Interaction with NestAway Technologies Founder
It is common for urban migrants in Indian cities to encounter biases and barriers while searching for a rented home of their choice. These issues create an atmosphere of distrust between homeowners and tenants. But not anymore!
NestAway Technologies, ‘India’s largest online home rental network’ came into existence to resolve these problems through their holistic services. Currently, NestAway has more than 30,000 tenants and 13,000 houses in their network. The company has been able to make their presence in the market by collaborating with several committed affiliates or area partners. NestAway strongly believes that without their constant support the company wouldn’t have been able to achieve such a milestone in a short period of time. These affiliate partners are individuals who work with the company (part-time or full time) and help in expanding NestAway’s network in different areas. From being a home-maker to IT professionals to travel agents, NestAway’s area partners come from diverse backgrounds.
Interaction with Smruti Parida, Co-founder and CTO, NestAway Technologies
How NestAway technologies was born and inspiration behind the name?
When we, a bunch of friends first moved to Bengaluru in 2004 for work, we spent days searching for a place to stay and dreamt of a ‘nest away from home’ that we could call our own. Unmarried people were never the preferred choice of tenants and getting a house on rent in decent localities was a dream. Apart from this, the steep deposit amount of 10 months’ rent was an added burden on young millennials.
After three months of frantic search, we found an owner who was kind enough to offer his house to us for six months’ deposit in exchange for a little more rent. The whole process was frustrating, tiring and, at times, humiliating. During this process, we realized the need to develop a social infrastructure for affordable renting.
In June 2014, we experimented with one of our houses in Whitefield and listed it for rent on social media. To our surprise, all the four beds that we had offered were sold out in a day. We found a huge potential in this market and wanted to solve the issues faced by urban migrants. We thus started NestAway with the objective of creating a marketplace for shared home rentals. At NestAway, we wanted to provide houses for everyone without any discrimination and at a convenience of two months’ rent as deposit, sans an interview with the owner, especially for youngsters. We wanted to create an ecosystem that is responsible for making living conditions better. The idea was to create a sense of belonging for urban migrants when they moved to a new city and we thus came up with the name – ‘NestAway’ a home away from home. Today we are the largest online home rental company in India.
As NestAway grew we expanded our consumer base to include families as well. Young married couple moving to new cities often struggle to find suitable accommodation within their budget. At NestAway we have tried to standardize the living experience and offer options for every budget.
What makes NestAway stand out from the rest of the brands in India for renting solutions?
NestAway specializes in home rental solutions, unlike competitors who often facilitate renting alongside sale and purchase of properties. We take a two-month security deposit from our tenants and do not charge brokerage fees. We provide a hassle-free experience and a sense of belonging to the migrant who has moved to a new city. Shared apartments are a growing home rental model that in India with several advantages. Working individuals or students can pool in money and share an apartment, giving them a sense of independence and privacy. NestAway is also building technologies to provide safer homes to its tenants.
We also undertake end-to-end property management for our homeowners. This includes tenant verification, registration of the rental agreement and handling property insurance. We create a real-time online dashboard for each homeowner where they can monitor their house from their phones.
Nestaway stands against all forms of discrimination and hence our campaign – #HomesThatDontDiscriminate, is one of the many steps that was taken in this direction. All brand communications have been crafted around the insight that every urban migrant faces some form of discrimination or bias while looking for a house. As a category leader, NestAway takes pride in providing homes that do not discriminate in any manner or form and we are constantly working towards building a robust home rental ecosystem in India.
Could you share details on the revenue model for NestAway?
NestAway offers an end-to-end renting solution through which homeowners can list their homes and decide the rent that they wish to charge. Prospective tenants can then schedule visits and can book the home online should they decide to rent it. Once a tenant starts living with us, they pay their rent online every month until the end of their stay. Once a house is occupied Nestaway credits the rent to the homeowner on a monthly basis. A pre-decided percentage of the rent earned becomes our revenue.
The company has been able to make their presence in the market by collaborating with several committed affiliates partners. These affiliate partners are individuals who work with the company (part-time or full time) and help in expanding NestAway’s network in different areas.
At NestAway, we’re trying to address the problems faced by both stakeholders of the rental ecosystem – house owners and tenants – by bridging the gap between them. We help the two by providing them with a financially viable and hassle-free renting solution. NestAway offers a range of benefits for tenants like no brokerage, low-security deposit, instant move in, assisted maintenance, furnished houses with DTH & Wi-Fi and is present in eight cities – Bengaluru, New Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Pune, Hyderabad, Ghaziabad, and Mumbai.
There are some brands that stepped into the VR space for a good experience, do you think NestAway will take that path or are you focusing on something better?
We are constantly evolving to help a potential consumer choose, shortlist and book a house, all online. All of our houses as of today are made fully ready before a tenant visits. We work on standardization of all amenities and additional pre-checks. While VR can be a great addition when a house is not in its completed state, providing consumers a “what you see is what you get – WYSIWYG” experience is the core responsibility for NestAway. Hence we are more focused on obsessively using robotics, video intelligence, and AI so that we can make physically visiting a house, a thing of past.
What was your toughest moment at NestAway and how did you do deal with it?
As I pen this down it makes me smile but, in all seriousness, the toughest moment was to play the role of a leader, manager, coach, mentor and friend, all in one moment. With a growing team in a small set-up, I have to play all these roles for each of my team members. As a leader, I need to show them the purpose driving each action, then as a manager, I have to negotiate the action plans. As a coach, I help find the best tools and methodologies to execute a goal. As a mentor, I explain career goals to my team members. And when the day ends, as a friend, I lend a listening ear on how the day went by. Initially, it was a very self-conflicting and emotionally challenging requirement to handle, however, over time I have found ways to wear different hats. The trust from every team member has made me more responsible and accountable to them and to NestAway over time.
What was the most memorable achievement for you?
Most of my memorable moments at NestAway have been seeing NestAway users doing wonderful things as a responsible bachelor, citizen and society member when dealing with a situation. A few months ago, one of our tenant’s relative, a senior citizen, got stuck in a house in one of our co-living property. Not only did the other NestAway tenants calm the person down and take care of him for hours but they also took the trouble to find the tenant and inform him of the situation. All this happened late at night. Such incidents testify to a growing social responsibility. Along with that, our employees are growing in their careers and seeing a future for themselves in NestAway. That is also an achievement I always feel thankful for.
I saw your smart locks and I see a massive market in the future. What are your future plans regarding smart locks?
NestAway’s smart locks give tenants the experience of a premium smart home at their fingertips. It also makes it easier for all the members of the family living in NestAway homes, to gain access to the house without carrying a physical key. These smart locks help in adding a layer of convenience while also securing your home and valuables. The locks allow you to open or lock the door at your convenience, which further allows users to enter the house without possessing a physical key. The 256-bit encryption on the smart locks makes your house hack-proof and provides safety from burglaries. Apart from this, smart locks will also make it easier for our representatives and potential tenants to come and see the houses at their convenience. Especially for families, that have to go through a long short-listing process; can visit the house at any time thus quickening their decision-making process.
Is there any message you would like to share with the current struggling entrepreneurs?
Experimenting is a good way to understand the best value proposition that you can deliver to your customers. Being open-minded and believing in your instincts can help you go a long way in creating a viable and successful start-up. In addition, we believe that it is extremely important that if you face any setbacks, try not to be too hard on yourself. Instead, it is important that you retrospect and learn from your failings. This will help you not to repeat the same mistakes again and make it easier for you to achieve your goals.
We highly recommend using the modern and well future proof renting solution platform. It not only connects the tenant and house owners but want to be with them over the long term period. The platform contains all types of option the todays and upcoming tentant and house owners requried.