Cracking the entrance test to your dream college is but half the challenge. What if the institution doesn’t provide in-campus accommodation? As a student with limited finances, the search for a home is not easy, especially in a city like Mumbai where it is difficult for single men and women to come on board as tenants.
Enter Gaurav Munjal, the 23-year-old software engineer who started Flat.to this year. Munjal says he has learnt from his own experience. “I came to Mumbai in 2008 as a computer engineering student and faced a lot of problems while renting flats. To add to it, the documentation process was very painstaking. I discovered that this was a genuine problem that every student faced. This is what led me to start the website Flat.to.”
The website has tied up with more than 40 colleges in the city and has over 600 students who have already used the services successfully. The mechanism is simple. A student has to type in his or her locality and name of the college. Flat.to then helps them find suitable brokers who specialise in Paying Guest (PG) or rented accommodation. “I have many broker friends and therefore it was easier for me to tie-up with them. Once a student fills in the details, he or she can directly get in touch with a shortlisted broker. There is no fee involved. It is only then based on what the brokers costs,” he says.
The personal initiative that is now a full-fledged online business, is funded by Aakrit Vaish, who is the co-founder and chairman of the company. “I knew Aakrit as a friend and discussed this idea with him. He agreed to do the initial funding. Honestly, if the idea is good, funding should not be a problem,” Munjal says.
Apart from renting flats, students can even find a room mate for themselves. Munjal asserts, “Renting a apartment is an expensive proposition in Mumbai.
Therefore, it is sometimes essential to find a good roommate to stay with. We understand that privacy is important and therefore everything goes through us before anything is finalised.” He is now keen on starting a students’ initiative for finding/renting flats that could give 20-30 per cent discount on renting an apartment, and a small 20 page booklet that could act as a call inventory for all brokers in the city. “I want to expand to other places such as Pune and Bangalore soon as they are a lot of educational institutes there,” he signs off.