Startup Urbanpod to Enable 1000-Pods By 2020 Across Metro Cities In India
Market-size for the Pod-Hotel business is a bottom of the pyramid market with a huge potential.
Urbanpod is the brainchild of 3-young entrepreneurs- Shalabh Mittal, Hiren Gandhi & Berlin Lee who share common passion & values - that of doing things differently, creating something new & innovative that ‘adds value’ to the customers and the society at large.
Meet the Co-Founders
Mittal who spends a considerable amount of time in Singapore on work, happened to stay in one of the most elegant-Pod Hotel. He was amazed at the Pod-concept and the value-for-money that it offered without compromising on the quality, safety, comfort & feel. He also felt that it is a great option for single women travelers, apart from the business & leisure travelers. He was inspired by this unique-Product and invited his friend, an entrepreneur-hotelier, Hiren Gandhi from back home in Gujarat, India to join him to experiment the Product firsthand. Gandhi too had an experiential-stay and both of them were convinced about the potential that the Product holds for the Indian market and was keen to get this unique-offering to the Indian audience, as they felt that India were ready for it.
The duo also envisaged the fact that Pod Hotels are not just a global-trend and a credible business-model but also that there is a growing necessity for such spaces in India, especially in the Metros, where it is not easy to find accommodation which is clean, comfortable, safe & convenient at a humble-cost!
What the Traction Says?
Current travel trends show an increase not only in the number of business travelers but also in the sub-segments within the leisure category and new-age travelers Viz. single-travelers, backpackers, group travelers of all kinds (Spiritual, cultural-exchange, explorers, researchers, study-tour groups etc.). They are willing to explore and experiment with innovative, practical stay-options to optimize their travel-spends by looking out for spaces that offer good value-for-money, hygiene and a safe accommodation with good internet connectivity at a centrally-located place with a good ambience & feel… safety being an important parameter, especially for the women. The digital natives also enjoy making new friends during travel and the Pod-concept at Urbanpod makes it a great place to network with fellow-guests from across the globe!
Berlin Lee, serial entrepreneur and a veteran in the Architectural design & Interiors business from a renowned Singapore-based Architect Firm, Formwerkz, has always found India fascinating. Lee who also has great experience in building Pods, was roped-in by the duo as the third-partner.
Urbanpod actually sstarted with its operations on 1st March 2017.
How does it work?
As Urbanpod is unique & Smart, in the sense that it offers just the right-mix, a value-for-money proposition, in the truest sense. While it is convenient on your pocket, the Product does not compromise on the quality of service, safety, hygiene, comfort & feel – the core benefits. Besides, being strategically-located, the Pod-Concept offers a unique experience. In short, Urbanpod concentrates on things that actually matter to the average new-age traveller, the absolute essentials –thereby giving an edge to the travellers in-terms of helping them in optimising their travel-spends, judiciously.
It is designed by the renowned Singapore architect firm, Formwerkz, offers 140-Pods with various upgrades to choose from - Suite-Pod category is suitable for couples; the Private Pods have more room, the Classic Pods are for men & the exclusive Ladies Pods – provides the ladies added safety & privacy. Each individual Pod is self-contained. It offers a contemporary, chic & minimalistic living experience!
The venture so far, has been funded through the private investments of the Co-founders.
Future Vision of the Team
The Promoters plan to expand rapidly in Mumbai and other Metros. They also plan to work with property-owners for joint-development as well. It’s an easily scalable model where one can have a location up and running in 5-6 months! For the next few years, the Promoters focus would be to keep refining their model in terms of bettering the Product and service depending on the feedback and expand in the key metros at the same time.
They also have excellent feedback from women who have used the exclusive ladies pods. Some potential partners i.e. property owners have shown interest in partnering with them. The trio, are excited about the growth prospects of their passion-driven venture, Urbanpod.
Marketing Push In the Startup
The Company is targeting both individual Customers and Corporates. Marketing would be through social-media, Online Travel Agents, booking engines and direct sales to Corporates.
Being the first in India and the first-site for Urbanpod, they did have initial challenges around getting the design right (which is critical), regulatory and having people to accept the service model. Most times we found that once people saw the site and experienced the Pod themselves. They were surprised by its comfort and practicality of the idea. So far everyone who has seen the place has loved it including one of their Italian customers and the women customers.
Market-size for the Pod-Hotel business is a bottom of the pyramid market with a huge potential. With India’s large population, booming domestic tourism, booming MICA market, the market potential for Urbanpod is massive in all big-metros. The Co-founders would also be experimenting with different models to target sub-segments in the small upcoming cities.
Promoters plan to have 1000-pods in the next three years, across metros. They envision taking the concept and brand pan-India and have other offshoot formats in mind too. They are open to business-partnerships including franchising OR strategic tie-ups with major IT-Parks, Real Estate Owners, Private-Public-partnership with Railways etc., to expand their presence.
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