Business Wisdom

The Sportsperson cannot be bigger than the game! Malaika Fernandes on Entrepreneurship, Start-ups and Co-working space

Ramdas Shenoy in conversation with Malaika, on how Entrepreneurs need to accept responsibility for their actions, which they cannot push to their team members.

Your journey in the start-up ecosystem (direct and indirect)?

A desire to always be at the core of an organisation, an insane craving to be amidst the buzz of strategy and enticed by the cross functional collaborative activity of teams, I’ve completed over 18 years with start-ups.

I’ve donned varied hats in diverse functions all through this journey- starting off as a fresh graduate with a newly launched e-Procurement company (the dot com era) to build a customer centric team assisting Fortune 500 companies, making a crucial contribution in the turnaround of a sick business unit into a revenue generating unit. Moved on as an HR Head spearheading training and team building with a young Public Relations organisation, moved next into the role of a creative content Project Consultant for a Health app start-up that was looking to create their first branding campaign, experimented as an entrepreneur running a Fashion start-up and then moved forward as a growth hacker for a Co-working space that needed to be revived and turned profitable. Working with start-ups gave me the flexibility to explore my skills and hone my strengths. It gave me an opportunity to self-learn and self-motivate. I was able to open my mind easily to new ideas and thoughts while building a network of like-minded people.

How do you see the co-working space domain and what are the challenges?

The Co-Working business is a pretty nascent one in India (being less than a decade old) and a certainly a difficult one to crack since realty prices in Mumbai are one of the highest in the world. With larger players coming in however, there was an upbeat mood within the industry and things were looking optimistic until last year when Covid hit. However, I believe that post Covid, with more people opting for Work from Nearby, Co-working as an industry will find its rightful place in the sun. It’s already visible in smaller spaces transforming into work hubs.

The Playce, is one of Mumbai’s first Co-Working spaces. At The Playce, we looked at the business as more than just renting of real estate in the form of desks and cabins. As CEO, the core focus during my tenure was to build a sense of community amongst members, offer valuable support to people’s businesses and build trust and advocacy for growth. Newer revenue streams like events and virtual office services were created keeping in mind the pulse of the community around.

Having hosted more than 100 businesses since its inception, what separated us from our competitors was a consultative approach to a customer’s needs rather than selling available inventory. Our Google reviews and client testimonials validate our Customer First approach.

What has the pandemic taught you?

Professionally and personally, the key lessons I’ve learned are to keep costs low and financial liabilities minimal, focus on wellbeing of self and those around you and always always be open to new possibilities. As a business, it’s all about creating real value for your customers and gathering as much goodwill in the good times. This sustains you through rough patches.

What is the difference between old school and the start-up entrepreneurs?

From what I’ve experienced, patience and consistency is a thumb rule in entrepreneurship for all seasons. Earlier, entrepreneurs were looking to build organisations with ‘people’ being at the heart of it. They were focussed on building teams with trust and loyalty for longevity. It was a slow and nurtured process of growth. New business is probably looking at quickly building and scaling ideas and are focussed on valuations. New entrepreneurs are not necessarily attached to their ideas. They like to build, sell and move to the next idea. They are more driven by the employing of newer technology and speed of scaling up.

Your idol and what does entrepreneurship mean to you?

One thing that I heard recently from a ‘Simon Sinek’ interview had a deep impact on me and probably how all entrepreneurs should look at business. He said “Businesses are Human Enterprises”. Entrepreneurs have an opportunity to shape humans for a better world. They have leverage to build values, ethics and conversations around important topics through a single platform. I don’t have a specific idol in business but I am certainly a huge fan of Roger Federer. I’ve have been an athlete in my school and college life and therefore draw a lot of inspiration from sport. He exemplifies consistency and has been doing that for almost two decades. Despite his success, he has never portrayed himself to be greater than the game rather been a true Brand Ambassador for the sport. He just sticks to his craft and continues to get better at the sport and more gracious as a human being. That is in my opinion is an entrepreneur mindset.

Entrepreneurship is a feeling and a mindset. Entrepreneurship to me means taking risks to see things differently, accepting responsibility for your actions, adding value to offerings and always being aware of costs and gains. I’ve never seen myself as an employee ever since my first job. I work ‘with’ people and not ‘for’ anyone. Using these principles, I believe, you can approach everything you do in life like an entrepreneur.

#Startup #Coworking Space #SimonSinek #RogerFederer #entrepreneurs #InspiredLearning

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About Ramdas Shenoyy

Ramdas Shenoyy is a senior marketing and communications professional with over two decades of working across industries and domains.
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