Homigo is a Bengaluru based startup founded by Nikunj Bhateja. He started Homigo in 2015 and it is a co-living space. At present Homigo provides 2000+ beds and has catered over 5000 residents in Bengaluru.
The company is laser focused on building a network of community focused co-living spaces by leveraging cutting -edge design and the best of technology, Nikunj.
We got an opportunity to talk with Nikunj, the co-founder of Homigo. Read his story to know more about his journey as an entrepreneur.
Give a brief info about your startup?
Homigo is a Bengaluru based emerging startup that started in the year 2015 and operates in the ‘co-living’ space. The company is laser focused on building a network of community focused co-living spaces by leveraging cutting -edge design and the best of technology. Homigo is working towards building strong sense of community where new friendships and relationships can foster and ‘one is never alone’. It caters to the Millennials. Homigo provides 2000+ beds and has catered to over 5000 residents across Bengaluru.
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
The idea of Homigo mushroomed from our own personal experiences that we faced while staying away from home. When I first moved to Bengaluru in July 2014 with my college friends, I faced a lot of challenges in finding an accommodation for myself, like any other millennial. I tried to seek help from friends in the city so as to find a suitable accommodation for ourselves. I was forced to cross paths with sly brokers who would try to extract more money and/or fool the customers. I also realized that most houses were in bad shape, the furnished houses had decades-old furnishing, and there were many other issues.
The expectation and delivery gap were huge and the entire sector was extremely unorganized. I with my batch mates from IIT Kanpur, Jatin Mitruka and Aakash Verma, started out on our journey to build Homigo.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
I am a B Tech in Civil Engineering from IIT Kanpur. I passed out in 2014 and worked as a consultant with CEB (now acquired by Gartner for $3B) for about 11 months before starting Homigo. I have stayed overseas during my college years and have an in-depth understanding of the preferences of Millennials on housing/rental accommodations, across the globe. I belong to Patiala, a town in Punjab and come from a business family.
Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
We are headquartered out of Bengaluru. We believe that this is the best place for us since Bengaluru is the hub for startups in India. There is also an increasing number of student population in the city. The Millennial population in Bengaluru is amongst the highest in this city. This city gives us access to lakhs of customers. Also, we realized that the rental industry in Bengaluru is very traditional and fragmented and decided to address this.
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
I am always striving to deliver the best experience to all my customers. I strive to innovate to ensure we continue to make a difference to the lives of all our customers. I am committed to ensure that no Millennial in India is lonely when he moves to a new city, where he doesn’t have his support system that exists in his home town.
Who are your competitions and how are you better than them?
Although there are a lot of players in the rental space, I think there are very few players who care about the community experience. These include CoHo, Zolo and a few others.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
I believe when you actually love what you are doing, you don’t try to find a balance. You are always upbeat since you love what you do. As a Co-Founder of a startup, I don’t have fixed working hours. Having said that, Homigo is very close to my heart and I enjoy every bit of building it.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If no then please tell us if you are looking to raise.
Yes, we have raised 2 rounds of funding from our panel of investors. Some of our key investors include Ramakant Sharma and Anuj Srivastava (Co-Founders, Livspace), Asvini Kumar (Founder, Thinksoft Global – IPO in 2009), Chaitanya V Cotha (runs a 150+ year old jewellery business), Ashok Ahuja (Senior Partner, Edelweiss Financial Services), Anand Sanghi and Hitesh Prajapati (Senior Leaders at Vertiv), and Kiran Jain (Ex-Business Head, HDFC Bank).
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
We should not care about what people think about us. I believe it is always our own life journey and we would meet people who will like us and few who won’t.
What gets you excited about this company?
What excites me the most is that we, at Homigo, are working together to address ‘loneliness’, a growing health epidemic in today’s ‘hyperconnected world of social network’. According to a recent Harvard report, loneliness rates have increased by 2 times in past 2 decades, hence, we understood that there is a need to build to a strong sense of community where new friendships and relationships can foster.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
I reach my office in the morning. As a CEO, I spend a lot of time solving problems across teams. Team meetings, calls including some with investors are a regular feature. On some days, I do property visits to evaluate the situation on ground. Overall, the schedule is not very planned and I go ahead with meetings etc. as the day demands. As we are building a startup, while there is a scheduled start time but there is no fixed time when we end our day.
However, we 3 ensure we spend quality time beyond work, and have our share of fun and entertainment. We sometimes go to Club House to play games and spend time at the gym, whenever we can. This helps to make the bond stronger.
We are great friends and we also promote this culture within the organization, as good camaraderie always enhances productivity,
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
All 3 Co-Founders are college (IIT Kanpur) friends. We were in the same batch, same dorm, and the same wing as well. Homigo was conceptualized basis the personal experiences of me and Jatin, when we moved to Bengaluru. Akash also believed in the concept when we discussed with them and he decided to let go of his job at McKinsey, that he was to join in August 2015, and join us in the journey.
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