NestAway sees top-level churn, co-founder Deepak Dhar to quit

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NestAway, one of the largest residential property managers in India, has seen a few senior leadership changes in the last three months including that of one of its founders, according to two people close to the development.

Deepak Dhar, one of the four founders of the company that is also the most-funded home-rental startups, has decided to leave the company to set up his own startup, said the first person on the condition of anonymity.

Dhar, who was a founding member and operations head of Citrus Payment Solutions, a consumer payments and mobile banking services provider, before co-founding NestAway in 2015, is set to start a fintech company along with a former Citrus Payment executive, the second person cited above said. Moreover, the person added, at least four vice-president-level executives have left the firm other than Dhar since April.

The second person, who did not wish to be named as he is directly involved with the company, added that there are several changes underway at the firm including expansion into business verticals and a more streamlined business focus between co-founders Amarendra Sahu, who is the CEO, and Jitendra Jagadev, COO.

According to this person, NestAway has also decided to go slow on fundraising plans for a few months to determine the results of its new initiatives including Hello World, a co-living brand. The company intends to raise $80-100 million and has mandated Mumbai-based investment bank Avendus Capital for the transaction.

When contacted, Sahu confirmed Dhar’s decision to move from NestAway. “This was planned and we were working on a succession plan for the last six months. Deepak comes from a fintech background and it’s a very hot segment right now. At NestAway, we are at a stage where the product fit has been validated by customers and investors. At this stage, excitement can go down. As we go to the next level, we need people for execution,” said Sahu.

On the issue of a few senior management leaving the firm, Sahu said April is the month when hikes and promotions are given, hence churn tends to happen. “It’s natural that some people leave, and we have hired for several key positions,” he said, adding the company saw “highest business” in its history in the April-June quarter.

Sahu also confirmed that Jagadev will take charge of the new businesses that NestAway has entered or will get into in future. “Founders have different roles. My passion is to make zero deposit (for renting out houses) a reality in India. Jitu (Jagadev) has taken charge of Hello World, it’s a white space that we had ignored,” Sahu said. On the latest fundraise plans, Sahu said the company has received “a lot of inbound interest. I want some of the investments like Hello World to pan out”.

NestAway, which has so far raised $105 million from investors such as Tiger Global, Epiq Capital, and Chiratae Ventures, has an inventory of more than 150,000 rooms. Founded by Sahu, Dhar, Jagadev and Smruti Parida in 2015, it is present in 13 cities including Bengaluru, New Delhi and Noida. It claims to be clocking over $2 million in revenue every month. NestAway also acquired Zenify in May 2017 to enter the family rentals business, and claims that more than half of the new bookings come from this segment.

NestAway, which has 900 employees across the country, intends to become the largest provider of long-term rentals for tenants.

For home owners, it wants to be an asset manager. Sahu said the company plans to enter women’s housing and senior living management over the next 12 months.

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