Of late, the co-living trend in India has become popular among millennials — It is a booming sector in the country. And why not? The modern co-living a spaces has their own set of perks — whether it’s the basic amenities or services through smartphone software. According to a source, the co-living market is India has the potential to grow into a $93-billion market. And witnessing this skyrocketing popularity, many players had entered the space and have started offering their services.
Zolo is one of the players that is gaining pretty good popularity. The company initially started out as a marketplace for co-living spaces – hostels & PGs, however, it couldn’t live up to customer promises in the marketplace model and decided to get its hands dirty and take operations in its hand. Today, the company has more than 270 properties in 10 cities amounting to 20k beds and it gets over 300 bookings every day across the cities.
Having a strong organization structure and over 1000 people in the right places, each of the cities runs like an independent business with its own management and operations teams. This allows the company to have a detailed ground-level understanding of each market.
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“Co-living is really made for India. Our people are used to living in communities and prefer it. It also provides an affordable and better quality of life for the people which is desperately needed in our nation,” said Akhil Sikri, CTO of Zolo. “For a lot of companies its simply about providing living accommodation. We believe that is a lot more than that – it’s about providing a customized experience and one that is socially fulfilling as well.”
How AI & ML Are Playing A Vital Role
Being a company that it is catering to a significantly huge number of people in the co-living space, Zolo has made sure that its tech stack is not lagging behind. It includes microservices based architecture primarily on Java 8 (Play framework) interacting with Mongo DB along with RabbitMQ & Redis cache hosted on AWS servers. The company uses NodeJS to host our websites and the majority of the website pages built on React framework are server rendered to provide a great customer experience.
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Talking about latest technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Zolo’s inventory optimization and marketing spend for certain properties are powered by ML. The company uses AI techniques for providing a personalized experience to customers and exploring solutions on taking business calls on growing supply of rooms. Also, it uses artificial intelligence on IoT data to understand customer usage patterns of common amenities – washing machines, playing area, common area, etc.
Furthermore, Zolo also has a mobile application for both Android and iOS platforms. It has also built an internal property management app to streamline business operations.
“Our customer Android app follows the best guidelines provided by Google and is purely coded in Kotlin programming language,” said Akhil.
Moving Past The Competitors
While it takes a lot to earn customer satisfaction and delight, Zolo holds customer’s interest as its topmost priority. Zolo has a deep understanding of the customer segment that usually opts for the co-living product and it is well ahead of the curve in investing in technologies and offerings that will make its product far superior. And in order to help solve customers’ concerns efficiently, Zolo has also built an app-based ticket resolution system.
Having a base of 25000+ happy customers so far, the company said that around 60% of its residents refer their friends. It believes that its regular events like movie nights, music shows etc. help the company in building a community of its residents.
“The idea is not just to provide the basics like a roof and food. But also providing a living experience,” Akhil added. “Unlike our competitors, we have been in this business for the last 4 years. Unlike them, this is our core. We walk, talk, sleep and dream co-living.”
The Roadmap Ahead
Looking into the future is planning to hunker down into particular cities and expand the value propositions. “We are currently the largest organized player in this industry, and we plan it to keep it that way,” said Akhil.
Currently, Zolo’s primary market is early professionals and it is making strong headway into student housing. And it is planning to capture the former and keep expanding the latter via its deep understanding of the micro markets. Zolo is also developing a range of products within each micro market to have something for everyone. Unlike others, Zolo believes in not seeing itself as budget, premium or any other point in the spectrum. “We have something for everyone. We are also in the process of developing other living solutions for people at different stages of their lives like newly married couples and even families,” Akhil concludes.