Back News / Exclusive: Nikhil Vora-led Sixth Sense Ventures invests in micro-hospitality startup
Exclusive: Nikhil Vora-led Sixth Sense Ventures invests in micro-hospitality startupJuly 17, 2018
Sixth Sense Ventures has struck a new deal in the country’s growing micro-hospitality sector, Nikhil Vora, founder of the consumer sector-focussed venture capital firm told VCCircle.
The VC firm has invested in SaffronStays, Vora said without disclosing the investment amount. However, a person close to the transaction said that the deal value was $2 million.
The company will use the funds to boost its growth, hire talent, and expand its inventory in a growing micro-hospitality industry that could be pegged at $40 billion, said Vora.
SaffronStays, which was launched by Devendra Parulekar and Tejas Parulekar in 2015, curates and manages hospitality operations, reservations, branding and marketing for private vacation homes owned by high-net-worth individuals (HNIs). The company currently operates 45 homes across six states in the country and hosts over 1,500 guests every month.
SaffronStays has expanded from five employees to 22 in two years and has also trained over 150 caretakers, supervisors, managers, and housekeeping staff members across the country, with a dedicated training centre in Ulwe, Maharashtra.
“Sixth Sense Ventures’ experience with consumer-facing businesses is something we will heavily lean on in our next growth stage,” said Tejas, co-founder, SaffronStays.
The premium homestay market in India is expected to grow as Indian travellers are on the cusp of becoming experiential and demanding by looking for unique travel experiences, said Vora. “Weekend plans to de-stress and bond with families and friends have been largely trending in cities, and premium homestays located within 3 hours from city limits make for the most preferred short holiday destinations,” added Vora.
Homestays have become an alternative to hotels for travellers and large online hotel aggregators such as MakeMyTrip and Yatra have entered this space.
The sector has also seen challenges as last year the shutdown of homestay aggregator Stayzilla, once touted as India’s Airbnb and backed by venture capital firms Nexus and Matrix Partners, triggered discussions on the pointless pursuit of discounts-based growth over unit economics and the rat race of valuations.
Sixth Sense Ventures
The VC firm’s first fund had a corpus of Rs 125 crore with investments in 10 companies. These include gaming arcade operator Smaaash Entertainment Pvt. Ltd; Hindustan Foods Ltd, which makes PepsiCo Inc.’s Kurkure snack brand; oral care products company JHS Svendgaard Laboratories Pvt. Ltd, and hyperlocal logistics service provider Grab.
The second fund has a target corpus of Rs 350 crore ($54 million) and was aiming to mark the first close by March this year.
Sixth Sense made two investments from its second fund in March – AVG Logistics and Eupheus Learning. Last month, the VC firm marked its foray into the healthcare sector by investing in Fullife Healthcare Pvt. Ltd, which sells sports nutrition supplements under the brand Fast & Up.
Vora also invests in his personal capacity. His most recent bet was in a Mumbai-based specialty food ingredients maker. Some of his other investments include glitter-powder maker Advance Syntex Ltd; Fogg deodorant maker Vini Cosmetics; sanitary napkins maker Soothe Healthcare; sports-focussed digital display solutions firm Technology Frontiers; and aircraft maintenance and repair company AirWorks, to name a few.
Vora was also an early investor in One97 Communications Ltd, the parent of digital wallet firm Paytm. He sold his stake in One97 to Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba in May last year, reaping almost 75-fold gains.
Around the same time, he exited Kangaroo Kids Education Ltd when it was acquired by EuroKids International Pvt. Ltd.