Moving to a new city can be a scary experience, especially if you are a student. Entrepreneurs Sandeep Dalmia and Anindya Dutta empathise with the struggles, and their start-up Stanza Living seeks to solve at least one of those dilemmas: finding a place to live. “Sandeep and I have known each other since IIM Ahmedabad and have a good decade worth experience of living in hostels,” says Dutta.
Founded in April 2017, Stanza Living is a premium student accommodation provider. While Sandeep was a principal at Boston Consulting Group, Anindya had a stint with Goldman Sachs London and later with Oaktree Capital. “I witnessed the setting up of a student housing business in the UK at close quarters,” informs Dutta. That only excited him to explore a similar opportunity in the Indian market.
Stanza Living’s peppy website tells people to move over paying guest accomodations and hostels. “We have created a very experiential product, we almost see this as a hospitality product,” says Dutta. It claims to offer high quality living infrastructure (well-designed living areas, hourly meals, security and staff). But it doesn’t end here. There is also provision of recreational spaces and access to knowledge and career networks. He adds, “We are starting a programme to connect [residing students] with other start-ups for internship, or with people in the field that they are pursuing. We want to make them corporate-ready, and a little more world-aware.”
The start-up takes an entire building on lease and turns it into Stanza Living space. So far 100 beds have been provided in Delhi. Rooms are allocated on sharing basis, ranging between Rs.7,000-25,000 per person. However, the rent is property and location driven. So, while it will be as low as Rs.7,000 in smaller cities, in certain parts of Delhi, it can go up to Rs.25,000. Value-added services also vary — if one pays more, one can get laundry and four meals a day versus the usual three meals daily.
“We have a very scalable model. We can get a building ready in 10-12 days only,” says Dutta. The cost of setting up a bed ranges anywhere between Rs.5,000-15,000. The start-up raised Rs.13 crore from Matrix Partners and Accel in November 2017 and aims to have 5,000 beds by early 2020. They are expecting to clock Rs.2 crore-Rs.3 crore in 2017-18. After Delhi, the next targets are other educational hubs in Pune, Bangalore and Kota.
Clearly, when accommodation is one less thing to worry about, it’s a delight — especially when it only comes with added comfort perks. And as Dalmia puts it, “We keep the end beneficiary at the center of our model to bring a superior product. We are in the business of living, not barebones housing.”