21Diamonds co-founder Richa Bansal joins Housing.co.in as CBO; the back story
The founder of Rocket Internet-backed jewellery ecommerce portal, 21Diamonds, Richa Bansal, has joined Housing.co.in as its chief business officer. Housing.co.in's co-founder, Advitiya Sharma expressed his happiness in the recent inclusion of Richa in their top level management. He said, "Richa is a close friend of one of our co-founders, Rahul (Yadav). We had recently met up with her in Gurgaon, and we were very impressed by the ideas and insights she had in the real estate industry. We spoke to her for a few days and we knew she would be a great addition to the team."
But what brought her to this interesting startup is an interesting story. Here are some excerpts from our conversation with Richa -
The VC and internet experience
Richa did her MBA from Wharton Business School graduate, where she had interned with Blackstone Ventures for a summer. Prior to her MBA, she had worked with Bessemer Ventures Partners (BVP) as an investment analyst. At BVP, she had spent a fair amount of time analyzing the real estate space. "By the time I was done, I had a decent understanding of the real estate space. That, coupled with my experience of running an internet business at 21Diamonds, was tailor-made for what Housing.co.in."
Richa is now fully dedicated to her role as CBO at Housing.co.in. She says, "As you know, Housing.co.in is already in 8 cities, and my job is to mainly lead on sales in these cities and help make our businesses in these places profitable. And of course, get Housing.co.in a nationwide presence, in the long run."
"Housing.co.in is my baby"
There are a few reasons that have worked in Richa signing up for the Housing.co.in challenge. Firstly, she believes that the real estate industry, is on the ascendancy. She says, "Real estate is a very volatile industry. It is a function of the way the world economy. During the recession, the real estate industry was so badly hit - I still remember how builders didn't have any capital to invest in new projects. Of course, a lot of consumers benefited from it, as they could buy land and property at a lower rate. However, now the industry has stabilized again and there is a buzz among the builder community. We see another real estate bubble that's being formed and that can only be a good thing for us."
As a former entrepreneur with 21Diamonds, I asked her if she would like to get back to entrepreneurship later on. She said, "I haven't thought so much yet. Right now, Housing.co.in is my baby and I'm dedicating all my energies towards adding value to the company. Housing's success is my success as well. It has just been a few days and I'm really loving this fast paced environment. The team is young and hungry and I'm all in it. So far, it really doesn't feel like work and because I'm in the core team, it almost feels like I'm doing my own thing again."
Persisting with startups and entrepreneurship
On a parting note, I asked Richa why she persists with entrepreneurship and startups, despite having the experience and credentials to make it as a VC. Her answer was along the lines of what Vinod Khosla said yesterday at TechCrunch Disrupt. She said, "Being a VC only gives you a 30,000 ft view of entrepreneurship. Nothing will ever replace the operational experience that you gain being an entrepreneur or working at a startup. And if ever I go back to the VC and PE industry later on in life, I would have operational experience and I would be able to add more value to the startups I work with."
She credits her experience of working with startups and her entrepreneurial stint with adding a lot of value to her as a professional - "Just from my experience at 21Diamonds, I've been able to give some fair insights here at Housing. And just a few days here has already taught me so much. I know I'm going to enjoy my stay here."
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