[UpClose] Why Bengaluru-based apartment security startup MyGate does not consider the entry of Reliance and other biggies a threat
Of all the ‘hungry-for-disruption’ segments where technology has made its presence felt in the last decade, the apartment security market might be the least glamorous. But, it has undoubtedly sprouted newer opportunities and greater market potential with the influx of biggies like Reliance Industries (which has entered the segment with its apartment-management app JioGate), NoBroker, and Adda, to name a few.
In this episode of UpClose, watch Vijay Arisetty give his take on competition from big names such as Reliance, NoBroker, and Adda in the apartment security market.
It all started—at least in the Indian context—with a former Indian Air Force pilot trying to bring a sense of security and safety into the ever-expanding world of gated premises. Vijay Arisetty, CEO and Co-founder of Bengaluru-based MyGate, launched his security management startup in 2016, at a time when the concept was fairly new and when apartment security was more or less marked by ‘man guarding’.
Cut to 2019, and, today, app-based security management is a boiling pot of opportunities. From prominent players in the real-estate business to multinational conglomerates, everyone wants a slice of the pie. Residential security looks set to grow as an opportunity, poised to reach a whopping $74.7 billion in global market size by 2023.
Interestingly, for Vijay the rising competition seems to offer its own advantages. Instead of looking at newer entrants in the security management market as a threat, the entrepreneur views the increased interest as a positive sign for his own business. While reliability and experience continues to be the cornerstones for this segment, Vijay says the entrance of big players has only validated the market.
“In fact, we see that they're educating the market,” he says.
How the Air Force experience inspired MyGate
Vijay served in the Indian Air Force for 10 years. Before taking to the life of entrepreneurship, he also served as a vice president at Goldman Sachs for four years. An alumnus of the Indian School of Business, he has a Shaurya Chakra award to his name for his role in evacuating victims of the 2004 tsunami in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
“Being in the armed forces, we were always exposed to the best of security. And, the first thing that I experienced when I shifted from the armed forces to the civil world is missing it [the sense of security],” says the founder of MyGate.
Vijay Arisetty, Founder and CEO of MyGate.
Right from the way the gated communities are managed—involving tedious, inefficient, and error-prone processes—to the time spent on authenticating and validating visitors to the premises, the gaps were evident. And his vision for disruption involved a great deal of automation.
“Every space is going through some or the other technology infusion, with smartphones and various other technologies coming to the forefront,” he says, adding, “But, in security, which is a $20 billion industry and where eight million security guards are employed in India, there is no technology to enhance their lives.”
This insight gave birth to MyGate in 2016, which is basically an end-to-end “community management” platform that provides real-time information and alerts to its users. Its aim is to enhance convenience by tapping technology, which in turn will enable a seamless connect between the internal and external world of these gated premises.
From residential to commercial – removing friction at the gate
According to Vijay, his product is applicable wherever there is a gated complex with a high density of people with a security guard. It could be a residential gated community or a commercial space, such as a school, college, university, SEZ, or even a warehouse or a factory. If entry to the premises involves the authentication and validation of the visito, a process that can involve a large amount of friction, MyGate’s solutions can come to the rescue.
“We want to make sure that the visitor is spending the least possible amount of time at the gate,” explains Vijay, adding, “Today, our average time achieved is 20 seconds. We want to get that down to two seconds.”
To bring this vision to fruition, MyGate has inked partnerships with several ecommerce companies and brands such as Swiggy, Zomato, Dunzo, and Grofers. The idea is simple —to make interactions at gated premises more smooth, simple, silent, and secure.
The founding team of MyGate.
The vision for the platform also involves residents, not only contributing to the community’s security but benefiting from the enhanced security as well. An example is a provision on the app that lets residents of a particular community add reviews on domestic help employed by them.
“What we are doing is enriching the information with user-created content. This becomes useful for a service-seeker and that becomes very helpful for the domestic help looking for employment.”
First-mover advantage and aggressive expansion
Being one of the first players in the sector comes with its own set of advantages. It’s no different for MyGate. With nearly four years of experience under its belt, the startup has already set its foot wide and deep into the market, with most of its growth happening organically.
Its plan involves expanding aggressively while boosting awareness around the brand. To support this goal, earlier in October, the security management startup had raised Series B funding to the tune of $56 million, led by Tencent Holdings, alongside US-based JS Capital LLC and Tiger Global Management.
According to the company, which currently serves 1.2 million homes in 11 cities, it aims to deploy the funds to achieve 10X growth. It is also looking to serve nearly 15 million homes across 41 Indian cities, on its platform and scale to almost 60,000 gated communities by the end of 2020.
“The scale at which we operate and the infrastructure needs to be rebooted to cater to this scale. So, a lot of money will go into that particular technology,” Vijay says.
If there’s one trait that defines Vijay Arisetty’s brand of entrepreneurship, it’s his penchant for risks. Not one to shy away from exploring the unconventional, the serial entrepreneur has lofty plans for MyGate, and there’s not an ounce of doubt when he talks about achieving these milestones.
As he puts it best, “Serial entrepreneurship looks sexy, right? But, what I would say is, I was a risk taker… sometimes, the normal path will not give you a lot of excitement. You need to do something different than what other people are doing.”
(Edited by Athirupa Geetha Manichandar)