NestAway, a Tiger Global-backed home rental startup, has been on a downward spiral in the two consecutive fiscal years. While the 16% slump in scale in FY21 could be pinned on the pandemic, NestAway did not make a significant recovery in the following fiscal year, with operating revenue dropping by a further 36%.
To be precise, its revenue from operations dwindled 36.2% to Rs 57.87 crore during the fiscal year ending March 2022 in comparison to Rs 90.7 crore in FY21, according to its consolidated finance statement with the Registrar of Companies (RoC).
Founded in 2015, NestAway is a technology platform for the real estate market facilitating rental transactions and various services and processes around it. NestAway claims to have a customer base of over 72,000 and more than 30,500 properties for rent across 13 cities in India.
The Bengaluru-based startup used to be a managed accommodation provider until FY22. However, it pivoted last year to become a network of rental properties sourced from property owners.
NestAway also earned a non-operating income (including interest, rent concession and technology consulting income) of Rs 25.83 crore which took its overall revenue to Rs 83.7 crore during FY22.
Heading towards expenses, employee benefits accounted for 39% of the total expenditures. This cost surged 30.6% to Rs 69.46 crore during FY22 from Rs 53.2 crore in FY21. Importantly, this also includes employee share based payment (cash settled) of Rs 12.07 crore.
Depreciation & amortization cost shrank 20% to Rs 30.64 crore while the company also booked an impairment loss on financial assets of Rs 25.56 crore, which went down 27% during FY22.
NestAway also incurred facilities management (facility, premises management and upkeep), promotional and franchise expenses of Rs 14.5 crore, Rs 4.62 crore and Rs 1.03 crore, respectively, during the year.
With this controlled cash burn, its total expenses slid 5% to Rs 178.4 crore in FY22 as compared to Rs 187.7 crore in FY21.
Despite control over expenses, NestAway’s losses spiked 44.3% to Rs 94.97 crore during FY22 against Rs 65.8 crore in FY21. The surge could be attributed to the company’s scale which has dropped consecutively in the past fiscal years.
Coming to ratios, its EBITDA margin and ROCE stood at -65.78% and 119.69% during the year. On a unit level, NestAway spent Rs 3.08 to earn a rupee of operating income in FY22.
NestAway competes with the likes of Stanza Living and ZoloStays.
InvestCorp-backed Zolo’s scale remained flat to Rs 42.8 crore in FY22 however it narrowed losses by 25% to Rs 67.5 crore. On the other hand, Stanza Living’s scale grew 2.9X to Rs 115 crore in FY22 while its losses crossed Rs 400 crore mark.
NestAway has raised over $109 million funds to date and is backed by Tiger Global, Chiratae Ventures, Goldman Sachs and Epiq Capital among others.
While the pivot to a managed marketplace model seems doomed to failure, it is incredible how startups in the real estate space are burning cash in a sector that is a synonym for cash and large ticket deals.
While that is partly explained by the size of the unorganized broker sector here as well as the nature of many of the ‘large’ players, there seems to be a serious mismatch between go-to market plans and the actual state of the market.
Even that would be understandable, but for the heavy losses these firms are incurring. NestAway risks becoming one of the many also-rans in this unforgiving sector without a clear purpose to its plans and a better fit with the market.