If You Fail, Get Up and Restart: Rakesh Singh of Roomnhouse

An online marketplace that allows people to rent and discover accommodation, Roomnhouse is expanding aggressively across the country. The company won the TATA First Dot Powered by NEN Awards in 2013. CEO and Founder Rakesh Singh speaks with us.

Roomnhouse helps travelers find private accommodation listed by property owners – a service similar to what international player Airbnb offers. How do you plan to compete with them?

The marketplace is similar, but our approach is quite different as our product and service is shaped by our own experiences. We have our own USP, which generates a good amount of organic growth, referrals and repeat customers. Also, the travel space is a lot about customer experience, which we are very much serious about. We are focusing on a few cities now, where we are performing extremely well. We will scale in other cities too similarly.

You started this venture as a student. What gave you the conviction that this was a good idea? Did you know earlier that this was going to be a long-term involvement, or were you simply exploring?

I don’t think any idea is good or bad. What matters is execution. When we started, we weren't able to get initial traction and we feared we would shut down. But the happiness on our first customer’s face (Mr.Vijay Rao) encouraged us to break barriers and do things faster. From the early days, we were focused on doing things in a better way, which is why we got involved over a long-term. We didn’t know what the idea was leading us to, but keeping our customers super happy and talking about us is what we focused on.

What support did you receive as a student entrepreneur? Do you believe the ecosystem can do more to support student startups?

I think as student entrepreneur, it is very important to choose the right mentors. It helps at different levels as you grow. A mentor is a friend who help you think through your idea – which is a great booster. I have seen lot of changes in the ecosystem. People are thinking about entrepreneurship as a career option rather than as a risk today. There are more advisors, mentors, accelerators, incubators, investors who are ready to put time and money for a good idea and team. Time itself is bringing lot of changes in ecosystem in a positive manner.

As one of the earlier participants and winners of TATA First Dot, any advice or tips for upcoming student startups?

Get up and go to work and do something awesome every day. Do not stop. Keep doing. If you fail, get up and restart. We failed during our first three launches before our idea actually picked up. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.

About NEN

The National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) is Wadhwani Foundation’s flagship initiative in India. It was established in 2003 with a mission to inspire, educate and support high potential entrepreneurs to create millions of high-value jobs.

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