May 13, 2020 Mayank Pokharna

Best Practices to Avoid the Coronavirus in Coliving & Shared Living Spaces

With all the chaos going around the COVID19 outbreak, the paranoia and fear are bringing more confusion to the challenging times. So many people are asking.

How do we stay safe in a shared living/ coliving space? How can I avoid exposure?

These are important questions that deserve a deep thought, and here we have attempted to explain the same. We reached out to some health professionals and other coliving and shared living players in the market, and below are the insights gathered from different conversations.

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Mar 31, 2020 Mayank Pokharna

Cost of running and maintaining a SimplyGuest House

Alternative Housekeeping at SimplyGuest

Tenant: What is the rent?
SimplyGuest: The all-inclusive rent is XXXX / Month?

Tenant: What all is included in the rent?
SimplyGuest: All utility bills, maintenance are inclusive in the rent that you pay. You only have to pay for your consumables like cleaning material, food and drinking water, etc.

Tenant: Oh, that's high! The other service provider is giving it at 70% of your rate.
SimplyGuest: I understand, but they don't include any bills and don’t provide any services as well; here we make all bill payments - even if you are alone in the house - you just have to pay your rent and don’t worry about bills. Also, any general wear and tear related expenses are inclusive in rent. You don't have to spend anything extra on the maintenance of the house.

Tenant: There also maintenance is inclusive.
SimplyGuest: Ok, but compare the overall cost, and that we provide hasslefree living as we take care of anything, you will not have to do anything.

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Mar 14, 2020 Mayank Pokharna

Understanding and Acting responsibly in coliving times of Coronavirus

In the beginning of March I returned to Bangalore from Pondicherry after a week of leisure trip. My trip had coincided with some canceled community events and sights of a lot of mask-wearing people across the city. Having seen epidemics in the past, my family urged me to maintain my strict cleanliness routines - for which I am not very famous. They started pushing me to wash clothes immediately after returning home from anywhere in the city to pressing lift buttons with gloves on. read full article
Mar 6, 2020 Subbu Athikunte

Introducing SimplyGuest Hostel on Magadi Road

Whether you are a student or a working professional, deciding where to stay in the city when you are alone is often a choice between cost, comfort, and community. While your own home may seem like a good idea in terms of privacy, amenities, etc., it also means high costs and increasingly frequent bouts of loneliness. While PGs (paying guests) and hostels may make you feel like part of a community with their twin-sharing and triple-sharing rooms, they also almost always bring with them not so good food, cramped spaces, binding rules and whatnot. read full article
Feb 12, 2020 Subbu Athikunte

Do-it-yourself Work desk

Blueprint for DIY work desk

Somehow I had missed this! I had never looked at my workdesk. I worked on this tiny table for years struggling through various issues. I had bought this many years ago when I had very little to spare for a table. This table found its way through multiple relocations. I was spending at least 12 hours a day on this table, yet I had forgotten to invest in it! I had replaced my chair because it fucked my lower back badly.

I like working on large monitors. I work on multiple applications simultaneously and switching between these lowers my productivity. Laptop screens are small, and they can't fit everything into their screens properly. A good table that can accommodate 2 monitors with a laptop costs upwards of 12k and it may not exactly suit your requirements. Why not design one myself?

My design goals were simple:

  1. The table has to be large enough to fit 2 32in monitors, a laptop, an external keyboard, and a few books.
  2. I should be able to eat my dinner without moving anything.
  3. It should be cheap.
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Dec 11, 2019 Subbu Athikunte

SimplyGuest Tenants Analysis

86% of SimplyGuest tenants are between 21-33 years old!
24-30 age group makes up 63% of our tenants.
12% of them are 27 years old. The distribution appears like a neat pyramid at the middle.Tenant Age

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Oct 26, 2019 Subbu Athikunte

Working remotely

We are a tiny team. 3 full time and one part time. We don't have an office where we can all work together. We all work from wherever we are. I mostly work from home. Mayank works from parks to cafes to IISC, sometimes from his hometown Udaipur. If not at any of these he works from home. All he needs is a phone and a 4G network on it. He goes on long bicycle trips, many hours at a stretch some times. But his work is never affected. Bicycle on Rent at read full article
Sep 7, 2019 Subbu Athikunte

A framework to manage tenant/owner roles in co-living properties

A few weeks ago the Bangalore metropolitan issued a notice saying there won't be water supply in the city for 2 days. Some SimplyGuest properties have their own bore-wells and don't depend on Cauvery water, but all others do. Tanker water is easily available in some places but in places like Bellandur there is high demand and they jack up the prices and still don't deliver water. Although we made alternative arrangements in all the properties, we still had to inform the tenants that may be affected by it just in case if there was a hiccup in supply. Large scale notifications aren't very precise; some unintended customers may receive the communication while some customers that need to be notified may not receive it.

A home is where living happens; there is constant activity supporting it. As a result quality keeps moving up and down; mostly down if unchecked. When something goes wrong — it always does — it needs to be fixed; People require water, and it runs out. People need electricity and there is load-shedding and a host of other things that will interrupt power supply. Prolonged usage of bathrooms create plumbing issues. Garbage may not get cleared, especially in Bangalore. Lifts stop working or their lights go off. Environmental changes alter living conditions.

Every house comes with a set of people who live in it, or own it, or somehow has some interests in the property. Tenants, House Owner, Security, Housekeeping staff, Plumbers and Electricians, Gardener, etc. You need a water tanker guy who fills water when sump runs dry; at times there could be a specialized service personnel like a solar heater expert. Each of these parties have some interests in the property; they either provide service or consume it. Even a small property will have anywhere between 10 to 30 people of various roles. Large apartments have 1000s of people. How do you manage them?

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Jul 31, 2019 Subbu Athikunte

Property onboarding software

SimplyGuest is structured like an onion; at its core we are property managers. We need to maintain precise details about the structure of the property, fixtures, furniture, assets, utility connections, and other factors that support living like borewell, sumps, water, sewage, generator, etc. This also helps us with entry and exit checklists. But more than that it helps us provide an efficient service and in turn lower our servicing cost.

When we take up a new property we take a detailed inventory of it using our custom-built software. First step is the floor layout:

The green icon indicates the space has a door.

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Jul 20, 2019 Subbu Athikunte

Rental advice for people moving from Delhi to Bangalore

A friend who is relocating from Delhi called me yesterday and asked me this:

A want to rent a 3BHK house in an apartment, but the ones I visited are small buildings that they call as apartments and don't have any facilities that an apartment provides and they are inside some inaccessible roads. The naming is also confusing me as they are named like: 'ABC Grandeur' or 'XYZ Deluxe' or 'XYZ Elite' or 'ABC Luxury'. I am confused. How do I rent a decent apartment?

Here is the summary of what I suggested him.

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Feb 25, 2019 Subbu Athikunte

How To Name It? ...Naming Houses

Mayank Pokharna, Ambareesha Athikunte, Subbu Athikunte

How to Name It? is a famous music album by Ilaiyaraaja, one of my favourite music composers. The story goes that he didn't know what to name the album after he composed it; he left it at that and the album's name remained 'How to Name It?'

Although rare, some buildings don't come with any names when we onboard them. We don't have strong opinions about naming houses. We prefer owners give a name to the house; it saves us from unnecessary thinking. We are so terrible at naming houses, we take the easiest approach; we just start calling the house by owner's name. It's natural after all. Owner's name is the first thing that we know about a new property. That's how Kiran got its name (that's the name of the owner). We realized it was a terrible idea and now force owners to suggest a name, and it has worked out really well. For owners its a personal thing — something that they deeply care about — they spend a lot of time naming their properties and it shows off in a positive way. See some examples: read full article

Jan 1, 2019 Subbu Athikunte

Analyzing website traffic of

After my payments gateway article I haven't written much about technical or developer oriented stuff. I want to break that this year. One of the difficult things to get right when you are starting out is, where to start with the website on! How much traffic will you get? What kind of users? Where do they access the website from? Mobile Vs Desktop? Which browser should I test the website? Too many questions and not much information is out there to help you out. This post is about all of that with respect to public website. All the screenshots here are directly taken from Google Analytics dashboard.

Mobile or Desktop?

Should I target desktop or mobile, or both? That's a question I had when I started building website (I am not from mobile-first generation, I still prefer a proper keyboard). Here is a definitive answer.

Only 40% of traffic comes from desktop screens, everything else comes from mobile screens. traffic: mobile vs desktop

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Dec 10, 2018 Mayank Pokharna and Nirupama Rajan

Women's safety and security at SimplyGuest

Change Begins at SimplyGuest Homes

We are fortunate to be part of a generation in which women enjoy greater access to many things that were beyond their reach not too long ago. It is indeed easier and more normalised for a woman to aspire to do practically anything that was once considered to be part of masculine territory. And yet, every day, you are given a harsh reality check when you come across seemingly unending accounts of violence against and exploitation of women. While women may have broken the glass ceiling and entered several professional fields that they couldn’t before, you can’t run away from the fact that there is a conspicuous wage gap in almost every field. These are only a few examples reflecting why, even if we’d like to believe otherwise, gender equality is as much a problem today as it was a few years ago. Simply put, as much access as the women of today enjoy, they are faced with an equal (and in some cases, greater) number of obstacles.

For example, a working woman and a working man living independently in a city both have the freedom or the permission to stay out and roam the city as late as they want- in theory. Thus, they may have equal access here. In reality, however, the chances of the woman encountering harmful elements such as sexual harassers at night – or the obstacles – are much higher, which means that nine out of ten times, she will choose to be back home by an “appropriate” time even if she doesn’t really want to.

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Nov 1, 2018 Subbu Athikunte

Request For Houses

If you are a house owner, a real estate builder, or land owner and want to build for SimplyGuest, or attach an existing property with us read the following sections to know more. SimplyGuest operates only in a few localities of Bangalore, limiting our ability to on board new properties. We also have some specifications that new properties must meet.

Modern 1-Person Studio Rooms

Urban demography has changed in ways most builders and house owners can't imagine. Lot more people are single, and they are happy. We see married people living in different cities; they only live together during weekends. They can afford good housing; A 2BHK or a 3BHK doesn't suit them; it's too big for one person, and they don't want to share the house with others.

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Oct 17, 2018 Subbu Athikunte

Tenant Quality

We have been in business for many years now, and we have dealt with hundreds of tenants. Majority of our tenants are good. Some times, we do come across bad tenants. When I say bad tenants it could mean any combination of the following behaviour: they could be rude and not considerate to fellow roommates and housekeeping staff; they could be abusive; they may boss around people; they could put everyone's safety at risk; they waste shared resources like water & electricity; sometimes they violate SimplyGuest terms. They make life difficult for fellow residents, service staff, and the neighbourhood. It's difficult to deal with them. They collude with other flatmates and shut out anything that affects their bad behavior. Anything that comes in the way of their bad behaviour will be stopped, or avoided. This affects overall quality of the house; housekeeping doesn't happen, service staff starts to avoid these houses - either because they are not welcome, or they start thinking the quality is already bad, and their skipping of duty won't get noticed.

A lot of our houses have some quite, non-trouble-making, introverted tenants. We hardly hear from them. They only ping us if there is a service issue; we haven't heard from some tenants in years. We like it this way; maintain service quality and get out of their way. Biggest problem with low quality tenants is that they attract even lower quality flatmates; they suppress minor, but good tenants. Over a period, all the good ones leave, leaving behind bad tenants.

Issues arising from bad tenants are significant; the association or the owner may ask us to vacate the house; other tenants may not feel safe. If SimplyGuest staff has to show the house to prospective tenants we are always scared what we might encounter during the visit.

When we have sufficient proof that a tenant is bad we ask them to vacate — sometimes, but rarely, bad tenants self correct and the overall quality improves. This means we may have to keep the place empty for a period until we find a replacement, but in general this loss is offset by not having to deal with issues arising from bad tenants.

On the other hand, having good tenants has positive effects on pretty much everything; we have fewer issues, neighbourhood is happy, no flatmate related issues, waste gets segregated, service staff is happy to serve them; and, more importantly, they are good for business.

It takes an effort to maintain this quality; left as is, tenant quality goes down.

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Aug 11, 2018 Nirupama Rajan

Being a SimplyGuest Intern

For a period of three months from May to July 2018, I had the opportunity to be an intern at SimplyGuest, and suffice it to say that it was one of the best learning experiences of my life. My association with SimplyGuest began when I moved into one of their houses in 2016. The house began to feel like home very soon, and before I knew it, I was part of the SimplyGuest family.

Sometime last year, I began writing articles for the SimplyGuest blog. I wrote on a wide range of subjects, ranging from lists of events happening in Bangalore to my accounts of my travels to sites near Bangalore, such as Hampi, Mysore etc. When I graduated from college in April 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in media studies, I approached SimplyGuest for an internship in content writing, hoping to develop some of the skills I picked up in college and learn more from the industry itself.

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Mar 18, 2018 Ambareesha & Subbu Athikunte

DIY - Drip Irrigation for home garden

SimplyGuest houses come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Each house has its own unique features and facilities. Very often, houses come with small gardens or at least a decent number of potted plants. However, while any amount of greenery goes a long way in making a house seem appealing, one of the challenges we face regularly is ensuring that these plants are adequately watered. Unfortunately, whether they like having the plants at home or not, not all of our tenants are green-thumbed!

Often, we ask our housekeeping staff to water the plants, but just like tenants, they can also be indifferent to the flora of the house. Ambareesh sometimes specifically asks the caretaker to water them.

In fact, he is the sole reason Peace Haven and Aditi's are still green. Nevertheless, it is rather futile to depend on people when we can't follow up on them regularly; invariably, the plants have died in most cases. When we recently took on a new property in Koramangala, Ambareesh decided to fix this problem once and for all. If you’d like to replicate this minimal-effort model, here’s a step-by- step guide to how we went about the whole process.

DIY - Drip Irrigation for home garden

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Jan 30, 2018 Subbu Athikunte

Hiring a customer as my Co Founder

When Ambareesh and I signed our first BTM property about 2.3 years ago, it was a big investment for us; there were several uncertainties as we had spent large amounts of money towards deposits and furnishing the house.

The house was booked by three guys referred by an existing customer. The first occupant— Mayank — wanted to move in first. On the day of moving in I made him wait for 30 minutes that it took me to get to the location, and while helping him move in, we started talking about marketing, websites; he had just started working at Practo straight out of his MBA. His enthusiasm was hard to miss.

Mayank Pokharna, Ambareesha Athikunte, Subbu Athikunte

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Jan 23, 2018 Subbu Athikunte

Customer support is hard

Customer support is something I underestimated when I was starting up. I didn't even think about it. These days though, it takes up a big chunk of my time. Some days it’s more time-consuming than sales, operations, and software development put together.

Our customer support is simple- all our customers can call me, Ambareesh or Mayank directly. There is no third number, there is no IVR. We also have a WhatsApp group for every house.

All those years as a software engineer, I could hide behind my headphones and pretend the world around me didn’t exist - even when operations and other support functions were firefighting. Good software engineers could be jerks and still get away with it!

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Nov 20, 2017 Subbu Athikunte

Announcing SimplyGuest Hostels

Whether you are a student or a working professional, deciding where to stay in the city when you are alone is often a choice between cost, comfort, and community. While your own apartment may seem like a good idea in terms of privacy, amenities etc., it also means high costs and increasingly frequent bouts of loneliness. And while PGs (paying guest) and hostels may make you feel like part of a community with their twin-sharing and triple-sharing rooms, they also almost always bring with them bad food, cramped spaces, binding rules and what not. read full article
Apr 14, 2017 Subbu Athikunte

Visualizing Bookings

When we started SimplyGuest, we kept pretty much all data in our heads. Containers start rejecting eventually; when I started forgetting, I moved the data to spreadsheets. But spreadsheets are terrible at keeping history. If I want to go back in time and see how a room's rent has varied over time, that'd by a circus. I have moved the data to a database now. That helps me visualize the data. The booking data is anonymized.

We don't have enough data to make strong observations, but it still gives us some indications:

Visualizing Bookings

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Mar 17, 2017 Subbu Athikunte

Cost of running website

At Apigee, my previous company, one of the corridor discussions we'd have is how many AWS servers we were running — that'd give us bragging rights. You could see the pride and amusement in everyone's face, including mine, when the number was higher than the last count. Some of this cost could have been paid by customers, or by Apigee itself. But none of the engineers knew, or cared about, how much these servers cost. Since starting SimplyGuest, I am forced to go in the opposite direction. No AWS, cheap discounted servers, fewer servers. What changed? Now I literally take out my wallet to pay for the servers.

How much do I spend on keeping up and running?

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Feb 21, 2017 Subbu Athikunte

Announcing Bicycles on Rent

We are always thinking of how to make living in our flats better. Short distance transport is a challenge in cities. Commuting 1-3 kilometers is an annoying problem that our guests face. Aditi, one of our guests, wanted a way to go to gym at 5 in the morning. Autos and taxis weren't available at that time of the day — even if they were, they may not start their engines for a 2 kilometer ride. Buying a bicycle was an overkill. Renting appeared like a reasonable thing to do, but the cheapest bicycle rental was Rs 350/day. That was about a month back.

Bicycle on Rent at

Today we are introducing bicycles on rent, exclusively for SimplyGuest tenants. You can rent a good bicycle for Rs 99/day. That's 3.5 times less than the market price. Its gets even cheaper if you want to rent for an entire week: 399/week, that's Rs 57 a day. Hold your breath still, its Rs 999/month if you rent it for an entire month, that's Rs 33 for an entire day, less than a plate of idli vada!

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Jan 29, 2017 Subbu Athikunte

Announcing Flatmate Expenses

Although SimplyGuest pays for many essential things in our flats, flatmates will spend on a few things that must be split among other flatmates. Drinking water cans and cleaning liquids are common examples. When flatmates hire a cook they buy groceries together; it's a hassle to maintain another app just for these. Moreover, external apps or notebooks don't help you settle up. You still have to exchange money at the end of the month.

We have built a tool to solve this problem. Take a look: adding an expense is easy.

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Jan 18, 2017 Subbu Athikunte

LPG Usage

SimplyGuest houses come with a fully functional kitchen. As part of it, we provide a gas stove and provide unlimited LPG. Our guests just have to call us when the cylinder becomes empty and we replace the empty cylinder with a full one. How much LPG does our tenants use?

Home delivery of cylinders by SimplyGuest read full article
Dec 2, 2016 Subbu Athikunte

Occupancy Rate

Occupancy rate is a way of measuring the Angel's stay, a measure we use internally to know how much revenue we loose to empty beds. How many beds are occupied on a given day? A day is the lowest measurement of time units. So the occupancy rate must be calculated per time measure per unit of stay. Unit of stay is a bed or a room. Room could be ambiguous as it can have multiple beds, so I'll stick with beds.

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Sep 10, 2016 Subbu Athikunte

SimplyGuest Payments

Paytm Vs Razorpay Vs Instamojo

SimplyGuest tenants pay rent at the beginning of the month. We started with cash and netbanking. Occasionally people would give me cheques. But that's too cumbersome. Now we have moved most of the guests to online payments. Occasionally we accept cash and netbanking transfers; but that's an exception.

We started with HDFC, but that was a terrible choice. They delayed the process by 6 months and they said, on the day we were to go live, they want 8 lacs of fixed deposit as a security. Apparently we were too risky for them. That bitter experience made me integrate three separate vendors for payments: Razorpay, Instamojo and Paytm. I switch between these 3 every month; randomly initially, but now I am narrowing it down to just 2. I'll probably select one vendor in the coming months to make operations easier.


SimplyGuest payment timeline with Razorpay read full article
Aug 12, 2016 Subbu Athikunte

Angels' Stay

The wine and whisky industry looses about 2% of their produce to angels' share every year:

Angels' share is a term for the portion (share) of a wine or distilled spirit's volume that is lost to evaporation during aging in oak barrels.

SimplyGuest faces something similar. Our properties may not have 100% occupancy at all times. The accommodation may go empty when we are not able to fill a bed or room for any reason. This can happen for various reasons; the gap between a guest leaving and the next joining; during the initial days when we sign up a new house; when we are about to let go of a house. read full article
Aug 4, 2016 Subbu Athikunte

Achieving 100% rent collection in 3 days

How a simple message helped us achieve 100 rent collection within 3 days.


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Jun 15, 2016 Subbu Athikunte

Getting second set of customers

Somehow, I felt we had gotten lucky to find our fist 16 customers. Things happened too quickly from a hopeless state of 45 days without a single customer to 100% occupancy in the next 30 days, numbers in my spreadsheet were overflowing. This could be beginner's luck, I didn't wanted to get fooled by it. Even if we weren't lucky, and achieved all this by hard work, we had to find ways to replicate this. read full article
Jun 12, 2016 Subbu Athikunte

Getting first customers

Getting first, second, and third and fourth customers is always difficult. How did we find initial customers for SimplyGuest? read full article