Co-working and co-living ideologies that enable people to work and live anywhere in the world, are being adopted by pretty much any entrepreneur whose career allows for remote working and who has a passion for adventure, travel, new experiences and friends. The Safina Group, with a bouquet of successful businesses in IT Parks and retail, has plugged into the ecosystem for entrepreneurs with offerings of real-estate-as-a-service for co-working, co-living and more.
With three generations passionately and deeply involved in the family business, the Saits have shown a flair for identifying trends and capitalizing on opportunities. The Hub is one of the latest additions to the array of projects by Safina Ventures.
Scalable innovation has been at the core of the group’s vision, founded by Dr. Hajee Sattar Sait in the 1950s. Cut to 2016, when Azaan Feroz Sait, his grandson, a fresh graduate, with honours from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California and a degree in Business Administration, saw a business opportunity in one of the group’s properties, Safina Hotels, which is located in the heart of the city.
“The concept of co-living is that access to space is more important than ownership. Millennials today don’t dream of owning their houses. The concept of homeownership is becoming globally irrelevant to our generation. The goals are to travel to where the opportunities are, to learn and to meet new people – that is the new dream”, says Azaan Sait, Chief Happiness Officer at The Hub.
He gradually started transforming the hotel built by his grandfather into a co-living space. The experiment began with one room, and as the demand started surging, all 33 rooms in the hotel were rebranded and launched as ‘The Hub, Bengaluru’ with the aim of building a community of young and open-minded individuals. It has a core team of six people and a support team of eight. The Hub offers fully furnished shared and private studios, fully equipped community kitchen and pantry, laundry rooms, media lounges, co-working spaces, and a roof-top garden among other amenities. The convenience of co-living seems to be striking a chord with youngsters who are looking for more than just housing, and Azaan plans to open a second co-living space in another location this year.
"We are disrupting the real estate market and making it relevant for millennials by building an ecosystem of spaces for living, working and events."- Azaan Feroz Sait, Founder & Chief Happiness Officer, The Hub Bengaluru
Safina Ventures, the umbrella company founded by Azaan, has set itself the goal of doing a new project every 18 months. Safina Banquets handles events at the two rooftop spaces of the hotel that were transformed into banquet halls; in just about a year, it has hosted 250 events, both private and corporate. Safina Ventures’ newest project is a startup studio (in the same premises) where it aims to partner with founders of innovative products and services that are built to better the lives of people.
Feroz Sait, the founder’s son and Chief Executive of the Group, believes his primary job is to provide backup and support the new ventures of the group, driven by Gen Next. “I see no hesitation in the minds of all the young people I meet. They want to be their own bosses, and capital is not difficult to find. I am happy to see the changes happen.” Reviews which laud Azaan’s efforts as being beneficial to the whole community, are proof that the trust is well-placed. “If we can impact 500 lives in a year, I think we have done our job”, is how he defines success.
An example of Sait’s ability to back the right horse was his instinctive decision to start a software technology park (STP) in 2006. “I realised that IT was the future. The STP would create employment opportunities for locals and bring in FDI into the city,” he says. “I got into business, of course, to make money, but to also give people what they want”. He derives great satisfaction when people credit him for having given them the first toehold in their rise to success.
Safina used to own the country’s largest dealership for the Jawa motorcycle, and it was but natural for it to start retailing the legendary bike when it was relaunched in 2019 after a hiatus of 45 years as Safina Motors.