In the aftermath of the housing debacle and, more recently, the acquisition of CommonFloor by Quikr, many have been wary and question whether the real estate platforms that we see springing up in the startup atmosphere actually work.
Thirty three-year-old second-time entrepreneur Manik Kinra, however, believes that the real estate segment, while complex and full of hurdles, holds great potential and is far from impossible to crack. Pin Click, founded by Manik, aims to bring value to customers in the housing market.
Following a technology, people and process-driven approach, the team brings in a basket of services that includes understanding what kind of home an individual needs with the help of property experts and helping them make the right choice. One can also get unbiased property advice while buying a property. It also offers a property management vertical for owners and tenants on the rental side.
Second time lucky
With his earlier startup Jade Magnet, Manik had built a crowdsourcing platform for creative and marketing support services. He says that they were able to scale up to multiple geographies, but the nature of the business didn’t allow the trajectory they had hoped for.
In real estate, I felt that if we were able to crack the model and build seamless processes to deliver value to customers across the two verticals of selling and renting properties, then growing to multiple cities wouldn’t be difficult. Also aspirationally, real estate continues to be high on the list of most people, which means the demand is very high.
Starting two years ago, Pin Click first began with hiring a team of trained real estate professionals and soon realised that the structure didn’t allow them to scale.
Bringing in new learnings
Initial growth was slow as a complete overhaul of the team was required to build in-value systems that were more in sync with process-based selling. Being a little old school and believing in creating a much stronger foundation, they decided to add only one city on the sales side and haven’t gone outside of Bengaluru for the rental vertical.
“One lesson from Jade Magnet was that scale loosens the control on almost all metrics, and if the metrics are not defined, chances are that you will end up messing up on some of the key parameters. We are ensuring that we understand each of those metrics as we grow month on month and build control systems around them before we change gears.”
Initially, they kept focus on building the distribution and sales team and, in parallel, collected the data points to build a strong foundation for the technology engine, which meant hiring was carried out while keeping the same in mind.
Traction and team
While Manik got the idea of starting Pin Click, he roped in the team of co-founders over the course of a few years. Each came in through common connections or through meetings at different stages of their careers.
The founding team had a broad range of specialisations, with Puneet Kinra coming from an investment banking background, with around two decades of experience, and Shaishav Kumar having significant product and technology experience.
Apart from the three founders, the members of the core team have skill sets across digital marketing and execution, and deep technology development.
In the past 24 months, the team claims to have engaged with around 550 customers who bought residential units from Pin Click. On their rental vertical, which they started recently, Pin Click manages around 300 homes in Bengaluru, with 10 percent of them as shared accommodation while the others are single family homes.
“We interact with over 1,500 prospective customers every month now between Bengaluru and Pune, and are trying to build a customer service layer to ensure that we are able to provide value to all our customers,” says Manik.
While building a strong base, Manik believes that there currently isn’t a clear differentiator between several startups in the real estate vertical.
The market of real estate
However, as an industry, there are players which either focus on listing-based technology platforms or distribution and fulfilment. On the fulfilment side, most technology driven players either engage in the selling or renting of homes or shared accommodations.
“We are probably the only one engaged in both verticals. We charge our service fees from the sellers, which in the case of sales are the builders and in the case of rentals, the owners. The buyers/tenants get our unbiased services without any cost,” says Manik.
With the merger talks between Housing and SquareYards, the real estate market still has many players. There is PurpleYO, a big data and analytics platform for the real estate sector, which provides information to entities that have a commercial real estate requirement.
There is also Bengaluru-based Milgaya that works toward providing a hassle-free, transparent, and guided experience in the selling, renting and buying of residential properties.
The Indian real estate market is believed to be worth $100 billion, of which the primary residential market is estimated at $60 billion. The brokerage market is estimated at around $3 billion, and 60–70 percent of it is concentrated in the top 10 Indian cities.
Pin Click had raised a seed round when they started and this helped build the sales process and the team for the property advisory side of business.
This was followed with a pre-Series A round in March this year, which will be used to build the rental vertical across both operational cities and at the same time work on technology and product development.
“We will spend the next 3 months strengthening our current position in the two markets we are present in for the property advisory business, while scaling up rental solutions (both managed rental and shared accommodation) in Bengaluru,” says Manik.