Smartworks is redefining the Indian corporate environment by combining design, ambience, hospitality and technology to create the best agile workspaces. As the only home-grown, and profitable, workspace provider, the two-and-a-half-year-old start-up is currently engaged in addressing a two-pronged, unmet need of providing cost-effective and hasslefree workspaces, while enhancing productivity through employee satisfaction—in keeping with its motto ‘Workspaces that work for you’. Meet Neetish Sarda, Smartworks’ visionary founder and leader.
Though India has been making rapid inroads into the global forum, its corporate environment has not kept pace with international standards, especially in terms of office design, the ambience, the infrastructure and amenities, and these have more often than not had a bearing on employee satisfaction and productivity. Also, most office spaces available tend to be either too large or expensive, or come with significant administrative issues that many firms would like to do without. Co-working spaces, where two or more businesses may share a facility, in contrast, not only provide an enviable corporate lifestyle, but also top-line technology solutions and a ‘wow’ factor that makes them extremely attractive propositions. Further, as a concept that was once pegged as solution providers for entrepreneurs, SMEs and freelancers, co-working spaces today have evolved into more than just an office to work out of. As an astute entrepreneur who has honed his business skills in the family real estate business and from a rewarding stint with Vision Comptech Integrators Ltd as Director of Business Development, Neetish Sarda saw business opportunity here, and with that his start-up, Smartworks, was born in 2016.
Ultimate workspace solutions
“Being a millennial, I had a front row seat to what was lacking in the current workspace segment and the specific asks of my generation,” says Sarda, who was keen to start something of his own and create his own legacy, rather than take helm of the family business. When he started out, he took inspiration from the way global giants like Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft and Facebook built and ran their offices, where human assets were as important as the real estate and other facilities within. What he observed was that the office environment in India didn’t seem to be productive and the people were not happy and energetic. A visit to his sister, Prerna Jhunjhunwala’s playschool (Little Paddington) in Singapore also served as an eye-opener, where he noticed children learning and developing their mental, social, physical and emotional capabilities, centred on activities and events. “I was amused to see how happy the children were and how they looked forward to coming to school, while enjoying the entire experience. I started to ask myself how to create a workspace that was productive and engaging and where people wanted to go, rather than feel compelled to go,” says Sarda.
I started to ask myself how to create a workspace that was productive and engaging and where people wanted to go, rather than feel compelled to go
Thus began his journey of conceptualising beautifully designed offices and state-of-the-art infrastructure, and two years hence, Smartworks is redefining the Indian office experience as the country’s largest provider of agile workspaces, catering to more than 500 organisations comprising large enterprises, SMEs and start-ups. Further, Smartworks’ ‘Smartweekenday’ programmes provide networking and collaboration opportunities through an array of events, ranging from pet therapy, indoor games and tournaments, stand-up comedy and others.
Understandably then, among Smartwork’s clients today are large corporate houses like Tata Communications, Microsoft, ArcelorMittal, Amazon, Carrier, Otis and Daikin, to name a few! It has a footprint of more than 2.1 million sq ft, spread across 22 centres in 9 leading cities in India as of now, including Delhi-NCR, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Pune. Part of the reason for these successes, of course, is the role played by cofounder Harsh Binani in setting the overall strategic roadmap for the company and also driving product development, customer experience, technology and marketing. Binani joined Smartworks in 2017.
Workspaces that work for you
In Smartwork’s endeavour to offer stateof-the-art workspaces, it has leveraged disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine Learning (ML) to take business houses to the next level. The company’s conviction in these technologies of tomorrow further shows in one of its latest innovations: a first-ofits-kind (she) human robot ‘Mitri’, who manages the entire visitor management system at every Smartworks facility/centre and greets visitors.
As a self-funded organisation, Smartworks has so far invested USD 20 million to establish itself and fuel growth and currently is weighing investment offers to scale up and take the business to the next level. Talking about the future, Sarda reveals his vision to continue to innovate and bring in newer and better designs, operations and amenities to ensure that it stays ahead of the curve. He is also bullish about growth and looks to extending Smartworks’ footprint to over 20 million sq ft in India and Asia (particularly ASEAN and South Asian countries) by 2022.