Live In a Gated Community? This Start-Up Is Making It Safer
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With rising urbanization, gated communities are increasingly becoming a norm. These communities—while ensuring a plethora of additional perks for little extra cost—promise security for residents. But as communities grow, it is important to ask: Are security measures keeping up?
When Vijay Arisetty moved out of the Indian Air Force nearly ten years ago following a shoulder dislocation, he thought moving to such a community would give his family the same kind of security that they are used to.
“But, you know, aspirations are always much higher than the ground reality,” he says.
That was the idea behind MyGate, a Bengaluru-based start-up whose sole aim is to make gated communities safer.
Ideation to Forming a Team
Analyzing the market, Arisetty found that residential real estate was growing rapidly, with most of it coming via the private sector. And of those, very few were individual houses. The trend, already prevalent in tier I cities, has slowly moved to tier II and tier III as well.
The reason, says Arisetty, is people are aspiring for additional luxuries such as a swimming pool, something that they may not be able to afford individually.
And with technology bringing everything from food to medicines to the doorstep through a click, it has subsequently resulted in an increased number of visitors to communities.
As a result, residents also end up interacting with the security personnel multiple times a day.
“The processes at the gate have become much more cumbersome and the security guards with their existing skills were not able to perform this job,” Arisetty explains.
After zeroing in on these gaps, he went to Shreyans Daga, a friend from a business school with a background in technology, and Abhishek Kumar, who was a colleague of Arisetty during his stint at Goldman Sachs. Both of them agreed to come on-board almost instantly, he says.
How It Works
Very little has changed in the product since they first launched in 2016, according to Arisetty.
MyGate gives a mobile device to security personnel at the gate, where they only have to input numbers. The simplicity makes sure that even those who are not tech-savvy would be able to use the system conveniently.
There are different modules on the platform, with a separate one each for those who visit the apartments for daily chores, delivery executives and relatives.
For example, if a maid works at a few houses at a gated community, they would need to get their profiles uploaded into the system and would have a six-digit code. Every time they enter, they would have to give the code to the guard at the gate, who would then enter it into his device.
The residents who have employed the maid would then get a notification on their mobile app.
The convenience doesn't stop there. In a scenario where a maid is absent, residents have the choice of seeing the other maids who work at the same society, contact them and avail their services for the given day.
Over time, MyGate has integrated delivery apps such as Swiggy and Zomato into the system, making those transactions more seamless. After an order is placed and a delivery executive is assigned, the resident gets a notification from the MyGate app. Once they approve, the executive is let in.
The company has also added features such as paying monthly dues to the apartment association or those who do daily chores directly through the app.
Early Days and Exponential Growth
“For us, the initial days were really difficult,” says Arisetty.
Considering how the gate is such a complex place where multiple things happen, people were unwilling to believe that such a simple solution could work.
To set the ball rolling, they installed the product for free at three gated communities with roughly 3,000 houses across Bengaluru.
“What happened is, when it was being used by these 3,000 houses, there were 6,000 guests coming to these houses on a daily basis. They used to see this and they used to go back to their communities and say that why don't you install MyGate,” Arisetty says.
The growth has been exponential since. From 40 communities in 2017, MyGate is now used in more than 5,000 communities in 11 cities. Arisetty says they expect the number to reach 30,000 by the end of next year.
So, has there been a point when they realized that they made it?
He says it was about two years ago, when underground internet cables got cut in Chennai due to a cyclone and MyGate went down for two hours. “Around 40 per cent of our user base reached out to us that MyGate is not working and that was like, you know, yes, people are not able to live without MyGate.”
The company raised an $8.7 million series A round in October last year from Bengaluru-based venture capital firm Prime Venture Partners and followed that up with a $56 million series B round two months ago, which saw participation from Tiger Global and China’s Tencent Holdings.
MyGate has always been profitable on a unit economics basis, and that’s something which has also contributed to investors believing in their business, says Arisetty.
According to Arisetty, 70-80 per cent of their growth over the next year will come from the 11 cities that they are already present in, with the rest from some tier II locations that they are looking to enter.
“We want to go a little bit deeper into each of the cities and then probably move out,” he says.
The company is also focused on making the technology better, bringing down the time it takes for a visitor to check in. Currently, it takes a visitor at the gate 20 seconds on average and the company aims to get that down to two seconds.
“It's like you ring a calling bell, the bell should ring. It has to be that real time.”