With a thought in mind to make something unique, Vadodara-based Hiren Gandhi with his college friend and the co-founder of Urbanpod laid the milestone of India’s first brand of pod hotels in Mumbai.
“How to create more value for money kept hitting us, and that’s how the idea of pod hotels in India came about”says Hiren Gandhi, the co-founder of Urbanpod.
A concept that is common in Japan, China, Singapore and Malaysia and had no footprints in Indian market as yet, Urbanpod is creating a niche of being the next generation smart hotel chain.
The treble entrepreneur’s venture Urbanpod shared their entrepreneurial journey with Entrepreneur India.
After studying from Michigan University and exploring a range of places across the world in the hospitality segment, entrepreneur duo of Hiren Gandhi and Shalabh Mittal thought to bring something new and non-existing in India.
'Affordability' Matters at Par
Spotting a common yet a practical determinant of Indian market that what largely runs in industry for a long time is a product or service that earns a huge amount of inclination of consumers towards it. Thereby, after a lot of research and studies in hospitality segment across the world, the third-generation entrepreneur in his family, Hiren came across the pod hotel concept in his visit to Singapore with Shalabh, the co-founder and his close friend.
“Two years back when we were exploring hotels in Singapore, we found this concept which is also very common in Asia-Pacific region. A part of me said to me that why don’t we try and do this for India.”
Considering the importance of factors like ‘value for money’ and ‘affordability’ in the mind space of Indian consumers, Shalabh and Hiren decided to bring Singapore in India together with a third partner joining Berlin Lee. Berlin is an architect by profession and the original design-maker of pod hotel in Singapore.
The 140-unit hotel, Urbanpod, started operations about a month ago, and has gained a wide traction of Indian travelers with its all new concept and its cost efficiency. It offers classic (single occupancy), private and suite pods for travelers who wish to stay for a night or two in cities.
Why India is a Futuristic Market for Pod Hotels?
“We analyzed that in India there is a lackluster in the segment of quality accommodation as there are a lot of people who travel domestically, especially in metro cities. We wanted to come up with a new yet a cost efficient concept which did not exist in India," Gandhi said.
“Since India is a growing market at the moment, and shares a big chunk in travel and tourism, we thought to give India a cost effective way of living with a handful of basic facilities” adds Hiren.
The company is targeting online travel agencies as for now to gain a momentum in market being a first mover of this segment; Urbanpod has tied up with many global and domestic companies like makemytrip.com, Expedia.com, Goibibo.
Urbanpod offers suite pods which are made on the 50 sq ft. to 90 sq. ft. space with queen sized beds that can accommodate two guests. With pricing which is a notch below the regular budget hotels like Ginger and ibis, Urbanpod have room rates below 2,000 INR. Besides they also avails an option of private pods, wherein around 18 pods are exclusively for female guests, and 106 pods for male guests.
Mumbai-based Urbanpod has had around 200 occupants staying up till now.
An age-group of 18 and above comes under the target sheet of customers of Urbanpod, as per Hiren. Typically, travelers who are on a business trip and want a stay for a night or two.
“For women, we have a special room set where there will be no male occupants or staff. We ensure women security in a full-fledged manner from our side.”
How to Ensure the first-mover advantage in Industry?
Since this category doesn’t exist as it is a new concept, the company claims to have no competitors.
On asking how will they ensure the first-mover advantage, Hiren said, “ We are looking at strategic-partners and collaborating with real-estate owners to set up Pod Hotels across the metro-markets”.