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WudStay - An Online Marketplace That Allows Users Find Quality Hotels in India

Users can choose from 650+ hotels across 60 cities, 2000+ homestays in 20 cities, and 350 hostels/PGs across 5 cities.

Founded in April 2015 by Prafulla Mathur, WudStay is a lifespan accommodation company that allows users find standardized short and long term stay options across categories including hotels, homestays, hostels, and retirement homes. WudStay properties are available at leisure destinations such as Kashmir, Manali, and Goa and business destinations such as Bangalore, Mumbai, and Gurgaon. With the mission of creating a Gold Standard in the Unorganized Accommodation Space in India, the startup places the highest value on customer experience and in-property facilities. Its strong Hostel/PG presence in big education markets including Kota and Business Destination such as Gurgaon and Bangalore has helped consumers find a convenient and comfortable way to stay.

Users can choose from 650+ hotels across 60 cities, 2000+ homestays in 20 cities, and 350 hostels/PGs across 5 cities.

Sujata Sangwan Interacts With Prafulla Mathur, CEO and Founder, WudStay And Spoke To Him

How did the idea come to start WudStay?

While heading my last venture, I used to travel across India for business and leisure purposes. I had had multiple disastrous experiences with hotels where the hotels were unkempt, offered unsatisfactory services, and had untrained staff. This one time, I had booked a Rs. 3500 room at a hotel in Mumbai, during an official trip, and I was flabbergasted with the quality of hospitality and services. Starting with the man at the reception who was shabbily dressed to the room which had a foul smell, it was amongst the worst travel experiences I had ever had.

But the straw that broke the camel's back was when I went to Haridwar for a relative’s last rites, wherein we checked into a hotel which left me absolutely devastated. In such circumstances, the last thing someone wants to do is worry about the hotel room, but its condition forced us to move out of that place.

The difference between emerging and developed economies is the parameter for rating and standardization. I wanted to bring that change and decided to start WudStay to offer Gold Standard in the Unorganized Accommodation Space.

What are the special key services offered by WudStay?

WudStay promises to offer Gold Standard in the accommodation space, and our focus is on providing our users with comfort, security, quality services which ensure a stress-free stay for any kind of traveler. We offer unconventional stay options like Shikaras in Kashmir, Houseboats in Kerala, and Havelis in Rajasthan. We offer free WiFi and complimentary breakfast to all our guests across properties. To help students and professionals who opt for a hostel or a PG, we offer meals and special services to ensure they are in the correct frame of mind to achieve their objectives. Our intent is to make our user’s life as comfortable as possible.

We recently forayed into the home-stay business and have already cemented a strong reputation for ourselves. Unlike other players in the space, we combine the home-stay model with our strong on ground operations to ensure comfort and safety for both home owners and guests.

How is WudStay different from its competitors?

What differentiates us from others is our offerings which touch our users’ lives at multiple stages. Our audiences include students and professionals who are looking for PG and hostel, a traveler looking for a quality hotel options, an enthusiast who likes to explore a destination like a local and stay at a homestay, and elderly people who prefer their freedom and want to stay at a quality, comfortable, and safe retirement home.

Our strong focus on quality differentiates us from our competitors who are modelling themselves as online booking engines. Our deep technology expertise coupled with strong on ground operations helps us achieve or objective of being the Gold Standard in Accommodation.

How much funding has WudStay raised till now? How do you monetize?

WudStay raised USD 3 Million from Netherland based VC, Mangrove Capital Partners and Nimbuzz CEO, Vikas Saxena. Mangrove Capital Partners has a track record of having built two multibillion dollar businesses including Microsoft owned, Skype and Wix. Prior to this, WudStay raised a Seed Round from Similie Ventures, a Luxembourg based institutional investor.

We work on a revenue share model with our accommodation partners. Our commissions range from anywhere between 20-40% of the booking amount.

Can you share the no. of room nights clocked till now?

We have seen a steady growth in the number of guests who rely on WudStay for their accommodation needs. In May, 2016, we recorded 1,00,000 bookings.

What are your expansion plans?

With a currently tally of 1000+ properties across categories, we are looking at expanding our network to 1000 hotels, 1000 hostels, and 5000 homestays by the end of 2016.

What are some of the most prominent challenges that you have faced during this journey?

The Accommodation Standardization business is extremely operations driven. It requires the team to visit each property and set out guidelines and evaluate quality standards. The very feet on street nature of the business poses multiple operational challenges. The Indian accommodation industry is extremely unorganized. The lack of order in the industry poses challenges. However, we believe that companies such as WudStay are bringing in a high degree of transparency and trust, adding great value to the end customer.

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