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How an Indian Startup Bootstrapped $3M Revenue in 20 Months

Founded by a BITS Pilani Alumni Sanchit Sethi and Blaze Arizanov from Macedonia, StayUncle hotels for couples has recently announced $3 million in revenues in time span of 20 months.

While most Indian startups are struggling to make revenues, StayUncle has clocked $3 million in 20 months. The company was the first to break an enormous taboo still persisting in India – booking a hotel for short stay, as a couple.

Founded by a BITS Pilani Alumni Sanchit Sethi and Blaze Arizanov from Macedonia, StayUncle hotels for couples has recently announced $3 million in revenues in time span of 20 months. For the record, the startup has been operating from a mere flat in South Delhi, counts not more than 10 people and even recently dispersed its team from working full-time from the office premise.

How did this nuclear team on a closer look appearing as not much beyond a bunch of hippies managed to rack sales with no external investment in a highly competitive industry bleeding with discounts and price wars?

The long story short – they stood for one single customer segment and never backed from it – couples. And they taped one sales milestone after another by positioning StayUncle as a social movement.

StayUncle is almost constantly on the media radar not only for its bold standing and positioning as “couple’s best friend” but for its model of advertising and Marketing communication as depicted by a recent Afaqs article. There is hardly a better example on what can the art content and aggressive positioning can do for a company operating in a highly competitive industry.

From the very beginning we’ve positioned StayUncle not as a business but as a social movement. And millennials as a category of consumer expect a social component from the company they do business with, says Arizanov, on StayUncle’s Marketing strategy. As per the word of Marc Cuban, the famous Shark: SocioCapitalism is and has been Capitalism for Millennials. You haven’t been paying attention.

The couple friendly hotel concept is still novel in India and the company claims that intend to follow the concept of the Japanese Love hotel very closely. After gaining popularity around April 2016, Oyo Rooms introduced a similar offering on the market with its Relationship Mode. That doesn’t seem to have impeded StayUncle’s growth in any way whatsoever, claim the founders.

Despite what one might think, India is more than ready for the Love hotel and it represents an extremely lucrative investment opportunity for investors due to its outsized returns, asserts Arizanov is a recent LinkedIn article. Love hotels in Japan have already attracted the investors of institutionalized investors such as MHS Capital Partners which solicited $10 million from foreign institutional investors. Another example worth mentioning is Japan Leisure Hotels Group which plans to go public by selling up to 100 million pounds of shares on London’s junior Aim market.

He cites the lack of space indoor as well as complete luck of privacy outdoor alongside growing distance between home and work as primary reason why the love hotel as spatial concept is growing much needed in India too, especially for the young Indian working population.

StayUncle keeps strengthening its primary USP with the recent announcement of Hotels for couples with bathtubs attached. As per the founders, decorated rooms featuring the StayUncle Love Kit (a discreetly packed box containing sensual wellness items) is next in the pipeline.

We are barely scratching the surface further adds Arizanov. Investors we’ve been talking with traditionally compare love hotel stays with the overall traveler hotel booking industry in India. We are convinced that the love stay transactions will completely outgrow traditional traveler hotel stays in the next 5 years.

The love hotel or leisure hotel booking japan represents a daily affair of over ¼ of the population and has reached the status of an organized industry with a $40 billion in revenues annually, contributing significantly to the country’s GDP.

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