The Rook India: Redirecting Growth Trajectory To Burgeoning Horizons

Dharmendra Kalita,Founder & CEO

Dharmendra Kalita

Founder & CEO

When speaking about the Indian startup eco-system or co-working spaces, one often visualizes swanky offices in the midst of a populated metropolis. Till a few months back, a walk through any co-working space across large cities would have introduced you to an office beaming with hustle and bustle of ideas coming to life. And then came along COVID 19. Lively co-working spaces that were earlier home to thousands of young startups today bear a deserted look.

The global pandemic has been especially hard on small enterprises that were working towards finding their feet in the market. With various startups having to shut shop and a majority of the remaining having to work from home, the shared office space industry has been especially affected. A report by real estate consultancy Knight Frank estimates that only one fourth of the 27.9 million square feet co-working stock in the top eight Indian cities, which is operated by smaller co-working players, is expected to return to the market soon.

The situation is ominous. But, in the midst of these challenges are emerging smart players who are turning dire circumstances into opportunities. Meet one such entrepreneur, Dharmendra Kalita, Founder & CEO of The Rook India, a provider of office space solutions. A technocrat with over ten years of industry experience across various MNCs, he has lived the office life that he intends to create for his clients. Being an ardent adventure enthusiast Dharmendra is blessed with keen observation skills and an appetite for calculated risk taking. Built on these qualities, he has rerouted The Rook India's growth trajectory towards a burgeoning horizons, ie: Tier 2 cities and North Eastern India.

Realigning Growth Path
"The ongoing pandemic and economic turbulence has made it abundantly clear that our business models need to evolve accordingly and several changes need to be made in terms of how businesses are run," explains Dharmendra. Originally based in Bangalore, the IT hub of India, The Rook India specialized in rendering plug and play office sets ups with all necessary office furniture and basic equipment including conference rooms, printers, house-keeping, reception and other such facilities.

However, the past few months revealed that a majority of the population working in metro cities was moving back home. Metro cities no longer are the hub of business activity as they used to be. The trend indicated that the future will see businesses functioning from relatively smaller cities. The observant entrepreneur thus decided to turn the challenge into an opportunity; he thus evolved his business's trajectory to focus on the North East of India and other Tier 2 cities.

"Tier 1 cities and major metropolis of India already have enough supply in terms of co-working and managed working space. These cities however are largely driven by the migrant population; but with the pandemic many people have migrated back," says Dharmedra. Consequently, The Rook India is now focused towards building a solid standing ground in the North East of India and is looking to focus on other tier 2 cities as well.

A true believer in the equitable distribution of opportunities, The Rook India intends to fuel growth and development across all parts of India, irrespective of their size or location. "My focus is now on Tier 2 cities and especially the North East India. I want to bring this region on the business map of India so that people are confident about starting their business here," says Dharmedra.

Moving ahead cautiously, The Rook India is charting a strong presence in Gangtok and is marching towards rendering its managed office solutions across other smaller cities as well.

Building a Localized Supportive Community
Businesses are social structures that cannot be built in isolation. Often times a supportive community plays a crucial role in catapulting young enterprises into market successes. The Rook India's innovative growth approach is backed by its team's deep connection throughout the region. Understanding well that location and networking plays a crucial role in any business's success, Dharmedra intends to leverage his vast network of entrepreneurs and business owners throughout the regionin a symbiotic manner.

While The Rook India is a managed office space provider, the firm's larger objective is to create a strong community of entrepreneurs and business owners that can facilitate growth across smaller towns as well. Working towards community building, the firm intends to act like a glue that binds people together and motivates them to come to work to create larger than life success stories. "We want our clients to feel like they are never alone and have a strong support system," explains Dharmendra.

The Rook India has developed expertise in rendering advisory services to young businesses. Any young company looking to initiate a business in the region can get in contact with the experience team behind The Rook India and receive 360 degree
consultancy about conducting business. The company's clientele also works towards elevating and engaging with one another. "Irrespective of the size of the player, we specialize in providing working space and networking," Dharmedra summarizes.

The Rook India is armed with a small yet highly dedicated team that runs the operations efficiently. Additionally, Dharmendra's strong network of friends and well-wishers who hail from various industry verticals also lend a helping hand on a consultant basis. The Bangalore operation is run by a highly efficient resource and similarly in Guwahati, the functioning is managed smoothly by a young associate. "The housekeeping staff play a crucial role in the business and our office spaces would simply not function without them," says Dharmedra. The company has an engrained DNA of working hard and in unison which has worked well so far as The Rook India has reported zero attrition so far. What helps is the team's unflinching belief in the company's idea and leadership.

Dhruba Jyoti Das, Advisor

Young Entrepreneur Learning on the Go
The co-working and managed office space industry is highly capital intensive and warrants players with deep pockets. A relatively new entrant in the real estate industry, Dharmedra recounts how being new to the industry brought to his doorsteps a plethora of challenges. "Having been a software engineer for a large part of my career, I often struggled to get the ropes of the business. For instance, the relationship between a landlord and client is rather tricky to handle. In my initial days we faced several challenges pertaining to the terms of agreements that had to be signed while leasing a property," adds Dharmendra. Often times The Rook India also had to deal with erratic and intrusive landlords who would suddenly ask for the premises to be vacated. Such situations caused financial damage since the money invested in doing interiors and woodwork was suddenly gone.

Arup Bharali, Advisor

While it was the young team's lack of knowledge about the industry that caused several financial and business challenges, The Rook India looks at these situations as stepping stones to critical learning. The young firm is working towards putting together a strong in-house legal team that can protect the company's interests against unprofessional landlords.

A true believer in the equitable distribution of opportunities, the rook India intends to fuel growth and development across all parts of India, irrespective of their size or location

Dharmedra has words of wisdom for other players planning to venture into the managed spaces industry, "If you're getting into this space, stay away from adding liabilities. Its best to have a property of your own, however, ensure to work out the rental liabilities with the landlord so that the burden does not fall on you in case there are no sales". Having learnt from the challenging market situations, The Rook India is now wiser and stronger. The firm is working towards creating a revenue sharing model with the landlords that would protect each stakeholder's interest.

Armed with a well chalked out growth path, The Rook India is well on its way to redefining the managed space and co-working space across Tier 2 cities and North Eastern India.

Dharmendra Kalita, Founder & CEO
A technocrat turned entrepreneur, Dharmendra brings to the table over a decade worth of industry experience of working with MNCs such as Juniper, GE Healthcare, Infinera, etc. The entrepreneur is an adventure and fitness enthusiast who believes that the best time to do something great is right NOW!

Dhruba Jyoti Das, Advisor
With over 11 years of industry experience as a software engineer across companies such as Samsung, Borqs, Kyocera, Dhrubabrings to the table immense knowledge about the office space industry. A socially active person and member of various communities, Dhruba is committed to his goal of creating a better society.
Arup Bharali, Advisor
Arup who has worked in the US for America's telecom giant 'Verizon' is propelled by his wish to contribute towards India's #MakeInIndia initiative. He carries over 11 years of industry experience of working as an IT professional in companies such as IBM, Verizon, Brillio and is now working towards helping budding entrepreneurs by sharing his professional experience with them.

“Understanding well that location and networking plays a crucial role in any business's success, dharmedra intends to leverage his vast network of entrepreneurs and business owners throughout the regionin a symbiotic manner.”

Word Of Praise From The Horse 'S Mouth
Subrahmanyam Vempati, Founder, Cuspera Pvt Ltd
"Dharmendra, the founder of The Rook India, is an engineer by profession. He was able to relate to our needs quickly and accommodate our requests readily. In that sense, this place is by engineers and for engineers. He is also ever-smiling and very accessible. I recommend The Rook India Co-Working space."

Leo Meetei, CEO, Refixd Technology
"The Rook India gives you a very positive vibe and you feel a sense of freedom in the work environment. The Community Team is always ready to help. Activities organized by the team help in opening closed minds and helps build teams and community."

Parijat Sarkar, Co-Founder, Higher At Work
We are a research and consulting firm, "higher at work". Currently, there are two of us the co-founders who anchor most of the work. We hire as and when we require other people on our various projects. We initiated our firm about a year and a half back. And Rook India has been our place to go to, as and when we require. We travel intensively and physically meet up a few times a month. The Rook India has been the perfect office for us- nestled in a quiet street, clean and adequate amenities and extremely nice staff. It is a well-organized office space complete with all facilities one may require at work. All of our requests are promptly met and they have understood our requirement and offered us a plan that suits us. The people who own and run the place friendly and warm. We have had fruitful days working out of Rook. All the best for the future Rook.