The estimated market size of the student housing industry is $15 billion with more than 10.4 million students across India migrating to cities every year to pursue their academic dreams. However, the student housing sector in India has never been looked at from the lens of design thinking and technology at the core of the experience. The industry today suffers from a high level of fragmentation, lack of quality solutions, price transparency, reliability and complete lack of tech enablement of processes.
Witnessing the pain-point, several companies have emerged, but Oxfordcaps is one such company that is especially focused on student housing, aiming to meet up to 60% of unmet demand.
In order to know more about the company and how it is filling the voids in the industry, Analytics India Magazine caught up the founding duo of Oxfordcaps — Annu Talreja, CEO and Priyanka Gera, COO.
Beyond Hostels & PGs
Oxfordcaps provides custom designed and standardized student housing product with a full-stack model of services and amenities. Since its launch in India, the company has clocked a 75x growth in less than 11 months and has expanded from 200 beds to over 15,000 beds across 12 cities. Furthermore, the company has also announced its entry into Indonesia and Malaysia in partnership with one of the largest real estate developers in South East Asia.
Having a business that deals with student housing in several cities is a huge challenge. “To meet this challenge it was important for us to find the right people for the Job. So we take utmost care in selecting the right fit for the job & we hire for attitude & train for skills,” said the founding duo.
The whole operations at Oxforcaps are planned by the corporate operation team which consist of people specialized in Housekeeping, Operations, Security, procurement and Food & Beverage. To provide full stack services, the company has outsourced vendors and it always makes sure that there is consistency in quality & cost.
Talking about maintaining the operations in different cities, Oxfordcaps have hierarchy levels defined which consists of City Operations Manager, Departmental heads, Property managers & wardens which takes care of on ground operations.
Tech Stack at Oxfordcaps
Coming to the technology aspect behind Asia’s first branded and tech-enabled student housing company, Oxfordcaps’ website has been developed in PHP while admin dashboards are developed in AngularJS. The backend APIs are built on Java’s open source framework – Spring Boot and it is also using MySQL database and Apache web server.
Mobile applications have become imperative for almost every company in today’s competitive business era. And Oxfordcaps is not neglecting this significance. The android apps are written in Java and iOS apps are developed in Swift and the complete backend is deployed on AWS.
That is not all, Oxfordcaps is also extensively leveraging the power of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Over the years, Oxfordcaps have used AI models to collect student data and it was able to generate more than 10 million hours of engagement programs per year. This enables inter-residence communication with peers through social media groups for interaction, engagement, information exchange, career development and cultural exchange among others.
“We have trained the ML models using historical data to optimise the operational process and reduce wastage, and as a result, we are able to reduce the operational costs. These savings are passed on to students thus reducing their overall cost of living,” said the duo.
The Hiring Phase
When it comes to hiring for a company’s technology domain, it is not an easy task. However, Oxfordcaps over the years has handled the hiring phase pretty well. The company uses LinkedIn to hire the best talent and also through industry references. Talking about qualification, Oxfordcaps always look for a candidate with not only computer science knowledge such as data structures, algorithms, and programming concepts, but it also evaluates a candidate on its approach towards problem-solving.
Staying Ahead Of The Curve
When asked what makes Oxfordcaps better than its competitors, Talreja and Gera said, “We bring with us an international experience in managing student housing. Our international experience has equipped us in designing spaces that meet international standards.”
Furthermore, the company focuses on community building through regular events and engagements and it is highly appreciated and has special affinity among students. That is not all, Oxfordcaps makes sure that high-quality standards are maintained across all the properties. Students have access to the Oxfordcaps Mobile App. Once on-boarded they can use it to raise a request for laundry services, sick meals etc. They can use the app for sharing their feedback on food quality, cleanliness, security etc. Parents are also kept in the loop for late entries and night out of their children and they can also share their feedback on the App regarding any services provided.
Moreover, recently, the company has set up an all-women customer support centre in partnership with SHEROES recently. Under this partnership, Oxfordcaps and ‘Managed Remote Solutions’ (MARS) by SHEROES will provide better job opportunities to the women workforce.
Roadmap For The Future
“We are extremely happy to be the first co-living/Student Housing player from India to expand across the continent,” said the founding duo.
Indonesia and Malaysia with over 5 million and 1.5 million mobile students respectively provide an extremely attractive market. Oxfordcaps business model of providing standardized Student Housing experience is highly scalable and given ‘the experience and brand presence in Singapore, Oxfordcaps is becoming a natural choice for leading universities across APAC.
Talreja and Gera also believe that this expansion will take Oxfordcaps to 20,000 beds across 15+ cities, making it the largest Student Housing manager in Asia. Looking into the future, the company aims to redesign the Student Living experience across the Asia Pacific with over 2 lakh beds by 2021.