A Home Away from Home

A Home Away from Home

Stayabode creates and manages co-living spaces, currently aimed at the ever-moving millennial.

Devashish Dalmiya, Viral Chhajer and Varun Bhalla, Stayabode

Devashish Dalmiya’s trip to Spain for further studies may not fulfilled the original intention. But as he travelled across Europe after dropping out from his course, backpacking and staying in hostels, he felt the warmth and ambience very welcoming. When he returned to India, he worked with Roadhouse Hostels, a chain of backpackers hostels, to pick up the tricks of the trade.

Along with Viral Chhajer and Varun Bhalla, he started Stayabode, a venture that borrows the concept of hostels to develop long term accommodations. “The youth of today stay in a company for an average of 20-21 months and then move on,” points out Chhajer. The company surveyed them and found that 40-45 per cent feel lonely as they live away from families and friends. So the company creates living spaces, currently for millennials, that are mini communities and provide the residents with a feeling of companionship. Soon, communities for other profiles – older people, couples etc. – are also being planned.

Community Development

The company acquired its first property in Koramangala, Bangalore, in 2016 to test its ideas. Initially the tenants signed five-month contracts, but in the next one year, there were several renewals.

The property is managed like a boutique hotel where all services are including housekeeping, laundry and cooking are taken care of by Stayabode. Because of which the company, which currently runs five such properties, prefers to take up buildings in entirety so that they will be responsible for the complete maintenance and can conform to their standards.

To ensure that the atmosphere at the abodes are pleasant and co-residents are able to get along, 60-65 per cent are signed on through references after the initial few have occupied. Allocating rooms appropriately is important and so the applicants have to fill a form that tries to capture their interests. Based on this, cohorts are allocated with like-minded people to avoid friction with roommates.

Facilitating Community Building

The company, aiming to be lean, has a team of 26 that converts the buildings into a living space in more than one way. The company runs currently runs 260 beds and takes care of even the furniture and furnishing to create the right ambience.

Multiple community managers ensure that the community in each of its properties is healthy. It helps the residents break ice through onboarding activities and conducting events to bring them together.

The rentals charged are 1.4 to 1.5x of the rental prices in the locality. “One cannot put a price to the intangible benefits of building a community,” points out Chhajer.


The company surveyed the youth and found that 40-45 per cent feel lonely as they live away from families and friends.


Funding

The company started with investment from the founders but soon, thanks to the interest it generated, it received seed funding from investors Ishan Manaktala and Angie Mahtaney. Subsequently it raised funds from Incubate Fund, a seed fund. This was a strategic round where Stayabode will also get support in meeting its scaling up goals. Currently it is well-capitalised and does not intend to seek funds right away, except to build right partnerships.

Competition and Challenges

The rental industry, according to Chhajer, is estimated at Rs 2.5 crore in urban India. Of this, even the largest players have only cornered only 0.02 per cent. There are around 400 millennials in India, of which 25-30 per cent are in the urban centres. Thus, the market is huge and there is space for more. The presence of more players will help mature the market.

One of the primary challenges the company faces is that of standardization, especially of the housekeeping staff. There is also the issue of differing standards of the buildings themselves.

Moving Forward

While the company will be going beyond Bangalore soon, it is also planning to be a global player in five years, especially in Southeast Asia. And so, it is also investing in technology to enable it to be ready to deal with the different markets.

Chhajer believes that Stayabode’s model will create a third type of building apart from residential and commercial – those meant for community living as envisaged by Stayabode.


Snapshot

Venture: Stayabode

Founded by: Devashish Dalmiya, Viral Chhajer and Varun Bhalla

Funded by: Ishan Manaktala, Angie Mahtaney and Incubate

Founded in: 2016

Focus: Creating and managing co-living space

Social Media: Stayabode helps the youth living away from home make homes with like minded people by creating co-living spaces.


Concept in brief

Co-living made Fun

Devashish Dalmiya, impressed with the European hostels aimed at the backpackers, decided to replicate the idea in India and started Stayabode in 2016, with friends Viral Chhajer and Varun Bhalla. However, seeing the demand for rental spaces in India, and the need of millennials working away from home to find easy, and fully furnished and managed accommodation, they transferred the hostel idea to fully managed homes. These abodes not only manage all day to day activities but also facilitate co-living with other like-minded residents, thus building a community. Currently running 260 beds across five properties in Bangalore, the company intends to spread this concept not just across India but abroad too. It has received seed and strategic funding and is ready to meet the challenges along the way.

Meera Srikant has been working with publishers and publications since 1993, writing and editing articles, features and stories across topics. She also blogs and writes poems, novels and short stories during leisure. Writing for The Smart CEO since 2010, she is also a classical dancer.