This start-up is revamping the travel industry with technology-based solution to explore rural areas and the homestay in our country
VillageHomeStays is an online aggregator which creates shared space between local families and travelers, seeking rural experience. It further allows hosts to list more services and increase their revenue streams. It also aims for Rural Development by educating local hosts on advantages of technology.
Disparity and under occupancy in the non-luxury homestay segment is a reality, which they intent to solve through theme-based HomeStay services. Rural homestays predominantly work on an offline model through referrals and word of mouth marketing which they plan to take it completely “App-based” technological solutions planned to introduce mandis and other features pertaining to the rural sector of our country.
Nilesh Khanapurkar, a Post Graduate in Marketing has spent more than 20 years building and managing a FinTech and SaaS business.
Vipin Chozhiyattil is an engineer and a Management Post Graduate in Finance and has more than 14 years of experience in Product and Platform Operations.
Jacob Manoharan is a law graduate, a practicing lawyer and avid traveler. He is the chief evangelist responsible building sustainable ecosystem.
2 of the 3 co-founders are avid travelers and have clocked more than 1 lac kms on road, with preference to rural and underserved areas. It all started with building local relationship to cater for repetitive trips. Very soon more people from their social and professional circles started visiting these places on referrals. These set of events followed by their interaction with the local guides to commercialize, led to the formation of “VillageHomeStays.”
The founders realized the empty space and growth opportunity in the underserved rural segment in a country with wide-spread geographies and natural reserves. They were set out to Switch in the interest of new generation teenagers and young adults. The idea was simply to co-relate with the digitization drives taken up by the government bodies in the rural space. It was inspired by the emerging trends in the market like Staycations and Workcations.
VillageHomeStays started with the development of its core technology that was designing and developing an MVP with host and guest module for homestay booking. Since then, the app has been launched on the Google Play Store and they have started onboarding hosts and properties under their homestay program. They have begun their hosts and properties onboarding operations in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
The initial challenges that the business faced was lack of coordination between design and development consultants led to the delay in releasing the host module, cost escalations due to ad-hoc changes in the app development through experimenting with the users. They overcame these hurdles by building up a core team for development of the technology, inputting cost controls and admin panel for KYC of the hosts and properties.
The founder’s vision for VillageHomeStays is as key a partner and contributor to India’s rural growth story with furthermore presence in subcontinent, South America, Africa and East Asia. So far, they have not raised any capital but are looking to raising fund majorly to scaleup cloud, technology operations and growth.
In talks with Nilesh, his view on the start-up community and government’s role in the same is, “Start-up community continues to encourage entrepreneurship even in the times of Covid-19. $20bn raised in 2021 so far, is a sign of the resilient culture and close bonding between incubator, investor and start-ups. Government bodies have played an active role in supporting start-ups by funding through pre-designated incubators and advisory bodies. Grants and prize money from various competitions help start-up sail through the initial hiccups.”
His advice for young entrepreneurs and upcoming start-ups is, “Focus on your customer and product first; fund raising can wait unless it’s a capital-intensive prototype that you are building. You should prefer Free and open-source software if the business can work with it and explore no-code platform for support applications and other operations.”
“Our business model has a mix of Operations and Technology. Operations in terms of managing relationship to stay onboard with the service providers. This is much needed to build and maintain trust in an underserved segment Technology will allow content to flow into customer and channelize them for conversions,” were his closing statements for VillageHomeStays.