Kipstay - Beautiful Curated Spaces for Travel

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There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook none - said inspirational author Alan Cohen. Resting and taking a break from work or taking a short getaway to break the monotony of daily life makes you feel refreshed, rejuvenated and more productive at work. Many studies and researches are proving the fantastic effects that even a short time out can have on one’s mind and productivity. Reports say that, "Vacations have the potential to break into the stress cycle".

However due to time or money constraints, we are not able to take adequate vacations. But thankfully now we have a solution to it. Kipstay a Bangalore based startup is bringing to you peaceful and affordable getaway homes just within 2-3 hours drive from the city, so that you can catch up that much needed respite from the stress and tedium of daily life, without spending much time and money.

StartupTalky interviewed Kipstay co founder Arjun Raghunandan, to know better about this startup dedicated to helping stressed-out and overworked people find relaxation, rejuvenation and overall health benefits by reconnecting with nature.

Kipstay - Company Highlights

Startup Name Kipstay
Headquarter Bangalore
Founders Achintya Dayal & Arjun Raghunandan
Sector Travel
Founded 2015
Website kipstay.com
Parent Organization Poshmiles Online Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

About Kipstay and How it Works
Kipstay - USPs
Kipstay - Founders and Team
How was Kipstay Started
Travel Market in India
Kipstay - Name, Tagline and Logo
Kipstay - Business Model and Revenue Model
Kipstay - User Acquisition
Kipstay - Startup Challenges
Kipstay - Funding and Investors
Kipstay - Competitors
Kipstay - Awards & Recgnitions
Kipstay - Growth

About Kipstay and How it Works

Kipstay operates a collection of homestays within a two - five-hour drive from major urban cities and outfits them with comforts of home, and rents them by night. Kipstay is designed to redefine short vacations. The experience, the location and design of the Kipstay homestays are created in a way that helps guests unplug and detox from the stress of daily life and rejuvenate.

Kipstay converts existing/abandoned housing stock short drive from the city into something more usable for this generation, that’s more responsible for the environment.

Kipstay helps you disconnect and recharge from the daily grind — to be an “off switch” in an “on world.” Technology and work have infiltrated every hour of every day and we need to find a new way to find balance

The getaways can be booked via Kipstay’s website or mobile app. Unlike vacations which can be expensive and far away, Kipstay is affordable (starting at INR 1500/night), far enough to feel disconnected but near enough, so you don’t spend all your time getting there.


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Kipstay USPs

Urban millennials are overworked and stressed out as technology, jobs and social media fill every waking moment of our lives. 8 out of 10 people want to go on vacations to relax, destress and reconnect with family and friends. But planning vacations take 4 to 7 days per trip, they are expensive (avg. INR 1 to 2 lakhs) and frequency is limited to once a year due to busy lifestyle. The major USP of Kipstay is that it allows one to take that much-needed break without spending a lot and being near cities one can plan short trips frequently.

Also, in India, booking homestays as an alternative to hotels is frustrating on many levels - the experience is unpredictable, no transparency in pricing, inaccurate listing information and photos and trust issues. Kipstay is a solution to these problems.

To enlist, Kipstay has the following USPs –

For Travellers-

  • Experience - Significantly better and predictable experience for travelers. (Like an Airbnb Plus Home).
  • Affordable - INR 1,500 per night. Kipstay controls the pricing and inventory unlike other marketplaces and OTAs.
  • Accessible - All homes would be in scenic locations 2-5 hrs from urban cities, perfect for short getaways. Unlike Kipstay, many companies do not reveal the exact location unless a booking is made, which is frustrating for a traveler while planning.
  • Differentiated branding with a chic design.
  • Travelers need not choose between an authentic experience or dependable customer service and basic amenities.

For Homeowners-

  • Ease of converting a regular home to a branded Kipstay Home via the company's easy to execute playbook.
  • Product features - Kipstay provides branded amenities, marketing and distribution, pricing and inventory management via. a tech backend.
  • Higher occupancy rates (higher than 50%) due to Kipstay brand which directly increases earnings.
  • Kipstay offers a DIFM (Do-It-For-Me) model instead of the DIY model which is time-consuming and expensive.
  • Crossover of Uber (technology back-end, marketing & distribution, operations) and Airbnb (unique inventory with authentic travel experiences).

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Founders of Kipstay and team

Achintya Dayal and Arjun Raghunandan co-founded Kipstay. Achintya and Arjun were friends since their school days,and started their first startup Pyxis Networks- an event management company, while they were in the last year of college. After Achintya graduated from Manipal University and Arjun from Ramaiah Institute of Technology they co-founded Kipstay.

Achintya Dayal and Arjun Raghunandan - Co-founders, Kipstay

The founders emphasize on building the right team from the beginning and brought on board great talent to join Kipstay’s core team. Kipstay work culture is centered around people over process.

We push our team to achieve excellence by empowering them with freedom and responsibility. Our goal is to inspire people and trust them to do what they think is best for Kipstay by giving them freedom, power, the information in support of their decisions.

How was Kipstay Started

While all their friends were busy preparing for CAT, GRE and GMAT, Achintya and Arjun decided to travel and attend as many music festivals as we could.

We knew after graduation we would be facing the grind anyway, why not enjoy until then - says Arjun

During one such festival, it struck them that they could sell some merchandise and make some money as a side hustle, to enhance the festival experience for music festival-goers.

The duo mailed Sunburn ( Asia's largest music festival held in Pune, Maharashtra, every year) regarding their plan to sell merchandise at the event, and soon they were meeting hundreds of vendors – sourcing, finalizing and shipping merchandise to these festivals and all these was quite interesting!

Honestly, we did not know this was entrepreneurship. The feeling of having earned money even before graduating got us excited about the business.

And this love for entrepreneurship, stayed with Arjun and Achintya. After graduation, Arjun wrote his GRE and was on the final waitlist of acceptance to the University of Maryland, but instead of waiting he took a hard decision of staying back and pursue business.

Arjun started discussing ideas with Achintya, and saw a huge opportunity in the travel industry as he belonged to a family of travel experts. This lead to the launch of Kipstay in 2015.


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Travel Market in India

The Indian travel market is projected to grow at 11-11.5% to the tune of $48 Bn by 2020 and Hotels will grow at 13% to $13 Bn by 2020. Alternate stays, including short term rentals and other lodgings is expected to grow up to $3 Bn by 2020.

Kipstay banks on the following recent trends in the Indian Travel Industry:

  • Increase in Frequency of short duration (2- 4 nights) trips to at least 4 to 6 times per year
  • Increase in Alternate Accommodation supply in India is growing at 40%
  • 80% of Indian travelers said they are seeking authentic experiences.

The name Kipstay comes from the words ‘Kip’ and ‘Homestay’

‘Kip’ is an urban slang word which means to sleepover at someone else’s house. Again, Homestay is a private house offering accommodation to paying guests for short periods.

Kipstay - Business Model and Revenue Model

Kipstay was initially launched as a marketplace to discover and book homestays and additionally, they provided tools (Kiplist) to help owners manage their homes. Later the company pivoted to a network of branded getaway homes model to offer a better customer experience.

In a marketplace model, it was hard for us to handle operations of the homes - like speaking to guests, making sure the amenities are well stocked, no control on pricing and inventory, etc. Hence to deliver a significantly better experience we iterated our model

Kipstay runs on a simple revenue model. It helps homeowners manage their branding, operations such as guest communications and marketing and distribution via their website and app and other third-party channels. For all these services, Kipstay charges a percentage of the total booking it generates.


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Kipstay - User Acquisition

Kipstay was initially launched as a marketplace to discover and book homestays and additionally, they built tools (Kiplist) to help owners manage their homes. The aim was to be the backend engine that would drive business to these properties. However, this model did not turn out to be successful.

Kipstay had 300+ homestays across 30 locations, but the bookings were very low. On speaking to customers and through direct feedback the Kipstay team understood that the users were not looking for cookie-cutter experiences when they booked with them. Travelers were looking for getaways that offered an authentic experience (like an Airbnb offering) and dependable customer service and basic amenities (like a hotel offering). Keeping up with customer expectations, Kipstay - A branded network of homestays was launched.

Kipstay launched its first property in Chikmagalur and it received great response from the customers. In the first week of the launch - they sold 3 months of weekends, winter bookings being made in 4 months in advance.

Kipstay - Startup Challenges

The most challenging situation that the Kipstay team faced was convincing the homeowners to rebrand their property and letting Kipstay take care of technology and operations while they take care of the hospitality. However, given the profitability that Kipstay offers to the house owners, many house owners soon came forward to join hands with Kipstay.

Kipstay - Funding and Investors

Kipstay raised 1 round of angel funding in 2018.

Date Stage Amount Investor
2018 Angel Undisclosed IIM Ahmedabad Alumni & Group of HNI’s

Kipstay - Competitors

Airbnb, HomeAway, Sykes Cottages, AvantStay, misterb&b etc., are some of the similar companies in this sector.

Kipstay - Awards & Recognitions

  1. Amrita TBI pitch-fest top 30 startups
  2. Y Combinator Startup School 2018 (Graduate)

Kipstay - Growth

Kipstay has served over 10000+ travelers since inception and is averaging occupancy rates of 70% . The company is planning to launch in 10 new locations in 6 months.

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About Chayanika Goswami

  • Assam
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