Interview with Mr. Bhaskar R, Co-Founder, homesathand.com
Q1. Firstly, a very warm welcome from Ideasmakemarket.com team. Tell us something about your background.
I completed my MBA in 2009 and was heading research operations with a boutique market research firm in Bangalore. Late 2013, we (along with 2 other partners) launched Zrotra (meaning divine knowledge in Sanskrit), a research and advisory firm and was heading the real estate consulting vertical where we were helping builders to identify the market potential for upcoming projects. We have also advised many start ups on marketing and new market entry strategy. Homes At Hand was launched in November 2014 with a vision to help the common man identify his dream home.
Q2. Our readers would love to know about the journey of your various ventures. How and when did you decide to take the path of entrepreneurship?
For the previous 5 years, I was working with a start up boutique market research firm in Bangalore. I was handling pivotal roles and responsibilities across multiple functions and rose through the ranks quickly. My key strength has been always people management and have handled hundreds field operations for large MNCs as well start ups. So basically, we started off own after gaining enough experience in building business from scratch and it was a calculated risk taken to leverage the experience gained. Homes At Hand was launched after sensing the market’s huge requirement for budget and affordable housing and it was very important to bring the neighborhood builder also in the online radar.
Q3. Tell us something about the business model of your site and who your target clients are.
Homes At Hand exclusively deal with affordable and budget apartments. In fact, majority of our listings are in the range of Rs 30 – Rs 40 Lakhs which are affordable for the middle class population living in metros. Unlike many other existing platforms, Homes At Hand is not a just a lead generation real estate portal. We understand the budget apartment builders too and we have exclusive partnerships with budget builders who don’t have a marketing or sales team to take the customer through the sales process. We have our own field executives collecting the relevant data. Target visitors for our website are the budget apartment seekers and our revenue will be generated from builders/developers who are dealing in this segment.
Q4. How do you see the Indian real estate market shaping up? What are your expectations from this budget?
Budget 2015 has been rather disappointing for the entire real estate industry. Affordable housing is still a priority for the government but a clear road map on how to achieve this has not been presented. From the customer point, the tax deduction slab for interest being paid on a home loan for self occupied property from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh.
Q5. What are the challenges that you have faced while setting up your business in India? Any mistakes you have made in this journey?
Setting up business is now relatively much easier in the country though it would take more time compared to others. A good CA can get things easily done for you. Interestingly, banks are also becoming start up friendly and are now allowing to start zero balance customized accounts suiting start up needs. However, finding the right talent is the most challenging part in the journey. Getting a wrong technology partner has delayed our launch for than 2 months.
Q6. How have you funded your business? How do you manage the team dynamics in your company?
Homes At Hand is a boot strapped start up and we are at early revenues stage. Our team is very strong in field operations and we are carrying forward this experience to improve our productivity. Field executives are extremely crucial in our operations and we ensure that we take feedback from them on a daily basis. We try to capitalize on every team member’s strength and align them to the bigger vision of the organization.
Q7. If you are to list down three things that an entrepreneur should keep in mind, what would that be?
A.Don’t be afraid to fail
B.Never start with an exit strategy
C.Make sure your product/solution/idea is helping someone achieve their dreams.
Q8. Work-life balance is an important aspect of any professional’s life. Being a startup, must be putting additional pressure on you to maintain this balance. How do you manage it?
Throughout my career, I was associated with start ups and the same applies to be other founders too. There is always pressure in a start up environment and the work never ends. But the best thing about our team is that, each of the founders can step into other’ shoes whenever it is critically required. It’s all about team work in a start up.
Q9. What would be your advice to young MBAs and entrepreneurs in the making? Any suggestions for IdeasMakeMarket.com
Entrepreneurship is a long term game and persistence is the key to success. Never get demotivated by failures and instead learn from them. It is always better to start with one or more co founders and that would help ease the pressure and also take better decisions. Finding the right team is the most important aspect of starting up. One suggestion for IdeasMakeMarket.com is bring in more inspiring stories from entrepreneurs and also to improve social media presence.
Q10. One last question, where do you see your portal in the near future in India?
We would like to be the destination for any budget apartment seeker and a preferred partner for small time builders. Homes At Hand has covered a vast majority of budget apartments available in Bangalore. In the next one year we are planning to move to two other cities along with updating the current ones. The budget apartment buyer is someone who is an extremely value for money seeker and we wish to provide the most accurate, real and updated information.