SimplyGuest with Mayank – Udaipur student engineers a PG startup
SimplyGuest Current yearly revenue is Rs. 1.6 Crores. Assets include 120 beds in private flats and another 27 beds in the SimplyGuest hostel. Of the 120 beds in shared flats, 57% are occupied by women while 43% are occupied by men. The Ladies hostel was started in November 2017 and has 27 beds. Occupancy rates hover around 95%
The entrepreneurial bug bites, and when it bites, it stays. Mayank Pokharna, a graduate of CTAE (2013) and alumnus of St Paul’s Udaipur, began his career with startups and graduate to one of his own. He is a team of three tech graduates, who identified the need for comfortable living at optimal costs in metros and after a thorough research led themselves to their Eureka moment – SimplyGuest.
Mayank, after completing his engineering from CTAE, studies for another two years at NIRMA, where he honed his management skills. He worked with Practo and CueMath in various capacities and now is a part of the founding team at SimplyGuest.
Their efforts have earlier been featured on various platforms, some of them being…
Lets get to know SimplyGuest
SimplyGuest provides fully-furnished homes to singles, working professionals, and couples in close proximity to their workplaces. The accommodation is completely managed and hassle-free; rent is inclusive of all monthly bills including electricity, water, 20-100mbps WiFi, DTH, unlimited LPG, domestic help, repairs and maintenance. SimplyGuest takes care of finding qualified flatmates as well as their entries and exits. Tenants can move in to any house in our network at no extra cost when they change jobs or workplaces. SimplyGuest also provides bicycles on rent for an easy commute and recommends a curated list of cooks and maids to the people living at SimplyGuest homes.
SimplyGuest recently started a professional hostel as well. The attempt here is to change and improve many aspects of traditional PGs. For starters, the food offered at these hostels is of high quality. There are monthly audits to ensure that food standards, safety and hygiene are maintained. There are no curfews in these hostels.
How did SimplyGuest Started
The original idea was actually very different. The founders set out to certify rental houses along the lines of certifying used cars. They initially would certify a house for its livability quotient by trying to answer questions such as, ‘is there a provision for a washing machine?’, ‘are there enough plugs in the house and are they all working?’, ‘is the geyser working and what is its capacity?’ and so on. But unlike certified cars, people weren’t willing to pay for certified rental houses. They would rather go through the difficulties of living in a suboptimal house than to pay for it.
So then the company pivoted to PG aggregation. That didn’t work either, as PG owners weren’t open to upgrading their facilities with technology. However, during the research for this project, the team visited numerous PGs and realized that they were nothing short of cattle-houses. Even if you were willing to pay a higher monthly rent, you couldn’t find a decent PG. That’s when they decided to create an alternative to paying guest accommodation. They rented a flat in an upscale apartment society, furnished it with everything a family would require, got a very good WiFi connection, DTH, LPG, made the kitchen functional and hired domestic help; it was everything one could possibly ask for in a house. People could rent rooms in a good apartment without worrying about finding other flatmates. Very soon, the flat was fully occupied and that was their Eureka moment.
Bangalore attracts a lot of singles; many of them earn well and don’t want to compromise on the quality of their lifestyle. At the same time, they don’t want the hassle of finding flatmates or managing the consequences of changing flatmates such as splitting furnishing costs, adjusting security deposits, paying and splitting bills, managing the house overall etc. This is exactly the problem that we have set out to solve.
Subbu Athikunte is a software engineer with deep experience in all aspects of software development. He worked at Apigee (later acquired by Google) before quitting to start SimplyGuest. He has worked on distributed systems, analytics, big data, cloud computing, UI, devops and nearly everything else in the field of large-scale software projects.
Ambareesha used to work on civil and PWD projects before SimplyGuest. He is very experienced in setting up and managing ground operations of infrastructure projects.
Mayank Pokharna has worked with Indian start-ups like Practo and Cuemath in their hyper-growth phase. In his previous role as a chief of staff at Cuemath, he worked on streamlining multiple business processes to drive productivity and sales. At Practo, he was responsible for creating and managing end to end operations and business intelligence processes. He was a SimplyGuest customer before joining hands with Subbu and Ambarish. Subbu and Ambareesha are brothers.
More about the process at https://blog.simplyguest.com/building-simplyguest/hiring-co-founder.html
SimplyGuest competes head-on with companies like Nestaway, Homigo, Colive, SquarePlums, StayAbode, etc. PGs are still relevant and provide advantages that a distributed model like SimplyGuest can’t provide. They are concentrated living spaces and take advantages that come from economies of scale. This concentration makes operations easier. Some upscale paying guest accommodations are extremely well operated.
SimplyGuest provides a completely ready-to live house and their team manages day-to-day operations of a house. It’s like having a homemaker on hire. All repairs, maintenance, bill payments, are taken care by SimplyGuest.
Average tenancy duration is 7 months, making living in shared accommodation very easy. Tenants are guaranteed that they will continue to pay the same rent even when other tenants move out; this removes the dependence on flatmates. Even if only one person is currently occupying a house, they will have access to all utilities, connections, domestic help and all other services. The company ensures housekeeping gets done regularly.
SimplyGuest provides an online expense sharing tool (like Splitwise) for Flatmates to split expenses among themselves; these expenses then get settled along with rent so that tenants don’t have to open their wallets every time they have to split bills. They also assist with deep cleaning whenever there is a need for it. Ultimately, customers get predictable rents, and a consistent quality living experience throughout their stay. SimplyGuest provides a curated network of house service providers like cooks, water can providers, housekeeping staff and certified meal delivery services. The future plans include integrating more services and make living alone still easier.
The model also has a built-in robust payments system. All payments – rent, security deposit, bills, and owner payments – are executed online. Tenants get an itemized rent invoice and they can pay through a computer or a mobile phone using any mode of their choice. We also have technology to manage all backend operations that can generate rental agreements, manage internal tenant movements, manage assets in the property, manage house keys, etc. very efficiently.
People assume SimplyGuest is expensive compared to Nestaway. In reality, it’s the opposite. Our competitors hide all the essential charges. Its like ex-showroom price vs on-road price. You can’t drive a car by paying ex-showroom price. They also hide the fact that if you are the only person staying in a house, you will end up paying the entire utility bills. With SimplyGuest it’s what you see is what you get. There are no hidden costs
Revenue, Traction, Growth
Current yearly revenue is Rs. 1.6 Crores. Assets include 120 beds in private flats and another 27 beds in the SimplyGuest hostel. Of the 120 beds in shared flats, 57% are occupied by women while 43% are occupied by men. The Ladies hostel was started in November 2017 and has 27 beds. Occupancy rates hover around 95%.
Funding Raised and Future Plans
Simply Guest is self-funded and bootstrapped. The focus was to build the product and services until now. Being in a pretty good shape now, the company is ready to raise external capital; they are looking to raise funds and have been talking to many investors. Recently a takeover bid from a major brand who was looking to enter into this space, was rejected. At the current growth rate, SimplyGuest can see itself being able to offer about 300-350 beds in shared flats and 150-200 beds in hostels within a timeframe of 12-18 months. Technology systems and processes are in peak condition as well. SimplyGuest is looking at being able to raise capital and in about 5 years from now, being able to manage 50,000 beds in shared flats and another 50,000 beds in hostels.