Breaking the hostel paradigm

Breaking the hostel paradigm

Annu Talreja and Priyanka Gera

What comes to your mind when you think of student paying guest accommodations and hostels located outside the college campus? Dingy rooms, filled to the brim with students, serving up bland food are one of the first images that are bound to come up. These were the images that architects turned entrepreneurs Annu Talreja and Priyanka Gera set out to correct when they set up Oxfordcaps, a student co-living space in Singapore in 2017. The company expanded to India in 2018.

Priyanka and Annu were roommates in college and after a decade of the corporate grind, working in the hospitality and real estate space, wanted to do something on their own. They zeroed in on the student living space. 

Talreja explains, “Unlike the west, student co-living is a very new concept in Asia. There is a lot of demand, especially in India, where millions of students migrate every year for studies. Finding a good place as a student is tough. The paying guest accommodations are not very well kept, do not have many facilities and students find it very difficult to cope with only the basics. In our facilities, we offer gyms, good wifi connectivity, community centres for students to socialise and so on. We offer a standardised product with a full-stack model of services and amenities.” 

Oxfordcaps operates under three subbrands that includes premium residences, student residences and oxfordcaps dorms. The company in March raised $8 million led by Times Internet, with Kalaari Capital and 500 Startups also participating in the Series A round. It has expanded from 200 beds to over 15,000 beds across the country this year.  

In Bengaluru, they recently announced a partnership with IFIM Business School and said that it planned to have 5,000 beds in the city. The company plans to provide on and off campus international standard accommodation for students studying at the business school. Oxfordcaps will also provide the technology-enabled living experience to students from other key universities in Bengaluru including Presidency University, Reva University, R.V. College of Engineering, M.S. Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Christ University and NMIMS, in addition to IFIM Business School.

What do they do?

The company leases buildings suitable for student accommodation for nine years, renovates them on a standardised pattern, and rents it out as single, twin-sharing, and triple-sharing rooms, as well as dormitories. It also offers fully-furnished accommodation with WiFi, high-end security systems, food and maintenance on its properties. The rooms are priced from Rs 8,000 and go up to Rs 25,000 per month. Though the facilities are uniform across residences, prices vary based on the distance from schools or colleges.

Talreja says, “These spaces are not the same as co-living spaces for working professionals. Student co-living means shared rooms, specific study rooms, study tables and many other materials. Moreover, students stay in these rooms for a longer period than working professionals. We also offer an in and out time facility for students.”

What sets it apart?

The most important aspect of a student living space is the focus on community building with a range of regular events and engagements. “ We wanted to create something much more than just a bed to head for the night. In our facilities, we offer many features that will ensure that the student does not get bored and can bond with the community.”