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Co-living Is Emerging As Renewed Business Opportunity, say These #2 Entrepreneurs 'What's pushing the culture of co-living in metros is the bait of a social life'

By Baishali Mukherjee

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Entrepreneur India

Co-living is fast emerging as the next big hospitality trend. It can be a remedy for a lonely millennial seeking out a true connection. The concept has a massive opportunity in India as it addresses the fundamental need of accommodation of the young, urban migratory populace.

With the young, new-age Indian consumers becoming more tech-savvy and happily adopting the notion of shared economy, the rise of co-living is inevitable. Focus on high-quality, technology-driven services and consistency hold the key to this industry.

Today there are players in India like WeLive (US), Common (US), You+ (China), who are changing the way Indian youth live. Entrepreneur India got in touch with Nitin Sharma (Founder, RentRoomi) and Uday Lakkar (Founder, CoHo) to understand the dynamics, efficacy, and future of this business.

Founded in November 2015, RentRoomi is a customized platform that helps users provide or take a room on rent. Engineer-turned-entrepreneur Sharma operates from Jaipur and provides services in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Noida, Hyderabad and Gurgaon.

Start-ups Can Help the Sector Develop Into a Mass Market

"What's pushing the culture of co-living in metros is the bait of a social life — the flat comes with roommates and that too of similar nature. The chances of having a roommate from a similar social and economic status enhance social networking. The advantage of socializing with like-minded people is the lure for shifting with roommates. Changes in housing are bringing people closer together. Meanwhile, it's an economically viable business too," said Sharma.

While conceding that the concept in India has a long way to go compared with the US and China, Sharma maintained that the future of co-living in the country did appear broad and promising.

Co-living is Combining the Energy and Spirit of the Commune

"Apartment rents in big cities are high, as are the security deposits. Add to this the furnishing costs. This is one reason why the Indian youths are opting for co-living, to reside in groups with peers of similar profiles, in high-quality apartments, armed with amenities," he opined.

"Nowadays rental market offers decent space to establish the disruptive concept of co-living. While PGs and hostels have always been there, what is perhaps luring young minds is the new avatar of co-living — standardized and less cumbersome experience and a plug-and-play kind of model. And what's pulling entrepreneurs is a business opportunity that never existed before. Another comforting factor for entrepreneurs is the success of global counterparts in spreading communal living. The idea of co-living is to combine the energy and spirit of the commune with the commercial effectiveness," enumerated the entrepreneur from Jaipur.

Co-living Spaces are Culturally Resonant with Millennials

Start-ups in this space are continuously proposing solutions to the housing crisis. The need for more micro-apartments has been repeatedly highlighted. As new workforce flooded cities demanding more freedom, boarding houses were largely replaced by shared accommodations (Peer -2- Peer) while co-living hubs were designed for long-term stays.

Start-ups are continuously working to transform residential housing by creating a brand that is "emotionally and culturally resonant with millennials', he informed.

Also founded in 2015 by Uday Lakkar, a management graduate from IIM Ahmedabad, CoHo is another tech start-up that aims to provide a superior living experience to young professionals in India. Currently operational in Delhi, Gurgaon, and Noida, Lakkar has already catered to more than 800 youths.

Entrepreneurship Brings New Perspective to Old Ways of Doing Things

"Just to borrow an example, the taxi industry had been there since ages, but players like Uber and Ola brought in a completely different level of service quality and tech enablement in the industry. Similarly, CoHo, driven by an entrepreneurial mindset, is challenging the basics of running the business with its innovative culture of engaging people with community events (stand up comedy, gaming tournaments, dog therapy sessions, etc); smart technology like online concierge, smart locks," asserted Lakkar.

"The depth in the market is already there with $10 million market size. It's just a matter of providing growth with quality to an existing market, by consolidating it under brand umbrellas," suggested Lakkar, who said living conditions for Indian youth are yet unaddressed blatantly.

Execution Remains the Biggest Frontier for Co-living

"We are trying to address the same with a very highly tech-centric approach with all aspects of business operations, user acquisition and resident servicing being enabled heavily through technology. Awareness of co-living as a concept will also take some time to pick up like any sunrise industry. But with rapid adoption traction seems to be massive," he predicted.

"Consistent quality and customer-centric approach hold the key to this space, given the long-term nature of the offering. Addressing this with 3C approach — Comfortable plug and play homes, convenience driven by tech and community living experience is the way ahead," signed off Lakkar.

Baishali Mukherjee

Former Freelancer

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