When we talk about Real Estate Portals, there are very few [or should we say none of them] that focus on ‘Commercial Real Estate’. There are portals like CommonFloor, 99acres, Housing etc. that mostly target retail customers.
Today, we interact with Mr. Ajay Rakheja, Co-founder, CEO – creindia.com that aims to solve that problem. CREIndia is a commercial real estate platform that integrates the physical and technological world with the gel of research into it, making the outcome more meaningful and intelligent.
We have a chat with him about his startup, Commercial Real Estate Market, entrepreneurship etc. So let’s start of with the Q&A.
Can you give a small background about your startup and it’s founders
With decade of experience and expertise in commercial real estate enabled me to offer services to leading corporations, MNC’s, promising startups and high net-worth individuals. Some of the companies I have worked for Birla Sun life, ICICI bank, Anant Raj Developers, IL&FS & Colliers International.
Our co-founder team comes from commercial real estate industry itself. Their consolidated experience is more than 75 years, successfully executed more than 2000 commercial real estate deal of different nature and complexity
We are an informed integrated platform for commercial real estate with Online & Offline services. We founded creindia with the vision of creating a robust online commercial real estate landscape, where we wanted to simplify the search of commercial real estate and offer the business fraternity with a hassle-free process of locating their ideal property and maximizing reach to get best possible solutions
It is said that startups arise due to problems, is it same in your case ?
Yes, that holds true for us as well. As said, we all co-founders come from the commercial real estate background and have individually faced problem, creindia has thus been incepted as a solution to those problems.
What is the Total Addressable Market [TAM] of the ‘Renting/Leasing commercial property’ ?
Last 5 years of commercial market have recorded approx. 130 million sq.ft of office space leasing from key markets, whereas 15 Million sq.ft of leasing in retail spaces and 30 million sq.ft of leasing in warehousing spaces. These numbers are only from the recorded transaction whereas un-recorded numbers are much higher.
What are the various factors that your algorithm takes into account while keeping track of particular property’s valuation ?
Our process is the combination of algorithm and actual site visit by the team. The algorithm tracks various property characteristics and its detail whereas the site visit captures the market scenario and comparable of neighbourhood properties.
Valuation is done by combining both the aspects, that is property characteristic and market scenario which is further finalized by the approved private valuer or government valuer after going through the details.
Which are the cities where CREIndia is currently present ? [i.e. it tracks properties of how many cities ?]
We are currently showcasing properties from Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Faridabad, Lucknow and Chandigarh. Work in Progress has also been initiated at Kolkata and Jaipur.
Can your throw some light on funding, whether CREIndia is bootstrapped or seed-funded or angel-funded ?
We generated the Bootstrap fund traditionally by doing advisory services and sustain the model wherein we realized the next level of staffing and external advisor’s will have to empanelled and have some Seed fund on the table to structure and accelerate our growth and therefore we went ahead took Seed fund from HNI’s in September 2015.
What is your revenue model of CREIndia ?
We are an informed integrated platform for commercial real estate with online & offline services. Property listing is absolutely free for landlords & brokers. However in case the landlord or seeker wants to be facilitated by our offline services, our team does the same. Having said that in order to unlock complete property details we do charge the seekers in two forms i.e. either Subscription and /or Individual property.
The revenue in current scenario is based on traditional formats for visibility and lead generation. Lately CRE Valuation has also been introduced to add another revenue stream to the existing traditional ones.
What is the kind of verification that gets done when some Retail/Office Space etc. is put for lease on CREIndia ?
Any property listed on CRE undergoes 3 levels of check before it goes live. Once the property is listed it goes under fist level of macro check by the Customer Relations team followed by physical check by the fleet on ground and finally the cycle ends with the Head of Verification department checking for content and other mandatory fields.
Can you share more information on CREBazaar ?
CREbazaar is an additional product feature with the idea of showcasing those properties which are under “best deal format”, “Discounts” or have some frills attached to them for both sale and lease offered by Owners/owners representatives.
We have experienced that with our ongoing aggregation strategy ,the BAZAAR will transform the way how the commercial real estate buyers & sellers used to traditionally behave. We have also observed that Delhi/NCR investors have been more interested towards the same kind of property.
How different is CREBazaar from the Real Estate Expo’s that happen in various cities ?
The very difference lies with the fact that its virtual exhibition, which is at the ease of seeker. And another difference is that the idea behind the CREbazaar to consolidate those “Best deal formats” at one place is something unique and never seen before.
It gives clients a complete informative way to confidently explore his options as per needs, budget and location. In a typical office or Retail scenario owners were never comfortable with the idea of deals and discounts on their assets and holdings but this approach & initiative from CRE has brought forward direct discounts from owners.
We believe that except for due diligence, this process has shortened the first level of negotiation and provided complete property details for an informed decision making.
Does CREIndia plan to provide End-To-End services [right from Estimating Valuation, Listing Property, Getting Buyers, Getting Legal Work done etc.] ?
We have a vision beyond that. Our micro learning of our industry has given us some innovative thoughts of providing solutions at various levels.
Who are the potential competitors of CREIndia ?
Frankly, we don’t see any competitor as such. This is a complete fulfilment platform in making. There are many portals and apps which are attempting enter online real estate space but not much in commercial real estate except for large numbers now entering to co-working spaces.
What was the trigger point for you to become an entrepreneur ?
How do innovative ideas come into existence? They germinate when there’s a sense of restlessness that keeps prodding a person every day. They pluck you from your comfort zone, steady income, forthcoming promotions or promise to increase the bandwidth in a reputed organization & give you monotonous life and its style.
Probably that is not a common phenomena, I felt the same when the idea of CREIndia sow into my head. It led me to leave my high performance and comfortable job from Colliers International, and my experience of 19 years in Commercial Real Estate, made me lay the foundation of CREIndia.
After quitting, me and my other co-founders came-up with a concrete, innovative and inevitably challenging business model of CREIndia. This project was incepted with the vision to spearhead revolution in the commercial real estate industry. They combined the challenges of real estate with the solution of the inability of the existing current online & offline models
Nowadays VC’s prefer to fund younger team(s), what is your take on it ?
There are two combinations that can really work out great together, either Ideation paired with experience or out of box thinking backed up by a great team. VC/PE’s of the world are now becoming more active on evaluating experience and execution capabilities.
What are your key advices to people who want to startup ?
Don’t be in hurry to be just an entrepreneur create sustainable and realistic revenue model, don’t simply rely on valuation and funding.
There is consolidation in Real-Estate sector, what is your take on the same since fund-raising was much easier in 2015 ?
We believe if consolidation is making any sense to the solution you were trying to give or M&A was the only strategy before you scale, than it is absolutely understood but if the same is just for the sake of valuation or in interest of investor’s sake, your purpose of existence gets defeated and then you drive the business for others.
Lately it has been seen and realized too much of spend on tech to influence and bring customer delight through social media which does not assure to give you a sale. The product is always hungry to actually attract clients to view and feel before it actually gets a conversion. So the flip side real estate conversion to sale will always have to be blend of offline and online.
We believe business through digitized way does need a scalable platform but with cautious and testing at all small steps. Revenue with start-ups are always on hits and misses and have to try out all possible options to get the ROI.
Fund raising has never been easy, investors always believe in the sustainability of business and have always been smart and calculative with their investments. Its just they have tried with many ideas and ventures, they have become more experienced with the industry and market move.
There has been a valuation bubble, what is your take on the same ?
We are not in a hurry and nor in this race. We believe in being clear with your product and know your customers by showing minimum tech and more of practical based services. Realistic revenue projections and sustainable model will eventually enhance your valuation.
VC Funding or Bootstrapping ? Your thoughts on the same ?
Sustain with a bootstrapped venture for as long as you can and when you start feeling the need of extended resources because you are showing traces of tremendous growth get in there for the VC funding race.
How important for Entrepreneurs to have good mentors ?
For any successful venture, it is very important to have good mentors who can guide you with their experience . We are lucky to have good mentors around us.
Any parting advice from your side to the aspiring entrepreneurs ?
As they speed thrills but kills, so for all budding young entrepreneurs be cautious before speeding up your entrepreneurial ventures while all the others use your experiences to deliver and maintain high service standards thus justifying your role.
We are sure that you would have got some handy tips from the discussion we had with Mr. Ajay Rakheja of CREIndia. If you have any questions related to CREIndia or have any general query, please leave them in the comments section.
[Image Credit* – Metrorealtymagazine]