Over 500 properties are sold through our site every month, half of traffic through mobile: Co-founders of PropTiger

Over 500 properties are sold through our site every month, half of traffic through mobile: Co-founders of PropTiger

PropTiger.com, owned and operated by Delhi-based PropTiger Realty Pvt Ltd, is one of the new crop of real estate search and booking portals in India, a fast growing category. Founded by Harvard Business School alumni Dhruv Agarwala and Kartik Varma along with ISB Hyderabad alumnus Prashan Agarwal, it has to date secured more than $7 million in two rounds of funding from investors, including SAIF Partners, Accel Partners, SoftBank and Horizen Ventures. The firm claims it has crossed the milestone of intermediating property sales worth Rs 6,000 crore (around $1 billion) since its inception in February 2011. Techcircle.in met with its co-founders Dhruv Agarwala and Prashan Agarwal to know more about the company, its business, growth plans and the online real estate market in India.

Here are the edited excerpts:

There are many real estate listing portals, including 99acres, CommonFloor, Housing and Indiaproperty. How are you different?

Dhruv: All the companies that you have mentioned are just listing sites, which work closely with brokers or middlemen. When a customer visits any of these portals looking for a property, he/she comes across various listings from the brokers, and in order to complete a transaction he/she needs to go to that particular broker. On the other hand, we are a full service transaction advisory firm which handholds a customer throughout the entire process. No middleman is involved.

Our staffers are well trained across various aspects of buying residential property. They assist customers right from narrowing down the various options to selecting the ideal property for them and completing the final paperwork related to the transaction.

If you look at companies like Uber or AirBnB, their quality of service is what differentiates them from others which help them stay ahead of competition.

Some of your rivals have been pretty swift in terms of introducing innovative features...

Prashan: We are a company that is giving importance to quality rather than quantity, and we don't believe in launching features after features, which the consumers do not even understand.  And if you look at the number of deals that we have done so far, you will realise that PropTiger is far ahead of its competitors in terms of growth.

We recently launched price and possession-date heat maps that enable users to filter out properties based on price variations as well as their readiness. Our heat maps are different from the ones launched by other real estate portals like Housing.com and are more user-friendly.

Our map interface comes loaded with lot of features like the neighbourhood explorer, price heat maps, possession date heat maps as well as quality pictures. The most important aspect when users are looking at this kind of data is the accuracy of data points. We have a dedicated research division which helps collect and bring the best data to the customers.

How many transactions have you closed to date? On an average, how many deals do you close a month?

Dhruv: Unlike other listing portals, we are doing project-based coverage. Currently, we have around 30,000 developments listed on our site, as opposed to individual listings by other sites. We have partnered with more than 300 developers that include all the leading names like DLF, Prestige and Sobha Developers.

To date, we have sold properties worth Rs 6,000 crore ($1 billion) to over 10,000 consumers. On an average, over 500 units are sold per month through the platform. We have sold 10,000-11,000 units to date.

We have pretty much more than doubled our sales numbers year over year, and we hope to keep this momentum over the next 12 months, too.

What new features are you planning to launch on PropTiger.com?

Dhruv: We recently added a property portfolio tracking feature, which enables a customer to track his/her entire property portfolio after booking a new project. The customer also gets construction updates, along with best pictures, floor, site and unit plans, and as well as the video of properties.

We will now look to leverage the smartphone penetration in India to grow our sales in the coming months. Around 50 per cent of our traffic comes from mobile, whereas our competitors get just 20-30 per cent from mobile. Therefore, this is one area where we are seeing huge growth going forward, too. Our Android app has seen 70,000-80,000 downloads to date.

What is your revenue model? Are you looking to launch new revenue channels such as ads in future?

Prashan: We earn revenues from each transaction that is being carried through the portal. We don't charge anything from the customer. It is the developer which pays us for the transaction. We are also getting a commission from banks and lenders who provide loans to our customers. In the near future, we will look to earn revenues by selling the real estate data that we collect.

You raised $5 million in second round of funding from SAIF Partners and Accel Partners in 2012. Where did you use the money? Are you looking to raise more money?

Prashan: In 2011, we had raised around $2 million from SoftBank China & India Holdings, Horizen Ventures and a few angel investors. After almost a year, we raised $5 million in a second round from SAIF and Accel Partners. We used the money for building the technology platform and growth.

We are not immediately looking for funding. However, we will start looking for a fresh round later this year. We hope that our existing investors SAIF Partners and Accel Partners would be keen to participate in this round.

You are present in seven-eight major cities, including Bangalore, Mumbai and Chennai? Will you look at tier II and tier III cities to expand the business?

Prashan: Most of the activities in the real estate sector are happening in major cities. So our immediate goal is to further deepen our reach and penetration in these regions. However, in two years, we will definitely go beyond these cities.

How is the online property listing industry in India performing?

Dhruv: This year the growth has been slow, because transactions have been slow across the country. When there is a slowdown and the confidence is low, customers postpone their decisions to buy properties. However, unlike other industries like hotels, although the demand slows down in a season, it comes back with a vengeance later which will help us make up for a few months of slowdown. There is still a shortage of 20 million homes across the country.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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