Bootstrapped HomeInspeKtor checks if your property is fit for occupationSindhu Kashyap
The Bengaluru- and US-based platform provides end-to-end home inspection to ascertain the health of any property.
One morning, 40-year-old Sudhindra Naib saw that the flooring in his living room had caved in a little and popped out in parts due to uneven laying. Unfortunately for Sudhindra, this problem presented itself at a time when his kids needed his help for the upcoming exams.
That episode became instrumental in Sudhi, who has over a decade of experience in mobility, SAP, programme and project management, and general business administration, teaming up with his friend Vivek Bhat, who comes from a sales background, and starting HomeInspeKtor.
The whole aim of HomeInspeKtor is to solve real-world problems in real estate using tools and technology supported by robust processes and qualified personnel.
Working in different markets
The platform operates as an end-to-end inspection service in India and in the US it works as a marketplace for a large base of home inspectors who have been operating for more than 20 years. In India, it provides inspection services to new, resale, or rental homes.
It leverages a built-from-scratch, cloud-based, feature-rich marketplace with internationally qualified home inspectors, delivering comprehensive home inspection services that save time and money and avoid inconveniences.
In the US, the HomeInspeKtor marketplace simplifies the home inspection transaction for the homebuyer and the home inspector. The buyers can easily find home inspectors and decide who they want to hire for their inspection based on location or ratings.
“They order an inspection, pay for the inspection, view the progress of the inspection online, and access their home inspection report anywhere, anytime. They pat the back of their inspectors by rating and reviewing them after the work is done,” says 40-year-old Vivek.
The inspectors have no shortage of business. The quality job that they do speaks for itself and they get paid easily and on time. They use a state-of-the-art mobile app that helps them perform inspections easily and keeps completing the report in the background for them.
They can add notes, annotate pictures, select inspection and reporting templates, and make sure that the report is exactly according to their specifications. The minute they are done with the inspection, their report is ready to go for customers.
Building the team
However, as the two started building the product, they realised that they needed people with subject matter expertise. That is when they met and roped in BR Nagaraj and Ramakrishna Yarlapathi.
Nagaraj, a veteran from the real estate domain, wanted to do something of his own after spending 25 years in corporate settings including a stint at Google. Ramakrishna was senior global executive at SAP when he decided to take the plunge and start operations in Bengaluru.
Sudhi and Vivek have several decades of experience in the software industry and were exposed to developed markets like the US, where the home inspection is a mandatory step in the home transaction cycle.
“We then followed the typical MVP cycle, socialised within close circle groups, did market research, travelled to the US a couple of times to participate in home inspection-specific events, and here we are, on it, full-time,” says Vivek.
Challenges of different levels
Being bootstrapped and working in two different markets, the team faced different challenges. The key challenge in the Indian market is creating an awareness and understanding of the concept. Vivek adds that awareness creation is especially essential in reaching its target customer, the home buyer who is ready to take possession of a house, at the right time.
Not having an unlimited marketing budget, the challenge is to make sure that all home buyers in India hear about the advantages of signing up with HomeInspeKtor before they take possession.
In the US market, the key challenge is in convincing home inspectors to migrate to their offering. Even though they clearly see the multi-fold advantages of using the software that HomeInspeKtor provides, some of them have an inherent inertia that prevents them from signing up for something new.
Like Vivek has rightly put it, home services in India is a nascent market. In 2014 alone, over 69 home services startups were founded. Of these, some of the popular names include Housejoy and UrbanClap. However, the market, still unorganised, is believed to be difficult to crack. The market opportunity is believed to be from $100 to $400 billion, and yet, many like Doormint pivoted and shut operations.
Revenue and future
The team at HomeInspeKtor is still bullish about the space. Vivek says one of the most significant differences they have in terms of inspection is the use of tools and technology. Explaining this, he says,
“While other competitors conduct visual checks and use pen and paper to take down observations, we use tools like moisture meter, Walabot, and IR detectors that bring in a lot of objectivity to our inspections. Also, the usage of technology, as exemplified by our cloud and mobile app, makes sure that our reports are elaborate, free of errors, and are turned around faster in a matter of minutes rather than hours or days.”
Their revenue model in India is to charge the person who commissions them to perform the inspection, which could be the home buyer/seller, the developer, or even the realtor involved in the real estate transaction.
Their revenue model in the US is to charge the home inspector—either a subscription fee per month for usage of the software or to pay them a percentage of the revenue they earn from new business as a result of being listed on the marketplace.
In the last few months that they have been operational, the team claims to have done over 100 inspections across the B2C and B2B customer base. “In the US, we are going through the beta phase, getting a bunch of inspectors to explore the app and marketplace, infusing the necessary confidence and demonstrating our capabilities and taking valuable feedback, as applicable,” says Vivek.
He explains that at the core their product is a software technology platform with an integrated and responsive cloud and mobile app. The technology platform uses an AWS-hosted server and UI side proprietary accelerators that facilitates rapid development and easy maintenance going forward. Home buyers are able to search for, connect with, view reports on, and rate and review home inspectors on the platform.
“Our vision is to look at inspection as the ‘health monitoring system’ for the properties and our entire system is built and run with this purpose in mind. In India, the plan is to start providing our services to cities other than Bengaluru. We are also working with other companies and helping them take advantage of our technology platform. We are also in discussions with potential franchisees,” adds Vivek.
In the US, the plan is to spread the benefits of the marketplace throughout the country and into Canada.