Bootstrapped startup Placio is helping college students find a home away from home in a new city
Headquartered in Noida, Placio is building a network of student housing properties that provide boarding, food, security, air-conditioning, internet and housekeeping. The startup currently has 1,000 beds and aims to reach 10,000-bed capability in 12-16 months.
For many students, college brings two diverse emotions. One is the joy of getting a seat in a college/university of their dreams; the other is anxiety, especially if they are moving cities. Several questions plague a student: Will I be able to fit in? WilI I like it there? Will I be able to cope with the classes? And most importantly – will I find the right accommodation?
It is to solve this problem that Rohit Pateria, Ankush Arora and Atul Kumar Singh started online platform Placio last year. Their aim was to organise the unorganised student housing sector in India. The Noida-based startup is incubated by Amity Innovation Incubator, based in Amity University, Noida.
The trio pack in a wealth of experience - Rohit with 17 years of experience in finance, investments, law and management; Ankush with over 16 years of experience in finance and real estate; and Atul with over 12 years of experience in real estate.
What does Placio offer?
A professionally managed, student housing initiative, Placio offers fully furnished private and shared accommodation for students. The platform is built on the belief of community-based living and entails co-living in an environment where the user’s experience is more important than simple living.
Speaking about the venture, Rohit says: “Our room-matching algorithms ensure like-minded individuals connect and live together and enjoy their college life to the fullest in housing that is independent yet secure.”
The platform offers carefully curated places of living, which are not only comfortable but also affordable for college-going students. Placio caters to all kind of accommodation requirements, from basic budget to high-end luxury accommodation with pool/TT tables, play station, book exchange counters and other facilities.
The first launch included a 1,000-bed capacity around Amity University, Noida.
Why student accommodation?
The founders wanted to set up a business where technology acted as an enabler rather than a player. They realised that the future of rental housing was big in India, but they wanted to narrow down the target group. After intensive research they found that though online marketplaces were helping millennials find their perfect fit, no one was concentrating exclusively on students.
Explaining the reason why they chose the space, Rohit says,
“As per data in JLL’s report, around 34 million students enroll for higher education, of which nearly 26.6 million students - close to 76 percent - migrate to different cities. As per estimates, cities with facilities of higher education can provide accommodation to just 18 to 20 percent of these 76 percent students. So, if done right we see a huge scope in the business in coming years.”
After looking at different models the team realised that a branded co-living space would be the best way to ensure quality and growth.
In their first financial year, FY 16-17, the team claims to have made a consolidated revenue of Rs 25 lakh. The projected revenue for the coming year is between Rs 15 and Rs 16 crore.
Other players and Placio’s positioning
The market for student accommodation seems to be growing even in India, where it is believed to be worth $3 million. A survey conducted last year suggested that there were close to 50 lakh students enrolling in colleges and universities across 20 cities in the country.
Of these, close to 54 percent were from other cities, and only 4.8 lakh hostel seats were available for the base of 27.5 lakh students. This meant that the remaining students had to seek accommodation at PGs or flats.
Gaurav Munjal founded Flat.to—acquired by Commonfloor—to help students find relevant accommodation. Apart from that, there also is Housing Anywhere, an international platform that helps students find accommodation as per their requirements in 118 countries and 531 cities. Then there are big players like Student.com and Uniplaces.
In India, hotel aggregator Wudstay is looking to expand aggressively in this space. The company claims to have provided over 35,000 beds since the launch of its hostel and PG network across five cities, starting with Kota in Rajasthan.
There are also Delhi-based Studentacco and University Living started by students from UK. The main differentiator for Placio is that apart from promising to fulfil your basic housing needs like a bed, mattress, hygienic living conditions, food, clean drinking water, security, power backup, it gives parents peace of mind by offering round-the-clock rescue and emergency command centre help line in association with 24x7 response.
Expansion on Placio’s mind
Bootstrapped as of now, the Placio team is currently in talks for their next round of funding. The team has a capacity of 1,000 beds and aims to reach 10,000 beds in 12-16 months.
“Our approach will be hyperlocal and we will target universities in Delhi-NCR in FY 17-18. Placio’s three-year target is to have a presence in the five top education hubs with a total bed capacity of 50,000,” Rohit says.