CO-WORKING SPACES AND STARTUPS

Yup, that's the LFW office!

Yup, that's the LFW office!

Co-working in India is a relatively new concept and many are unaware of it, but it is slowly and steadily making its mark. In places like Ahmadabad, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi, various co-working spaces have opened up, facilitating the freelance individuals and startups to grow with one another.

Co-working is more of a social movement than a business trend. The people who are a part of a co-working environment feel a sense of community and the concept of 'Grow and Let Grow' is very evident in such collaborations. This I tell from my personal experience of working at Lowfundwala Productions.

We share our  office space with two other  startup companies , Nightly Builds & Kreaserv. The first day I entered the office , I saw the company's 22 year old founder Kashyap Swaroop sitting on a bean bag conducting workshop with a young crew of production professionals on an upcoming shoot, while Arjun, CEO- Nightly Builds, trying to ascertain if staying over in office for two days straight was taking a toll on his scent. Coffee and games in the main office area, and cigarettes in the hot room, were the main accompaniments to conversations on topics ranging from innovative apps to ads that work. It wasn't all madness, though. The office was clearly segregated into three zones occupied by the three startups. From manufacturing the desks to decorating the office , everything was done by the founders. This was bootstrapping to a whole new level. The vibe of a co-working environment is constructively competitive & casual at the same time.

The key benefit of working in a shared space with other enterprising entrepreneurs is the constant, readily available sounding board to validate ideas. You could look at it as a support group of like-minded individuals.

Brainstorming across disciplines is commonplace in a shared space. And it's FREE!

Brothers from other startups: Ansh (LFW) and Saiprasad (Nightly Builds)

You need help with something that is outside of your skill set but you can't afford to hire someone? In a co-working environment, You can find someone around the office who could help you with it for a few hours. At a startup, working overtime for a lesser salary can be quite frustrating. "People are never fed up to work over time. They are frustrated if they put in lot of hard work into something that goes unappreciated. That is why we make it a point to appreciate every individual in our office." says  Arjun Jindam on keeping his force motivated despite the long working hours at a start up 

Why choose a co-working space over working from home? The best reason, perhaps, could be the fact that when working from an office space, there's a clear distinction between personal and professional lives. Working from home and staying up till 4 a.m. to get a project done can be disruptive to the household. Going to office with a mission of achieving goals can significantly improve productivity. Oprah Winfrey once said, “Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher.” In other words, if you want to be successful, you have to surround yourself with successful people. A communal office space is a formula for success because it’s filled with like-minded, entrepreneurial spirits like you! With the right people around to encourage, inspire, and motivate you, growing will come naturally. 

Having a shared office space can be great but, like anything else, it has its own drawbacks. "DISTRACTION! Someone is playing Xbox while you are tending to a client over the phone. Your company might be overdosed with work while the other might be absolutely free. At such times, you need to keep yourself focused and not get carried away." says Kashyap about the drawbacks of co - working. Working in a co-working space can be quite similar to living with your family. It is imperative  to adjust to other people's habits , quirks and styles.  Therefore, the most important activity to maintain harmonious co-habitation in office is to communicate and have a mutual understanding on what limits you can't cross. 

You need to claim your own workspace. If you are sharing an office , you should have  a small section in it which you can call your own. You need to adapt to other's work habits. A lot of people have trouble staying organized. If your co-worker is one of them , instead of criticizing him, help him organize his stuff. Take the extra mile by brewing a coffee pot for the entire office. They would love you for taking that effort. Give each other some privacy. If one of you is getting a private call , it's best to walk out of the office and talk than letting the whole office know about it. Sometimes it's okay, but if attending private calls in office becomes a regular habit for a colleague, you can politely tell them about how you find it disturbing and that they could attend it outside office. 

Although , sharing an office does have a few cons, the pros outweigh them by a mile. Low rent, community support , honest feedback, people to bounce your ideas, network into other industries...all of this can't be achieved by sitting at home alone working on an idea. Co-working spaces provide the exact environment needed for a startup to grow into something big.

P.S. - If you'd like to explore potential co-working spaces, check out Mycuteoffice. Our friend Abhishek Barari is onto something big with this one.

-Navneet Mishra

(Content intern, LFW)

 

Why your startup needs a video and how to make one on a budget

Note: This ready-reckoner is only for early-stage bootstrapped startups who can't afford professional services. Startups with marketing budgets should ideally let the experts handle the creatives and production for them.

Videos are the future of marketing. There is no doubt about it. Be it micro-videos (vines, instagram) or youtube videos, videos are the best way for a brand to connect with its audience. But because most startups in India are bootstrapped, it’s natural to expect them to have negligible to no budget for the same. While I’m an advocate of the adage “You get what you pay for”, I’m also a believer in the age-old practice of Jugaad, and in this spirit of Jugaad, allow me to highlight the value of a video for your startup and how you can make such a video yourself.

A still from our shoot for Commonfloor.com's product video

A still from our shoot for Commonfloor.com's product video

Why make a video?

  1. Videos are edible: Your audience will love you for even trying to make a video for them. Videos give you more paying customers, and many-a-times, watching a video is the final step your customer takes before deciding in your favour. Basically, video makes people want to buy more.
  2. Videos make your website SEO friendly: A video’s name, the tags and metadata associated with it and the video’s popularity all tell Google that your video is what the search query should direct to. Google already ranks videos higher in search results. Better SEO equals more site impressions equals more sales.
  3. Great for presentations: Videos are great for corporate presentations, VC pitches, employee training, etc. It helps make a great first impression with prospective partners/stakeholders. In a discussion with a fellow entrepreneur recently, he shared an anecdote from a meeting with a VC. My friend had shared an introductory email, explaining his business, with the VC. In return, he got a prompt reply from him. It read, and I paraphrase, “all that is fine…but can you show me a video about your business?”.
  4. Videos can be monetized, costs recovered: If your video is organically share-worthy, chances are that you can recover your costs through adsense with the right kind of marketing strategies. Believe me, it doesn’t take a genius to get people to watch your videos on a large scale; all it needs is an innovative concept, decent production quality and an aggressive/innovative marketing strategy. To give you an example, a part of our marketing strategy for a the Mumbai Tribute Film we made for Commonfloor.com was to tie up with Mumbai-centric blogs and FB pages. These blogs were more than willing to share our rich content about the city, and the viewers were a captive audience that loved it and shared it.
  5. Your competitors are doing it: All your competitors are probably considering video as a powerful tool to tell their brand stories. Early movers will capture the bigger sections of the market.
  6. Gauge true engagement: Videos, unlike text content and e-books, allow the uploader to gauge the viewer engagement to a more accurate degree. Besides the views, likes, shares, subscriptions and comments, which in themselves are great indicators of engagement, we have data that tells us which point in the video was most engaging, which point did most viewers stop at, which point did the viewers jump to, etc. Not only does this allow you to know whether or not your campaign has succeeded, but also to know WHY it has succeeded.
A still from our shoot for AIB's Nayak 2's Making shoot

A still from our shoot for AIB's Nayak 2's Making shoot

How to make a good promo video?

  1. Write a good script. Make sure you weave a story into it, have a smooth flow and a catchy call-to-action. Always ask your viewer to subscribe, like and share at the end of your video. Your script could either be a voiceover script to be narrated by someone, or an actual script with shots, scenes, dialogues, etc. Remember, a single page in a script roughly equals a minute’s footage. So write your script accordingly (Length matters)
  2. Cast your actors (if any), or if you’re shooting a product, make sure it’s packaged the way you’d like your viewer to see it. Ensure that your location looks neat, beautiful even (if possible).
  3. Buy/borrow/hire a DSLR camera (Canon 600D or better) with appropriate lenses. If there are dialogues on location, hire a collar mic (wireless lapel mic). These shouldn’t cost you a lot.
  4. Hire basic lights (watch a video about 3-point lighting here), or shoot in the daylight. Early mornings and evenings are the best times to shoot since light is even during these “golden” hours. What you need to look out for is whether your actors are lit such that there are no harsh shadows on their faces.
  5. Once you’ve got your footage, move onto editing. Moviemaker and iMovie are simple editing software options. If you’re feeling adventurous, try Adobe Premiere Pro. Monthly licenses are dirt cheap now. And the software is easy to learn. Takes a day or two for the basics.
  6. Add your voiceover to the sequence timeline. Here’s one place where you might have to shell out a few dollars to ensure quality. Visit your nearest dubbing studio (check justdial), find a good voiceover artist (or use someone you know with a good voice and voice modulation) and record the VO. If you want to cheap out even more, download an app such as “smart voice recorder” for your smartphone, go to a quiet room, get under a thick blanket if you must, and record your voiceover.
  7. Choose good fonts (sanserif fonts work really well), good transitions between shots, and good music from the youtube music library or audionautix.com. Export the video and you’re good to go.
  8. The most important thing is to have fun while you’re at it. Keep a small crew around, folks who’re genuinely excited to do this.

For animated explainer videos: 

Our explainer video for Option Three Consulting

Our explainer video for Option Three Consulting

  1. Explore tools like GoAnimate and Powtoons: These are free for the basic versions and allow you to make simple animated clips in no time. The only con here is that these videos are all over youtube and chances of your video getting lost in the crowd are high.
  2. Alternatively, put in a little extra effort and try stop-motion animation. This is more unconventional and your viewers will appreciate the effort to stand out from the crowd of thousands of startups that are using Powtoons.
  3. Follow steps 1, 6 and 7 listed above.
  4. In the case of animation clips, 160 words of voiceover roughly equals a minute’s animation. So write your script accordingly.

    It’s a great idea for early stage startups to create their first few videos in-house for a couple of reasons; not only does it allow you to do it your way, but also equips you with basic know-how of the process in case you plan on investing capital into having these videos made professionally in the future.


10 reasons why working with startups might be the best thing you’ll ever do

  1. Startups don’t judge you on what you wear to work, but they WILL judge you on what you say and more so on what you do. We learnt this while working on Directi’s animated video at Directiplex.
  2. There is no “awkward time” for making calls/ getting work done. They work 24×7. This is especially true of Instamojo, where almost every team member contributed towards the making of the video. They were very hands-on. 
  3. Entrepreneurs are expert analysts. They will observe your process and identify inefficiencies, throwing up essential constructive feedback almost spontaneously. We learnt this while working for Aakrit Vaish’s startup, Haptik’s promo video. 
  4. They are impulsive and value whacky ideas. They are risk-takers. In contrast, big businesses making their first videos prefer playing it safe.We created our crazy Shopclues viral ad over 10 days, from conceptualization to release.  
  5. They take out time to teach you a thing or two about what they do. In the nine months of video production, we’ve learnt about fonts and design at Instamojo, programming at Codechef, real-estate at Flat.to and languages at Vserv.mobi
  6. They know the value of time and money, not just theirs, but yours too. Payments are prompt, decisions are instinctively taken and there’s very little crying over spilt milk, if any. In short, entrepreneurs aren’t afraid to move fast and break things.
  7. They know that management jargon is overrated; they’ll talk to you in good ol’ English. 
  8. Your degrees won’t buy you any brownie points, forget about the CGPA. Not a single client so far has asked us about our degrees. They don’t even care if you’re not a graduate yet (we’re almost there) as long as you have a portfolio that speaks for you.  
  9. Entrepreneurs are a treasure trove of experiences. Every entrepreneur has a story. Just a meeting with an entrepreneur will leave you feeling a little bit richer. And if you need inspiration for their product/UX video, all you need to know is why they do what they do. That’s how we created our first video, the one for Flat.to. Gaurav Munjal still likes sharing that video with realtors, students, potential partners, family and friends.
  10. Entrepreneurs understand the value of goodwill and relationships. Having worked with both early-stage startups as well as big businesses, we’ve come to notice that entrepreneurs from the former make a more conscious effort to keep in touch and recommend you. We’ve even had one of our clients call us up on our co-founders’ birthday!