Listed in Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list 2016, Dr. Ritesh Malik’s passion of startups and entrepreneurship has created Innov8, India’s best (and fastest growing) co-working spaces.
Buzz words pop up in business jargon with great regularity – disruptor, game changer, thought leader – but oftentimes when they’re dropped into a discussion or presentation, they’re just those, buzz words which sound catchy without really meaning anything. However, in the case of Dr. Ritesh Maik, an India based doctor, entrepreneur and innovator, these words accurately describe him, his work and what he’s achieved so far. Dr. Malik at only 27 is the co-founder of Innov8, India’s hottest co-working space which has in the course of only 2 years spread to 13 locations - 4 already active and with 9 under construction.
Hailing from a family of doctors, Dr. Malik himself graduated from Dr. M.G.R Medical University in 2013 but his keen interest in all things entrepreneurial led him to take courses at London School of economics and Harvard University. His first start up kicked off even while he was still studying to become a doctor, when he started an augmented reality startup called Adstuck in 2012, which has since been acquired. Since 2013 under the aegis of Guerilla Ventures which he founded and is CEO of, Dr. Malik has started angel funding and mentoring startups.
Connaught Place Delhi was Innov8's first location.
During this time, he realised that the environment in which startups were nurtured was less than ideal because of the dearth of inspiring workplaces in India. “When I started investing in startups, I realised that India has the worst offices in the world - so I thought, let’s focus on creating the best office spaces because we spend more than 50% of our time there,” enthuses Dr. Malik.
This idea became a reality in the form of the first Innov8 in Connaught Place, New Delhi which made news for being put together in a jaw dropping 49 days in an officially classified "heritage building" in the world's sixth most expensive office market space. This pioneering Innov8 set the template for all future campuses which Dr. Malik distilled into 4 principles. “Firstly, location is crucial, we are always located in the heart of the city because this helps get the best mentors and develop it into the most vibrant community.
“When I started investing in startups,I realised that India has the worst offices in the world - so I thought, let’s focus on creating the best office spaces because we spend more than 50% of our time there,”
The informal open Innov8 Chandigarh features customised woodwork which gives it a homely feeling.
Secondly, the design needs to outstanding so that it encourages idea pollination, focus and productive environments within the campus. With these two in place, we then start creating a vibrant community, the third ingredient. Indians in general are introverts and have a strong sense of pride which stops them from talking directly to each other so within Innov8, we create a culture where people can interact with frequent events and community movements. Finally, technology, as we position ourselves as not a real estate or a design company, but a tech company.”
While all Innov8 campuses are built on those 4 guidelines, each Innov8 campus is unique and the design is developed based on the location’s context. For example, Innov8 Connaught Place, New Delhi has an open format campus and despite (or because of) its inner-city location has made space for a terrace with lush greenery. Innov8 Chandigarh which is located in India’s best planned city has an informal yet homely feel to cater to the diversity of its many freelancers. Being located in Bangalore the IT capital of India, Innov8 Koramangala provides closed formats with accents of local arts and crafts. As for Innov8 Boston House, Mumbai, which is located in India’s financial capital, the iconic Mumbai skyline is represented on its ceilings and it offers a rock climbing wall.
Innov8 Koramangala was designed with an abundance of greenery juxtaposed against the local arts and crafts of Bangalore.
Set in the IT capital of India, Innov8 Koramangala is slightly different in that it features a closed format campus.
While all interiors are designed by an in-house team, Dr Malik is deeply involved in their conceptualisation and is emphatic on maintaining high standards: “Designing a campus is a beautiful process. We transform a space and place a lot of weight on the comfort which is why all our campuses use Bristol workstations. All these elements create an ergonomically positive work environment which being a doctor I understand the importance of.”
Innov8 Connaught Place, New Delhi is a welcoming open format campus and walls emblazoned with motivational quotes.
“We will never compromise on the quality of the product because people may forget the cost but they always remember the quality.”
Considering how inviting the campuses are, it’s no wonder they are always buzzing with activity like BBC’s 100 Women event celebrating the most powerful women in the world held in Connaught Place recently. Dr. Malik reveals that they have at least one event every three days to foster interaction and create a buzz both with external parties as well as internally. In fact, the respective Innov8s have also positively impacted the community around each campus. “Our campuses run at 100% occupancy and we also have a 100% retention rate. Innov8 represents entrepreneurship, good ideas should come to us and we are there to help them out. We do not care what sector you are in, we just want to help you to get your business off the ground. You don’t have to worry about your HR or food and beverage needs because we have an app where you can post what you require and our community managers will get it done. Focus on your work and we will take care of the rest,” explains Dr. Malik.
While it’s certainly impressive at how Dr. Malik and his team have created such amazing spaces and dynamic communities in 2 short years, his answer to what the most important lesson he’s learned during this process is typically inspiring: “I am not a management graduate but you do not need to know about management to run a business. What you need to know is that you should have the mastery on how to build a great product. All great companies in the world can’t have a sustainable business if they don’t have a great product. My aim is to build such a beautiful product that you don’t even have to market it. We will never compromise on the quality of the product because people may forget the cost but they always remember the quality.”