Startuptimes interviewed Gaurav Goyal Homescart.com Founder to find out more. Homescart is a real estate website focused on new home buying in India that showcase best available new launches, pre-launches, under construction properties across Mumbai & Ahmadabad. Our USP is we share our brokerage with customers in form of cashback.
How did the Idea of Homescart happen?
I [Gaurav Goyal] grew up in Delhi and I saw the city grow year after year and Real Estate was a huge part of that growth. I always knew I could become part of it, as there was so much potential in the market. So the general idea was always there from the start.
I personally had some terrible experiences while buying property. I observed lots of gaps in the process, like project documentation at Pre launched Stage (Title, IOD, CC etc). The so called ‘Kick back system’ which exists under the wraps. All this motivated me to start an online portal with legitimate system of Cash Back on purchase of property.
The portal will provide a platform where there are thousands of properties to compare and select and at the same time the buyer can find all the essential details, all the paperwork, documents regarding the property. So basically the idea was to become a trustworthy ‘middleman’, which the industry has been lacking.
What big problem is Homescart solving?
1. Lack of transparency in the market is the biggest issue. We all know somebody who has been cheated while buying property. I myself have been a victim of it. So our first aim is to bring transparency and authenticity to the business.
2. Provide Best Information
Home buying is one of the most lucrative investment options for various classes of people in India & NRI’s as well. Buying a home at the pre-launch state always costs less than buying homes from the projects that are under construction or ready to move, but it involves various kinds of risks as well. At pre-launch stage banks do not come into picture & that’s why investment is not 100 % secure. At Homescart we are trying to give best available information about documentation, Government clearances about the project at all the stages, so that a buyer can take more informed decision before investing into any property at each and every stage.
3. Increase savings while buying properties.
And last but not least, the introduction of a unique concept of Cash Back to the Indian Real Estate Market. As they say, “every single penny saved is a penny earned”. We at Homescart are simply trying to increase savings while buying properties. Homescart offers various deals on properties through cash back, where buyer can get cash back upto 2% of the Home value.
Tell about the founders of Homescart?
Two of the co-founders of Homescart are from banking sector. Both of them have experience of more than 20 years in Real Estate as well as Home Loans. So we have a lot of Experience on Board. I myself am an alumnus from IIT Delhi and have worked in couple of MNC’s. So I am familiar with technological advances and market best practices. In nutshell Homescart is a perfect blend of Market Experience & Technology.
Why do home buyers care about your product or service?
Homescart is creating a benchmark in the Industry by introducing “Cash Back” feature to the Indian Real estate has been the major point of interest. We are just in starting phase but overall response to the idea is gathering momentum day by day. To be honest, people are tired of all the hocus-pocus in the industry. They want change and Homescart is providing that change.
What are the major product milestones?
One major milestone for us is the introduction of the cash back itself. When we first started working there was no cash back in mind. But over the time we found out that the customer always search best options to increase their savings while purchasing their property. So we decided to capture that market, creating opportunities of saving on property purchase. And the fact that we have been able to gather so many (100+) authentic listings (Builder Owned Projects) over just one month is a milestone in itself.
What are the key differentiated features of your product or service when compared to Housing.com or CommonFloor?
The main difference between Homescart and other major players in the industry is that , at Homescart we only market Builder owned projects , whereas the other online portals have targeted multiple segments like Rental , PG’s and Resale. By doing that we have managed to minimize the chaos, which is witnessed by each and every one of us while trying to find properties online.
What have you learned from early versions of the product or service?
We still are in a starting phase, so we are changing and improving day by day. Right now it’s about finding the right balance. Transparency is non-negotiable for us and we are trying to build our product around it. In case of User Interface, Property Listings and various other features we are still improving and will continue to do so.
When we started the idea was to provide an interface for buying homes online & eradicating the existing gaps in the information & over the time the model & concept evolved to Cash back concept also. We learned that success is a journey & it has been fun since we began.
Compared to your competition, how do you compete with respect to price, features, and performance?
We have introduced Cash Back to the Indian Online Real Estate Market. That is our main feature. 2% as cash back is not a small amount when it comes to property. If a buyer is purchasing a home of worth 1 crore through Homescart, he can get a cash back of upto 2 lacs, which is a huge amount. Focus on savings is a key aspect which drives many of our day to day decisions & when it comes to buying a home, it is a life time decision for many of us.
In terms of performance, we are yet to create a big buzz about our portal & features which we are providing. Best part is without even spending a single penny on marketing we have witnessed more than 1600+ unique users from more than 15 countries in just 15 days of our portal launched.
What are the barriers to entry in Housing business?
Biggest barrier is system itself. We are trying to bring transparency to the market which traditionally has been filled with so called ‘manipulators”. So we have to make sure we stick true to our aim, which is reducing existing gaps in information, so that home buyers can take more informed decisions. Another barrier was our reach to the builders and customers. But with outstanding efforts made by our team over last two months we have connected to most of the builders (50+) throughout Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
Who are your competitors and how well are they doing by comparison?
The online real estate market in India is growing rapidly, but still there is a long way to go. Study by ICRA shows that the real estate market is expected to touch 180 billion dollars by 2020 and major sector of it will be online market. And considering the state of the market, it would not be wise to target someone as a competitor. There are different ideas coming up. We at Homescart have our own view about the market & value proposition to our customers. As things grow we want to find ways to develop and capture more opportunities. So the idea is to improve ourself & find our potential rather than comparing with co-existing players.
What do you think is most important in building a company – culture or product?
Both the culture and product are important in building a company. We have to put our efforts on both. The product is the face of the company whereas the culture is its soul and it is truer in case of online business. We at Homescart are dedicated to provide user experience of highest quality. At the same time we are developing an organization which believes in something. We are working towards a free, secure, transparent and productive future.
What’s the business/revenue model for Homescart?
Unlike other major players in the Industry, we operate as online brokerage firm . So our main source of income is through the commission that we collect on deal to deal basis. That is the major part of the cash back feature as we return large sum of that commission back to the buyer.
Very soon we would be adding few more products which will be adding revenue to our portal.
How did you manage seed funds for your startup?
Right now we are concentrating on building a perfect product. We have bootstrapped the company with our previous savings, going forward we would be looking for raising funds, but right now the entire focus is on building one unique product.
How do you manage the technology part of Homescart? What software / infrastructure is used?
Each and every section of our website has been part of our in-house development. We have put together a group of the highly qualified developers and designers. The ultimate aim is to provide a unique and effective user experience and to achieve that no stone has been left unturned.
Who are the target audience for Homescart?
Anyone who is planning to buy a new home, or rather I should say, anyone who is interested in saving more while buying his/her property. As of now we are operating in Mumbai and Ahmadabad only. But we are planning to expand to more cities in near future.
Have you pitched to a VC so far, if so what lessons have you learnt?
We haven’t pitched to VC yet, but we are planning to do so in near future.
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