How Brigade REAP is driving value for startups in the PropTech space

The Brigade Real Estate Accelerator Program, which has mentored over 55 startups across 11 cohorts is open for applications for Cohort 12, with the themes being Sustainability, Web 3.0, Warehousing and FinTech.

Most ventures that go on to make a mark in their own way are often the result of a zeal to find solution to a problem. In the case of WEGoT, the catalyst happened when in 2015, a bunch of five people came together to address the problem of acute water shortage in their home city - Chennai. WEGoT Utility Solutions was thus born with a mission to bridge the gap between water utility management and the end user through real-time data.

On the other hand, for Altaf Ganihar, CEO, Snaptrude, the ‘aha’ moment happened when he encountered the various hurdles that architects were facing during the design stage. His observation of the fragmented and tedious nature of the design process lay the foundation for Snaptrude, a technology-based collaborative tool for architects, enabling them to provide designs and gather client feedback in real time, irrespective of geographical or time constraints.

Two companies operating in two different domains, but both using technology to solve a problem in the larger ecosystem that they both belonged to - that’s WEGoT and Snaptrude for you. Their real common thread was that they both wanted to be disruptors in the real estate industry. And this was exactly how both their paths led towards Brigade REAP, Asia’s first PropTech-focused Real Estate Accelerator Programme.

WEGoT and Snaptrude are among the many mentored by Brigade REAP, a pivotal presence in the PropTech arena. The point to note here is that WeGOT’s valuation has risen 30 times, and Snaptrude’s 20 times, since their joining REAP. It is also worth mentioning that while WEGoT entered the programme on the back of three years’ experience and an established revenue flow, Snaptrude was almost straight off the blocks. Their growth journey is a testimony to the value that Brigade REAP brings to the eco system.

Heeding to the clarion call

For Brigade REAP, entering the PropTech segment was driven by the obvious opportunities that were emerging in the space. The PropTech segment in India reportedly attracted over $ 551 million in 2020, as mentioned in a research report by JLL titled ‘Transform with Technology – The Future of Real Estate.’ Investments in the PropTech space have reportedly grown at a CAGR of 105% in the past 6 years.

Accelerated adoption of technology by real estate players is obviously among the main driving factors for growth in this segment. As the JLL’s report says:Maturing and new technologies —from connectivity and hardware advances enabling the mass deployment of sensors, to machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) techniques enabling workflow automation— now mean that every aspect of the real estate industry has the capacity to evolve more quickly than ever before. The landscape of technology adoption and diffusion has grown quickly in size and complexity over the last decade, with nearly 8,000 companies offering technology-focused solutions across the built environment globally, an increase of over 300% in the last 10 years.

Empowering PropTech startups

The major shift in focus towards PropTech by established real estate players indeed saw the entry of many startups in the PropTech space, who sought to add value to these real estate companies by offering relevant technology solutions. But for these startups to grow and scale up meant the need for mentoring, which could help them ramp up their value offerings to their clientele. These factors were the main catalysts for the Brigade Real Estate Accelerator Program (REAP), which completed 5 years on October 4th, 2021. Founded in 2016, REAP’s main objective was to understand and address the challenges faced by the real estate and construction industry.

A five-year journey with many milestones

Over the last five years, REAP has mentored over 55 startups across 11 cohorts. These include startups with disruptive technologies like WEGoT and Snaptrude, which are delivering value across diverse applications such as air quality monitoring, alternate material, home automation, last yard delivery, sewage treatment, sustainability, water conservation, etc.

The success journey of Brigade REAP did come with its own challenges, though. For, as in the case of most things that hold promise and growth, the mentoring opportunity for PropTech startups took time to take off. But once it did, there was no stopping it. From just about 15 relevant startups, the number of applications received by Brigade REAP grew to 150+ PropTech startups for every cohort in just five years.

Speaking about the journey, Nirupa Shankar, Director, Brigade REAP, says, Our journey through 5 years, 11 cohorts and mentoring 50+ PropTech startups has been truly enriching. We celebrate the entire PropTech community as we complete 5 years of catalyzing the adoption of PropTech by the Real Estate industry. We are deeply indebted to all our partners, mentors and jury members for their unstinted support through this enthralling journey.

Looking back on the journey, she adds, As I recall the last 5 years, I remember how disruption was the biggest motivation behind setting up the program and it was important to adopt new technology and trends to stay ahead of the curve. The last 5 years were more about building trust, credibility and identity. When we started REAP, we had our fair share of challenges and detractors. Over the years, however, more than 50 startups have chosen to put their trust in us with their early-stage journeys and we are proud to be associated with each startup in our portfolio. I am really excited about the next part of this journey, for our startups, for Brigade REAP and especially for the Real Estate & Construction sector as it embraces technology aggressively. PropTech is transforming the Real Estate & Construction industry and our lives faster than ever before and we are super excited to be leading the PropTech charge from India.

What has really given edge to the REAP programme over the years has been its focus on partnerships with industry leaders to create a structured programme. This has produced a pool of high-quality tech focused start-ups that add value to the real estate industry at large. REAP has partnered with Habitat for Humanity International's Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter (TCIS) for Affordable Housing, and also with StartAD for the second year in a row, for the Aldar Scale Up 2 Program.

The company also launched a PropTech syndicate fund - PropTech@REAP on LetsVenture last year that aims to invest in PropTech start-ups both from within the Brigade REAP accelerator portfolio and outside.

These efforts and initiatives have been acknowledged by the government of India, which honored Brigade REAP as the Top Accelerator in India at the National Startup Awards 2020.

Grooming the enablers

Today, many of the startups mentored by Brigade REAP are adding tremendous value to the real estate & construction ecosystem in India and overseas. Also, 48% of the REAP portfolio startups have gone on to raise capital from marquee investors like Accel Partners, HDFC Capital, Mohandas Pai, and Brigade Group. A lot of them have also received local and global recognition.

A look at the rise in startups’ valuation post REAP says it all: Average Joining Valuation: Rs 2.5 crore; Average Current Valuation: Rs 29.2 crore. That is a 10.7x growth on average.

The ultimate testimony is, of course, what the startups themselves have to say about their REAP experience. Aayush Jha, Founder, Clairco, says, With REAP our learning curve was shortened due to the insights we got from meeting key stakeholders which would have taken months otherwise.

Srinivas Madhavam, Co-founder, Exprs, expresses it more succinctly, Our startup journey now has two phases, before REAP and after REAP.

Elaborating on the experience, Sunder Jagannathan Co-founder, PropVR, says REAP helped us in refining our customer focus and target market, which guided us to develop a better value proposition in our product. They have a very detailed approach to business mentorship by analyzing each area in business, and making founders rethink their basics.

Rohin Parker, Co-Founder of Spintly, and Govind Rai, Co-Founder of Totality, agree.We may all know the right things to do for our product but you always need a guiding light which helps you keep focus on your path which helps you move towards your vision. Brigade REAP has been that guiding light for us.

Real estate developers also feel that the REAP initiative with tech startups is a welcome move. As Zayd Noaman from the Prestige Group, says, “We are happy to work with startups who want to develop a pilot. Demonstrating use cases is essential and this is where developers come in. We can give that kind of canvas to do the work.

Abhishek Bhatewara of Rohan Builders, shares, while speaking about engaging tech startups who are part of the REAP initiative,Knowing that Brigade would have vetted them gives us a lot of confidence.

Last date for applications is 6th June.


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