Metroplots.com, an online Advisory firm for Property investors was founded by Biju Ashokan in August 2009. In an earlier interview, we caught up with Biju to know in detail about the company’s operations. In the following two years, Metroplots has grown from strength to strength and has also secured two rounds of Angel funding from Chennai Angels; the second of which came last week. First round was raised from R Ramaraj, Sify Co-founder; Sudhakar Ram, chairman and MD of Mastek; Babu Thiagarajan, chairman and CEO, Quscient Technologies; and Rajeev Mecheri, co-founder of Imetrex. The second round was raised from the same cohort with an addition of Vardhman Jain, MD of Perot Systems.Generating revenues close to INR 1 crore in 2011-12, Metropots will be using the funds mainly to expand into newer avenues. I got in touch with Biju Ashokan once more to know how the progress has been and how the road ahead looks.
It has been more than two years in operation. How has the journey been?
As most entrepreneurs would say, enriching. We had a conservative approach in the beginning where we had to prove the business model to ourselves before anyone else. The initial success helped us believe in the idea and then we went ahead confidently. Starting out in Chennai, we have established a good brand name there and only recently we had started branches in the NCR and Bangalore. It has been an exciting journey for us on two counts:
Chennai, NCR and Bangalore. Is any other city in the radar immediately?
Our next stop will be Bombay.
What kind of research has to be made before entering a new region? How do you lay the groundwork?
A lot of factors have to be looked at before entering. After starting off, one can easily identify the demand in a particular area from your current customers. Some of the trends can also be extrapolate. Our website gets a lot of requirements from across the country and we usually start our research from there.
There has been a lot of players coming up in the real estate market. How do you see the competition?
Yes. There are a lot of online players in this industry now. In a way, it's a good thing for the industry because the concept is no longer alien for a property investor. We have to keep innovating constantly in processes and technology to stay ahead.
Somehow the real estate field field brings to surface a feeling that bureacracy might be an obstacle. Is it?
Not at all. We have had a few roadblocks here and there but that happens with every business.
Different cities have vastly different cultures and being in India, one always expecs this. A process that works in Chennai based on a particular behavior pattern might not work in Gurgaon. For instance, Chennai is a more end-user market whereas Gurgaon is an investor's paradise. These are completely different mindsets which one has to understand thoroughly to achieve success.
What are the new things that have been added on the site?
We have added a new Group Deal feature on our website where we group users who express interest in the same project or a similar requirement together to avail best discounts from the builder (check it out here). This particular feature is very useful for investors because if a particular project is a good investment destination, there will obviously be a lot of interest in that project.
You have a 30 member strong team. Tell me a bit about the compsition here.
Our company is a Real Estate advisory firm and hence most of our work force are Advisors for investors. 80% of our team are advisors. We also have an in-house development team along with other Admin roles.
Great. I believe this team will grow as you move on the newer cities. We wish you all the best.
Yes definitely, the team size would swell upto 50 by September this year. And thanks a lot.
More about Metroplots on the website.