This bootstrapped real estate tech startup helps builders manage their customer lifecycle
Real estate has gone through a long period of turbulence with financial issues piling up due to unsold projects. Four years ago, Venkata Ramana saw this as an opportunity and launched his startup, Near Estate.
Near Estate is a project promoter helping builders in the marketing and sales efforts for their projects through a tech stack that has multiple mediums such as a cloud call centre and online portal.
"Our core strength is marketing, which never depends on outside sources as we have our own marketing mediums through which we source quality leads. These leads will be converted into sales with the help of technology-driven methodologies like our advance cloud call centre and inhouse sales CRM," says Founder Venkata Ramana.
The idea came to Venkata Ramana in 2011 when he was in Australia working as a UX designer. He was convinced that the most comfortable reach of information to property enquirers is a hybrid model through multiple platforms such as calls, online, and help desk outlets.
After getting a job in Australia, Venkata Ramana worked there as a UX designer till 2012 when he came back and set up a startup called Redial. The startup was in the support industry and folded after five years. All through it the idea of Near Estate never left the entrepreneur. So, he paid off his debts and launched his new startup in October 2016.
The founder invested Rs 50,000 to set up Near Estate.
What Near Estate does
Functioning as a builder's exclusive project promoter (EPP), Near Estate aims to solve builder issues while providing professional services to customers, from house hunting to house warming.
“Through this EPP concept, we are giving end-to-end solutions for builders, from building planning, marketing, sales, home loans, customer support, and registrations," he notes.
Additionally, Near Estate solves problems for builders/developers when they face issues with project approvals from banks.
In 2017, the startup launched its sales platform for builders. It followed that up with the launch of a home loans platform where it works with builders and banks to get the best home loan for the customer.
"We have also taken on flat alterations at customers’ request," says Venkata Ramana.
The startup hosts an after-sales service/support platform that helps buyers with the registration process after home loans are granted.
"Delay in sales will lead to delay in handing over the project and thereby affect the reputation of the builders," the Founder adds.
Near Estate’s lead management CRM platform helps clients convert leads. It also helps in creating the sale agreement, facilitating the home loan process, and the registration for the builder with the bank, and the customer.
"After the sale agreement, we immediately collect all the documents from the customer for bank loan process. We will look after complete documentation process and assist the customer to avail the home loan conveniently," says Venkata Ramana.
The product functions as a SaaS platform.
In August 2017, Near Estate signed on its first EPP project in Hyderabad. It helped the startup achieve break-even and establish itself as a brand.
Hinging on the success of the first project, Near Estate has now bagged six projects in Hyderabad—residential apartments, villas, and houses—to work on marketing and sales efforts, thus freeing up the builders to concentrate on construction.
"We are a profitable startup and now looking for funding to replicate the same model across the country, especially in major cities in South India," says Venkata Ramana.
The startup's main revenue comes from the EPP model where builders will pay it a percentage of commission on property price.
The 20-member startup also gets a commission from the banks on the loan amount disbursed to Near Estate’s clients. Its current revenue stands at Rs 3 crore.
According to GlobalData, the Indian residential housing industry regained its growth momentum in 2018. The country’s output value has increased from $12 billion in 2017, to $16 billion in 2018 to $20 billion in 2020.
GlobalData’s Residential Housing Industry in India – Key Trends and Opportunities to 2023 report reveals that India’s residential housing industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.44 percent to $25 billion in 2023.
In the next 18 months, Near Estate is aiming to start interior designing services for builders.
Venkata Ramana notes that even during this time of coronavirus lockdown there is a huge demand from builders to take their projects. "We cannot take on projects at this moment, because we have limited funds and manpower. But we have built a strong successful model to replicate for our future projects. Our plan is to capture at least 50 projects per annum in the next two years."
Near Estate competes with IndiaAssetz and unorganised property consultants.
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)