Founder Stories by TeamWave, are a series of interrogations of benefactors of small businesses and other recollect chairmen who share their practical revelations from their passage of entrepreneurship. Here they talk about how they scaled up their firm, what challenges they faced during their initial years, market strategies that worked to scale up their small business and much more.
These success storeys are dedicated to all the inventors, small business owners and startups, to show them a glimpse of what it takes to survive in this competitive business ecosystem.
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In this incident of FOUNDER SERIES by TeamWave, our guest is, Chinmoy Mishra, who is the CEO and Founder at HooLiv.
Interview with Chinmoy Mishra( Founder, HooLiv)
Transcript of the Interview with Chinmoy Mishra( Founder, HooLiv)
Reshmi: Hello, everyone. And our today’s guest is Chinmoy Mishra, the Founder and CEO of HooLiv. HooLiv intends to provide students with the modern use of coliving and today we will be discussing with him his managerial journeying. Shall we get started?
Chinmoy: Sure Reshmi. Good morning and thanks for the opportunity. Really appreciate it.
Reshmi: And my first issue are likely to be, we would like to hear from the Founder himself, what is HooLiv and how did you come up with this idea.
Chinmoy: Sure. So I’ve been an financier maybe for the last eight years or nine years or so. Started my first speculation highway back in 2013 and departed that in 2019. And we have been in all four benefactors with the same founders of the previous syndicate. So we have been in the technology space for a long, you were able to say all “peoples lives”. We have been in technology and, you are familiar with, working for sizable companies and stuff.
So when we came out of our previous enterprise, we were like, you know, let’s do something different. It’s been too much to new technologies is getting boring. So we explored the other seats. And then we actually started with a very different concept. You know, we, as part of HooLiv, were actually looking at setting up elderly help homes. More like a daycare for the senior citizens. We pointed out that, either in India, you have this poorly run nursing homes, or you have a high-value kind of thing, where people buy a bungalow for their parents, for them to stay. So “theres nothing” in between.
So we were kind of contemplating the idea of having daycare centres for the elderly. But then we parked it for the time being. We felt perhaps “we ii” somewhat ahead for the Indian market. And so the next logical thing was, Hey, why don’t we look at the student segment? So what the hell is figured is that, when you look at shared student adaptation, they always had traditional PGS.
People have perhaps 10 to 12 areas that they can go to indeed where PG is and students can stay there. So “when hes” looking at this opportunity, we recognise many of the traditional feed PGs was fairly unorganized. They lacked infrastructure, there was no privacy, the food was bad. Students ever complained about that. And the very conclude they maintained guiding is that the ply was never ceasing. Students prevented on coming because then they had no other place.
They kind of started staying in the same shabbily loped housing. So we thought that maybe there’s a great opportunity to be more organized in this infinite. And also build a facility where the teenagers not only enjoy staying, but it improves a better quality of living as well.
With that thinking, we propelled HooLiv that was in 2019. And, four or five months down the line, “weve had” the entire lockdown thing. But we are very proud of the team. Starting in september, till appointment, we have all been onboarded, with roughly 5,000 couches across four cities in India. And looking to close this financial year, possibly with 6,000 or 6,500 plots. And the focus that we have Reshmi with HooLiv is one is we are exclusively catering to the student demographic.
When we say a student could be 18 to 24, 25 age group, they could be pursuing any job and not undoubtedly be enrolled in an Institute. They could be enrolled in a coaching Institute or they could be just out of their residence, haunting a diversion. It doesn’t matter to us, but that has to be the age group. Then the next criteria that we have is that we are very heavily be concentrated on the non-metro.
So very the tier two tier three municipalities, and there was a conscious select between, you know, the rank one and the tier 2. And we said, cause some of the early masters in this shared accommodation space, fight it out in the Metro as well. We kind of girdled them in the non-metros. And too when you look at the properties in the non-metro is it’s small. Some of the smaller towns and cities of our country, that is a great opportunity to actually be thinking about a difference.
When we inspect some of those properties, we look at those resources, it is so pitiable a condition. Even if you are putting a Kent RO in a storey, it’s an improve, that’s how bad then there. So it’s a great opportunity to make a difference. And so that’s the second principle we’re following. And the third one is that at HooLiv, we got a very asset light company. So we don’t actually acquire owneds or build something from ground up.
We take our existing infrastructure from the owners, and then we lay in our own capital to do the retrofitting and lease it out to the students. So we improve the cleanlines, the specific characteristics, security rights, and the meal options, the rentals, and then equip those to the students. And the last and the most significant thing is that one, which can be all four of us are very passionate about, is that we felt when we were looking at this particular demography and the segment of the minors there, there is a shortage of, certain things.
When they to come to a Metro at time one, they always end up at the raw end of the adhere, when it comes to applying for a errand or even lowering shoulders with students from the Metro. So we said, why don’t we, you are familiar with, build more of a community vistum to all our owneds. And when I say community, we go beyond the usual, rhetoric’s of exactly specifying common opening for people to commune. We take it something ahead and say, can we provide them with vocational training?
Can we cater them spoken English tracks, job interview skills, or even, you know, assists them improve their employability cushion. So that then when they come out of the qualities, they’re at a much better position. So that’s how it’s organized, right? A 16 member team, as I said, around 5,000 bunks across Pune, Meerut, Dehradun, Jaipur. And now we just made up our first belonging in the outskirts of Noida.
So yeah, big-hearted programmes ahead and we are backed by a very good public listed company announced Kolte Patil developers. We conjured the funds from them just before the lockdown. So that kind of helped us tide over the lockdown. And also we came out of the lockdown with a slightly better business cushion than some of our other competitions.
Not numerous could make the lockdown. While in all public forums, I say it’s very unfair, unfortunate that they have to shut shop. In the heart of hearts, we know that’s a good thing for us. And so that’s, that’s how we are pleased. I hope, I hope that gives you a good idea.
Reshmi: Yeah. You yielded a very detailed answer. You have already reacted a few of the questions I had prepared here. So actually the COVID part I would ask about that later. I can see that you are doing a lot for the student parish. And I am very curious to know, how did you reach out to the firstly few customers? How did you tell them that, okay, this is a great idea? How did you inform them about it?
Chinmoy: That’s a great question. The thing is when you look at some of these non-metros, the property owners were not aware of this organized way of looking at the resources. Or a student room, they’re all running in silos. Whereas if you look at Delhi or Mumbai, you still had pockets where there were organized participates passing rent mansion? So first it was a challenge to convince the owners that what is the benefit for them.
So I think it needed a lot of exhortation. And we had to show them the whole fact that look today, you are fighting for driving inmates in your belongings, and then your rental incomes are variable depending on how many bottoms are occupied. But when we take it over, we are paying you a monthly rental. So you are assured of a return.
And at the same time, you know, you don’t have to worry about the dwellers. So that’s something that we are taking care of, right? So you’re almost getting money , now sitting at your residence. I think that kind of got the eyes that, Hey, look, you are familiar with, this is something that might help us in the long run. And too the fact that we are investing in upgrading the belongings, right? So if I got a seven-year lease period with the owner, so by the end of it, unfortunately, if we have to move out the CapEx that we have invested in improvement that we have done at the owned still belongs to the owner. Right?
So those, I picture these, these education things been crucial in the early part. Once you have few assets in one location, the others get to hear about it. And they’re like, Oh, okay. This seems to be a good way. So it various kinds of spreads, right? And then formerly “youve had” like five qualities, perhaps the sixth, one isn’t that difficult to convince or get the, owned to get convinced.
So that’s how we spread by and in some targets, for example, in Jaipur there, we ever had a good PG culture because a great deal of girls from remain of Rajasthan, come there to prepare for the CA and all that. The owneds were aware to a certain extent and some of the other opponents that we have in this space, they had also been in Jaipur. So that grocery was relatively easier for us. But, in places like Meerut and Dehradun and now, we look at residences like Patna, certainly, we need to educate the market and was an indication what advantages they have. So it’s a gradual process, but once you show them that, you are familiar with, it works out.
Reshmi: So are you squandering any marketing paths, like Instagram, Facebook etc where these students frequently hang out? Are you employing any marketing plans to reach out to these students?
Chinmoy: So on the student line-up of things, of course, we, there are two things, right? One is since we are taking owneds which were already running as to rent accommodation. So a lot of those students had left their luggage in the room. They’d gone back for the lockdown. They’re all coming back. So for a majority of our owneds, we do not have such a big fight for the tenancy, at least for this Academic year and for this other part of it, yes, certainly for some of the newer belongings, which “weve been” proselytizing into building for the first time they are in order to drive the residence, we are doing a couple of activities.
One is reaching out to them over an Instagram and a Facebook. Definitely. I see Instagram still remains the preferred procedure of contacting out, especially for this age group, we are involved in that and ofcourse the other usual doubts like, you know, your Google ad words and the SEOs and substance. And too partnering with a lot of aggregators of student housing, where generally they appreciate a good deal of traffic of students coming over and searching for property. So doing the usual route, and also we are partnering with, you are familiar with , not , not really partnering, but we are leveraging say the regional Panwalas or the Chai supermarkets, right outside colleges, that’s where the boys hang out.
So we are kind of incentivizing them that why don’t you push students to our owneds and trash. And the last thing they’re doing also, wherever our belongings are close to educational Institute, we are trying to partner with those institutes so that they can push the overflow bunch to our qualities. So there are three four things we are doing currently to drive the whole demand part of it.
Reshmi: You had worked as an inventor, and this is not your first firm, right? So how did the past experience shape up journey in HooLiv?
Chinmoy: Now, I entail, it’s, it’s an amazing, shocking you are familiar with, learning when you go through your bus excursion. There’s so many mistakes that we did at various levels. And I meditate those are the biggest takeaway for us, the learning from all those mistakes. I envision, you know, merely to kind of fun side of things. The two biggest thing I had gaffes, I did realise in my previous bet was not getting a CA onboard claim from day one and too not coming a lawyer.
I think you know the CA, peculiarly is very crucial as inventors, I think they’re so involved and passionate in driving our concoction and participating in marketings that we miss out on this basic hygiene. You know, with regards to the regulatory aspects of filings, the share certificates and all that. And, you know, you can ask any entrepreneurial who had an exit or a next round of conjure that comes back to haunt you, you know, and that, I think we, we, we kind of messed up. So in this venture before even I went started, the first thing I did is I came hold of a good CA Firm.
And I said, Hey, gaze, “youre with” me throughout the journey. So anything good? You make the recognition, anything bad, you take the fall for it, you know, so you, but you have to be with me. I considered that I did. And the other thing that we did is we, we had you know, I have a lawyer friend, so we got him on board as well. Then we said, every document that overtakes our, you are familiar with, our, our companionship has to be vetted by you.
There’s nothing that’s going out without being vetted. So I anticipate, you know, some of these things stand out a lot with the, I foresee when you look at hindsight, you are familiar with, in my previous dare, we, we left a good deal of money on the table. So this time we are smarter and how do we monetize? Or maybe even, I believe one great mistake we did in the previous venture is that since we were so raw, we were just beginning our journey.
The reason we left so much money on the table is because we didn’t have a good instructor and advisor actually help us out there. And maybe we where complicent very. You know, so in this time round, fortunately the real estate is such a brand-new gap for us. We are not aware of everything. So we had almost, you could say impulsively driven to check with someone that, Hey, is this good? Is this bad right?
So that kind of keeps some kind of you know, filtering mechanisms for us. So yeah, there’s been a lot of the sees. Like one thing I always maintain, that whether we are building a engineering crusade or we are building into real estate or even EdTech, Food tech, whatever it is, I consider the founding principles of taking something from scratch and build, you are familiar with, from an idea and structure a business out of it, I contemplate the fundamental rights remain the same. It’s how you deal with your clients, your suppliers, the level of integrity that you have, the professionalism.
And most significantly, we are able to maintain that unit fiscals of the profitability at each and every project for each and every property that we take up at some point in time with the profitability, at a corporate degree as well. And I think you look at any, any jeopardize in any space, that contingent economics, the focus on that, or the profitability remains constant. Right. And in how do you go about building units?
How do you manage your relationship with your colleagues? I think that’s kind of, you know, space agnostic, right? It could be in any space that remains the same. So I think some fundamentals remain the same, then some based on our memorizes, we are trying to not recite the error. Hopefully though let’s see where it discontinues up.
Reshmi: Yeah. That’s very insightful. And I think it might come with an experience like so much knowledge on how to become an entrepreneur. And is your business located out of New Delhi?
Chinmoy: We are, “we ii” headquartered in new Delhi.
Reshmi: How many other roles do “were having”?
Chinmoy: So, yeah, so we are spread across four metropolis now. So we would say Delhi, since three of us, three of the four founders are based in Delhi. So it’s almost become like a nano head office kind of thing. My, my elder sister “whos also” a co-founder, Rasmi. She is based out of Pune and she treats the entire Pune procedures. And so they have a quite sizable team up there in terms of Dehradun and Jaipur with the small teams. So, but majority of things are being driven when it comes to the operation side. She’s the premier operating. When it comes to the operations surface, she takes care of it from Pune, when it comes to technology, biz dev and nonsense. We take care of it from Delhi.
Reshmi: Hmm. Okay. And one thing like you were talking about the pandemic. So how did that affect you?
Chinmoy: I want, it gave me the most unfortunate time issue. Just like what everyone else. I think we had just closed our, round for financing in March, and I consider by April 1st we were supposed to go live with our first real property. So we are really excited and looking forward to it. But then regrettably everything “mustve been” pushed. So there are a couple of things which happened in general for the student residence industry as such the co-living industry. If you take into account the working professionals as well.
One is that some of the early governors that were there in the gap and appoint elevated a good deal of money, couple of them had to actually fold their patronize. They couldn’t meet the obligations and they slammed browse so that, you are familiar with, you could say in a way, yes, we all love a health rival and would like to have competition because that’s what impedes you on your toes. Right. But at the same time, having one less constructions it all the more better. Right.
I think some of the bigger one that closed store. So that was one, the second thing likewise what happened is when we came out of the lockdown now, because during the lockdown we had, as I said, you are familiar with, those two belongings were onboarded. We managed to convince the owners and propagandize the rental payouts virtually till August or September. So we had absolutely no operating expense as far as qualities are concerned. It was simply the compensation of the four or five of us that are there in the team. So we have been able to succeed our operations very well.
When, we is out of the lockdown. Fortunately, we had that much better monetary cushion. So a good deal of Mom n Pop you know, motorists too started coming to us and saying, Hey, could you take up our loan obligations, we are unable to fulfill those indebtedness anymore. And that’s one of the reasons why we had such a strong growth in the last five to six months. Right. So that is the second thing which happened.
And the third one is the owners also “ve realized that”, Hey, glance, this might be a good simulate to work with. There is an assured revenues and stuff. So they started, you are familiar with, the asset or the cost of taking up an asset started coming down somewhat, you are familiar with, pre pandemic. It was very overstated beings with large quantities of monies. They used to overvalue the asset. So the owners were used to a certain high valuation, but pandemic, affix pandemic. I think that expectation too come down.
So the cost for us to acquire a property has come down a little, and that has positively impacted the EBITDA margins. Right? So I think if we look at the cavity typically all hustlers, we operate between 20 to 25 EBITDA margin. But because the cost of owning an resource has not come down or leasing an asset, the EBITDA margins might be somewhat in the 30 to 35% assortment. Okay. So these are the things which happen from a competition perspective and from our own design. I make, yes, there are certain basic hygiene. Now we are trying to incorporate, there are no more properties which have three chambers, three beds in a room.
So we have changed all to two bunks at the most, all the rooms will have your concealments equipped and your sanitizers then sterilizing the belonging formerly in a week providing you know, avoiding rendezvou at parish sits, places or at the snacks. So these types of basic etiquettes we’re trying to follow. When we look at some of the owneds in Jaipur, peculiarly the government also has sure-fire protocols that we are mandated to follow them. So we are taking care of that.
But on the hindsight, are rather not hindsight, what I feel now, you are familiar with, so if you look at the shared housing, right, you have one, you have the student accommodation area and the other part, “youve had” the co-living or the executives. Right. But my personal feeling is that the student housing is going to bounce back much faster simply because the students in all of us ought to have for that phase.
We don’t understand form when we are at the final year of engineering, right. We all want to be in hostels with our friends. So exactly daytime before yesterday, we started our operations in a 500 bunked asset in Noida. And you won’t believe, I think in the first couple of periods, we’re almost at 60 -7 0% occupants, all the adolescents returned. And one of the common things we’ve heard from majority is that, hello, you are familiar with, we could go to the movie theaters, we can go to the cafes.
We could go to the commons, but we’re not allowed in classrooms. And they said, you know, one of the big-hearted intellects is because the schoolteachers are now likewise used to teach from residence and having the warm menu that they don’t want to come back to college. So all the minors croaked there. So I think we, we is confident that that segment is going to bounce back much faster. On the executive housing, I think we still, many of us still prefer to work from dwelling if possible. So a co-living might take a hit, but student living is coming back to b stronger.
Reshmi: So now you are focusing on the student parish, right! So also now the new trend of Staycation has come up. Even parties are not wishing part from residence. They’re too planning to move out and work on some other nonviolent place or somewhere else. So are you planning to expand your has offered to that area as well in the future?
Chinmoy: Not at the time being Reshmi, simply because we felt that maybe the DNA required to operate both these different segments is different. We is no longer able, we may not have that competency at this point in time. And also if you look at the expectation from a student vis a vis hope from a running professional, they’re very different, right? I convey, for a student hostel, you can have the, the, you know, the, maybe a TV or, and everything on a common orbit, but by use professionally, you need to have those in the rooms.
Right. And all those, it could be easy. So we’re not looking at that segment for the time being, but but yeah , no, I had no idea. Maybe once we are more experienced in the student segment, we may branch out to the working professionals and maybe at a certain point in time, we may bring back our whole conception of the elderly homes as well, you are familiar with? So yeah, those are the cards that we have up our sleeves. It’s just a matter of time.
Reshmi: Now we are almost at the end of the interview, so I had to ask two entertaining the issues to be you. Which is a beloved business work, or any volume that you would love to recommend to other entrepreneurs?
Chinmoy: Yeah, I, I don’t read too many of these things. I’m more driven by the political you know or the financial affairs. But one, one record I is clearly recommend is by a dame announced Sumedha Mahajan, Miles to Run Before I Sleep. I think that’s a wonderful tale. So this female, she was suffering from diabetes and then a homemaker, and she actually took a run with Milind Soman from Delhi to Mumbai against all quirkies and pulsating her Asthama.
I think that’s a exceptional you know and so I enjoyed that notebook. The other one I recently came across is the Bhujia Barons, fib about growing of Haldirams. I think that’s also rendered a stupendous insight and I really loved about it is that, you are familiar with, how the women in the family they’ve actually influenced the part raise and the swelling narrative of Haldiram.
Reshmi: No, actually these records for sure will be a highly insightful construe. And my final question is, do you have any advice for the inventors or people who are aspiring to be an entrepreneur?
Chinmoy: I consider one thing that has shaped my profession and I “re saying it” at numerous gatherings, this is when I went to Babson. I consider the first thing the professor said us and told us there is that” make ambiguity your friends “. You know, at that point in time, it was very tough for us to understand. But formerly you are familiar with, eight years, nine years in the managerial journeying, I conceive, you are familiar with, that utterances, they were golden.
When you get up as an entrepreneur, you don’t know what’s going to happen in the next hour. And the two hours in the day and situations are so ambiguous. Initially you try to fight it out and, you know, prepare your long-term plans to short-term destinations. But at the end of the day, it’s just taking decisions every hour by hour so, so doubtful. Right? So after a second period, Reshmi, my opinion would be don’t fight ambiguity, really make friends with it. It is going to be there irrespective of your immensity and stays of the gues. It’s better to make peace with it and live with it. It acquires you better at taking decisions, you know?
Reshmi: Yeah. Oh, I cherish that because we are all scared of ambiguity. So thanks a great deal. That was all, anything else that I missed out on that you want to share?
Chinmoy: Nothing else. That’s been wonderful chatting with you. Good luck to you and your squad. Take care.
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