Second anniversary of Cove’s coworking space in ChennaiTwo years of running a Chennai coworking space

The importance of being earnest - Interesting times and 2020

From the Founders' Desk: Oscar Wilde’s play “The Importance of Being Earnest” is a satire that mocked the prevailing social customs of Victorian England. With due apologies to the playwright, we write in praise of earnestness and perseverance when we describe the importance of being earnest.

In my note at the end of our first year of operations at Cove, I was optimistic. Our pipeline was strong, and we were expecting several new project launches. However, the old Chinese curse of living in interesting times hit and boy, did it hit hard!

Rather than repeating a theme that has been a constant across industries and companies, we chart a different course. When we think of our 2nd year of operations at Cove we think of the benefits of earnestness, perseverance, and the importance of choosing business partners who are aligned with your goals as an organization and an entrepreneur.

Of course, COVID meant that all business Centers, including ours went empty. It wasn’t an entirely hopeless scenario, though. Our key takeaways during the last year of unprecedented churn were:

1. Earnestness with clients – We ensured that our pre-COVID clients were happy. Every single client who parted ways during or after lockdowns was given all applicable refunds. Several requests for flexibility in exits, payments and downsizing were immediately accepted. As entrepreneurs ourselves, we understand the pains other startups have to go through and did our best to accommodate our clients.

2. Perseverance – While a lot of other business centres were shutting shop, we as a team believed that our business plan (an asset right model) and team capabilities would take us past this once-in-a-century problem. We had a hypothesis on what it would mean for the general work environment post-COVID and we stuck to our guns. A bit later, we will talk about what that has resulted.

3. Choosing the right partners – Choosing you owner partners and investors is key for a business such as ours. Our strategy of only working with partners who understand that asset right businesses such as ours require a long-term view to success has paid off handsomely. When interests are aligned, achieving goals becomes simpler.

This has reaped great dividends. Our coworking space occupancy rates today are higher than our pre-COVID levels. We attribute this to how we treated our clients, who then returned and brought their friends along. The fact that we never gave up as a team and made the sacrifices necessary to keep running, or that none of our partners ever objected to muted returns during an unprecedented pandemic also played a vital role. In addition, we now find ourselves in a far more confident space as a team. This is because we see that in all probability (fingers crossed!), we are past the worst of the pandemic with vaccines in sight and the economy showing signs of revival.

New businesses are now starting again, with upcoming projects in Bangalore and Chennai across the spectrum of rent-yielding assets. Our outlook for the coming year looks better, with the hope that the terrible twos are now done!

A bit of quirky optimism is essential when looking back at the last year. As we celebrate 2 years of Cove today, we decided to bring that element of quirky fun into the view of our team, clients, and partners. To mark this occasion, we commissioned an artwork from a young digital artist in Chennai, Jemma Jose. In it, she has brought out the various forms of quirkiness in Cove to life. Using it, we have prepared a calendar for 2021.

While you are at it, please feel free to get in touch with us if you are looking at coworking as an option. We will be most happy to have you as a part of our journey!

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