In the next ten years, the real estate sector is expected to grow to a US$ 1 trillion economy from over US $150 Billion today. The digital contribution of advertising, content marketing & pre-sales processes are meager as of today while we see a heightened move towards an aggressive digital push whereby spends are growing anywhere from 20-30% there is still a vast gap in real estate compared to other consumer industries.
Think of a genuine home buyer looking for a property in a metropolitan city of Mumbai or NCR. He has a choice of several thousand projects that are going on at any point in time, and all he needs is one property that satisfies his needs - budget, timelines, and features. It is a tough market for such home buyers and you cannot attract them merely using price as a bait.
That's the opportunity Propstory wants to grab. It wishes to empower the ecosystem whereby the transactions are enabled through data, facts & technology instead of assumptions and future government policy. Propstory envisages being the most sought after information-driven platform for the vast real estate sector to establish a connection between buyers & real estate companies. They do it by lowering down pre-sales and marketing for real estate to 5-7% of the overall industry.
A small intro of Propstory
Brand Name: PropStory
Co-Founders: Ashish Mahajan, Bhagwandas Paliwal
Founded year: July 2015
Sector: Real Estate
Company Name: Kuotient Realty Pvt. Ltd.
PropStory - Co-Founders
Bhagwandas Paliwal & Ashish Mahajan cofounded Propstory. Both are engineering classmates from IIT Bombay, Batch of 1999. However, both had pursued very different career paths for over a decade before coming together to set up the company in the year 2015.
Ashish is deeply networked in the real estate and finance industry/. He has worked in the real estate investments division at private sector lender IDFC in Mumbai for over 7 years. While Bhagwandas is a technocrat and has a background of handling complex technologies at Yahoo, AOL and other MNCs.
We are currently a 10 member team with people from varied backgrounds - engineering, finance, accounting, architects and commerce. We are a pretty lean but highly efficient bunch of people working from Mumbai and Bangalore.
PropStory - The Idea
When Ashish used to work with a top-notch real estate firm, he found that it was difficult to asses different properties and projects.
The data was made available from different sources but were not quite unreliable. The big disconnect was the real market feel of the person looking at a project. This is the same problem most homebuyers face. Further, in such a crowded market for any developer stand out it was essential that his marketing is focussed on the buyer sets most likely to qualify for his project. This was the problem I wanted to solve. - Ashish said.
I started a portal where I used to publish stories about property and areas in Mumbai. Soon we also started to cover Delhi NCR, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad and to some extent Chennai.
From few hundred visits a day we clock close to 100,000 visits a month now. Over time we established a strong business in digital marketing driven by our content.
PropStory - Name and Logo
We were narrating our own experiences of visiting properties and discussions with real estate companies. Essentially it was a project “Story”. Thereby it was only apt that we call it “Propstory”.
While the realty sector is a traditional one, we wanted a simple logo with younger buyers in mind. One which can appeal digitally and is more vibrant. This allowed us to create our logo which has a bright colored theme and represents the cityscape.
PropStory - Initial days and Starting up
Initial days were quite challenging - for we had to convince the industry to look at content marketing favorably. The otherwise strong focus on achieving sales at any cost or physical advertising was something we could not have changed in a day. Further, we wanted the developers to become more open in sharing data and facts on the properties. These were not easy things to do.
Moreover, we were making a business out of it; thus we required sponsorships for our activities, again a thing never heard of in this space. Slowly and gradually we saw traction for the huge players in the sector and this is where we started seeing good traction.
PropStory - Product / Service
Our content development and marketing services bring us most of our revenues. We market the right content and disseminate it efficiently to drive in most quality inquiries for realty firms. Our methodology helps a property buyer understand the project in a better way than any other conventional sources.
PropStory - Business model
Our revenue comprises sponsored content & digital lead generation activities. We are entirely focused on the real estate sector in India (at this stage). Our proprietary marketing models have helped our clients derive the best output from our digital activities.
We have recently built a much-needed business application to smoothen the pre-sales process in the real estate business. We are currently in the test phase before commercialising the same.
PropStory - Revenue model
We earn revenue from content marketing & digital marketing campaign for top real estate firms in the country. We expect to commercialise a new business application soon, and that will be additional revenue for us.
PropStory - Acquiring initial customers
We used various social and business networking tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook pages & references to connect with the business leaders in real estate. From there on we convinced Mumbai’s leading developers to work with us. That was the start of our monetisation journey.
PropStory - Growth
Our major business is driven from 5 cities - Mumbai, NCR, Bangalore, Pune & Hyderabad. We believe these markets offer the most value in the real estate sector i.e. 60-70%. Thus, fortifying in these cities is crucial for us before moving to smaller cities and towns.
We have grown our revenues from Rs. 1.5 lacs in FY 16 to Rs. 1.80 Cr. in FY 18 and are on our way to rise to Rs. 5 Cr in FY 19. Various leading realty firms work with us and consider us their important and dependable digital partners.
PropStory - Building work culture
Knowledge sharing is very essential for us. All members talk to each other on different challenges at work. And as such there are no barriers to approach other team members or even founders.
We frequently arrange meetups for Mumbai and Bangalore teams to work together, so that the understanding, rapport and synchrony between all increase. While we are a fast-growing startup, providing work-life balance to our employees is also a top priority.
PropStory - Funding
After bootstrapping for nearly 18 months, in 2017, we raised an angel round of $120,000 Abhishek Bhatewara, a member of angel investor platform Mumbai Angels; Vivek Shah, head of investment banking at Chinese securities and brokerage major Haitong Securities; Suraj Saharan, co-founder of logistics startup Delhivery; Paras Arora, co-founder of Tea Halt, a tea-based restaurant chain; and a few other angels participated in the round. We have grown over 10 times since then and also diversified into more business lines.
We plan to raise another round of funding in the CY 2019 with a much stronger business proposition.
PropStory - Advisors and Mentors
We have been mentored by a few industry leaders including real estate developers and financiers. This helps us to have a better and greater understanding of the business needs and orient ourselves.
PropStory - Competitors
While there is no direct competition we compete with a variety of players in the market consider the larger realty sites. Digital agencies and classifieds like Quikr, 99acres may be considered as closest and still, they are way different.
We have a strong focus on content that no one else has. We are driving audiences to our strong factual content acquired from project sites.
PropStory - Future Plans
We plan to enter at least 2 international markets with our content marketing services. We are in discussion with developers at Dubai for some time now. Over the years to come, we will set up processes to automate the data collection procedure. We have also developed a new business application which is in its testing phase right now. That is likely to drive rapid growth for us.
Advice for candidates who aspires to join PropStory
We look for candidates who can work not just efficiently but energetically considering the small set up we are. We work at high productivity rates which means there are times when one has to work longer and smarter to achieve goals.
PropStory - Founder's Advice
One must explore their own capabilities beyond regular education.
While we had the support of parents who were very open-minded, probably an attitude to take risks was an essential trait we missed early on in our lives.