They are now gearing up for the admission season when the newcomers look for a good college, while the parents of many of them scout around for a suitable accommodation. “I was once sitting with friends. They were discussing how students who were new to Delhi had to face many problems. They had no clue about the right place to stay, flat rents, popular haunts, etc. That’s when I thought there should be a facility that can tell students about everything that made sense on the campus,” said Kumar Ashish from Bokaro Steel City who studies mathematics in Kirori Mal College.
The portal was Ashish’s brainchild. But it took shape only in June last year when five others – who were friends and friends of friends – came together with ideas and enthusiasm. So while Ashish and old student Sanjeev Kumar are responsible for the technical developments, Miranda House alumnus Smiti Rastogi and Sidhant Ghai, who graduated from Rajdhani College last year, take care of the marketing of ‘jugaad’. Hindu College student Surabhi Sehgal and Gautam Bisht, English literature student from Hans Raj College, provide the content. “We named our initiative ‘jugaad’ because it means finding a way out. We often saw that new students were exploited and charged more many a time. We want to stop that by getting them discounts. We tell the PG owners, shopkeepers and eatery-owners to promise us discounts and we will get them a strong customer-base,” said Surabhi.
No wonder, a student taking up an accommodation through their portal can get up to Rs 500 off every month in the rent. Members of their club can also avail themselves of a discount of 10% to as much as 50%. “Seats in the college hostels are not enough and the PGs outside have hiked the rent. But we have enlisted around 22 PGs on the portal which should be suitable for the freshers. We visited each one of them to check their quality and standard. We chatted with the students already living there and also talked to the owners about discounts. Many of them agreed,” said Surabhi. She added that for the club, students just have to pay Rs 200 for an entire year and they get a photo-identity card in return. “Students can just flash this card to get discounts. As for us, we only recover the operational costs.”
Many volunteers also work with the group to make networks, develop contacts and feel the pulse of the campus in return for a free lunch or dinner and even a movie at times. “They are all friends who want to be a part of this idea. We need their help because we need to gather details as minute as which bank branch in which college has an ATM. They also get us numbers of the maids and cooks,” said Ashish. The group spends at least three to four hours every day fine-tuning and updating portal. A more user-friendly version of the portal with added features was launched last week. These ‘jugaadus’ now also plan to start the facility of auctioning goods. Surabhi said, “Many students who graduate and leave find it difficult to dispose of their furniture or TV and fridge. We will find a jugaad for them too.”