Monika Misra co-founded iKeva, an ecosystem where businesses and like-minded people can thrive and evolve alongside each other.
Monika goes on to explain that iKeva’s business is not just about providing a space for customers to work in, but about building an environment that helps members grow
Several businesses and entrepreneurs struggle to find affordable office spaces or manage existing office spaces well. Many start-ups also need a place where they can operate without distractions. These pain points led to the birth of iKeva, a premium hyperlocal, flexi leasing co-working space that brings like-minded professionals together to build and grow through each other’s networks.
“The way people use office spaces/commercial real estate is changing and co-working will be the way forward. From single digits, in terms of real estate space occupied by co-working spaces today in India, it will reach to 25 to 30 per cent in the next two to three years, and 30 to 35 per cent of the work force in India will work out of co-working spaces,” says Monika Misra, co-founder, iKeva.
iKeva clients range from freelancers to small start-ups to multinational corporations. “We have six centers in five cities, over 250 companies and more than 4,000 members,” she says.
Monika goes on to explain that iKeva’s business is not just about providing a space for customers to work in, but about building an environment that helps members grow. “The understanding was to provide a complete ecosystem of lawyers, accountants, marketing consultants, etc.” she says.
Founded in 2013, iKeva has been catering to a large heterogeneous mix of clients. “We have received angel funding and my family has been extremely supportive of me, considering that most of an entrepreneur’s life is dedicated to his/her venture, adds Monika, who believes that no one is born an entrepreneur.
In fact, she too was born into a middle-class family and didn’t have much exposure to the culture of business. “There are entrepreneurs in various spheres of lives. From shopkeepers to salon owners to the small chai wala; everyone is an entrepreneur in their own right,” propounds Monika.
Brought up in Visakhapatnam, this businesswoman comes from a family where her parents have always urged her and her sister to be independent and to think on their own. “That early sense of independence was key to my entrepreneurial spirit,” says Monika, who did her bachelors in hospitality and tourism management from the University of Huddersfield (UK).
After completing the course, she gained hands-on experience in the fields of hospitality, tourism as well as sales. “I have more than 15 years of experience in hospitality and the real estate industry. I am passionate about brand building and sales. All these helped me to gauge the tricks of the trade from an early stage,” says Monika.
Interestingly, during her stint in the real estate sector, she had witnessed the constant need of productive and affordable spaces for small teams. “The biggest pain point for teams that are growing or starting up is the cost of real estate (typical rental office spaces), operational costs as well as maintaining the basic housekeeping of facilities. Back in 2012, the problems were persistent and there was really no clear solution for young enterprises. I met our co-founder, Sateesh Andra, when he was scouting for productive spaces for his fund. It was his advice that led me to explore the market and talk to potential clients such as SMEs and understand the space,” says Monika.
Talking about iKeva’s challenges, Monika shares, “Expanding to six centres across five cities was the major challenge. We always have to replicate processes and ensure that we deliver a consistent experience to members with a lean team.”
From iKeva’s story, it is clear that co-working is the next big thing to happen in real estate. And inevitably, since every business needs office space, every business will look at utilising co-working spaces.
The passionate entrepreneur in Monika concludes by sharing some inspiring words. “I think entrepreneurship is for everyone and it depends on how resourceful you are in bringing your vision to fruition and you must have it in you to embrace failure and thrive despite it,” she says.
Our premium locale in each of the city that we operate; our community of members who work together and collaborate across domains to help each other in various projects. Currently, we have six hyperlocal centres operating in five cities.
Our first client was an American company looking to set up a branch in India. They chose us due to our premium workspace environment and professional set-up.
To grow a business, one must continuously look at unit metrics as one expands so that one returns value to shareholders.
In the initial days, I used to get bogged down by failures. Over the years, I’ve grown to accept that failures are a part of any entrepreneurial journey.
On being a businesswoman
You can’t share your fears with your team and investors. So, I feel lucky to have a partner who understands and supports me.
I love to dance and travel. I attend salsa lessons on weekends. It is a great stress buster and it lets me unwind.
An interesting anecdote
A month before starting iKeva, I was hospitalised. But I still had to focus on getting clients, marketing my product, making the website, etc. It was then that I discovered an entrepreneur’s zeal to innovate and work on the vision irrespective of harsh circumstances.
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