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The real estate market globally witnessed technological disruption with information being made available to all. Properties started being listed online courtesy portals such as Trulia, Zillow and even Realestate.co.au. In the Indian market, there were several property classifieds players in the market with content and data becoming vital. However, these companies were unsuccessful in cracking the code or building a full stack model which ensures realty transactions by customers smoothly. They were unable to lower transaction expenses or enhance the overall experience.
Square Yards has made a big difference though. The company is headquartered in Gurgaon and has expanded on the basis of in-house technology, highly advanced machine learning and AI and analytics. The sales professionals have evolved rapidly and hold accountability for each step in the procedure for home buying, right from discovery and searching to transactions, site visits, after sales service and home loans. The technology at Square Yards is expected to be an industry standard for various applications.
Traffic volumes have surpassed 1 million visitors every month for the entire Square Yards network of websites and apps and 1.5 million+ leads are generated yearly. These leads are acquired at considerably lower costs as compared to regular techniques for generating leads. The company’s technology makes sure that all contact points with customers, right from site visits and scheduled calls to after sales documentation and mortgages are reported and monitored suitably, thereby ensuring higher customer satisfaction levels all throughout the lifecycle of home purchases. The start-up has seen the technology driven business model working with rapid scaling up for FY2018-19.
Square Yards now has 2,800 employees with a revenue run rate of $40 million annually and GTV (gross transactional value) of a little less than $1 billion. The start-up began in 2014 as an entity founded by investment banker and alumni at IIM Lucknow, Tanuj Shori and Wharton alumni Kanika Gupta Shori. The couple used to work and stay in Hong Kong earlier. The desire to make property investments in India is what got them thinking about the unorganized real estate distribution framework. India was an unorganized property market worth $120 billion and counting with the biggest developer possessing market share of only 1%. There was the absence of big distributors and almost 5 lakh brokers or even more! There was no transparency regarding data and no regulators as well.
Kanika and Tanuj ventured into tracking vital data points with regard to primary and top realty projects in India with a view towards assisting NRIs with similar requirements for investments. This helped them scrutinize the opportunities in the space for investors and end users alike. The model resonated with those looking to buy a home and this heralded the advent of Square Yards. The company kept growing and considerably grew its presence across 20 cities in India and 10 countries en route towards becoming the industry’s biggest player. It also achieved monopoly status in a manner of speaking in top NRI markets across the Middle East, predominantly Dubai. Square Yards also expanded operations to cover Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada and Australia and is one of the biggest entities in these markets at present.
In spite of the property distribution space having innumerable opportunities and room for multiple players, several organizations including leading financial institutions and banks and even start-ups have struggled in the recent past and many have also failed. Square Yards has also undergone several obstacles, chiefly the acquisition of the best new talent and also providing the right training for ensuring unmatched satisfaction of customers while keeping operational efficiencies intact. This problem has unsettled several pioneering entities in this space before. By tapping technology, Square Yards has developed digital infrastructure in a gargantuan manner and everything can be infinitely scaled up including data, field sales force, leads, products and more.
Technology has been used to address the asymmetrical part of data and ushered in standardization in operations, helping the company touch a bigger audience. Other business metrics such as first time to response or FTTR, lead acceptance ratios and average met ratios have improved considerably, leading to a higher number of visits to the site and higher closures. The industry average has been outstripped in terms of operational efficiencies and technology enabled scaling of the business in a non-linear way, indicating that the start-up was able to enhance revenues swifter than its expenses in comparison to regular industry peers.
Square Yards is perennially hungry to scale up and the way forward is heavy investments in its people with the start-up aiming at doubling its personnel count to 5,000 in the year 2019 with a bid towards ensuring a higher number of transactions per person via streamlining of processes internally. There are plans for further empowerment of brokers and partner developers with a view towards enhancing overall efficiencies through the adoption of technology that has been developed and licensed by Square Yards. The full-service realty software solution Edge has been testing in real-life scenarios and development for some time, is ready to be used across third-party frameworks and other environments externally.
Ever since it was founded, every day is about transformation for the betterment of the entire realty distribution space at Square Yards. The start-up is already en route towards achieving GTD (gross transactional value) of $1 billion on a yearly basis, thereby looking to join the elite league of a few start-ups that have achieved this milestone. Like it was observed previously, every technological innovation has led to the real estate sector getting more innovative. The Microsoft years were when the superior underwriting requirements of the industry were addressed with improved back office tools as well. The online aggregator model was applied for real estate by the very first start-ups in the proptech space.
Venture investments have gone up considerably in proptech segments worldwide with regard to the annual deal count. Close to $10 billion was invested across funding transactions in proptech last year and investor confidence is expected to reach newer heights in 2019 as well. Technology backed entities such as Square Yards are expected to achieve higher market share in the near future. It is among the new age proptech entities which will go a long way towards developing workflows that are completely digital while enhancing overall efficiency and transparency throughout the ecosystem. They will also be ensuring superior decision making at considerably lower costs. It will be a win-win situation for the Indian real estate market in particular and not only individual proptech firms.