Oyo, one of India’s largest hospitality company, forayed into the co-living segment by launching Oyo Life in October 2018. It aims to provide hassle-free renting experience, especially to millennials, including young professionals. Rohit Kapoor, chief executive officer, new real estate business, OYO, talks about the journey so far, the facilities they provide, expansion plans and more
What is the concept of Oyo Life? How is it different from other online rental marketplaces?
Oyo Life is a long-term rental housing business. We are seeing certain trends today where the new generation—the young professionals, millennials and students—is not accepted in the market easily. For example, there are lock-ins, high deposits, prices, biases in terms of X person can stay and Y person can’t based on race, religion, gender, marital status, etc. Our job is to make sure that we have a product which cuts through all of this and provides a simple and elegant solution at an affordable price to people who are looking for long-term housing.
Our model is a full stack one and we are not an aggregator. This means we run things end-to-end—right from getting supply of the building to designing it to running the operations, and so on. So it’s a really hassle-free approach to living in urban India.
Is there a price difference with traditional or new-age rental space? Why shouldn’t one simply go to a broker?
Even if someone comes through a broker, the customer does not pay anything. We are a no-brokerage company. That is the fundamental principle of the business. From a price point of view, we start at ₹5,999 in metro urban areas and depending on what type of room it is and how many are sharing it, the price changes. By any yardstick, we are probably one of the most affordable high-quality service provider.
How have you positioned yourself in the market—as a managed home rental company like NestAway or co-living places like CoHo?
We do not like to compare ourselves with anybody; everybody has a different business model. We provide end-to-end services. We won’t tell that you have come to us, now go to her flat and take it and then after that whatever happens is between you and her. So it’s a fundamentally different model. We offer rooms, and in some cases, even studios. It depends from building to building. But we are not into apartment renting. We are into co-living as a concept.
How many properties do you have currently and in how many cities? How do you plan to expand?
We are now close to 350 buildings, with 16,000-17,000 beds live. We are currently in four cities (Noida, Gurugram, Bengaluru and Pune). By end of June, we expect to open in four more cities. By year-end, we should be in at least 10-15 cities and have about 100,000 beds live.
What are the terms and conditions like? Is there a lock-in? Are there any other extra costs?
We have very few terms. From a consumer standpoint, it’s important to understand what we are trying to do. If I am a young woman, coming to Mumbai or Bengaluru, look at the challenges one has to find a place. In some cases, one has to give first 10 months of security deposit, find a landlord to rent to a single person; then there is a curfew at 9pm and you have to answer who comes to your place or what you eat. After all, I am a citizen of this country with a valid ID wanting to live peacefully; so why should I be going through all this. So that’s fundamentally our model where we say that there is no lock-in period; you give us a valid ID proof and start staying. It is fully furnished. There are certain house rules which everybody should follow because you are staying with other people. Everything is included, except electricity. There is a prepaid metre and an app. The app shows you your electricity consumption. So you pay for your room through the app. Apart from that, housekeeping, WiFi, common rooms, kitchenette facilities is all part of the package. We provide food in some buildings but we are starting tie-ups with companies to do that. But ultimately F&B (food and beverages) will be an integral part of what we do, but that will be an add-on.
How do you zero in on properties?
One of our core strengths is getting the right supply on board. We do not rely much on intermediaries. We don’t do individual apartments and only do buildings which we can run end-to-end. We don’t own the buildings; they are on lease or agreement. We typically target buildings that are fully available to lease out. I have promised my customer an end-to-end experience and I don’t want anything else coming in the way.
You also have plans to tap big time into student housing category, which till now is a largely untouched market. How will it be different from what Oyo Living offers?
We have the co-living product and a lot of students stay there self-selectively. But that is not called student housing per se. Student housing is something that we have announced and will do. We have already got three buildings live in Noida and Gurugram. These buildings have a tie-up with one educational institution dedicated to students coming from there. Also, there are other small changes that you need to do because the customer is often the parent; so the behaviour and requirement is different.