The TTK group, known widely as the makers of Prestige pressure cookers and for the TTK World Atlas, began running HomeShikari.com, a real estate ecommerce portal a couple of years ago. The portal, which wanted to differentiate itself from the existing ones by providing fewer but higher quality leads to users is now looking to expand in major cities and raise funds from external investors, its Managing Director, Sunder P told NextBigWhat in an interaction. “So far, the company has been funded through internal accruals and existing investors. The funds will be largely spent on marketing,” said Sunder.
What has been the journey so far?
The group has had services like Your Man in India since 2000. The idea was to provide healthcare support to parents of Non Resident Indians living in India. But then it moved on to providing concierge services for NRIs in 2003. This was mostly e-commerce.
We then started Get Friday, a remote virtual assistant for people to outsource their work to India. For instance, a very busy person in the US can have someone from Get Friday to do his trip planning, scheduling and time management.
HomeShikari was launched very recently. In May 2012, we started charging individual consumers for listing properties for rent or lease. From the last month onwards, we have started charging builders.
There are existing real estate portals. Why start another one?
We already had ground field staff working on Your Man in India. We decided to enter real estate business because the broker market was so bad and we had existing field staff. Most other portals were glorified classified and information was sketchy.
They often bait and switch, don’t have property on hand and offer a raw deal to the buyer. We came up with the idea of verification of the property by using our on the ground presence.
Our executives measure the property, take pictures and floor plan and put the details on the website. We provide other services such as checking the title as separate value added service. You will find minute details about a property that you won’t find anywhere else.
Currently the real estate portals have two business models.
1. Ad based models like Magic Bricks.
2. Organised brokerage model like Proptiger and Indiahomes who manage the entire sales process.
The third models is what we do. We don’t do ads, no spam and no brokerage. We present info to the consumer and we don’t withhold any information.
We have built in privacy features to avoid unwanted calls and unethical lead sharing by masking phone numbers. We even offer refunds on a pro rata basis if the property is sold before the expiry of listing.
What has been the traction like? What are the new plans?
Right now we are only in Bangalore. We plan to roll out to other cities in the coming fiscal.We are in the process of raising funds from external sources. TTK group believes in bringing in strategic partners for the right kind of contact and exposure.
Right now, the entity is TTK Services Private Limited. It has three division: Get Friday, Your Man in India and Homeshikari. When external investments come in, Homeshikari will break away.
We have 60-70 thousand unique visitors a month and get about 150- 200 individual listings from consumers every month. Close to 300 builders also list on the site. We just turned on the paid model for builders and have 30 of them onboard.
What is slowing growth of online real estate business?
The inflection point has not reached yet to scale very fast. It is yet to happen with real estate because people are still reluctant to believe that direct transaction can happen through a website. Nearly 20-25% of our people succeed in finding a good deal. People will slowly adapt. It happened in travel, e commerce etc. We are hoping that the inflection point will come very soon.
The cost of one transaction can run into tens of thousands or even lakhs depending on the cost of the property when you are dealing with brokers. It costs only Rs 2500 for a 6 month listing on our site.
What will be the growth driver?
The proposed real estate bill will be key. It will have laws to bring in transparency. For instance, it says if information on property is misleading, it can attract jail term.
Quick product review [Team NBW]
We find the site interesting but a little sparse when it comes to number of listings. The information on listed properties is quite comprehensive but it needs a lot more listings. The map based approach is no longer new as startups such as Housing.co.in and PlanetGhar have already come up with interesting map based products. However, the field level verification and photographs, floor plan and other details make it easier to shortlist properties and add a lot of value.