Since its inception in March 2010, iHub has been a haven for co-working with the provision of affordable working space, as well as a pioneering incubator. It facilitates a forum for young entrepreneurial members to receive mentorship, access the internet and through linkages with the international venture capital community, possible venture funding.
iHub, ‘the unofficial headquarters of Kenya’s tech movement’ in its quest to empower startups offers one of the most crucial resources a startup needs…office space. Startups incur a myriad of overheads and one of the most crucial and costly overhead is rent. iHub offers affordable office space depending on the membership category chosen additional perks like internet connectivity. As ihub continues to thrive, its services are also evolving including one of the current membership models that has been newly introduced. Before we delve into the new membership model, we need to understand the processes of the former iHub membership and how it worked from what we saw and interacted with.
Formerly, the membership consisted of white, green and red categories. White membership was virtual, free, and members could be based anywhere in the world. Space was free once a week and any additional day after that were an affordable ksh 1,000 ( $10 ). The Green membership offered a co-working environment creating synergy with other ihub members with varying skill sets sharing the same work space. After six months, however, unless renewed, the membership reverts to the white status that has fewer perks. A member can, however, extend their Green registration for another six months. Red membership is tailored for the entrepreneurs with a viable product who are ready to scale in a permanent office base with a growing team. Membership is by application with a capacity of 80 and 15 for Green and Red members respectively.
This Model had lots of benefits for the over 150 startups launched and incubated there, there is are no particular days that you would set a foot on ihub and not find young techies and entrepreneurs brainstorming and working, it is /was the source of real innovative and revolutionary ideas you can seek of.
New Membership Model and its Implications on the Future of Startups
At a glance, the new model seems like an expensive affair but like all things revolutionised, it is also met with immense scepticism. From a 3-model membership, the categories offered currently include community shared and dedicated desks and office. All these categories like the former white, green and red have different perks and available at varying amounts monthly.
The Community Desk will have access to internet connectivity, shared co-working space and an access to the desk from 8am – 5pm. Unseen perks include the synergies that such startups are bound to have with others of different skill sets. This space is available for $70.
The Shared Desk has internet connectivity, shared co-working space, access to the desk, gym facilities and meal discounts 24 hours a day. All these are available at $150
For $200, at the Dedicated Desk, you can enjoy all the features offered for the Shared Desk with an added perk of a branded desk, reception services from 8am – 5pm, access to the kitchen and parking.
Office, the most coveted and of course expensive starting from $700 because, in addition to what the Dedicated Desk has, it also provides private office space, office branding and office cleaning services.
Since iHub has had incubation as one of its core business, we are hoping to see more businesses incubated, thriving to the ranks of Nailab and C4D that are self-sustainable. There are still calls for applications for mentorship; typical of incubation with the latest being the Traction Camp whose deadline is overdue. Alluding to the future of incubation, all signs indicating that while incubation and mentorship will still proceed, it is only the physical structure that has changed affecting the membership but other services go on uninterrupted.
Bottom line is that startups may have to dig a bit deeper into their pockets to be part of this coveted, dynamic community. It is evident that more startups can be housed both temporarily and permanently in this new look iHub. Earlier, 80 Green Membership and 15 Red Memberships were what iHub could handle together with the virtual membership dubbed White.
Now with over 50 floating desks for the community and shared categories, an excess of 50 dedicated desks that have an option of branding, the populace will increase. The offices will be housed in more than 10 large and small offices, at least 5 meeting rooms with 2 boardrooms for those executive meetings.
We are certain that the startups which were incubated and later graduated from Ihub are now well off for themselves, now the question comes down to the early age startups, no funds no capital only a team will they be able to raise the capital ihub has stated? Yes, we know some are or were there because ihub was the zone free internet zone, free pizzas on meetup day and seminars. I love the new developments personally it’s a great thing to see them grow. Do you think some that were there have been rendered homeless despite the benefits gained from ihub ? yes, ihub has to gain that we know about, its a business helping others but do you think the model will work for student entrepreneurs, street entrepreneurs and freelance entrepreneurs: or ihub could find a way to leverage the cost? like the most important things cost an extra more dollar apart from the rental fee paid. Do you think a cheaper model could come in hand for the financially unequipped startup?
Images from Ihub.