Bootstrapped ZippServ aims to stop your real estate investments going down the drainAparajita Choudhury
Cutting through the haze surrounding property buying, ZippServ provides its customers with experts for all their home buying needs. In less than a year, ZippServ's revenues (for 2015-16) touched Rs 60 lakh.
It was when he was still in the US that Sudeep Anandapuram decided on purchasing a property in Bengaluru. On the top of his mind was finding the right legal professional for the title verification. Putting everything in order while sitting in the US was a struggle for Sudeep, who was also perturbed by a few stories he had heard of NRIs being cheated in India.
He was plagued by a sense of helplessness, strongly feeling the need for someone who could see to the necessary documentation at an affordable rate.
His friend Debashish Hota also went through similar hassles while buying an apartment in the Bannerghatta Road area of Bengaluru. An hour-long discussion on their harrowing experiences led the two of them to discover the uncertainties average buyers of homes and plots face in India. This was when they came up with the idea of ZippServ in December 2015.
An idea born out of personal experience
“We decided to build a platform with the vision of being a gateway to all property transactions in India. In about three months, both of us put in our papers and decided to start up,” says 40-year-old Sudeep, a BTech from BMS College of Engineering and an MS from Florida Atlantic University. He had worked for Cisco and Tellabs in the US.
Debashish is a BTech from NIT, Surathkal, Karnataka. He has more than 12 years of experience in the networking, telecom and defense industry.
ZippServ provides comprehensive risk assessment for safeguarding real estate investments online. The platform provides experts for legal and civil engineering due-diligence, as well as fraud and forgery detection, and technology to ascertain encroachments and city planning violations.
Bringing onboard professionals with 10-20 years of experience and convincing them to adapt to ZippServ's standards, processes, technology and SLAs was a challenge that the company had to overcome. ZippServ today has 27 such experts.
Babu G, who works as a property inspector on ZippServ, has helped dozens of property buyers ascertain whether the properties they were buying were eligible for occupancy certificates. He says that with the help of ZippServ, he was able to reach out to more customers, growing his business by 30 percent.
With map-based data mining technology, process standardisation, integrated logistics and SLA-based online service fulfilment, ZippServ aims to provide a seamless experience to its customers.
The startup recently launched a Google Maps-based risk assessment tool, Zippserv Protect, which is currently free for all users in Bengaluru. The tool helps Bengalureans assess encroachment and other information required when evaluating properties.
The free-of-cost tool can mark rajakaluves and lake encroachments based on the BBMP's revenue map. It allows users to search for and download relevant information from about 50 GB worth of data in seconds.
ZippServ was started with a seed capital of Rs 25 lakh, which the duo raised from family and a few angel investors. When Sudeep went out to do a recce of popular properties, he was amazed by the concerns people raised regarding genuineness. He managed to answer a few queries and circulated the links to their products.
“By the end of the first month, we had received more than 30 inquiries and 10 orders,” says Sudeep.
He adds, “We are in the process of adding information about unrecognised layouts, land acquisitions for peripheral ring roads, litigation and other city planning parameters. We have partnered with over 30 qualified professionals from across different areas of expertise.”
One patron of ZippServ’s services, Pradesh, a techie by profession, says that the company helped him discover that a property he had earlier chosen was built on a no-construction buffer zone of a water body. This allowed him to change his decision in the nick of time and choose another property. He is in the process of having his legal due-diligence for the other property done through ZippServ.
Revenue and expansion plans
Sub-sectors like housing, retail, hospitality and commercial collectively form the real estate sector. Increasing demand for office space, urban and semi-urban accommodation is driving the growth of the sector, with the Indian real estate market expected to reach $180 billion by 2020. The housing sector alone contributes to five to six percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The total demand for urban housing is estimated to be 4.2 million units during the period of 2016-2020 across the top eight Indian cities, according to a report by Cushman & Wakefield and GRI.
ZippServ derives its revenues by charging customers for various services like legal due diligence, technical/civil engineering due diligence, and encroachment and fraud detection services for properties. Customers pay anywhere between Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000 for the various risk assessment services they avail through the startup. In less than a year, ZippServ's revenue (for 2015-16) touched Rs 60 lakh. It has 1,200 paid customers.
“Around 4,000 property buyers visit our website every month,” says Sudeep.
ZippServ caters to home and plot buyers, NRI investors, commercial enterprises and asset management firms, amongst others. With a team of four people, the startup now plans to engage in various outward marketing activities over the next couple of quarters in a bid to build a trusted brand.