DREAM FEAT – Co.Lab.Orate

This weeks featured entrepreneur is a group of guys of who started a co-working space in Hyderabad, which is also part community center. I spoke to the team behind the space, to learn more about their venture, Co.Lab.Orate.

DREAM:IN: First off, how many people started this wonderful idea?
Team Co.Lab.Orate: Our space was started by three co-founders as follows:
1. Vinay Peddinti – He is the administrator at Co.Lab.Orate. He holds a tech degree in Electronics from CVR College of Engineering, Hyderabad. An active Sociopreneur, Vinay is the founder and president of an NGO by the name, THE SOCIAL CAUSE. He has been active in the social entrepreneurship arena for 5 years now. Vinay loves traveling, EDM and socializing.

2. Anurag Parepally – He is the space evangelist at Co.Lab.Orate. He is a qualified civil engineer from SRM Institute of Science and Technology, Chennai. Anurag has grown up in several parts of India and is exposed to multi cultures. He is crazy about football and is an active itinerant.

3. Raghuveer Kovuru – He is the community animator at Co.Lab.Orate. He holds an MBA in International Finance from IMT, Dubai and is also a law grad from NALSAR, Hyderabad. Prior to this, he has an experience of 5 years as a finance consultant with the Big4s like Deloitte and PwC. He also runs his own event management firm called Freyja Creations, based out of Hyderabad. Raghu is an avid blogger, mentor, speaker, motivator and loves traveling.

DREAM:IN: How did you guys come up with the idea of creating a “co-working” space company?
Team Co.Lab.Orate: In the world of startups, success is supported by positivity, networking, perseverance and the much needed capital. Several wonderful startups lack the above attributes. Especially, capital places a crucial role in determining the fate of a company. In the era of high establishment costs, rising real estate, cut throat competition and lack of appropriate guidance, entrepreneurship is like entering the Padmavyuha. Discover the concept of co-working and you are better off in many ways!

We realized this problem early on and always wished for a place which would provide all the facilities required for a small time office but at really economical prices. Moreover, networking and interacting with people from various fields is really important for growing companies. There was nobody who could provide us the same. It was either executive spaces or shared offices. We felt that coworking spaces are very rare to be found around us and there was a need to plug the gap, hence Co.Lab.Orate, Hyderabad’s first community coworking space was born.

Coworking is a style of working that facilitates people from diverse backgrounds to work together usually in a common space. These people, also called coworkers, are not necessarily employed by a single organization. The group also comprises freelancers, travelers, startups and entrepreneurs. In coworking, people share values and are interested in the synergies that can happen from working with like-minded people in the same space.

DREAM:IN: That’s great. So what’s the timeline of Co.Lab.Orate? How did you first start? How did you acquire the space to rent out?
Team Co.Lab.Orate: It has been a month since we opened our space. We had to search around a lot to identify the right kind of informal and casual space that kept our coworker’s mind at ease. That was the major challenge. Once, the space was found, everything else didn’t take much time to setup! We started off all the basic facilities like Wi-Fi, coffee, desks, conference rooms with projectors and so on. Facilities were kept to the bare minimum with essentiality as a bar.

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DREAM:IN: Tell our readers, why they should rent out from you? What’s the benefit of having a co-working space?
Team Co.Lab.Orate: At Co.Lab.Orate, we do not sell space but rather we facilitate community! We are established on the values of openness, sustainability, collaboration and accessibility. There are and will be instances when we would not be able to accommodate too many people from one domain. For example, if there is already a set of people from IT in the space, we do not accept any more requests from the IT domain. The idea is to create a knowledge collective.

We are wildly different from shared offices, executive suites and plug and play offices as the latter have a very formal setup and force one to work in relative isolation. We have a very casual and informal environment at Co.Lab.Orate. We provide bare minimum facilities and do not focus on fancy interiors, air conditioning, cubicles etc. Rather, these unnecessary additions are replaced by a wonderful community, access to venture capitalists, meeting co-founders and the list is endless.

DREAM:IN: How much space do you have? At one time, how many people can be working in your space?
Team Co.Lab.Orate: We have a lively and active floor space of 2000sqft with spacious lounges, rooms, sit-outs, pantry and a smoking zone. Our threshold is 33 but at one time the number might vary between 15-22.

DREAM:IN: Who are some of the people that rented out some space? What type of work did they do? I’m sure you’ve seen some great projects happen being worked on in your space.
Team Co.Lab.Orate: Right now, we have startups in the fields of market research, finance, social entrepreneurship, event management, e-commerce and education management. We were very happy to be able to accommodate them in launching their products out of our space!

We not only celebrate their individual achievements but also the invisible synergies that these different startups achieve through networking and interaction.

DREAM:IN: What other things do you host, besides just a place to rent out and work?
Team Co.Lab.Orate: We organize regular events and workshops on a weekly basis. The idea is to keep the startup mechanism active and running. An event a year or on a half-yearly basis does little in keeping the system sharp and running. Hence, we organize events of all kinds like discussions, technical workshops, debates, food meets and so on. All the events are free and everyone is welcome to be part of them because of the varied nature. 

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DREAM:IN: Tell us your thoughts on ‘The Power of Community’ and why it’s important?
Team Co.Lab.Orate: The world needs more and more communities. A community with the right content is the way forward. The power of a community is underrated in Hyderabad. We are trying to change the attitude towards meaningful communities through our CAPS program. CAPS stands for ‘Community Animation Programs and Services’. A community is like a self-surviving organism. Being a part of community helps you in meeting like-minded people from different paths of life and letting them exchange ideas, collaborate and extend mutual help.

DREAM:IN: Can you expand on the the idea of the CAPS program?
Team Co.Lab.Orate: 
Community Animation Programs and Services (CAPS) is a collection of our in-house programs which aims at providing quality content to our coworkers. Coworkers can voluntarily enroll themselves in programs of a desired choice. It is a program designed with a mix of one-to-many, many-to-one and many-to-many interactive sessions. CAPS has been placed to promote interactions, interfacing and networking. We hold many sessions on business case studies, mentoring, VC interaction, funding, investments, organization structuring, open lunches etc.

DREAM:IN: Do you have any upcoming events scheduled? Anything we should look out for in the future?
Team Co.Lab.Orate: Firstly, we have a discussion session on the existence of extraterrestrial life as part of ‘Co.Lab.Orate Discussions’ series. Post that there’s an event lined up by Microsoft who’s conducting a training session for IT/ITeS startups for their AZURE platform and the month of November would end with a speaker coming down from Mumbai sharing his thoughts on why picking up entrepreneurship at an early stage in life is very important.

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DREAM:IN: Very cool events! How would you like to see “Co.Lab.Orate” grow in the next 5 years. Do you have any plans for expansion for more co-working centers?
Team Co.Lab.Orate: 
We are presently focused on the Hyderabad market. We definitely would love to move to other cities where we sense a bustle of entrepreneurial activity. Vizag is one city where there is lot of movement and we have it next on our minds.

DREAM:IN: If people would like to rent out a space, how can they do it?
Team Co.Lab.Orate:We are reachable on all the major social platforms. You can also just google us saying ‘Co.Lab.Orate’. There is no process involved and sign up is online and instantaneous.

DREAM:IN: And they can also check out your website at www.colaborate.in. And lastly, how we like to end each interview, we ask you guys what tips or advice do you have for other entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
Team Co.Lab.Orate: Persevere and chase your passion! Success, fame and money will naturally follow!

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