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How Zolostays is using customer experience to create its niche in the crowded co-living market

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In a market that is getting increasingly crowded, Zolostays has held its own by zeroing in on the one aspect that a business can be proud of - customer experience, the crucial differentiator in the co-living space.

It was 6 am and the founders of a new startup were hard at work - not brainstorming or writing out plans on a whiteboard, or sending out a flurry of emails to prospective clients. No, Nikhil Sikri, Akhil Sikri and Sneha Choudhary were cleaning and mopping floors.

This was not something they had imagined they would have to do when they started Zolostays in 2015, but the founders had their priorities right from the get-go: they would stand out in the crowded co-living market by keeping their customers at the focus of their operations.

So that morning, just a couple of hours before their new tenants were due to arrive, the three founders were simply fulfilling a promise: Their customers were expecting a well-fitted out a co-living space and that is what they would get. The furniture would be in order, the food would be in place, housekeeping and maintenance of the property would be taken care of, as would be the most important draw for the millennial customer: Wi-Fi.

The caretakers had low standards and the cleaning crew were a no-show, so the trio simply rolled up their sleeves and got down to work, making sure the four properties lived up to their customers’ expectations.

That was two years ago. They started out with $1 million in funding from Nexus Venture Partners in 2015. A little over a year later, they grossed Rs 6.2 crore in revenue in FY 2017. That December, they raised a $4 million Series A round, once again led by Nexus. And by the end of FY 2018, revenue had more than quadrupled to Rs 26.4 crore.

Nikhil Sikri, Co-founder and CEO, Zolostays

The Zolostays growth story

Today, Zolostays has 134 properties, and each is managed by a team of reliable caretakers, cleaners, cooks and a concierge, with little or no intervention from the founders. And sources say that Zolostays is in talks to raise another Rs 200 crore in funding before the year is out.

Co-living isn’t a new concept. There is Delhi-based CoHo, Bengaluru-based StayAbode, YourOWNRoom and SimplyGuest, Noida-based Placio, Gurugram-based Flathood and Co-Live. So how did Zolostays manage to gain the confidence of investors and users in a business dominated by larger rival Nestaway and the new kid on the rental........

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