Breathing Space - Syed Kazim Hameed and Syed Anees Jafri

When we walked into the Rent A Desk Office in Jubilee Hills, we were spellbound by the exposed brick wall, the sleek yet warm design, and the cozy nooks and corners that welcome you. Apart from the flawless cutting-edge design, we also noticed that there was a homely yet professional vibe to this office space, which has everything one might need to work productively. The company’s two co-founders – Syed Kazim Hameed and Syed Anees Jafri – have been friends for over 20 years now. They’re 100% Hyderabadis who love sipping on their chai when they are not involved in making sure their customers are getting the best value for their money. We caught up with the two on a recent afternoon over some cutting chai and Osmania biscuits. Here’s what went on.

Tell us something about yourselves and how the idea of Rent A Desk came about?
KH: We are basically 100% Hyderabadi (laughs). I joined my father’s business while I was studying, and since I wanted to do something apart from the business, I joined the corporate world. I had a passion for automobiles as well, and therefore quit my job and wanted to do something related to cars. I handled the entire South operations for Honda dealerships for three years. In the meanwhile, Anees and I always discussed the idea of doing something together, and he flung this idea about Rent A Desk to me, explaining how the concept of co-working spaces was big abroad, and how we should bring it to India. At the time, in 2014, I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. I never gave the whole business concept a proper thought, but he was persistent and wanted to do it, so I told him to go ahead with it. I was part of the company that did the branding for it, and after seeing the end product looking so good, I was convinced that I wanted to be part of it and joined forces with Anees. When we sat down and discussed things about the business, it hit us that this is going to be big in the future, and that’s how I came on board.

How did you come up with this idea to begin with?
AJ: I had quit my job and was looking for a space that I could work out of. I rented the apartment next to my house, but that didn’t work out too well for various reasons. I saw a number of office spaces around the city that had the typical office feel, along with exorbitant prices. Every single thing had an added charge, other than the desk space. So I was disappointed and started doing some research. I came to know about co-working, and was sure there were several people like me who were looking for space to work out of, and that’s how the idea started becoming a reality. I was 100% sure from the beginning that it would work out since there are many people – freelancers, consultants and others – who do not want to work out of their house, and yet need a space to call their own office. I was sure that with the right kind of location, space and atmosphere, the idea would really take off.

What is the USP of Rent A Desk?
AJ: The price, to begin with. But more importantly, it’s the comfort we give our customers. A lot of people have referred us to their friends. Here you can work with the peace of mind that one doesn’t get while working at home because of the numerous daily domestic interruptions, in addition to complimentary printing, Wi-Fi and coffee.
KH: The whole idea behind Rent A Desk was not only to run it as a business, but also be there for the start-up community. Because everyone goes through that one phase in their life where they need someone to back them up, push them forward, and give them a platform and space; that’s what we do at Rent A Desk. So we are price-sensitive but, more importantly, people-sensitive – since our customers’ needs are always our top priority.

What’s the  best part of your job?
KH: Finding new locations is my favourite part of the job here.
AJ: I get immense self-satisfaction from coming up with spaces that make people go “wow.” That’s when I feel like I’ve achieved the vision I had in mind; I love that feeling. The variety of people I get to meet is also amazing, and keeping existing customers happy keeps you on your toes always. It’s a challenging but fulfilling task.              – as told to Suneela