MUMBAI : Student housing startup Oxfordcaps is in talks to raise $30 million in an equity funding round which will help it expand to more cities and tie up with more universities, said two people aware of the matter, requesting anonymity as talks are private

The round is expected to be led by Swiss investor LGT, via its impact investment platform Lightstone Aspada, valuing Oxfordcaps between $100-120 million after the round, said the people cited above.

LGT, which manages over $200 billion in assets, acquired Lightstone Aspada in August last year, with a plan to write larger growth stage cheques in startups.

Oxfordcaps, founded by Annu Talreja and Priyanka Gera in 2017, leases out existing hostel buildings, renovates it and provides amenities such as food, laundry and WiFi. It attracts students by tying up with universities for partnerships. While it started out in Singapore, it launched in India last year and is already in 10 cities including Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, and Bengaluru.

LGT Lightstone Aspada’s managing partner Kartik Srivatsa and Oxfordcaps’ Gera did not respond to messages seeking comment.

It last raised $8 million in a Series A round in March last year from Kalaari Capital, Silicon Valley-based 500 startups and Times Internet.

Student housing startups have seen rising investor interest, as these firms look to formalize and standardise an otherwise fragmented market with hugely varying price points and facilities.

The other significant player in the space is Stanza Living, which has raised over $70 million in funding and claims to have over 45,000 beds across the country, and is valued at about $300 million, Mint reported on November 18 last year. Its investors include venture capital firms Sequoia Capital, Accel and Matrix Partners.

The broader co-living space has also seen firms such as Nestaway and Zolostays achieve some scale. The country’s largest hospitality startup, Oyo Rooms, also launched launched its housing rental arm Oyo Living in late 2018. It had planned to offer over 50,000 beds by the end of 2019, but amid a spate of layoffs where it is trimming over 10% of its 12000-strong workforce, Oyo Living’s current scale couldnt be ascertained independently.

While student housing is a different and more targeted market than co-living, investors view them collectively as a play on a sector which has traditionally seen no application of technology or a common player across cities.

“It is still too early to pick a winner in the segment. Despite raising more money, Stanza (Living) is not significantly ahead of Oxfordcaps," said an investor tracking the space, requesting anonymity.

“The winner will be decided by who can keep quality and student retention high and expand to cities without burning too much money," the person added.

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