An idea that works

Updated: May 21, 2019, 07:38 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

Powai has transformed into a hub for co-working spaces, and we check out a homegrown one

The central work space
The central work space

Even around 10 years ago, the leafy suburb of Powai was largely a residential area. But then a combination of factors - such as Special Economic Zones being located there and easy connectivity to both the eastern and western suburbs - transformed the neighbourhood into the swanky business hub it is today. Be it banks, large multinationals or humble start-ups, it's the preferred destination for a variety of enterprises. Not just that, with the idea of co-working gaining currency in India, Powai, too, now has a host of spaces dedicated to the concept, one of which - Of10 - we check out on a sweltering Monday afternoon since, unlike some others, this one is a completely home-grown venture.

The open pantry
The open pantry

But the seeds for the vast space were first laid in New York. That's where co-founder Upahar Sood, who started the place with his brother Umang, was introduced to co-working offices in 2015 and was immediately sold to the concept. "I was amazed by the vibe and the energy of the place. There was also a lot of interaction between the people there, which isn't what you'd find in a regular corporate office," Sood tells us, adding that when he eventually returned to Mumbai with a plan to start something in the real estate space, opening a co-working site seemed like the best option.

The office is located on the ground floor of a massive, swanky industrial tower and there are around 30 people individually glued to their laptops or bouncing ideas off each other when we enter. The décor is slick and vibrant, with one wall covered with posters of the statue of David's face and bright colours streaming out of his eyes. Two meeting rooms lie in different corners and a compact "telephone booth" in another, while the far end of the space is set aside for an open pantry with black-and-white checkered tiles lining the floor. Opposite that, at the other end, Sood has started hosting events like plays and workshops where the audience sits on a long line of stepped benches set against a wall. And he adds that all the tables in the central section can be dismantled to create more room on occasions when larger gatherings are involved.

That, generally, is the idea behind Of10. Sood says that he is trying to help people rethink the way they work, especially in a city like Mumbai where professionals waste an unhealthy amount of time travelling to and from their offices. "Sometimes, though, people don't want to work from home either since their productivity decreases," he says, adding that he plans to open outlets in other places in the future, which - going by the seamless manner that the one in this business hub is functioning - shouldn't take too many more years.

OPEN: 24X7 AT Ground floor, Prudential Building, Central Avenue, Hiranandani Gardens, Powai.
CALL: 62215191
COST: Varies according to needs

The Guide Report Card
1) Some co-working spaces are sprawling. But Of10 has a limited scale, giving it a boutique feel.
2) The "telephone booth" is a bit too compact and would have been better if it had more space.
3) The fact that clients are encouraged to visit the place before payment structures are decided is a nice touch.

Similar places in Powai
Co-working spaces have taken off in Powai, and the fact that IIT Mumbai is located in the area also helps matters. Some other offices similar to of10 that have opened up in recent years include Awfis, 603, Vatika, We Work and CoWorks. Together, they are changing the way working people operate in the suburb.

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