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CHAYA: Bangladesh’s First space sharing marketplace

People Who Own Spaces That Go Unused Can List Those Up In The CHAYA Website. Consequently, People Who Want To Use These Spaces For Different Purposes Can Request To Book Them

Mehraab Anwar (left) and Farhia Tabassum (right) launched CHAYA in 2019. Photo: Courtesy

If you are a content creator or working in the field of content creation, you are familiar with the hassles of finding proper spaces for conducting shoots.

Studios mostly have hefty rents and are sometimes limited with options whereas outdoor public places, albeit being picturesque, have the problem of being overcrowded.

There is however no dearth of privately owned places which could have been the perfect ground taking shots. The problem is to connect their owners with the able content creators.

Farhia Tabassum and Mehraab Anwar, two like-minded young entrepreneurs in 2019 came up with the solution to bridge the gap. They launched CHAYA, which could be dubbed as the country's first space sharing marketplace.

Both Farhia and Mehrab were students of Scholastica and worked together in a marketing agency named Scratchboard in 2016.Working with scratchboard allowed them to immerse themselves in the world of content creation.

The idea of launching a space sharing marketplace flickered in their mind while they were helping a friend to shoot for a clothing line. Despite numerous attempts, they couldn't find a proper place within their budget to conduct the shooting.

"Finally, we reached out to some friends and asked them if they would be interested in renting their home for the photoshoot. We then got a place to conduct the shooting. That venture for finding a suitable place makes us realise that this is a problem that countless others like us face on a regular basis," said Farhia.

"We saw an opportunity there. There is a business scope if we connect property owners with able renters. All we needed was a platform to do so," she added.

Both Farhia and Mehrab then reached out to their friend Armaan Chowdhury to help grow the company and develop a website. "This is how CHAYA was born," said Mehraab.

What does CHAYA offer?

CHAYA is Bangladesh's first space sharing marketplace that connects space owners with the users who are looking to find and book spaces for their needs. People who own spaces that go unused can list them up on their website. Consequently, people who want to use these spaces for different purposes can request to book them.

Initially CHAYA founders started listing spaces by reaching out to their own internal networks—to people with beautiful private rooftops, homes, gardens and so on. They mainly had the thought of renting those listed spaces to the content creators. Later they expanded their business model and included practically anyone looking for a unique space for a creative event or getaway.

CHAYA quickly started picking up traction and encouraged more space owners to sign up once they saw the earning potential of their unused spaces. They soon became a growing community of active users and space owners.

"We have a growing database of potential spaces that we reach out to through cold-outreach and showcase how we add an easy revenue source for them through their existing assets. It also happens that whenever we reach out to an owner for one space, they have 2-3 more other spaces that we have never heard of. This is how we find some of the unique gems," said Mehraab.

CHAYA takes a marginal commission of 15% from each booking. In return, it does the marketing for the place and provides resources to make it easier and more accessible to potential renters who might be interested in renting the space.

Effects of Covid-19 pandemic 

Even amidst the pandemic, CHAYA has received over 100 bookings from users in the past few months.

"Lot of our listed spaces are restaurants, offices and hotels who had been suffering immensely from the pandemic. So, as a company, we thought of providing them with alternative revenue sharing scope. We took all sorts of precautions necessary to ward off the virus," said Farhia, adding that some of those precautions include: Putting a cap on the maximum number of guests for every space, introducing certain requirements of safety standard maintenance, and requirement of keeping disinfection and sanitising facilities at the spaces.

She said as most of the people prefer avoiding crowded public places, there has been a surge in demand for booking of private isolated spaces through CHAYA where guests can meet their friends, family and loved ones in a safe and sanitized environment to minimize the risk of infection.

Booking process for space users

  1. Visit their Website (https://chaya.app/), Facebook page or Instagram
  2. Provide information (booking date, guest number, booking duration etc.)
  3. If the Space owner accepts, confirm the booking with an advance payment

Listing process for space owners

  1. Contact CHAYA and set the available dates, times, prices, rules, and guest limits for space
  2. CHAYA team will visit and take pictures of the space and upload them on their website
  3. A commission is charged following a successful booking.
  4. Space owners have choice to accept or reject any booking request