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Your-Space founders aim to disrupt the student housing market in India

Gokul Bhagabati | New Delhi 28 Apr 2017, Vol 8 Issue 18

The rooms feel like hotels -- fully furnished and well-maintained, says Shivalika Verma, one of the 77 residents in the first building of Your-Space, a new venture that aims to disrupt the student housing market by providing premium facilities - plus comfort and safety that feels like home.

Another resident of the Greater Noida facility, Samiksha Singh, who is pursuing M.Tech at Galgotias University, couldn't stop talking about how the round-the clock security system, centralised air-conditioning and free Wi-Fi help her make the most of her time and pursue her studies in a secure environment.

The co-founders of the start-up -- Shubha Lal, Karan Kaushish and Nidhi Kumra, felt the need for a home-like place for students to come back to at the end of the day even when they were students themselves and staying in hostels

"My parents want me to stay here for the next year too," she said, adding that all that the residents have to pay for the lodging and food is Rs 10,000 per month.

"For a bed in a double-seater room, we need to pay Rs 125,000 a year and for one in a three-bed room it is Rs 105,000," Verma, who is pursuing B.Tech from the same university, added.

But most students in India, especially those who migrate from remote villages or small towns to their city of dreams to pursue higher education, are not that lucky.

In the absence of a reliable, branded, student-housing solution, they often spend days, sometimes weeks scouting for a suitable place, and ultimately settle for a ramshackle place with unknown individuals because of the skyrocketing rents in the cities.

And what is more, some even end up spending most of their time doing daily chores, rather than on studies.

The co-founders of the start-up -- Shubha Lal, Karan Kaushish and Nidhi Kumra, all in their early 30s -- understood the need for a clean, serviced, home-like place for students to come back to at the end of the day even when they were students themselves and staying in hostels. But little did they realise then that one day they would take steps to fill the gap.

The hostel offers round-the clock security system, centralised air-conditioning and free Wi-Fi for the residents

"I saw my friends struggling to find a good, clean and safe place to live," Lal, who did her graduation from Lady Shriram College in New Delhi, said.

"This situation hasn't changed in the last 10 years, and premium, standardised accommodation for students is definitely a niche market that is untapped. We launched our first girls' hostel in Greater Noida in July 2016 and secured 100 per cent occupancy within a month," she added.

Sumit Tyagi, who agreed to offer the building on lease to Your-Space is not complaining either.

"I thought of starting a guest house or a hostel accommodation myself. But when the founders of Your-Space approached me, I decided to give the building on lease as I liked their proposal. Now I don't have to concentrate on managing the hostel, which allows me more time to devote to other work," Tyagi said.

"It was a good decision. The journey with the Your-Space team has been fabulous so far," Tyagi added.

Going ahead, however, Your-Space would stop taking buildings on lease and would rather develop accommodation in partnership with developers, Kaushish, an alumnus of the University of Oxford's Said Business School, revealed, adding that more changes are on the cards for the young start-up.

"Your-Space currently offers accommodation only for female students. But we have realised that the living conditions of male students too are far from satisfactory. From 2018 onwards, we plan to roll out housing solutions for boys too," Kaushish said.

The model provided by Your-Space has already attracted the interest of investors.

In March this year, the company announced the closure of an angel round of half a million dollars towards expansion of their premium student housing venture.

This was a first angel round after the promoters invested their own capital in the seed round. HNI and angel investors from both India and abroad participated. The investor-profile included people from leading financial institutions, and the real estate and hospitality sectors.

In-house gymnasium for the residents

Globally, the student housing market is estimated to be about $200 billion, according to a recent report by education consulting firm Eduvisors.

With continued growth of higher education institutes and the estimated projection of over 300 million college students by 2020, the market opportunity remains massive in India too.

With organised players like Your-Space embracing an aggressive expansion spree, the face of the segment is likely to change soon, when more such players start crowding the space.

The founders of Your-Space aim to more than double their capacity this year and expand to other educational hubs in the Delhi NCR region, and eventually to other cities.

"We aim to be a pan-India brand that is trusted by students, parents and universities across the country," Kumra said.

So, does the future look bright? Watch this space. - IANS

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