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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 20 July 2018

Increasing acceptance of a shared economy drives India's start-up scene

Startups like NestAway are examples of how to disrupt and fill the gaps in Indian economy 

Smruti Parida, the co-founder and chief technology officer at NestAway Technologies says startup incubators are also providing good impetus.  Photo: AP
Smruti Parida, the co-founder and chief technology officer at NestAway Technologies says startup incubators are also providing good impetus.  Photo: AP

Smruti Parida, the co-founder and chief technology officer at NestAway Technologies, a home rental startup based in Bangalore, talks about his company's experience.

What does NestAway do?

We started NestAway with the objective of creating a marketplace for shared home rentals. We wanted to provide houses for everyone without any discrimination and at a convenience of two months’ rent as deposit, especially for youngsters. We wanted to create an ecosystem that is responsible for making living conditions better.

How was the journey of your startup?

When we, a bunch of friends first moved to Bengaluru (Bangalore) 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 difficult. Apart from that, the steep deposit amount equivalent 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 that , we realised the need to develop a social infrastructure for affordable renting.

What about funding?

Early this year, we raised US$ 51 million in series D financing from Goldman Sachs, a global investment bank and active investor in India, the HK and UC-RNT Fund, a joint venture between Tata chairman emeritus Mr Ratan Tata's RNT Associates, the University of California and Schroder Adveq. This round also saw participation from our existing investors IDG India and Tiger Global.

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What factors are driving the startup scene in India?

Increasing acceptance of shared economy is the main driver. In addition, startup incubators set up by large multinationals and Indian firms is also providing good impetus. And last but not the least, better taxation policies, easier access to loans, push for 'digital India' and ease of doing business are some key factors that are instrumental in encouraging more entrepreneurs in India.

Has it improved?

The Indian startup ecosystem has come a long way on parameters of ease of doing business, policy and compliance. India is home to some of the best entrepreneurial minds who coupled with innovation and technological advancement are disrupting the startup ecosystem. Both government and international organisations are thus more open to investing in startups in India.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced as a start up?

Initially we faced difficulty in building trust with the homeowners and prospective tenants. We soon realised that tenants preferred reaching out to us for everyday issues, even when it was never a part of the initial offering. Even though we take up minor issues for the tenants, going forward NestAway wants to play a bigger role here and accordingly scale up the organisation.