Architect leverages father’s 30 years experience in real estate to launch construction startup AQB
Construction and architecture are areas that hardly see a low. We'll always need building but most of us harbour this desire to have something special in our homes. Following his passion, Raja Arjun has launched A.Q.B. (Attention to Quality in Business) to capitalize on this market. Catering “Handcrafted Apartments” to the burgeoning real estate market, this startup aims to leave a mark of its own in the sector. Founder, Raja Arjun has a clear vision to employ innovation best practices for the projects that his startup takes up.
The AQB Projects will primarily build “handcrafted apartments” where small nuances of architecture will be focused upon- along with common amenities, the environment friendly aspect will also be looked at.
Sharing his entrepreneurial journey, Raja says that “My interest in entrepreneurship has largely been influenced by the way I have been brought up. I fondly remember dreaming entire business strategies with my dad at the age of 7 . I can’t claim they were practical , but they laid the foundation of being an entrepreneur. While I have dabbled with failed or marginally successful ventures throughout my school life, my first successful business was at the age of 20, customizing bikes propelled me to start my entrepreneurial career. The venture taught me the importance of prompt deliverance, a quality which helped me gain the trust of investors. When It was time to graduate from Architecture school, I was approached by the same few, wanting to invest in my talent as an architect.”
By then, Raja had also completed 5 years of work and had a fair idea of what it takes to be a builder, what the market lacks and was plausible projection of the future. Waiting to take the plunge since long, Raja finally launched AQB in February 2011.
Today, Raja is assisted by his father, Raja Udayshankar, who has had over 3 decades of experience in this field and provides the moral, legal and financial support to his son. A B.Arch graduate with national acclaim for his studio work, Raja Jr has worked and travelled extensively from the time he joined architecture school. He handles the Design, marketing and finance, for AQB, and gets full support from his father. Raja adds that, “What makes it exciting is that we are at the cusp of ‘change’ as the sector in India sees big financial leaps in the horizon. If the current plans are any indicator, this sector will surely benefit from companies like ours. Currently, we’re two projects old and we have four more in the pipeline.”
Some of the unique features of their projects include:
- Hot air vents directed to dry clothes
- Planter box in kitchen sill for growing herbs.
- Specially designed windows to suit the climate. Hinges designed to reduce the weight of large openings.
- Steps designed in way to be easy on the knees of the elders.
- Slab is sandwiched with insulation so that the kids playing in the flat above your flat do not disturb you.
- Handpicked trees in the atrium to facilitate circulation and exchange of air and to maintain a calming aroma inside the building.
As a young entrepreneur, Raja found it very difficult to be taken seriously. “At the age of 20 , I completed my first project as a free-lance architect and engineer. It took my team 4 years to respect my decisions. This has been my most challenging task,” he says.
As a business, any builder would testify that the major challenge lies in making a project viable. It begins from scouting for the right piece of land, for the right use and the right price. To design a refreshing new project while adhering to archaic laws is another challenge , especially dealing with local officials often looking to establish local profit centers. Once the builder overcomes all these obstacles, the next challenge is to sell the idea to the customer. “We also challenge ourselves to conceptualize projects differently. With ‘Pixel One’ we designed compact and properly planned apartments,” adds Raja.
To convert a small seed capital into a profitable business with 500 % growth a year is no mean feat that his young grad had displayed. Roughly 2 years into the market and with four exciting projects in the pipeline is certainly an achievement. Currently, AQB is working on bio-degradable and transportable homes. Material innovation will focus on introducing new construction techniques for walls and slabs.
Raja’s only wish is elimination of the current loopholes on the system. These include the ways people circumvent Government regulations and exploit the customers in order t make their venture profitable. “This has a ‘part to whole’ effect on the urban infrastructure and eventually everyone suffers. Experience tells me this is true in all major cities of India and we can safely assume it is the same everywhere else as well. We should look at our Asian neighbors and learn to adopt and adapt construction laws relevant to our time,” he adds on a concluding note.