These Two Women Are Making ‘The Daftar’ Fun For Pune People!
Remote working is almost a reality now. With more and more companies appreciating efficiency, remote working or freelancing is fast picking up the pace in our country too. And though working-from-home has its own perks, sometimes, you feel like you need a space that feels like an office.
That’s where coworking comes into the picture. Coworking is about people coming to a common place and connecting with each other while enjoying the perks of an office. It’s especially useful for freelancers and remote teams to find like-minded people and get hiring opportunities.
We got talking to the two entrepreneurs who came up with a coworking space in Pune, The DAFTAR, which is all about creativity and inventiveness.
Sunanda Verma is a first gen entrepreneur and a Marketing & Branding Expert. She wears multiple hats at The DAFTAR - Marketing, Finance, Expansion, Operations. She’s super organized, loves travelling, reading, meeting new people and is the grounded element at The DAFTAR. She is the one who always gives us a reality check on things. She is calm, composed and the more thoughtful one.
I, Vandita Purohit, am a first gen entrepreneur too and come with a Sales & Business Development Background. I take care of space design and events at The DAFTAR. Mother of two boys, I love travelling, reading, exploring new opportunities or as I’d like to put it ‘Jack of many trades and master of some’. I am the ‘let’s do this-that-and everything element’ and always need a reality check. I am the energetic and enthusiastic one, who can say yes to everything.
Sunanda and I both don various roles and need to fill up for gaps in different departments when needed. We both are absolute opposite personality types who bring in lots of different flavours to the table. We have different perspectives to literally everything, which helps us understand, analyze and conclude better.
When I was a part of a Startup Boot Camp in San Francisco, I used to spend a considerable amount of time at coworking spaces and cafes during weekends. Those places were very creatively done, colourful and had a lot of variety. It helped me think creatively, my productivity was great and I enjoyed working there. I knew we had coworking spaces in India but they were done in a very ‘IT cubicle style’, which I thought was quite against the idea of coworking. Coworking is all about collaborating, sharing and learning from each other. How can that be possible when you work from partitioned cubicles?
The biggest difference in coworking spaces there was that it was more open, gave you better opportunities to interact with other coworkers, network, learn and be able to share and they were done with immense creativity.
I discussed the same with Sunanda when I got back and she really liked the idea. We did not have to convince each other much. In no time, we had our first space up and running in Pune.
Sunanda Verma (L) and Vandita Purohit (R)
Friends To Business Partners
We both know each other through Chrysalis primarily, that's where we first met. At that time, both of us were planning our own startup. We were on the ideation stage and required an office to work out from. I had discussed the opportunity of coworking spaces with Sunanda and we thought we could give it a shot while working on our own respective ideas. That's how we opened our first coworking space in Pune and that happened to be our respective place of work as well.
Obviously, at that time we did not know that The DAFTAR would become our main startup!
On Having A Woman Business Partner
Well, definitely it’s an advantage. Women, I believe, are better at multitasking, we are emotionally stronger (especially in pressure situations). In our case too, it works great!
Last year when I was pregnant with my second child I had to go on a sabbatical for almost 6+ months. Even after I got back, I was not very active. During that entire time, Sunanda took complete charge of everything right from the space to operations to events to finance. Even though I was available on calls, she made sure that nothing came to me, and I got all the time to rest and spend time with the little one.
Not that men wouldn't understand that, but I think to have a woman partner made the entire journey for me very smooth and easy. I didn’t have to worry about a thing and she was always there to support me emotionally because she understood my situation really well.
There have been many other instances where we feel having more and more women on the team is great.
The Entrepreneurial Journey
I have been pursuing Entrepreneurship for 9+ years now. I have had more failures than I would have expected, but it has been one terrific journey. I always wanted to start something of my own, I was never meant for doing a regular job.
For Sunanda, The DAFTAR is her second venture and she calls herself a serendipitous entrepreneur. However, she sure is enjoying all the perks and pressures of being an entrepreneur.
Be it experienced or a first timer, we both have had our highs and lows. We still have times when we break down, cry, feel overwhelmed, are excited to the peak on achieving our little milestones, celebrate and still experience a lot of things we have never experienced before. I think they have correctly termed your startup as ‘your baby’ - every day is a new day!
And proudly, we both can give a lot of credit to our respective husbands who have pushed us and always motivated us to go pursue our dreams, go all out and be ourselves and do great things.
What Is Coworking?
Coworking is doing great in India, more and more people and companies are going out and choosing coworking spaces to work from, instead of working from home or their own offices. Coworking sure ups your productivity and helps you be more creative and efficient, is what I believe.
Why? Because they are designed so creatively that they take care of many different elements which help you strike a balance. You can work from different zones, meet different people, learn a ton and share so much. Work life takes a different meaning when you have so many more people around you to learn from, who look up to you.
At Coworking spaces you meet different people from same domains, working on different projects which makes it so much more exciting. It always makes you feel great to know that you are not alone, especially during your low times knowing that a lot of people have their own struggles and have figured a way out too. You feel motivated and a little motivation goes a long way.
There is a TON of competition! Having said that, since we are in the service industry, every space has its own flavours and that allows us to be different from each other, so there is a lot of scope too.
I would say when we started off, we knew our venture would work out but we were not sure what would it really look like and how do we want to grow in this industry.
Some very typical challenges were that people were very new to this concept. Questions like, "How can I work alongside someone else, what about my privacy" were very common. But honestly, we did not take much time to overcome those and soon we were in our second bigger and better space with more offerings.
We both have been supremely blessed on the family front. Our families are not just supportive but always come to our rescue whenever we need them. Being a mother I need that more often than ever. But our families have always been very encouraging and supportive of all that we do. They always do everything in their capacity to be with us and we are very thankful for that.
The DAFTAR Stands Out Because...
We definitely are more creative, we invest a lot of our time and thought process around how to create an amazing member experience at The DAFTAR. We are not all about the numbers, we want to add a lot of value to our members and their ventures. We constantly strive to make our members’ lives more meaningful, productive and balanced by giving them the best services possible, organising different types of workshops and events, have strategic tie-ups, organise a lot of in-house events and activities so that they get time to unwind, relax and get to know each other better.
We are EXPANDING and getting bigger and better. Very soon we will share the news of our two massive upcoming locations. We are very excited to make the announcements!
The DAFTAR Team
What To Expect From The DAFTAR
You should expect an environment that will allow you to think creatively, be focused on your core while we take care of everything else for you, work with other like-minded individuals and never feel bored with your work. We want all our members to look forward to coming to work every day, they should feel excited and great about coming to The DAFTAR.
That's how a workplace should be, after all, you spend a large time of your life at your place of work and we think it's about time you make it really exciting.
The DAFTAR is a coworking space in Pune, founded by Vandita Purohit and Sunanda Verma. If you’d like to share your entrepreneurial journey with us, drop a mail to [email protected] and [email protected]