The advent of websites such as Quikr and Olx has transformed ordinary citizens into retailers. All it takes to get access to all possible goods is an internet connection. However, the housing sector has been quite slow on the uptake. Despite the growth of the online rental market, the industry desperately needs a holistic solution that takes care of the owner’s and the tenant’s requirements while automating the process of managing property.
Zenify.in aims to do exactly that. The owner of a property leases it out to Zenify, and Zenify sublets it to a tenant while managing the entire process of locating a tenant, managing the property, assuring rent to its owners and providing much needed peace of mind to both tenant and owner.
RelocateEasily was born in 2009 when IIT-M graduates Sudarshan Purohit, Kailash Rathi and Ankur Agarwal realized that fresh graduates and working professionals face immense difficulties while shifting. From finding a trustworthy broker to setting up a new home, the entire ordeal is extremely taxing and time-consuming. RelocateEasily attempted to smoothen the transition by offering services that eased the process of shifting.
The trio realized that it was not only the tenant who faced a multitude of issues in the hunt for the perfect property but also the owner who had to deal with unprofessionalism and uncertainty while navigating the largely unorganized property market.
Thus, RelocateEasily was rebranded RealtyKart in 2011 and now Zenify.in – a one-stop shop for property owners and tenants alike in the residential rental space.
The growth story
Zenify.in has witnessed good growth after acquiring its first flat in 2011. Its portfolio has expanded significantly over the years with 80 flats in 2012, 310 in 2013, 800 in 2014 to more than 1,200 flats in Bangalore as part of its current offerings. More than 1,000 flats are already occupied by tenants, the rest are being prepared for occupation. Zenify’s innovative business model has not gone unnoticed – Phanindra Sama (co-founder of Redbus) and Deepak Vinchhi have become advisors to the team. Mohit Agarwal (Flipkart, IIT B) has joined them as head of technology.
Given that the rental space involves several high ticket transactions, the founders have taken a lot of care to cultivate trust and respect from both tenants as well as owners over the last few years. An industry veteran gave them some advice that deeply influenced Zenify’s quick progress - tackle major unknowns in the space, understand the sector deeply, run the business profitably for 1,000 property units before accelerating the growth of the venture with external capital. Ankur indicates that the implicit trust associated with the brand has been invaluable in contributing to Zenify’s success. Zenify has acquired more than 30 per cent of its customers through referrals. Many of the existing owners have purchased additional properties knowing that they will be offered excellent service at market rates. As many as 60 per cent of the owners don’t feel the need to visit their properties since they know it will be extremely well maintained and 10 per cent of Zenify’s potential tenants have booked their properties online without physical inspections; one of their tenants even booked a property online from the US.
The e-commerce revolution has its downside too. On a daily basis a consumer is bombarded by multiple websites offering similar services making it substantially harder to distinguish the diamonds from the dust. By steadfastly focusing on the pain points of an owner offering his or her property for rent and the requirements outlined by the tenant, Zenify.in has carved a niche market for itself over the past few years.
As a liaison between the owner and the tenant, Zenify guarantees that the owner does not receive unwanted calls and is given timely high-quality service and prompt payments. It maintains similar high standards while servicing tenants by providing on-demand maintenance services and ensuring that rental payments reach the owner regularly. Zenify’s intervention has reduced the time invested by the tenant and owner from 250 man hours each to 75 hours (resulting in 70 per cent process efficiency for consumers). With complete automation, the founders of Zenify envision a process free of inefficiencies where the technology platform (to be released in the next few weeks) will help owners view and manage their properties like online bank accounts, complete with photos, videos, reviews and payment platforms that will ease the rental payment process for the tenant.
The way forward
Ventures such as Greystar and Pinnacle have proven the validity and scalability of the subletting model in the western context. Zenify.in is extremely optimistic about being the first venture to bring the concept of subletting coupled with rental management to the Indian market.
According to the Knight Frank India’s Real Estate Outlook 2014, the Bengaluru residential market is the healthiest market among the six major cities of India with close to 35,000 launches in the first half of 2014. The founders of Zenify are planning to expand to all Tier 1 and 2 cities, estimating that Tier 1 cities alone constitute a 20 billion dollar residential rental market.
With Zenify’s technology platform that could potentially revolutionize rental property management and its highly scalable business model, our future homes, like groceries, electronics and apparel could also be one click away.