Field of activity
60 000 rubles
January 20, 2012
Founder of Narnia Hostel Network
How did the idea come
My first hostel appeared as if by accident. I and several others, led by Kirill Khludnev, organized trainings for the company "Business Youth" in cities with a population of over one million, and then started developing the representative offices of this company in Russian regions. Thousands of people came to the trainings, 10% of whom bought paid coaching, so we made good money. The most ambitious project was in St. Petersburg. There, "Business Youth" rented a building with an area of more than 400 square meters, where they wanted to make a business incubator, and at the same time a small hostel for young entrepreneurs from other cities. We assumed that the hostel could be easily loaded by the guys who came to St. Petersburg for the training sessions of Business Youth itself.
Where did you start
I started working as a hostel, it actually became my project right away, but at first I was under the wing of Business Youth. While work was underway on the design of the hostel, the company paid the rent for the building. We worked almost around the clock (as now). The building was in terrible condition, repairs took a lot of time and effort. Well, all that I earned went to a hostel. Saved by friends. Someone drove building materials in his car, someone painted the walls, someone assembled furniture. The kitchen is generally built with their own hands.
Many worked on a voluntary basis for the idea. Some - for housing in the same hostel, a place in a coworking, or the opportunity to hold some of their events on the site. In general, this is a very good idea - barter, barter. They need an office, and we have a room. I wanted to name the project "A-Hostel" - not because Anya, but because it is the first letter. It seemed that with such a letter, my project would always be the first. At least in alphabetical order.
Thunder burst out of the blue: two weeks after the hostel opened, the partners announced that they would not continue to rent the building, because they were no longer interested in the project. After another 10 days there was another maturity of the rent - almost half a million rubles. This meant that I should get this amount in 10 days or abandon the development of the hostel, which has invested so many resources. I had several hours to think it over. And there was no money. At all.
The next morning, we met with the owners of the house - two strong men "from the 90s", representatives of "Business Youth" and a lawyer - to renew the contract. We agreed to rent only the second floor - 200 sq.m. I had to get 200,000 rubles in 10 days. I sold an iPhone and an iPad, went for extra work - to organize events. And still, it was not possible to collect the full amount by the deadline - it collected only 100,000 rubles.
When the owners arrived, I put a wad of money in front of them. They counted, tactfully hinted that not enough.
So "A-Hostel" became "Narnia" - it was another project. The lion was appointed the symbol of the hostel. In the next few months, Narnia survived, and I along with it. The ends did not want to meet the ends, and the debit with the loan. It was scary that nothing would come of it. I invited several friends to the project, but after a couple of months everyone ran away. When leaving, almost everyone also tried to dissuade me.
Someone called my parents and said that I was stuck in the story. Parents, in a manner characteristic of all parents, lamented: "close your stash," "find yourself a normal job," and so on.
At that time, only I believed in Narnia. Fought for every reservation, for every check-in. Most of the guests found out about us from the Internet, social networks. I had to master all the hotel specialties: I went to the phone myself, met the guests, counted income and expenses. I even tried to clean the rooms myself, but in the end I hired a cleaning lady.
Then the summer came. Tourists flowed into Peter and literally flooded “Narnia”. My hostel got to its feet. In July, I registered a legal entity, already without partners. Slowly, faith in success returned to friends and family. Mom began to work for me - to coordinate administrators. We earned at least 200,000 rubles a month. Encouraged by the success, six months later I decided to open a second hostel. He cost me 600,000 rubles. This time I had a different approach to choosing a room - I was looking specifically for the hostel. She later started selling franchises. A partner pays me 500,000 rubles and invests in repairs and equipment, and I take control. Profit is divided in half.
Four hostels of the Narnia network are currently operating in St. Petersburg, three more facilities are being repaired, and two more rooms are being selected. In addition, there are preliminary agreements on discoveries in the regions. Most of the new Narniy are franchised projects.
In the first hostel, most rooms were designed for 4-6 people, but over time it became clear that it makes sense to make more than 1- and 2-bed rooms, as well as family rooms: the demand for the latter is four times higher, and we earn from one place more. IKEA has a very cool bed, with two places downstairs and one upstairs - we are actively using it. In fact, new projects are no longer traditional hostels, but rather budget hotels. Accommodation costs 700-800 rubles per person in normal times and 1,000-1,200 rubles per person per season.
If before I wanted to make the most of the unusual, now it seems more significant to structure everything and make it universal - for the convenience of working on franchises. In any case, we find for each hostel chips that make it unique - in design, for example. We made one of the hostels especially for families with small children.
The revenue of a hostel is on average about 500,000 rubles a month.
Promotion and competitors
To attract guests, we actively use VKontakte, Facebook, Foursquare and other social networks, the largest hotel and hostel reservation services, and advertise in regional media. However, the most effective advertising is guest reviews.
I consider competitors the St. Petersburg network of hostels "Friends" - they have a really good project and brand. But we have almost grown to them.
Now I'm not afraid to be alone - an excellent team gradually gathered. Early in the morning, we are happy to get together, figach all day, stay late in the office and invent, invent, invent.
Now it’s easy to talk about all this. Despite all the problems, sleepless nights, tears and everything else, it was always interesting to build and develop hostels. This is now my favorite pastime.
There is an opinion: in order to earn a lot, you need to spend a lot. Well, there, "live like a millionaire" and so on. That's bullshit. To earn more, you need to spend less. Less for themselves, more for business.
To earn more, you almost always need to work harder. Get into your own business. Learn to paint, putty, sew, drive a car - do everything your business consists of. Then you will better understand how everything works.
Adequately evaluate the work of people. Remember that any work must be paid. Fair and complete.
Get rid of the ballast. People who are not useful. Things that are not needed. Projects that "didn’t go" or steal revenue. Throw it away.
Text: Regina Sadykova
Photos: Alexey Tikhonov