If you are a student moving to a new city to attend college, you might encounter the strenuous task of finding the perfect place to stay. The student housing sector in India is largely unorganized and often evokes daunting imagery of messy rooms, poorly managed living spaces and overbearing landlords. Upon a realization of the need for change, three young students from Delhi University found their next business opportunity.
When Bharat Bhatt
(21) moved to New Delhi to attend Hindu College in 2017, he was one of many who faced the hassles of shuttling from one broker to another in search of a place to call home. In some instances eventuated by stereotypical notions, he even faced rejection from landlords given their reluctance to accommodate a boy from Haryana. After a prolonged scuffle, Bharat did settle for a co-living space but this experience unsettled him to the core. Driven by the urge to make things right, he concurred with Rajat Malik (21) and Ishaan Sudan (23), his fellow Hindu College alumni and close friends, and together they came up with a solution. This team of three enthusiastic young boys hence pioneered ‘HouseItt’
- a student-centric, tech-enabled platform aimed at transforming the student housing sector by accelerating and simplifying the search process.
Having procured their first investment within one year of its inception, HouseItt has now grown to a dedicated team of 50 and has trained more than 1000 interns while managing to remain profitable. The founding team initially started their project as offline student brokers wherein they went on-ground to explore and aggregate properties while building strong professional relations with stakeholders and gathering crucial insights about demand and supply issues. At first, they were confronted with several hurdles stemming largely from their inexperience as students and unfamiliarity with the field, but through concentrated efforts across six months, they successfully identified that they can leverage technology to design sustainable solutions for this sector. The team identified three major challenges on the students' end- lack of transparency in transactions, inadequate availability of property options and an absence of end-to-end support. On the brokers' end too, they found that the situation was no different, the supply partners were plagued with low-occupancy rates and had no defined method of customer acquisition. These issues served as the basis for HouseItt, a platform designed to bring brokers, flat owners, co-living spaces and students to one place.
Currently operating in the New Delhi-NCR region, HouseItt is an easy-to-use platform that guides young students through the entire process of settling into their college city with ease. HouseItt functions not only as an accommodation finding platform but also as a student community, which is what sets them apart from their competition. The platform helps students find affordable accommodation with complete transparency, connects them with potential roommates and even gives them access to valuable student resources. In the coming future, the platform plans to connect students with vetted cooks and domestic helpers therefore aiding to the A to Z of student needs.
Before HouseItt even went live, Ishaan had been working at an international management consultancy for two years, while Rajat and Bharat had just been offered their dream jobs in reputable consultancies. Relying on nothing but their instincts, these ambitious young entrepreneurs decided to quit their cushy corporate jobs to focus solely on the startup. With no fallback option, they entered full throttle into the hustle culture. The results you ask? As of today, HouseItt features 1,000+ property listings, 250+ supply partners, 25,000+ community members and a rapidly growing social media presence.
India's student population in higher education stood at a massive 37.4 million in 2018-19, as per the HRD ministry. This statistic makes it impossible to ignore the plentiful opportunities in the student housing sector, which has attracted investor attention in the past few years. In the face of the ongoing pandemic however, the student housing sector has certainly taken a hit. Education institutions remain shut to avoid the spread of the deadly coronavirus and with social distancing turning into the new world reality, finding accommodation isn’t quite as appealing. The founders, however, address this matter with great optimism. They are hopeful that the Education sector will resume soon and the newborn challenges will pave the way for new innovations. Brimming with the zeal to make change, the team is working round the clock to battle the war against the pandemic. Presently, they are looking at integrating Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning into their property solutions to understand customer requirements, thereby meeting them through technology.
HouseItt is truly a platform made for the students by the students. Their story goes to show just how much can be achieved with continued determination. It will surely be interesting to see what HouseItt has to offer in the next phase of its successful entry into India's burgeoning startup ecosystem.
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