Come June-July and the student community has too many issues on their mind. The college admission process is gruelling in itself and when the kids have to chase landlords and secretaries of housing societies to rent an apartment, it becomes a tedious affair.
The number of outstation students seeking admission in Pune’s colleges or institutions is estimated to be around close to 40,000 this year. But these colleges cannot offer accommodation to all the students who then have to settle for paying guest accommodations or share a flat with few more youngsters to split the rent.
It was the numbers and the state of affairs that he had firsthand witnessed at private accommodation that gave Vineetkumar Goyal of Kohinoor Group, an impetus to start Serviced Hostels for students.
“I had visited a few facilities across the city and realised that the students were living in unhygienic condition despite paying a good price. I saw that the bathrooms needed repairs, the bedsheets used by students were not cleaned etc. As a developer, I realised that this vertical needs to be explored. And, hence we came up with Youthville, a Serviced Hostel, for girls at Bavdhan,” explains Goyal, founder of Youthville Hostel.
The facility offers all the comforts to the students — AV rooms, gym, library, cafeteria, laundromat, common kitchenette, bikes on hire etc. “I had long discussions with students before launching the serviced hostel. Many outstation students told me that they don’t have two-wheelers of their own, and are unfamiliar with local transport, so travelling becomes difficult for them. So we have bikes on hire, also a shuttle service to their college if we have a group of students attending that particular institute. We also have 24x7 security staff to take care of the students. The agencies we have got on board are as per law. We have done police verification for that company. We also have a doctor on call. This template will also be followed in other cities where we will be launching serviced hostels,” adds Goyal.
The girls facility at Bavdhan has 146 beds. Another facility is coming up at Ambegaon, which will be for both boys and girls, with separate entrances. “We have started our hostels within a five-six km range of colleges or academic institutes. We have seven institutes near our Ambegaon hostel with Sinhagad Institute being the nearest,” he informs.
Next, the Kohinoor Group is in the process of setting up another hostel at Tathawade. Also on anvil are hostels in Mumbai and Delhi. Goyal explains that the group has also received offers from Ahmedabad University and Chennai to do projects on Build, Operate and Transfer principle.
Talking about the opportunities in this business vertical, Goyal says, “The opportunities are immense. The builders get a good return of 18-20 per cent on their investments. So I think, apart from doing residential schemes, serviced hostels is the next best thing. Across the world, except India, this is considered as a good value to the business — in terms of money making, facility making, employment, this is a good business to be in. The only additional responsibility is tying up with institutes, getting operational and being in the hospitality business. The only challenge that I see is in keeping the commitment with the rooms, because this is a cyclical business.”
In keeping with the international standards, Goyal is trying to increase the single occupancy rooms in his hostel. “At Bavdhan, we have 10-15 per cent double occupancy and the rest is triple occupancy. Eventually, we will also get in single occupancy format, when we move with this project to Mumbai and Delhi, where the demand for single occupancy is more. The international standards also demand that five per cent of your rooms should be for single person occupancy and 15-20 per cent should be double occupancy,” he says.
Apart from the business opportunity in starting the serviced hostels, Goyal wants the students to have a good time, and create wonderful memories during their stay at Youthville.
“It has been a year since we started Youthville and I have received good feedback, especially from international students. Of course, I was hoping that I would get some negative feedback, which could have helped us improve. I really want the students to have a good time here, study hard, make friends, make good memories,” he explains.
OTHER HOSTELS in PUNE
Backpacker Panda, KP
Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Hostel, Shivajinagar
Samaj Kalyan Hostel, Vishrantwadi
Yashlaxmi Girls Hostel, Karve Road