Professional expats, especially those who come to metros often have a single complaint – getting a good accommodation. So if it was mostly that estate agent, or some relative who helped you find the place, nowadays online real estate portals are an important part of the equation. Similarly when Pankhuri Shrivastava came to Mumbai for a Teach India fellowship after graduation, she had to undergo a similar ordeal before she found herself a good house. It was either the neighbours or room mates or the locality, something or the other was not right. So like all entrepreneurs, Pankhuri and her co-founders Prateek Shukla and Ankit Singhal decided to take matters into their own hands.
Pankhuri met Prateek in Mumbai and the problem of finding a good accommodation usually cropped up in their discussions. “There were several web portals helping you get a house, but they never got you a good house. And then there is always the broker to deal with,” shares Pankhuri. Prateek brought his child hood friend Ankit into the team, and subsequently they founded GrabHouse. Ankit is an alumnus of IIT Delhi and had worked for Bank of India before starting up. While Prateek is from IIT Kanpur and was part of the core team of Bluegape, an online fan merchandising store.
Launched this July, Grabhouse, connects room seeker with the provider. So if you have a room and want some mates to share your loneliness and expenses, then you can enlist your room on the website along with your requirements, likes and dislikes. Similarly, people searching for rooms can register themselves under the Room Seeker’s profile on the site. There are hordes of websites doing this work but what makes Grabhouse stand apart, is that it is a brokerage free solution, says Prateek. No brokerage is charged from either parties. Brokerage is a lucrative source of revenue for professionals in real estate and not charging the customers is a brave step. Pankhuri agrees to and says it was definitely a bullet to bite. But doing something different and helpful for consumers, was their motto. “Our source of revenue will come from advertisers and paid listings on site,” she declares. The money charged for paid listings will be a paltry sum compared to brokerage.
The startup also has plans to launch a mobile app and leverage the power of social media. Grabhouse, will use social media not only for marketing but for connecting individuals. So they will not reveal the contact details of an individual; but instead will connect people to each other through messaging service available on the site. Whenever the system finds a match for a particular user, he will be notified about the availability. The person will get a compatibility score with the prospective roommate, which is calculated on the basis of likes, dislikes, personality and behavioural information that Grabhouse asks for at the time of registering with the site.
On the business side, Prateek says Navi Mumbai is a hot area for business. “There are lots of companies coming up in the area, the market is only going to get hotter,” he predicts.
Grabhouse was one of the 10 companies incubated at IQ bootcamp and was also selected for GSF accelerator. The site currently has 750+ registered users with 35 fresh listings and 65 roomseeker’s profiles. In 15 days of launch, Grabhouse has helped 10 users find houses and roommates and has helped make an estimated saving worth Rs 96,000 says Prateek and they want to continue providing this kind of value for customers.
Grabhouse is a bootstrapped venture, which started with an investment of Rs 10 lakhs, with help from family and friends. As the startup plans its entry into other metros of India, they have plans to raise money capital to the tune of Rs 50 lakhs in the coming months.