Tabish Habib, 26, a graphic designer by profession, however, thrives on challenges.
Undeterred by the months of tension and curfew in the state, she finally launched the first co-working space Thinkpod in Kashmir in the heart of Srinagar on March 5. Her hopes buoyed by the 86 applications for space that she received on day one, she sees the project as the first step towards setting up a business incubation centre in Kashmir.
Outlining her dream, Ha bib says, “We are going to have venture capitalists and angel investors investing in startups rather than traditional banks, which is something new for Kashmir. We are not just going to run it as a co-working space but eventually evolve into a business incubation centre.”
Thinkpod has 36 work stations as well as separate meeting space and cafeterias. Habib also has plans for a kindle library and startup cafe where people can come, meet and exchange ideas.
For Habib, Thinkpod is more of a social initiative than a business venture. “When I started working six years ago, the first problem that I faced was finding a space to work. It is a very tedious task to arrange furniture, basic amenities, internet connections and telephone connections and other things for startups.
I wanted to have something here in Kashmir that facilitates our youth to start their own ventures,” says the innovator who has worked in co-working spaces in Delhi for six years. However, she knows that carrying out any business activity in Kashmir is a challenge in itself given the uncertain situation.
“The biggest challenge for any business in Kashmir is political instability. Moreover, the idea of co-working is very new to Kashmir and not many people are familiar with it even now. But the challenge is to take a risk and start something despite the uncertainty whether it will be accepted by the society or not,” points out Habib.
From a startup summit to workshops to pitch-in sessions, Thinkpod has an ambitious lineup of events planned for the summer of 2017. Political analysts may have predicted a return of turmoil to Kashmir during the summer, but this has not impacted hopes for a startup revolution in the valley.