[Matrix Moments] How Stanza Living survived the pandemic and continued to bet on a physical business
is India’s leading co-living startup that manages housing for students, employees, or anyone moving to a new city. The two founders – Anindya Dutta and Sandeep Dalmia – were also recently featured on the Fortune India 40 under 40 list, which recognizes young and brightest Indian entrepreneurs.
In conversation with Tarun Davda, Managing Director of Matrix Partners India, Anindya and Sandeep talk about the impact of COVID-19.
Tarun said, “The second wave of COVID-19 has been brutal for many of us personally as well as, you know, for our businesses. It seems like things are stable now, but there’s still that lingering fear of a third wave. And I was asking Anindya, “How do you guys plan? Are you in what people call a phygital business that’s big on the ground but is disrupted by some sort of digital layer? “
Founders Anindya Dutta and Sandeep Dalmia
Anindya says the big challenge for the Stanza Living team came in April 2020 when the team had to recognize and accept the uncertainty. “I think one of the big points that Sandeep and I said this is how we’re going to approach it was when we realized it wasn’t a one-size-fits-all answer,” he adds.
The team realized that what works for other businesses won’t necessarily work for Stanza Living. So the team had to watch everything from first principles.
“There’s been a lot of talk about pivots and how you switch from one element to another or do something else differently. We have taken a contrarian approach; we said, focus on your heart, ”Anindya said.
He added that there might be a hiatus, but the idea is to focus on what the team was good at.
“We think we’re doing things at a reasonably aggressive pace in the sense that we’re not being fooled with our expansion. So we want to be reasonable with our aggressive growth rate. Then we focused on the quality of the people who operate different parts of the engine. For us, strength is important. We are not an ecosystem of stars, but we want to be like the New Zealand of the startup ecosystem where there is not a single star and where everyone, as a collective, strikes above. its weight, ”Anindya said.
The next thing the team focused on was playbooks and building a scalable ecosystem. It involved going back to systems, processes and asking the question “how scalable are systems?” They then focused on the technology and the product to see how they can double down.
“Every process at Stanza has been thoroughly reviewed and luckily for us we had this period from December 2020 to March 2021 where we were able to test it under power as the company started to come back. And then again, we went back to the engine room and said, let’s look at what we’ve learned from those three to four months and review it again, ”Anindya says.
On the supply side, Sandeep said they also need to work with the partner ecosystem as it was new even to them and even the partners were confused about their business and the impact.
“We had clear and transparent communication with our partners from day one. For example, if we needed a number of discounts, even beyond what the contract provided, we were quite open to discussing whether this is what we need and why not. not talk about it and figure out what you need to do to give us that discount, ”Sandeep said.
He explains that one of their biggest fixed costs may be the cost of the internet, and the team has gotten up to 60-70% off month after month from their internet partners on a daily basis. keep on going.
“They were a strategic partner and it was a very frank discussion, and he said that the commissioning of any new property will probably be delayed for 30 days if I have to give you this discount as I will be doing some things at my backend for the And as a result, we’ve figured out that if our business calendars change, we’ll plan it because we don’t know when we want to go online either. But we got a 60-70 percent discount without hitting our partners. We continued to get that discount with them on most of our assets, as we do, ”adds Sandeep.
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