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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

IIM-Calcutta students set up backpackers' hostels in Rajasthan

Mou Chakraborty, Hindustan Times  Jaipur, February 14, 2014
First Published: 14:37 IST(14/2/2014) | Last Updated: 15:38 IST(14/2/2014)

Four students from IIM Calcutta has set up a hostel for backpackers in Rajasthan, which is not only winning hearts but also picking up awards in various top notch business plan competitions across the world.

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Zostel, India’s first chain of backpacker hostels, are not only centrally located, but are also offering secure, hygienic and pocket-friendly accommodation for young travellers. Started by IIT-IIM graduates on August 15, 2013, currently Zostel is present in Jodhpur and Jaipur. This year Zostel plans to come up in nine more locations in India and by 2016 they want to add up 11 more tourist destinations. 
Team Zostel is currently planning to come up with a third property soon.

There are seven co-founders, four from Indian Institute of Management Calcutta -Akhil Malik, Paavan Nanda, Dharamveer Singh Chouhan and Tarun Tiwari. Two are from IIT BHU Chetan Singh Chauhan and Abhishek Bhutra who are managing Zostel’s properties and MDI Gurgaon alumni Siddharth Janghu.

From experience of hostels across the world, the team got inputs to come up with a top class facility that can meet the international standards of security and hygiene.

Zostel provides spacious AC dorms, common kitchen, laundry, TV, Internet, library, board games and other interactive facilities just under `500 per night. They also have private rooms in the range of `700 to `800.
“Team Zostel has bootstrapped the venture.

However, we are looking for avenues to raise funds and are in the process of meeting investors. We have already received tremendous response and have bagged number 1 rank on Tripadvisor in both cities,” said Malik.

All the four partners from IIM Calcutta, who were looking at the marketing aspect of Zostel have opted out of their final placement and would be joining the business full time from March 2014. The IIT BHU alumnis are already engaged full time and Siddharth Janghu has quit his job with JP Morgan.

Talking to HT, Malik said, “We want to become the biggest youth brand in India. From March, all the seven co-founders would be joining the business full time. We are passionate travellers and want to popularise backpack travelling in India. By 2016 we will be in 11 locations. We are looking at franchise options but we will never compromise on safety and affordability.”

The venture has been in the finals of business plan competition in the Richard Ivey School of Business, IIT Bombay and Wharton India Economic Forum. . To popularise backpack travelling in India, Zostel also plan to launch the first of its kind 50- day internship programme where an applicant gets a chance to serve the post of CEO (chief exploration officer). In this role, the applicant acts as an ambassador to inspire the youth to travel and ignite a strong sense of listening to one’s heart.

The application process for the same will be carried out through social media.


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