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5 must have gadgets for startup folks

The startup ecosystem has given rise to a supporting ecosystem of a whole lot of online services and gadgets for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Most devices and accessories geared towards entrepreneurs aim to help with productivity on-the-move, a characteristic that most entrepreneurs and startup folks identify with. We work out of coffeehouses, coworking spaces, at home on our couch, so on and so forth and of course meet a lot of people for pitching ideas, striking partnerships, or random ‘startup banter’.

Wireless Presenter

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One of the things you do most often in startups is ‘present’. Whether you need to present your product roadmap or marketing ideas to your team, or present a product or business pitch to a mentor or an investor, you’d end up using a slide deck.

It’s a shame that even the folks who present very often end up using the navigation keys on their laptop to transition between the slides. It’s disorienting, really, and a wireless presenter is all you need to change the slides in a more seamless manner without moving back and forth between your spot and where your laptop is placed.

A wireless presenter allows you to discreetly switch slides during a presentation, and offers a pretty good range. You can even keep the laptop you’re presenting from out of the sight! These ‘clickers’ are plug-and-play devices and useful for conference room presentations as well as on stage.

High Capacity USB Flash Drive

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While I advise everyone to move to cloud for storage and file-sharing, you still need to keep a high-capacity USB pen drive in your backpack. It is convenient to share some files quickly with somebody sitting across the table or backup your files that you just don’t want to clutter your computer with.

The 32-128GB flash drives are pretty common and inexpensive these days, but we’ve even got higher-capacity ones now going up to 1TB! Depending on your requirements, you should really have a high-capacity USB flash drive on you all the time.

Here’s a pro tip. Make sure you buy one with a built-in cover, else you always have a chance of losing it. Also, you might want to buy one with a lanyard or string or something so that you can bunch it with your keys or attach it to your bag. If you are an outdoorsy person, pick one that can withstand rugged conditions and take the elements. These small things easily get misplaced and since you now end up having a lot of data on them, you need to take even greater care.

Display Adapter

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Back in the day, all laptops had a VGA port, and all projectors has a VGA cable for input. Easy enough. But that’s not the case now. One, you can be required to present on a regular projector or another display/television screen with HDMI port. Second, different laptops and tablets have different display ports – full HDMI, micro HDMI, or mini HDMi and the optional VGA port.

The easy way out is to always carry a set of adapters and cables – display port to HDMI and VGA. That should allow you to present from your laptop and tablet, or even phone, on any kind of external display.

Noise-cancelling Headphones

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Even though I fly frequently, I was holding on the purchase of a nice pair of noise-cancelling headphones. I thought only audiophiles needed one.

However, after I started working out of coffeehouses and coworking spaces, buying one made sense. Increasingly, these places are noisy with loud music or people chatting away in nonchalance. A set of headphones allow me to cut that out, and be at peace and focus at work. You’ll only have to experience one to understand the difference between a normal pair and a noise cancelling one.

High Speed – Multi Port USB Charger

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Every time I look at people working around, I find them fiddling with multiple charges or rotating devices to charge on the single charger they have on them. There used to be only smartphones till sometime back, but the devices to charge have increased manifolds. There’s your fitness band or smartwatch, headsets, tablets, power banks, and more.

I strongly recommend buying a multi-port USB charger. It allows you to charge multiple devices at once, and most recent ones adjust the current rating to charge your devices faster. Of course, the only downside is that you’ll have to carry charging cables separately.

 

These are my pick of gadgets that freelancers and startup guys need almost every day. There’s also power banks, a stylus, couple of USB cables, and a portable speaker that I lug around in my backpack. Which ones have I missed?

Me And CoWorking – What about my Privacy

I have an office right besides where I live, it has given em the liberty of not spending time stuck in traffic between work and home, but it also brings in a bit of headache, overtime there is someone who wants to visit the family, I end up going to receive them – the frills of being a daughter in law come with it. For the last 14+ years that I have worked from this office, I end up meeting the same people, have similar conversations – I run the company, so at times I change directions of conversations, but it also brings me to worry about the office rent, the running costs, stocking of the office pantry, making sure our cleaners turn up every day to keep the office clean, at times – I felt, I just wanted to run away, be alone and work on my personal ideas, creating something new.

When Gagan and Rajeev ji were working on bringing SproutBox to life, I thought of who and why would one want to come to a coworking space, what about privacy – there are no rooms or cabins here, it is all open space, a few months later – I am wiser, here is my story.

I love going to work, I chose not to be an average housewife, but wanted to work all through my life, I believe

Going to work also gives us a reason to get up every morning, get ready and follow a schedule, which is very important to fight the ever increasing number of people suffering from depression.

Human interaction to me is the most important thing, and at times I miss this being on my desk, yes I get to meet my clients, my vendors, my team members and get to travel a lot, but then the chance of meeting someone new, hearing a new idea – is missed out. A few weeks back I started using SproutBox Coworking Space as my place to work from when in Gurgaon, spending about a day or 2 every week here, the worry of an open office with others sharing the space still remained in my mind, but all this changed – I found a perfect vendor who is helping us with a project, I am hoping to find a great customer in this space in the next few days, and who knows where this collaboration will go.

No, No one peeps over your shoulder to see what you do – after all they are here for work too. Yes there are interactions, and happy hours where you get to meet everyone, but my worry of lack of privacy was nothing but simply a worry.

What I loved about SproutBox is that it is a no-headache environment for me, the basics work all the time, whether this is the printer – that always has ink, the scanner or the Internet. Tea & Coffee is available when you want, and so is cold and hot water, the cleaning crew ensures that the place is spic and span, and I don’t need to worry about kitchen stockings, missing manpower or any of the mundane stuff – leaving me enough time to create something more. I also love the  freedom to come and go as I wanted, work on my projects without any added headache, sit on any desk – depending on my mood (though I have a favourite desk by the window on the second floor), and not be burdened with the cost of running a full office for just my Gurgaon visits twice a week.

Yes you would say, that I work from SproutBox because my husband is a CoFounder here, well that was one of the reasons to start spending time here, but now my coworkers find me here more often, alone than with Gagan. What Gagan & Rajeev have managed is amazing, the place has a great vibe to it, a great set of coworkers, startups, businesses and the whole idea of creating value together brings them along.

There are many CoWorking spaces, and you may be spoilt for choice, but before you go commit to a 6 month advance rental,  do weigh the pros and cons of the place y ou are looking at. The coworking spaces come in all sizes and with varying amenities, making it a difficult choice. The smaller ones do not offer enough exposure people wise and on the other hand one tends to feel a little lost in the places that resemble factory production lines. Some give you unlimited use of the basic things like printers, tea / coffee and recreation areas, whereas some limit it to a fixed number per month – making it very expensive if you land up paying for all the extra usage. Some look too homely – something you ran away from in the first place, and some look so formal that you feel that you are back in that 9-5 corporate culture.

My take is, go find a place that is comfortable, preferably gives unlimited usage of the basic amenities and is medium in size. Plus remember, that if you have to work in cubbyholes, you might as well work from home. The reason you are stepping out of the house is so that you can work with more people around you.

As Albert Einstein said “ We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

So, go out, work in a place with people from various backgrounds, varied thinking, different ideas and who knows what beautiful results will come out of it. I have enjoyed CoWorking from SproutBox and am loving it, I hope you will too.

Painting The Box

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While we spend endless hours making sure that SproutBox Gurgaon is a great place for coworking, collaboration, creation and enjoying your work, we also needed to make sure it looks good from outside. The picture below shows the white building we are in… on a typical day it does not stand out and merges with other buildings… this was something that was bothering us, and we wanted to make sure we had something done that made the building stand out – a few meetings and discussions led us to a thought, why not get some artists to come and paint it..

Indeed – but what do we paint, which artists do we call and well – how do we budget it?

So I decided to make a post on Facebook, asking friends for suggestions, friends who could draw and knew other people who could draw, after a lot of conversations some said volunteers will not work, we will need to hire an artist and build a brief – we were more confused than ever, only till a few came to rescue, they suddenly said – hey we will come and figure it out, some of them were amateur artists, and some of them were celebrated artists who did this for a living, we also got a response from some other friends, who wanted to rope in some people to come and paint.

We bought cans of paint, brushes, pencils and rags.. we also stocked up our refrigerator with Water, Cold Drinks, stocked the kitchen with Eatables, and were on site at 10AM… The Sun was shining and it was going to be a day that would see a high of 42 Degree Celsius… we waited, and then got a call Harshad – A Celebrated Digital Artist and his Friend Sunny were on their Way… They arrived and took a round of what sprout box is.. what it is going to do.. and then came up with a night and day theme.. they were happy that we did not have a theme.. they got painting the exterior walls.

We also got a call from Hamari Jung – A Slum Kids Collective, they wanted to come and paint too, our exterior walls were already up so we offered them inside walls.

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What has happened this Sunday has left our walls colourful, given us a new identity, and helped us contribute to growth of artists, and the lovely girls from the Sikandarpur Slum in Gurgaon who came and painted our walls… Words are not enough to describe this feeling!

So next time you are in Gurgaon, and see this brightly painted building, thank our artists from your side.. and marvel in their work… After all The Box now has a great new look and we love it..Thank You to our Artists

1. Harshad Moray

2. Sunny Kishore

and the lovely team of

3. Humari Jung