A team of 5 Ramjas College Students – Sunny Garg, Shefali Jain, Vartika Sharma, Vishesh Khunger and Gaurav Verma, are working on the model of an ideal accommodation for college students in Delhi-NCR. They have started YourShell as an integrated solution that brings together flat, pg and hostel on a single platform. Sunny Garg, on behalf of whole team shares their story on founding the startup.
1. How did you come up with YourShell?
Before YourShell, we were working on a students’ problem solving project, HailDU. We were introduced to the problem of student accommodation through that. With HailDU we helped over 150 students get accommodation. But we worked as third party dealers at that time. It didn’t help students much so we decided to enter the market as second party dealers. When we analyzed accommodation options, we had three options – hostel, pg and flat. That’s how we came up with YourShell, a combination of all the three.
2. How did you give shape to this idea?
We bought a 3 bhk flat and furnished it as if we were doing it for our self. From choosing the paint color to curtains, beds, mattresses, kitchen setup and bathroom setup, we did everything so as to make it feel like a home.
3. Other than low price, how are you different from pg owners?
The major difference lies in the fact that they are doing it as business while we are trying to solve a problem. Pg owners have to make a living out of this work but for us the main concern is to simplify the accommodation sector.
4. How long have you planned to do this work without keeping business in mind?
We’ve our figures calculated. We can start earning right now if we want but that’s not what YourShell has been started for. We at YourShell are happy as long as our customers are satisfied.
5. While everyone else is doing this same work for a very high rate, how have you managed to get it done at such cheap rates?
It was difficult initially. But 3 months into it and we literally turned brokers. We found out the best properties, learnt about furnishing. When we were in the actual market, we got to know all the tricks of this business.
6. How far have you reached in this project. And how much more do you plan for the upcoming years?
We launched YourShell on 20th December 2016. It’s been over a month now and we already have 8 ready properties with around 50 tenants. When the year 2017 closes, we hope to have at least 500 tenants with us. In the years to come, our aim is to cover all educational areas where students come for studies from other towns.
7. What were the problems you faced along the project?
There were many problems like when we got down into the market in December 2016, we didn’t get many good properties. Around the University, you can have good options only around July i.e. when the session starts. So we contacted brokers, but they didn’t take us seriously. Anyhow, we got 4 properties. We started with showing these to prospective tenants. Until these properties were ready, students refused to believe us. Everyone doubted our intentions, so that was again a problem. But now we’ve established our self to the extent that students trust our name.
8. Do you consider it a mistake to start in December?
Not at all. Starting in December has been a plus point for us. To work in July, you need to be experienced enough. In December, we got that much needed experience. If we started in July, we would have wasted one year on it and probably had fallen so weak to never start any project again. Now we are ready to take it to new heights in July.
9. Who was your inspiration all along the journey?
Ritesh Agarwal, the founder of Oyo Rooms. He started Oyo Rooms with a similar concept as ours. His achievement inspired me to believe in myself. My father has been my mentor. He’s a businessman so I’ve grown up in the business environment. Even the initial financing of our project was also done by my father.
10. Were your parents always supportive of your decision?
Not exactly. The first time I went to my father with the idea, he asked me why was I wasting my time for such trivial work. He has a well settled business of his own and wanted me to take that forward. But he knew that I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, so it didn’t take much effort to convince him. Not only me, but the whole team had the same story. None of the Parents agreed at first, but slowly we managed to convince them.
11. Your message for youth?
When you go to a college, you are there for 3 or 4 years and have another 50 years to live. I won’t ask you to do something so big in those 3 years that you can eat off it for the rest of your life. But in those 3 years, figure out what you want to do for the next 50 years of your life.
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