Big city living and small-town vibes
The day it all started
It was a weekday morning in November 2020 when my partner’s batchmate showed up at our home and said he was house hunting in the neighbourhood. He was working independently back then. Remote work had started becoming the norm and he needed some human connection outside work. He liked our neighbourhood — the clean, wide roads, the greenery around, access to all the amenities and good vibes. He was also looking forward to moving closer to friends and zeroed in on us. For the next few days, I kept noticing all the To-Let boards placed in front of houses and kept sending him WhatsApp images. He landed a spacious, well-lit and well-ventilated 2BHK in a really cost-effective deal in a week’s time, close to a lead I had shared.
Starting Point: Accommodation Hunt
With the excess images from this accommodation hunt and the urge to be surrounded by entrepreneurial, creative, curious and kind souls, I tweeted my willingness to help folks who’d want to move to HSR. Maximising serendipity, long walks, good conversations — that sums up the intent. That tweet led to a WhatsApp group. When we touched 100 people, the group shut down and we moved to a Discord server and weekly newsletter.
So you know the WHY by now. For people like me who are away from their hometowns and still part of a transient, floating population, this community acts as a starting point to find a roof above your head, find your tribe based on interests, skills and experiences, and work on your dreams. Think of campus life as an adult. It’s a plug and play to have your social life even if you haven’t lived here forever. It’s a hack to build your support system in a 2km radius. It’s an attempt to combat loneliness, ensure better mental health, introduce diverse experiences, perspectives and people in life and enable you to have a life outside screens.
While instant gratification is the norm with 10-minute grocery deliveries, building relationships — platonic or romantic, takes time. Yes, the same ‘time’ that’s a limited currency. “If you’re spending time with something, you get to know it better, you’re more likely to become a steward of the place.” I read this in a Creative Mornings newsletter and it strikes a chord.
Having lived in HSR for nearly four years now, the urge to get people unstuck, redirect to the right resources, and get them out of their homes so that we may learn from each other, is real. Here’s a glimpse from building HSRisHome in the last year:
- Community members: People are typically in their 20s and 30s, living in a co-living space, hostel, company guest house, rented house or a rented apartment in a society. Professionally, we have VCs, founders, techies, designers, marketers — you name it in a startup setting and we’d have someone doing exactly that.
- Community success stories: From finding homes to collaborating on projects, CV making to getting referred for unlisted jobs, finding badminton buddies to impromptu dessert hopping — we’ve heard it all. Occasionally, we’ve hosted someone for the entire day or just a few minutes because they didn’t feel like going back to a hollow house. A lot of us hail from small towns and joint families. While work keeps us here, finding a sense of belonging isn’t easy.
- Chaos: WhatsApp becomes overwhelming for a larger group. People tend to ‘mute’ groups and it becomes a place where you show up only when you need something, not when you can offer something. We have recently moved to Discord in the hope that channels would allow better communication.
- Real people: We are not building yet-another-Yellow pages. Therefore, it’s important for us to know who you are and how would you like to engage in the neighbourhood activities. Please fill up this Google Form and then join us on Discord. Once onboard, all the resources and helpful folks are there to help you navigate better and make this neighbourhood as much yours as it is ours.
- Activities: As we capture your interest areas in the Google Form — activities you’d like to attend and those you’d like to host, we start curating and creating events you’d like. If there are service providers who are hosting events as part of their community-building exercise, we are happy to redirect relevant and interested folks there. Say, a bicycle rental company hosting cycling rides.
- Monetisation: Everything is for free as of now. We are open to partnerships with brands who’d like to be more visible and engage with folks here.
- Sustainability: I may or may not be here tomorrow. So we are nurturing leaders who can take up a club they are so passionate about that they’ll do it anyway. It always starts with one. The current community stack includes a Google Form, email newsletter, a Discord server and events. Discovery happens through Twitter and events. We focus on a single pin code — 560102. So information disbursement is easy here. Think of hiring announcements, product launches, exclusive events, employee engagement activities to integrate your new joiners faster and everything hyper-local. We’ll not be sharing members’ data for partnerships. Oh and watch out for some cool stickers, t-shirts and a coffee table book in the new year!
- Online Vs Offline: While we live in a tech-savvy pin code that is building technology for India and the world at large, we want you to get off your screen and meet IRL. Therefore, Discord is not for an ocean of emojis and colour-coded names, but to streamline communication, schedule events and meet you offline. Why not Slack, you ask? Avoiding office vibes, I say.
- Coming up next: More editions of Startup Tours, Food Walks, Board Game nights while we try to bring people who could host poetry nights, music sessions and other activities. Also, Discord voice chats for your 15-minute office time chai break. Get introduced to folks in the neighbourhood and meet them for offline Chai eventually.
- Intimate groups VS large gatherings: When you walk into a room, people know you by your name — that’s the vibe. This does not mean we’ll not grow beyond our current headcount. What it means for you is that you explore and consistently engage with a few activity clubs to shine there. Remember campus life with a huge batch and then finding clubs where you’d spend time even when an assignment was due the next day? Rather those folks would help you do your assignment in time because you bonded beyond academics.
What’s our North Star?
How can we make you feel at home and how quickly can this be done? The metrics that matter the most here are repeat visits, time spent, referrals, hosts who emerge from the community.
If you are living or working in HSR Layout, Bengaluru, feel free to fill up this form and join us on Discord. In case you’d like to come and participate in the alcohol-free activities hosted in the neighbourhood, please fill up this form and you’ll hear from us.
HSR is home. You belong here.