NoBroker wants to build a one-stop real estate shop for the Indian consumer
The idea ofwas borne of co-founder Saurabh Garg’s bitter experience searching for a house in Mumbai. Unable to find a house without having to pay brokerage on classifieds and rental platforms, Saurabh said that this was an Indian problem which needed India-specific solutions.
Since its incorporation in 2014, the company has ensured that the platform is clear of brokers posting as owners and has gone on to add other solutions and businesses around renting and buying real-estate. Going ahead, it wants to become a one-stop-shop for customers for their real estate needs, the founders told Shradha Sharma, founder and CEO of YourStory Media at TechSparks 2021, India's most influential startup-tech conference hosted by YourStory.
“Dealing with brokers is a pain-point for everyone. You need to pay a high interim fee for a small value add,” said Akhil Gupta, co-founder of NoBroker. He added that NoBroker was conceptualised when consumer internet platforms such as BookMyShow had eased movie ticketing and MakeMyTrip had eased travel booking — then why not something for renting houses.
The team however had to deal with investors who wanted a proven model which the company was replicating from the US or China, said Amit Kumar Agarwal, co-founder and CEO of the company. NoBroker has raised $150 million so far from investors like General Atlantic, Tiger Global and others.
“Nowhere in the world people pay for real-estate transactions upfront, but we thought if the customers and the home owners like our product, they will pay,” said Amit.
Solving problems for the customers has helped NoBroker grow, and diversify its business over the years.
Diversifying the business
After starting out as a rent-matching platform, customers started asking the platform for help in making a rent agreement, a job typically done by brokers. Over time, the company has also added a list of packers and movers, painting and cleaning services, powering the transactions through the platform.
“We started with rental and expanded to buy and sell, residential to commercial. From core rental to packers movers, painting, etc. Then we added home loans, help with packing and moving insurance, rent payments and other services. Our acquisition cost for these services have remained zero and it benefits customers due to the fragmented market,” said Amit.
Akhil adds that the platform has also tied-up with banks to enable payment of rent using credit cards, which will earn them extra credit and rewards.
He added that the platform also relies on technology to drive some of the other services, such as predicting the rent of a place for owners and suggesting other areas nearby within budget for potential tenants.
Using technology to grow
The NoBroker platform suggests places to rent within minutes of commuting from the office, which is especially relevant in a city like Bengaluru where peak-office hour traffic sets the tone.
“We are a customer-to-customer platform generating millions of data points which we feed into our Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning algorithm. Whatever the broker does with heuristics, we can do the same with our algorithm, as accurately,” said Saurabh.
Amit adds that the technology platform also frees up the platform from brokers’ biases. “When a broker sees that the customer is interested in a property, they put pressure of scarcity bias on the customer saying that it will be gone soon. Our platform displays the number of people who have viewed a property and contacted the owner. Further, the AI / ML algorithm surfaces new property listings higher up and pushes down the ones which have received enough customer interest,” he said.
Akhil added that the platform’s Rentometer feature also gives an accurate estimate of expected rent in a certain locality. “We don’t tell our owners what price to list their property at. If the rent is higher than what our Rentometer assesses, we email the owner telling them the same and that it will take time of 40-45 days to rent out the property,”Saurabh added.
With its suite of products, NoBroker wants to be a single platform real-estate destination for buyers and sellers. While it started out when the category had multiple competitors apart from the existing classifieds businesses, NoBroker has built its brand based on the principle of keeping intermediaries out. “Patience has been a key ingredient,” said Akhil in building out the company.
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