Your-Space is an IIM – Cambridge –alumni initiative dedicated to making the lives of young people living away from their hometown for their studies a safe, hassle-free, and memorable hostel experience.
Nidhi Kumra and Shubha Lal, co-founders of Your-Space, are conformant to bringing a globalized outlook to the students' housing sector. They spent considerable time understanding the alternative accommodations for students, evaluating different micro-markets in cities, and conceptualizing a product that would meet global standards while remaining economically viable for students and parents.
Let's get to know more about the founders and their journey!
Q1. Tell us a bit about yourself?
"My dad is a retired journalist, and my mom is a doctor and still practicing. Focus has always been hard work, enjoying what you do, and being compassionate and considerate. I am the only daughter, so some say I am pampered and spoiled. " Says Shubha Lal
Q2.Do you have any formal training or family business?
"Business was never something we discussed at home as a career option, so when we decided to quit and start this business, there were a lot of discussions," says Shubha Lal.
As parents, they were naturally worried about quitting and moving into a sector and area we had never worked in before. Unfortunately, the real estate sector is not a great example of women in business. But once they realized there was no dissuading us, they supported and pitched in any way possible.
Q3. What did inspire you to take this challenge and organize an industry that's highly unorganized in the Indian market?
Both Nidhi and I had a personal connection to this industry. We had both lived in hostels in different parts of the world. We were able to compare the difference in infrastructure, quality of service, and student behavior. But the camaraderie and memories from that time were a common thread. It was more about the experience rather than the facilities.
The Indian student housing market is cluttered with housing options lacking maintenance, hygiene, security, nutritious meals, and, most importantly, stable and reasonable renting costs, which are precursory for students to lead a productive and enriching lifestyle.
Also, we realized the parent remains a crucial customer in the whole equation, and we could relate it to what our parents went through when they dropped us at the hostel on the first day.
This personal connection pushed us to take the challenge and build our product on the ground. We were very aware of our lack of experience and the unorganized nature of the business. So we started with one hostel and were involved in that experience from start to finish.
Q4. What has been your proudest moment?
As we set out to bring a globalized outlook to the student housing sector, we spent considerable time understanding the alternative accommodations for students. We evaluated different micro-markets in cities and conceptualized a product that would meet global standards while remaining economically viable for students and parents.
When we started the girls' hostel near LSR in Delhi, we spoke to several parents considering hostel options. I particularly remember A father from Najafgarh who was a farmer and very proud that his daughter had cleared English (H) in LSR. But naturally, he was very concerned about his daughter staying in Delhi alone, and their chances of an on-campus hostel were low. So much so that he was considering pulling her admission.
We spent ample time trying to convince him about the security measures at the hostel, the role of the warden, and other operations SOP. He finally agreed, and his daughter stayed with us for three years and graduated from LSR, a proud personal moment.
Q5. Would you tell us the most significant challenges you faced as an entrepreneur?
Convincing people that one can learn the tricks of the trade of a new sector.
Time management – how to be most efficient and productive in 24 hours
Taking time out to unwind and disconnect Nidhi and I decided to leave behind our banking careers to embark on this new venture to better students' lives in India. Our business strategy was clear – be present in the top 10 cities and continue acquiring market share in those cities.
An initial investment of INR 1 crore out of our savings helped us develop and create our first housing space for students in Noida, which promptly sold out. A roadmap was in place to replicate this on the scale while consistently enhancing the services across various micro-markets to meet varying demands.
Our asset-light model fastened us for rapid expansion across North and West India. The brand is underway to accommodate 75,000+ members of the student diaspora across cities in India by 2025. Over the last two years, Your-Space has tripled the size of its business. We are on track for their fiscal year projections, making us a good and trusted brand in the student housing market.
Q6. What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Be laser-sharp on your product proposition and why the customer will pay to buy your product.
Stay close to your customers, especially as you scale.
Automate processes wherever possible.
Clear communication of targets and get your team involved as you build the company.
For more, visit us on www.your-space.in or follow us on Insta @yourspace_in.
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