I have been typing away furiously at my keyboard as I rush to complete a deadline. For a moment, I break to give my eyes a rest, and look outside my window. All I see is Mumbai’s concrete jungle spread out in front of me. I close my eyes for a moment, wishing what it would be like to replace that view with snow clad mountains, green valleys, clean fresh air, and a clear blue sky! If only for some time I could block out the noise and existence of traffic and cross an old, charming bridge across a gushing river to my workplace? Surely, it would be fun to hack away at deadlines working from the hills for a change! You know something like the picture below!
This is exactly what entrepreneur turned traveller Sachin Agrawal had in mind when he launched Born Free Café and Coworking Hostel in the picturesque quaint old town of Manali. Says Sachin, “I wanted to build something where work does not feel like work. For me, Born Free is a concept which allows you to get away from the same old work location but still enables you to work.”
Born Free Coworking is thus suited for small startups and freelancers, who want to get away from their usual work locations for a week or a month.
From Software To Snow Clad Mountains!
With Born Free, Sachin also wanted to help travellers connect with like-minded entrepreneurs on the move. Sachin, who was previously working with a software company inoXapps in Noida, has been travelling for the last two years extensively through India, Southeast Asia, Bhutan, US, Korea, and Japan, among other places. His extensive travel and volunteering experience ticked the idea to do something for travellers.
Thus was born Born Free. Located in the central part of old Manali, separate from the new Manali where tourists and honeymooners flock to, the place is located just 40 metres away from Old Manali bridge spanning the river Beas.
The building has the café and coworking space on the ground floor while the first floor houses the coworking hostel. The place has been taken on rent for 3 years by Sachin, who ploughed about INR 10 lakhs from his own pocket to refurbish and ready the place for entrepreneurs.
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Work, Eat, Sleep, Repeat!
The coworking space is equipped with all the basic jazz to help startups work easily from here. The work stations are minimal, with sturdy wooden tables and basic comfortable chairs to go with them.
Internet connection, Wi-Fi speakers, white boards on walls to ideate and write, a printer, and two cups of coffee a day comes included in the cost of INR 300 for a day.
The co-working hostel meanwhile has eight sturdy bunk beds, which are priced at INR 500 for a night along with free breakfast.
For entrepreneurs wanting to avail both the hostel and the space, a daily package works out to INR 700 per day.
Learning from his volunteering experience, the place welcomes a lot of volunteers who not only have contributed to decorating the place with artwork but also help out with reservations and managing the place in lieu of food and space.
The café, which is separated from the co-working space meanwhile serves Italian and continental food, and has its own dedicated kitchen staff.
Once work is over, one can disconnect pleasurably by partaking of the live music gigs that are organised in the café in the evenings.
The place which just opened last month is seeing a good response through word of mouth. As per Sachin, his friends from the startup world have gotten their teams to work from Born Free to test the concept and have favourably voted for the experience where startup employees and teams work, eat and sleep under one roof, taking a week or two off from their static work locations. More people are expected to turn up this month.
Recently, another co-working hostel- Construkt Startup Hostel was opened in India’s startup city Bangalore. Given that Bangalore is the startup city of India, Sachin’s choice to open a coworking hostel in laid back Manali might seem a bit bold and uncommon. But Sachin is very clear on the concept. He says, “For me the concept is more about a getaway from where you can work also, without being at the same old work location. Most people who come to Manali don’t have a plan to work. But now with Born Free, that’s possible.”
Indeed, with Manali’s snow clad mountains and green valleys throwing its arms open to co-working, the startup ecosystem in India, abounding with co-working spaces and cafes, has added a beautiful address to its list!