Kanika Gupta Shori is a self‐starter, and an entrepreneur at heart. She has accumulated vast experience by working in various industries like Indian television industry, fashion modelling, events management and real estate.In 2014, she won ‘Young Achiever of 2014′ award by Franchisee India.
After facing minor setbacks with the Indian real estate industry, Kanika and her husband, Tanuj, realized that there was a clear-cut need of an independent & unbiased real estate advisory that can guide buyers through the search & discovery process.Thus, the duo conceptualized Square Yards, which is is a technology-enabled transaction and aggregator platform for the Global real estate.
Please provide a brief overview of your product/ service.
We market and distribute the portfolio of over 500 Grade-A developers to home buyers and investors across the world. For every property sale, Square Yards charges a sales commission from the developers. Our service is not just restricted to the selling of properties, but we handhold our customers through the entire home purchase lifecycle. This includes a wide range of activities such as documentation, taxation, legalities & mortgage etc. giving the buyers a complete peace of mind. Interestingly, we do not charge anything from the buyers for the services rendered.
As a brand, we are also diversifying into other verticals of the real estate value chain. Under the flagship of Bling Marketing, we conduct real estate events across the globe. Through Square Capital, we offer free home financing advisories to our clients. We have also recently launched a real estate aggregator for the brokers namely Square Connect. The app has so far registered over 20,000 brokers across India & draws a parallel with the Olas & Ubers of the world.
What inspired you to build the above product/ service?
As an NRI couple living in Hong Kong, me & Tanuj (My Husband) were very keen on investing in Indian property market. However, thanks to a very unstructured market led by a bunch of intermediaries, the experiences have not been very good. Other friends in India & abroad shared the same grievances indicating that the problems were widespread.
It seemed to me & Tanuj that there was a clear-cut need of an independent & unbiased real estate advisory that cannot only guide the buyer through the search & discovery process but also handhold them through the start to finish of property purchase in a convenient manner, thereby bridging all the gaps in a property purchase. Thus, Square Yards was born in October 2013 in Hong Kong with a team of just 3 individuals.Today we are a prolific team of over 1200 employees with 29 offices in 9 nations.
What is your life mantra?
The biggest mantra of my life is to “Enjoy what you do”. If you find a job where you enjoy working, you will never have to work a day in your life. I have been fortunate enough to find my passion in life. As a result, my life at the moment is completely focused around Square Yards& as a collective team, we are constantly endeavoring towards making Square Yards a pioneer in setting up industry benchmarks in real estate advisory.
What was the most challenging part of your journey till now?
Like any other start-up, we have faced a good volume of challenges manifested in the form of funding, hiring the right people, nurturing the relationship with the developer fraternity & building the right processes, etc. Not to forget the scorching pace with which we have grown in a short span of time.
How did you overcome those challenges?
In order to overcome the challenges, we have always tried to strike a balance between our business objective & the desired profitability. We have always kept a bird’s eye view of the external environment & when required, we have never hesitated from fine-tuning our business model to serve our growth objectives. This has helped us sustain our high sales velocity along with managing periodic fluctuations.
Also, human resources have been our most valuable asset & has helped us navigate through the string of challenges we have been subjected to. By bringing in the right set of ownership driven individuals, we have effectively managed our challenges & indirectly use them in our own favor.
Share some details about the investments that you have been able to fetch for the business till now.
In contrast to other start-ups where the focus has been on raising capital from the very beginning, we bootstrapped the venture till the time we were very sure of its successes. Our understanding has always been that until unless we are ourselves not very confident of financial viability of the venture, there is no point risking anyone’s capital. Our savings and investments helped, followed by retail HNI money. So far, we have invested roughly USD20mn before going to any institutional capital investor. Presently after successful setting up the company, we are open to idea of equity funding. We are in touch with few reputed equity funds who are keen to invest in our venture.
How do you protect yourself from the problem of Brain Drain?
As discussed, we have always strongly emphasized on bringing talents which do not just possess the right skill set but are also ownership driven. At the top management level, we have a layer of principal partners who are also the stakeholders in the company. Today we have a team of 14 such partner level individuals who act as mini-CEOs with everyone having full command of their own key areas. These people have not kept any stone unturned in giving their soul & heart to the organization & helping the organization grow exponentially. In the sales organization, we follow a Profit & Loss (PnL) structure where each business division is responsible for its profit and loss along with full accountability and a share in the rewards linked to their performance.
According to you, what are the three qualities an individual must have to achieve success?
I think it is ownership, passion & hard work.
Which online tools/ services/ apps do you use the most and would like to recommend as well?
As mentioned above Square Yards has been a pioneer in bringing in groundbreaking technological innovations. Our flagship portal Squareyards.com is considered as one of the most advanced real estate research platforms in India today, offering deep analytics, data-driven insights and decision tools to enable buyers to undertake informed decision in a transparent fashion. As mentioned above mobile app for brokers, Square Connect, helps small brokers access exclusively sourced deals and inventory from grade-A developers, an opportunity to earn higher commission slabs from developers with the power of demand aggregation, and free marketing support.
There are also various other innovative products in anticipation. For instance, we will be soon launching a digital marketplace to facilitate pre-money buyer-developer interactions & negotiations on a multi-sided “fair price discovery” platform. Likewise, we are also planning to launch new products in mortgages and property management space that will help us vertically integrate through the entire value chain.
Share any one habit which you think makes you more productive.
I have always emphasized on the idea of achieving perfection, in whatever I have been doing. I believe greatness is first built somewhere in the mind & then translated into the real world. Between its inception in the mind & real world manifestation, comprises of a grueling approach, which although not easy to traverse, is very fulfilling at the end. It is a great idea to set the bar high in the beginning & put efforts aligned with the end in mind.
Share any one habit which you wish to change in yourself.
Well, every coin has two aspects. The quest for perfection comes with its own challenges. Sometimes it just pushes me into a state of over analyzing & thinking, which is not just counter-productive but also stressful.
Answer in less than 50 words
As a women entrepreneur,I have learnt to strike the right balance between business & family since both are equally important to me & I cannot let one suffer because of other. My work requires extensive travel which being a mother of 2 young boys is extremely difficult at times. I manage this by creating multiple support systems around work & home. As a practice, both me & Tanuj, take turns to travel so one of us can be with kids back home. I work on flexible time schedules wherein I reach home early whenever I can & resume work from home after spending quality time with kids. We take support from our parents as well who ensure that kids are well taken care of in their daily routines & schedules while I am away at work.
- One mistake you believe every individual must avoid:
After the initial success of Square Yards, we decided to expand in Tier 2 cities of India. However, soon we realized that these markets are still very fragmented, unstructured and inefficient due to which it was not viable enough for an organized player to enter these markets & generate profitability. Instead of prolonging our mistakes, we decided to close those offices & focus on metros which was our strength.
- One most important lesson that you have learnt till now:
In order to succeed as an entrepreneur it is essential to realize & understand your key strength & draft your subsequent gameplan across the same. For instance in case of Square Yards we realized our proven strength lay with primary residential sales, wherein it took us less than 24 months to become the Pan India no. 1 player. However we were smart enough to understand the alternate business models that could be devised around the same. As a consequence other successful entties such as Square Capaital, Square Connect & Bling Events etc. came into existence.
What are your plans for next 3 years?
The overall real estate market is worth around USD 100 billion, out of which the primary residential market is estimated at USD 60 billion. The brokerage market could be estimated at around USD 3 billion, out of which roughly 60-70% of the market is concentrated in the top 10 Indian cities. In next 3-4 years, we aim to capture near around one-fifth of the market in the major Indian cities.
If you get a chance to start your career again what would you do differently this time?
In my career trajectory, I have changed my career gears various times, straddling different areas. I started my career in the financial sectors & then made a switch to the entertainment industry. After having worked with two entirely different segments, finally, the twist of events led me to start Square Yards. I assume this is the best thing that could have happened to me. To lead and manage such a wonderful team of people is indeed a very enriching & fulfilling experience.
What are your top three getaway destinations?
As an avid world traveler , I had a chance to travel over 50 countries. Every country & culture has its own unique charm & fascination & it would be unfair to select any specific location. Although, being a certified Scuba diver & adventure sports enthusiast, New Zeland is one of my favorite holiday destinations.
Share a quote that inspires you the most.
I am not telling you it is going to be easy, I am telling you it’s going to be worth it.