Co-living startup surging in India: YourOwnROOM

By Tarmo Virki | coliving India | October 2, 2020

We spoke with founders of India’s YourOwnROOM — Prabhat Kumar Tiwary, a Stanford GSB alumnus and his colleague and friend Sachin Joshi.

What does your startup do?

YourOwnROOM is a  residential real estate prop-tech rental and property management company. The prop-tech platform enables onboarding and management of residential assets in multiple formats including co-living homes, alternate assets and family homes.

We currently manage over 300 residential properties/ 1,500 beds spread across 0.35 million sqft. valued at over $30 million across Bangalore and Pune in India.

We offer high quality, managed co-living homes and family homes that are safe, comfortable and strategically located. We also help manage the entire tenant lifecycle from agreement creation and tenant verification to move in, stay, service requests, renewal, transfers and exits.

We act as a trusted custodian for homeowners and offer multi-year rental and property management services to them. We help them get continuous cash flow and higher rental yields from their assets.

We also offer professional operating partner services to developers and real estate funds and help them get higher rental yields from their portfolio of residential assets.

How did you come up with the idea?

Both of them worked for large Global IT Services companies for several years handling large. This mainly included folks in their mid-twenties from smaller cities who had moved to metros in search of better job opportunities and quality of life. However, they faced discrimination and landed up compromising on location, travel, security, safety and comfort and landed up staying in low-end PGs (paying guests accommodation). This was the “aha” moment where Sachin and I decided to quit our jobs and build a prop-tech based solution and solve this demand-supply problem and make residential real estate more efficient in urban India. 

There were 4.7 million migrant millennials across top 7 cities in India in 2018 and will be 7 million by 2023. On the other hand, there are nearly 11 million vacant housing units in urban india and  0.46 million ready and unsold properties as per JLL, 2020 .

What have been the biggest milestones on your entrepreneur journey so far?

We achieved our biggest milestone early this year when we turned operationally profitable across all cities. In real estate service industry, achieving this feat is in such a short time frame is something that makes us proud. With the current projections, we are expected to turn EBITDA positive by the end of this financial year.

Since Inception, our goal was to build a pan India business that could profitably scale across multiple cities and service offerings. Hence during our early days we made some very careful strategic choices like building a strong prop-tech platform, building a strong execution engine, picking the right assets, keeping our offerings asset light, creating a multi city scalable structure, signing long term rental agreements, being obsessed with tenant delight, winning owner trust and signing 3-5 year MoUs with homeowners.

What have been the biggest challenges? How have you dealt with them? 

COVID, without any doubt has been the biggest challenge that we have experienced since Inception. This has led to multiple challenges like unusually high rate of tenant attrition, lower demand, corrections in rental price and constraints in sales and operations due to lockdowns and restrictions imposed by various residential complexes.

Post COVID, our primary focus shifted from revenue to profitability and conserving cash. Firstly, we have expanded our base to include family homes and we see a sudden increase in demand for large ‘work from home’ friendly family houses in gated societies. Secondly, we have also strengthened our ability to offer remote services. Thirdly, we have altered the mix of assets that we acquire to match the current demand and price points.

Lastly, in addition to managed services we have started offering Digital Rental and Property management services to our Home Owners.

We have entered the growth phase. We are very excited with our discussions with leading Developers and Real Estate Funds in India and across the world. We are working with them to become their operating partner and in turn this will help us drive explosive growth in the next few quarters. Our core proposition to them is to increase their sales velocity by engineering in rental and property management much early in the sales process and help them achieve higher rental yield out of their residential real asset portfolio.