It is a human tendency to search or rather run for a solution when one is hit by a problem but it is very uncommon to find someone who is going through a problem and finds a solution which is common and helpful to all.
Such was the situation of a trio Sumit Jain, Lalit Mangal and Vikas Malpani who came across a problematic situation in the building they moved to and found such a unique solution which turned out to be beneficial to the whole country.
They invented “COMMONFLOOR”
It all began when they first moved to Bangalore in 2007! Times were different then, unlike today it was very difficult to find an apartment and solve any issues related to it.
After many difficulties they found an apartment but to their hard luck, they found one with a lot of issues! Now destiny we guess was playing a prank on them or should we say was leading them onto something much larger because the society also turned out to be unfriendly and unhelpful.
As they couldn’t get any help from the society they were living in, they thought of taking the matter in their own hands and eventually with a savings of INR 1 lakh each, an intention to address and possibly solve the queries of the users related to searching for an apartment, assisting interactions within residential communities, and linking people to appropriate and relevant service providers, etc., they built CommmonFloor.com.
But things didn’t work out as smoothly as expected. They had to plan and change plans a lot before they reached the desired success. They started off by dedicating INR 10,000 each month for the site for the next one year but that didn’t go as expected and people were more used to the other property portals which offered a standard directory service, this gave them an area of opportunity to do something more different and interactive, so they increased the budget to INR 30,000 covering the company and their personal expenses.
But to manage that increase in the budget they also had to make a lot of changes to the current model. They changed the site from JAVA to PHP, they changed their marketing strategy to a much cheaper one wherein they printed notices and put them up at CCD billboards, they even developed Facebook applications for companies and gave speeches at conferences to earn an extra buck.
Within a span of 6-months, they managed to rope-in a client base of 700 societies through just word of mouth. Now the best thing that happened to them was during mid-2008 when they got a chance to get associated with The Morpheus, a start-up accelerator for a mere 4-month program. With the help of the program they were able to polish up the business model majorly by changing it from a closed group to an open forum or in other words, they made it public.
Soon after that, they took a major leap by accepting venture funds from Accel Partners in 2009. They used these funds to rent a small office in the heart of Bangalore and started shaping the exterior of the company and within a year their team of 3 grew to 30.
What helped them the most is that they had created communities between individuals and societies which helped each other in various ways.
This helped them gain a huge user-base in a short time and at the same time it also helped gain a good amount of revenue. Their statistics now spoke for them, they now had 50,000 communities listed with it, constituted more than 25 lakh homes and had recently opened offices in Bangalore, Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune and most importantly, in the FY12, they reported revenues worth INR 2-Crores.
To sustain and maintain the growth, Commonfloor raised another round of funding and this time from Tiger Global Management, a New York-based investment firm along with their existing investor Accel Partners for an undisclosed amount.
And clearly, they used the funding for the improvement of the portal. They were now helping consumers by providing information about new upcoming projects from various builders and also started listing brokers and builders profile for a more detailed outlook. Soon they also launched a new map based search feature for property buying and renting, integrated with Google Maps.
But the main booster for them came when they got reviewed by MIT Technology Review India, as one of the top 20 innovators in the country, in 2012.
To sustain the competition they also launched real estate app with a unique reality feature that helped a user find relevant properties in the direction in which the phone is pointed within a range of 2.5 km in that direction.
With such massive changes the revenues were bound to increase. In the FY13 commonfloor booked a five-fold increase in their revenues making it INR 10-Crores and now it had 60,000 housing societies on its apartment management platform listed under it and constituted more than 50 Lakh homes with an approximate staffing of 400 members.
On July 4, 2013, CommonFloor announced that they had raised another round of funding from their existing investors worth USD 7.5 Million with an anticipation of reaching USD 25 Million in revenues in a couple of years.
According to ComScore, the portal was now at a growth rate of106.3% YoY, making it the third largest real estate portal in the country whichboosted its confidence even more.
In 2014, CommonFloor launched their first ever “Apartment Management Software” with which the owners / residents could connect with others and form interest groups or discuss issues, etc. It also sent them direct notices from RWA (Residents’ Welfare Association) directly on their phones and e-mails or details of vendors like electricians, plumbers etc. As a matter of fact, one could also pay bills using the integrated payment gateway service that commonfloor offered. It was like a complete package deal for any common man making the site even for lucrative!
Recently, they also managed to raise another round of funding worth USD 10.4 Million from its existing investors followed by a shocking announcement that they had acquired Flat.to, a real estate portal that helped students and bachelors find flats, paying guest accommodation and hostels across Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Kota, Jaipur and Delhi, for an undisclosed amount.
Now after completing long journey of 7 years, the portal covers nearly 400,000 active listings, 100,000 communities in 120 towns and cities which include Jaipur, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Nagpur, Indore, Ahmedabad, Kochi, Coimbatore, Mysore, Kolkata, Mangalore, besides Bangalore, Mumbai, Noida, Gurgaon, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, etc.
They are currently at a growth rate of 100% QoQ, with an anticipation to reach INR 150-Crores by FY16 and have a Global & Indian Alexa ranking of 2,278 & 154 respectively. They also have plans to increase their boundaries to foreign countries such as the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and South Africa.
With such a huge and stable successes listed under their brand there is no doubt about CommonFloor being called “INDIA’s REAL ESTATE GIANT”