Death is important.

Perhaps, it is the one time when anyone, even the most remotely connected, upon hearing of it, wants to know, Oh, how did he die? Death is unlike living. Breathing. Nobody asks, how the hell are you living. You just, well, live. But in death, there’s curiosity. You want to know what happened because invariably, in the back of your head you’re calculating—I should watch against that. That’s not a great way to go.

In death, you want to know if there was suffering. Did he suffer? That’s awful. I must watch against that too because if I get that, I don’t just die. I suffer and die. As an observer, there’s one way to deal with the news of death. You shut up. Zip. Lip. Tight. Move on. And then there’s the other way. Where you ask a lot of questions, you meet the neighbours, the last people to have seen him, the one next to the bed and then you put it all together. Just so everyone knows what happened. Just so everyone knows what to watch out for. Just so everyone is prepared.

This is the story of the final months at Stayzilla. Of how an 11-year-old company went out of business, in a matter of five months. This is also a story of failure. It reiterates a simple, inane part about life—that when things start going wrong, they must only get worse. But above all, this is a story of a co-founder introspecting—admitting that he screwed up. Where the sins of his past caught up with him. And in the end, it’s his cross to bear.

January 2017

The year had started badly. Yogendra Vasupal, the co-founder of Stayzilla, was worried. He kept asking himself. Why isn’t the plan working? Why are so many investors passing? Why are the investment bankers constantly getting the feedback that while investors are interested in the business, they wouldn’t like to commit to anything? Not right now. Later, perhaps. Was it something to do with the go-to-market strategy? Well, that can’t be. The pitch to new investors was simple: Stayzilla is a mass market solution for Indians looking to book a homestay or alternate stay.

Simple. Effective.

Only a few months ago, in August the top team at Stayzilla had travelled all the way to Mumbai. From Bengaluru. For a meeting with its board of directors and its to-be banker, Avendus. The purpose of the meeting was to arrive at a go-to-market strategy. The storyline was thrashed out over a good hour.

Stayzilla does 4000 room nights per day. A 1000 room nights come from the homestay business. Eleven months old, this business is key; the mainstay of the company going forward. This business has a handsome margin of anywhere between 10-15%. No discounting.

AUTHOR

Ashish K. Mishra

Ashish edits and writes stories at The Ken. Across subjects. In his last assignment, he was a Deputy Editor at Mint, a financial daily published by HT Media. At the paper, he wrote long, deeply reported feature stories. His earlier assignments: Forbes India magazine and The Economic Times. Born in Kolkata. Studied in New Delhi – B.Com from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University. Works out of anywhere, where there is a good story to be told.

View Full Profile

Subscribe to read this story

The Ken is the only business subscription you need. Questions?

 

Premium

  • 5 original and reported longform business stories every week
  • Access to ONLY India edition
  • Close to 250 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories
  • Pick up to 5 premium subscriber newsletters
  • 4 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to ONLY Southeast Asia edition
  • Close to 200 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to all paywalled stories since March 2020
  • Pick up to 5 premium subscriber newsletters

Rs. 2,750 /year

$ 120 /year

India Edition
Subscribe Subscribe
Most Asked For

Borderless

  • 8 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to both India and Southeast Asia editions
  • Close to 400 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories across India and Southeast Asia
  • Unlimited access to all premium subscriber newsletters
  • Visual Stories

Rs. 4,200 /year

Subscribe
 

Echelon

  • 8 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to both India and Southeast Asia editions
  • Close to 400 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories across India and Southeast Asia
  • Unlimited access to all premium subscriber newsletters
  • Visual Stories
  • Bonus annual gift subscription
  • Priority access to all new products and features

Rs. 8,474 /year

Subscribe
Or

Questions?

What kind of subscription plans do you offer?

We have three types of subscriptions
- Premium which gives you access to either the India or the Southeast Asia edition.
- Borderless which gives you complete access to The Ken across both editions
- Echelon which gives you complete access to The Ken across both editions along with a bonus gift subscription

What do I get if I subscribe?

The Premium edition gives you access to stories in that edition along with any five subscriber-only newsletters of your choice.

The Borderless and Echelon subscription gives you complete access to The Ken across editions and unlimited access to as many newsletters as you like.

What topics do you usually write about?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics. We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

Our specialised subscriber-only newsletters are written by our expert, award-winning journalists and cover a range of topics across finance, retail, clean energy, cryptocurrency, ed-tech and many more.

How many newsletters do you have?

We are constantly adding specialised subscriber-only newsletters all the time. All of these are written by our team of award-winning journalists on a specialised topic.

You can see the list of newsletters that we publish over here.

Does a Premium subscription to your Indian edition get me access to the Southeast Asia edition? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

We recommend the Borderless or the Echelon Plan which will give you access to stories across both editions.

Do you have a mobile app?

Yes! We have a top-rated mobile app on both iOS and Android which allows you to read on-the-go and has some amazing features like the ability to bookmark stories, save on your device, dark mode, and much more. It’s really the best way to read The Ken.

Is there a free trial?

You can sign up for a free account to experience The Ken and understand our products better. We’ll send you some free stories and newsletters occasionally, and you can access our archive of previously published free stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

The vast majority of our stories, articles and newsletters can be accessed only by a paid subscription.

Do you offer any discounts?

Sorry, no. Our journalism is funded completely by our subscribers. We believe that quality journalism comes at a price, and readers trust and pay us so that we can remain independent.

Do you offer refunds?

No. We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Just write to us at support@the-ken.com with details. We’ll help you out.

I have a few more questions. How can I reach out to you?

Sure. Just email us at info@the-ken.com or follow us on Twitter.