GVS: How did you decide to set up Daftarkhwan?
Saad Idrees: It has been six years since Daftarkhwan, a start-up, came forward as an idea to nurture and enable the ecosystem it belonged to. With a number of incubators and accelerators on the scene at the time, Daftarkhwan was the next step in the value chain that would help deliver state-of-the-art infrastructure that would allow entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.
More than anything else, Daftarkhwan was designed to be home to the bold entrepreneurs, innovators, and change-makers of the city. These people on a mission, more so than anyone else, needed a community of like-minded individuals that would understand their life’s purpose and motivate them to keep moving forward – in spite of the challenges.
GVS: What is your business model?
Saad Idrees: Daftarkhwan provides end-to-end infrastructure as a service to businesses that require corporate office space. This service, along with other related services, is how Daftarkhwan generates value for its community and revenue for the business.
GVS: Do you own the space you are giving out or leasing yourself?
Saad Idrees: Daftarkhwan operates squarely in the sharing economy paradigm and does not own any of the properties it operates out of. This asset-light model has helped make Daftarkhwan the fastest-growing coworking network in the country.
GVS: What is the average size of working space that is given to companies?
Saad Idrees: Daftarkhwan’s members include teams that vary from a single individual to teams of more than 200 people. Each team has a unique set of requirements depending on their industry, stage, and domicile. The beauty of the model is that it can effectively cater to all of them while offering the incredible benefits that being a part of the Daftarkhwan community can offer them.
Furthermore, all members of the Daftarkhwan community have access to large open spaces & amenities available at all of our facilities, such as lounges, meeting rooms, conference rooms, huddle rooms, etc.
GVS: What is the average cost of space in the three major cities you work in?
Saad Idrees: Space at Daftarkhwan may vary from PKR 15,000 to PKR 18,000 depending on the requirements of the business in question, but meeting room users can use our facilities for as low as PKR 1,500 per hour, and day pass holders can get access to the space for as little as PKR 1,500 per day.
GVS: What does it include – electricity, gas, etc. bills?
Saad Idrees: Membership at Daftarkhwan covers all costs and services associated with office space. This includes space costs, round-the-clock operations, utilities, amenities, and end-to-end management. The fundamental idea is that everything other than computing equipment is covered under a single charge and relieves our users of the hassle of having to arrange any of it.
GVS: How are you providing a different service than that of the National incubator centers set up in Islamabad by the government?
Saad Idrees: Daftarkhwan is the next step in the value chain that starts from NICs, incubators, and accelerators. Once start-ups have graduated from incubator and accelerator programs, they move on into the ecosystem to identify the space that they can call home before building their team and growing their business.
Daftarkhwan delivers the kind of space where post-revenue businesses and post-investment start-ups can call their permanent home. Not only that, the growth of Daftarkhwan as a community gives these growing businesses the opportunity to stay connected with a constantly maturing and evolving ecosystem as well as utilizing the multi-city presence of Daftarkhwan as their operations grow. The ancillary services and networking opportunities provided by Daftarkhwan is also in line with the needs and requirements of such advanced stage businesses.
GVS: How are you different than competitors like kickstart, Hive, etc.?
Saad Idrees: Daftarkhwan has always had a critical focus on the experience it delivers to its community members. The level of detail in which Daftarkhwan’s spaces and experience is considered and delivered to every single individual that walks through our doors is clearly seen and felt at all of our sites.
There is an unmistakable sense of community when you walk into a Daftarkhwan location anywhere.
GVS: Can you name any companies that have gone through your spaces and made it big?
Saad Idrees: Airlift, an app-based decentralized urban mass transit start-up launched in 2019, started at Daftarkhwan. The company pivoted towards quick commerce during the pandemic. Airlift has made waves for the start-up ecosystem in Pakistan by showing astronomical growth in their operations and raising some of the largest start-up investment rounds in Pakistan.
Jugnu, a B2B e-commerce platform, launched in 2020 and set up its headquarters in Lahore at Daftarkhwan. The idea behind this Salesflo subsidiary is to digitize and empower small retail stores. Raising millions of dollars from a leading global technology company in Lahore, Jugnu has emerged as one of the leaders in the B2B marketplace sector.
GVS: What key attributes did you notice they employed that you would attribute to their success?
Saad Idrees: A key attribute that sets leading businesses apart from the rest is their ability to make bold strategic decisions quickly based on the mission they have set out to achieve. Another common trait amongst any company that makes a mark in its sector is its ability to innovate and focus on strengthening its operations constantly. This infinite loop of improvement sets a start-up on a clear path to success regardless of their industry.