When House Hunting Became A Headache, This Founder Started Her Own Venture
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The most sought after option in today’s fast moving world is to pick things up on rent, be it renting a car, furniture or properties. Buying a property in a new city where you have relocated due to job, education, marriage etc. is not seen as a feasible option. And same woes were faced by Pankhuri Shrivasta which led her to embark on a journey of entrepreneurship.
“Entrepreneurship is not something I had in my mind; I got into this field to solve a genuine problem. So it just happened to me and we now call it entrepreneurship,” said Pankhuri Shrivastava, Co-founder, Grabhouse.
“The idea of starting Grabhouse.com was a result of my own harrowing house hunting experience. In Mumbai, I had to change 5 houses in just 2 years. This gave way to the journey of being a co-founder,” said Shrivastava.
Founded by Pankhuri Shrivastava and Prateek Shukla, Grabhouse is bridging the gap between the owner and the tenant. They are not only a platform where one discovers properties; rather startup provides end to end solution of renting.
Business Mock Up
The process of house hunting has three stages, discovering a property to rent out, shifting and settling in. Most of the players in the market are solving only the discovery part, as they are mostly listing websites which lists the properties. Grabhouse is different as they look into end to end solution of renting and they are beyond discovery. The concept of Grabhouse is simple – that is to make house hunting as less cumbersome a task as possible.
“We are not just a listing website, rather we are one stop solution for renting a property. Our focus has been towards solving the rentals problems and we have been focusing on the same since inception," said Shrivastava.
Grabhouse caters to both owners and tenants. They ensure that the owner’s property is not left vacant and provide the optimum property choice for tenants, based on their preferences.
All about Funding
In 2014, they had participated in a boot camp organized by India Quotient. They were amongst the 10 companies who were selected and the only company to have received initial funding from India Quotient. “This helped us get the Series A funding of $2.5 Million from our initial investors – Sequoia Capital and Kalaari Capital followed by a Series B funding in 2015 where we successfully raised $10 Million funding. We will continue to build technological expertise around our strategy to minimize the manual intervention involved,” said Shrivastava.
On asking her about how they managed to grab these funds, she explained, “Investors have always been attracted by our creative capabilities and our persistent efforts to prove on them. Our approach to get into this market, engage with customers and offer them the right kind of service has been our strength. In that way, we have been very smart about how we look at a problem and think of solutions around it. We do not use traditional solutions for conventional problems and this approach has worked best with our investors.”
Currently close to 150 employees with their service available in 11 cities, Grabhouse has continuously evaluated its business model.
“During the course of our journey, we have worked with different revenue and business models because the markets are different and the target group changes with each market. Initially, we were charging online and then we accepted offline payments as well. Our revenue amounts changed based on our renewed set of services. So it has been a continuous evolution in that sense. We have had to change how we present our proposition to our customers. However, the core idea of Grabhouse that we are a rentals-only platform which will work without any agents has remained constant,” informed Shrivastava.
Learning from the Experts
Mentors are the assets for any startup. They are extremely helpful towards young-stage companies as they provide right feedback, offering critical review when needed and appreciating at the right moment.
“My biggest learning from these experts has been that as an entrepreneur we have to understand our core business. The revenue models and markets can change but we need to stick to the core business idea. As a startup, I think, we have been consistent in being a rentals-only website while trying new approaches and experiments in this segment,” said Shrivastava.
Making it One-off its Kind
What helped them to climb the ladder was their approach, innovation and focus on rentals. “Technology is our biggest differentiator as we like to call ourselves a tech-design company. We are the only online rental specialist providing end-end rental solution catering to various life stages from PG, full-fledged accommodations to managed properties. Our data engine enables real time monitoring and analysis of the market,” said Shrivastava.
Adding further she said, “We do have competitors in the market, but what makes us stand out is our personalized touch. Our recommendation engine which has been built in-house helps the owners and seekers find the best suited tenants and accommodation respectively.”
Addressing Obstacles in Her Own Style
This young founder has her personal style of addressing the challenges. She believes that being involved with the team is the easiest way to resolve any problem. “Our biggest challenge has been to get more people to know about Grabhouse and its services. For any challenge, I like to get into the core of the task and do everything hands-on. I don’t believe that delegation alone can resolve an issue but being involved with the team can help one overcome the toughest of challenges,” said the young co-founder.
Elaborating further, Shrivastava said “Building a startup has helped me understand the need to expand the purview of any issue and consider the viewpoints of all stakeholders involved.”
Future Scale-Up Plans
When we talk about the company’s roadmap it focuses on developing technology which will make the entire renting process seamless. “As future plans we are looking forward to develop further technologies which will even more simplify renting. We also have a few products in the pipeline which will soon be launched along with our app, which will make booking a property easier for the tenants,” informed Shrivastava. Currently, Grabhouse sees a monthly revenue of Rs. 80 lakhs.