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Building Co-Living Spaces

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Viral Chhajer, Co-Founder & CEO, StayAbode

Viral Chhajer is the Co-Founder & CEO at StayAbode. He is responsible for Business Development and Growth. Prior to StayAbode, Viral headed Marketing at food ordering and delivery platform Runnr. He has also co-founded Bribe Me, a flash sale marketplace for  traditional brick and mortar stores. Viral started his career as a Business Analyst at Goldman Sachs and is a BBA Finance from Christ University, Bangalore. In conversation with Dominic Rebello, Viral says StayAbode is a concept focused on fostering a sense of community, of living together, of sharing space, costs, resources and time with like-minded people.

What is the idea behind StayAbode?
StayAbode is using design, technology, service and brand to create co-living spaces that foster a hassle-free community living experience. The company began operations in August 2016 with the launch of our first co-living space Nestor which is in Koramangala and spread across 22,000 sq.ft. StayAbode is a concept focused on fostering a sense of community, of living together, of sharing space, costs, resources and time with like-minded people. StayAbode has a host of interest-based socializing spaces in their properties to build a strong community. From a cozy reading nook to a community music zone complete with a guitar and speakers, we’ve thoughtfully built these zones to create a conducive environment for people to interact and socalize. Devashish, one of my co-founders, had this idea while backpacking across Europe and staying in various community hostels. That’s when the idea of living in a community with a group of like-minded individuals really struck. He then came back to India and teamed with Varun and myself to make this a viable business.

How big is the potential for a business like yours?
The rental residential market is pegged at over $25Bn in India and with the lack of a single brand with substantial market share, the market is ripe for disruption. We’re riding at the back of a scalable technology solution and unique product innovations that’ll allow us to capture significant market share in this space.

Who would primarily be your consumer audience?
We are targeting urban millennials - who move to different cities for jobs or study and are looking for affordable yet high quality living experience. StayAbode offers a great co-living experience by offering exactly that, along with an opportunity to instantly connect with like-minded people. Communal living is gradually becoming the preferred way of living for several reasons - saves money, is more fulfilling than living alone, people want to make/have friends to share common interests with, people want to live a less atomized lifestyle, easier to move in when shifting to a new city.

How do you plan to scale up?
We are looking at expanding to 1200 units by the year end. We are currently in Bangalore with 260 units across 5 properties and plan to expand to other cities in due course.

Where do you see yourself five years down the road?
We have a target of going global in terms of service in next 5-10 years expanding our reach in South East Asian countries like Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia etc.

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