Farooq Ahmed, a real estate broker in Gurgaon, takes two to three clients around Millennium City every day showing them different properties. That is on a good day. There are days when his clients are too busy or he doesn't have the keys to a property. On other days, given the distances between any two properties, he isn't able to show more than one to a client.
A search for the right property can be an arduous task for both the broker and the buyer. But, what if the property comes to your doorstep, instead of you having to run around the city to check out every possible deal?
Gurgaon-based startup 3DPhy aims to make property hunting as simple as the click of a button. With its virtual walk-throughs, the company is enabling brokers to showcase multiple properties to their clients over a phone, laptop, tablet or a head mounted device (HMD).
"If you want to buy a 2BHK house in Gurgaon, the 3DPhy enabled broker will visit your house and will show multiple properties via a link through his phone or tablet," says Uttam Kumar, co-founder, Novaviz Technology Pvt Ltd, which runs 3DPhy. The startup was founded by Kumar along with Amit Shekhar, Rajiv Kumar and Raghavendra Polinki in 2014. â€‹ How it works
When a buyer calls up a 3DPhy enabled broker, the broker takes a HMD and a smartphone to the buyer's home. The broker then connects the HMD, an optical device, via Bluetooth to his phone. Once the buyer wears the device, he can take a virtual tour of the property.
"All our data is cloud deployable and can be accessed through any device," says Kumar.
For properties under construction, the startup also gives monthly status updates of the project which can then be shared with buyers.
It is currently aggregating builders and brokers and providing the web link of properties on the 3DPhy platform.
The journey so far
It all started at IIT Kharagpur back in 2012 where Polinki was working on 3D recreation technology. However, after working on the technology, the biggest challenge was where to implement it.
"We refined the product and extrapolated on the ways to develop a business model around it and finally launched 3DPhy in 2014," says Polinki.
3DPhy started off as a 3D cataloging firm for e-commerce companies with clients such as UrbanLadder, Happily Unmarried and FabFurnish, but today real estate is where most of its clients are coming from.
"We started with e-cataloging to empower customers to see 3D objects on the web. They could easily analyse the size and material of the product. We then realised that the technology could be used in the real-estate space as well as it could make the property virtually portable and launched a product called 3DPhy Openspace," Kumar adds.
The founders claim to have signed deals worth Rs 36 lakh with builders. Within two months of its entry in the real-estate space, 3DPhy claims to have roped in about 20 builders with more than 60 properties in the Delhi-NCR region and 3000-plus brokers. "Leading players such as Supertech, Amrapali and Piedmont are collaborating with us and we are slowly expanding our base of builders and brokers," says Shekhar, co-founder, 3DPhy. "Meanwhile, we have an app for the brokers or the sales team of the builders which is in beta phase. Through that they can showcase the properties to their clients. Soon we will have apps for brokers, builders and buyers," he said.
The startup has been able to catch investor interest and in February this year raised Rs 1.23 crore in angel investment from Delhi-based Eco Polyfibres Pvt Ltd.
As of now, 3DPhy charges real estate developers a fee for creating a virtual reality tour of their properties. "As far as earning revenue is concerned, we are working on various models. At the moment, we are only charging the builders for developing the virtual reality tour. We also charge them on a monthly basis if they want to show the progress of a under-construction project," says Shekhar.
Real estate companies agree that the 3DPhy technology has helped them showcase their properties to a larger base of customers. Says Manish Jhingran, general manager - sales and marketing, Piedmont Group, "We are able to showcase the property to overseas customers by just giving them a link. Also, when we are advertising our project on newspapers we are putting a QR code of the virtual link of the property. Buyers who do not have the time to visit the properties can scan the code and can get the real experience of the property sitting in their homes."
3DPhy aims to cover all upcoming projects in Delhi-NCR and also tap the hospitality industry. It is also working on a platform where customers will be able to decorate or furnish their houses using the 3DPhy Openspace technology and simultaneously purchase products from the platform.
"We have UrbanLadder's inventory on the 3DPhy platform. Soon users will be able to select pieces from that inventory and place it on their virtual homes to see how it looks. This can help them purchase directly," says Rajiv Kumar, co-founder, 3DPhy.
Angel investor Ajeet Khurana says 3DPhy is solving a real problem, but he has reservations about the business model. "They are providing a smart solution but the problem lies in the business model which is not clear. What if the model becomes generic? In that case, one has to see how they will play it out," says Khurana.
As of now, there are augmented reality ventures such as Blink Solutions, AdStuck, Xenium and Absentia who have similar virtual reality platforms. However, most of them have a wider focus and are not restricted to online realty and e-shopping alone. Absentia recently secured $200,000 in early stage funding from Astarc Ventures.
Several online real estate portals offer 3D virtual tours of properties. Housing.com has Slice View which offers interactive exploration of the project, along with integrated booking options. CommonFloor has Retina, a virtual reality initiative which lets users view listed real estate in 3D. PropTiger had acquired Out of Box Interaction, a user interface design firm. News Corp, which owns 30 per cent stake in PropTiger, is the parent company of this website.