potential customers, myHQ has so far relied on word of mouth and also experimented with targeted marketing and advertising on Facebook and Google. The target is to have 100 HQs across the country catering to a vast market of freelancers, working professionals who need space for meeting and networking.