Bushra-E-Anjum, the co-founder of Wizkit and a co-worker at Impact Hub Dhaka, makes delicious oatmeal cookies. Her teammates and other co-workers love it so much that she started making them in batches and selling them through the hub café.
Wizkit is the brainchild of Bushra and her husband Mushfiqur Rahman Saad. The startup encourages youth involvement in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Technology) through research, innovation, product development and training, by providing them with engaging and hands-on educational opportunities.
Currently, they have a team of six people and are operating their business from a private office room at Impact Hub Dhaka, one of the biggest co-working spaces in the country.
"This is a hassle-free peaceful work environment. We just pay monthly rent and that is it. We do not have to take care of utility bills or worry about security or anything," said Bushra.
Before Impact Hub Dhaka, Wizkit had an office in Uttara, which they had to shut down due to the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic. They moved to Impact Hub Dhaka at the end of 2020 and have been in love with the place ever since.
"For a startup like ours, it is essential to have a dedicated workspace. Otherwise, people may not take us seriously," said Saad.
Impact Hub Dhaka provides a modernistic approach to changing the work environment and culture by not only shrinking the costs incurred by a business, but also allowing a scope for collaboration and diverse networking opportunities, both locally and globally.
The organisation also offers traditional office hours from 9am to 6.30pm, which both Bushra and Saad marked as a challenge. As a growing startup, they prefer longer shifts and working late at night.
Wahid Hossain, the founder of TigerBow and co-founder of PathFinder considers this challenge as a blessing in disguise.
"Having a fixed and short shift makes you push your boundaries and get your work done efficiently. So, I do not consider it an inconvenience," he said, adding, "entrepreneurs have a tendency of working longer hours but it is also important to balance your time and work."
Wahid is a solopreneur and has an independent office room to himself at Impact Hub Dhaka.
He said many people tell him it is pointless to spend so many bucks for this office space since he works alone.
"They suggest I should get the work done from home, which I strongly disagree with. Having a proper office boosts productivity," he opined.
Wahid studied at the Watson Institute in Boulder, Colorado, where he could see the majestic Rocky Mountains through his classroom window. To him, eye-soothing views enable great thinking.
Looking upon the peaceful side of Mirpur Zoo Road, Impact Hub Dhaka covers an area of approximately 7,500 square feet.
Like any ideal co-working space, it is designed to cater to connectivity, offering lots of communal areas where you can chat over coffee, watch a webinar as a group or even host events.
Lamia Hafiz, the community lead of Impact Hub Dhaka, shared with us, "Impact Hub Dhaka is so much more than a co-working space. Like the name suggests, we thrive on creating an impact on the society by facilitating businesses that are socially and environmentally conscious to create a Bangladesh where everyone thrives."
At Impact Hub Dhaka, apart from the logistical support, members also receive integrated community support, which allows them to innovate, collaborate and share expertise.
In fact, this is the best aspect about this place. It filters the startup with commercial goals and mostly facilitates those who are conceptually connected. This office is primarily suitable for a startup that works with design, innovation and impact.
In terms of choosing office space, it is essential to find a co-working space that matches the nature of your startup, in terms of your business requirements and ethos.
Almost every member at Impact Hub Dhaka is mission-aligned. As a result, they have a lot in common and often brainstorm ideas together.
"If my co-workers are in commercial enterprises, my ideas and philosophy will not make any sense to them and vice versa," said Wahid.
However, even though social enterprises are Impact Hub Dhaka's top priority, it is open for all.
They have a small café arrangement where they serve free-flowing and freshly brewed coffee and tea for members of the house. For food, they have collaborated with Cookants, another enlisted startup of Impact Hub Dhaka.
Cookants is a homemade food delivery service that empowers homemakers to share their extra portion of daily household meals with consumers.
"We are trying to make a sustainable ecosystem here. We support each other's businesses here and grow hand in hand," said Lamia.
For example, Wizkit helps the Impact Hub Dhaka members by prototyping and developing products using their 3D printers whereas Amarlab, an at-home-at-work pathology test service provider, helped the organisation build community awareness through its annual health camp while also sampling their services through the Hub members.
She added, "Wahid is our go-to person for marketing and creative aid. We are truly proud of the collaborative culture we have created here."
However, like everything else in life, the co-working lifestyle has some setbacks too. Sometimes the working space gets noisier, the meeting room gets booked and some co-workers do not get along very well. But focusing on the big bright side, all the members happily adjust.
Other than private office rooms, meeting rooms, and event space, one can also book just a desk in the common space for a desired period of time which is a great deal for students as well.
Shadman, a final year student at Ibrahim Medical College finds the Impact Hub Dhaka office very effective for his study, which encouraged him to take a membership there.
Shadman takes advantage of the flexibility and freedom provided by Impact Hub Dhaka's membership as there is no long-term commitment.
Currently, Impact Hub Dhaka has around 30 active startups sharing the office space. Memberships start from Tk999 for a single desk but teams can also rent independent office rooms within the range of Tk16,000 to Tk35,000.