Pankaj garg, co founder of plabro in an exclusive interview with Realty Fact
Q. What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?
I used to read a lot about the startups making luxury affordable for end users. Over time I realised they actually are making the life of a service provider more deterministic which has helped them scale up. Ola & Uber have changed the perception of the driver profession. Same is true with so many other startups, Square, AirBnb, Flipkart, Zomato, etc. This realisation was one of the important motivation for me to start something to make a change. This is one reason my inclination was always to do something for the businesses.
Q. What is the core aim of your business model and what kind of problems are you trying to solve?
At Plabro, we believe in the importance of the roles played by real estate agents. We are trying to create tools to help them be more efficient and make the real estate transactions convenient for everyone involved. I have seen people getting completely frustrated by the time they buy their house. They have a tendency to make bad decisions because of the lack of information access. The transactions are high valued and no one trusts other in the process because of lack of transparency. We want the information access deterministic and convenient for every one so one of the most important decision one takes in his/her life is not result of some unnecessary frustration.
Q. How has been the experience so far of doing business in an unorganised sector like real estate?
Unorganised sector results in lot of opportunities. This was one of the motivation to start something in real estate. Before starting I used to feel the fee they charge are on a very high side and for doing nothing. However, now I have got a chance to look from the agents point of view and its surprising how they manage by charging just 1%. In developed countries this fee is much higher, e.g. in US it is about 5-6% of the transaction value. Most of the new experiences are because of starting a startup rather that being in an unorganised sector.
The media attention given to the startups has definitely changed the way people meet our team which has proven very valuable for us. The top guys in big corporates, developers meet us and are open to listen to ideas, brainstorm, collaborate and help us. These discussions are most valuable in terms of defining the road map. We are already working on some of the ideas which has been made possible because of the keenness of the key people in the industry.
Q. What has been your biggest learning in the due course of establishing your business?
One important learning has been to rely significantly on data. Identifying the pain points of the users in early stage helps a lot in building the product around that.
Q. What are the challenges you faced so far?
One of the biggest challenge is to change the habit of users. I believe thats true for all the verticals. People have been in this trade for quite long time and there are lot of processes they are used to to get the work done. Incremental improvements or enhancements is not good enough to change their behaviour. The solution we provide has to be 10x better than the existing solutions.
This is the best part of being an entrepreneur. There have been many and each one has been a great lesson. In our early stage we had a single focus of engagement and retention of our users. This was not wrong, and because of this focus we dont have to spend on marketing to artificially bring users back on our app. However mistake was to completely de-prioritised on the revenue stream. To overcome this, as an experiment, we tried to get into the shoes of our users, real estate agents, and started doing transactions ourselves to understand the pain points in the whole transaction process. This was a great learning experience and now we are in the process of productising the learnings which will open up few revenue streams for us. Few days back I read a quote in a mentors office which I find very apt.. Either you succeed or you learn.
Q. Who is your role model and why?
My role model is the founder of Veveo, my previous organisation where I started my career. He used to give huge importance to the role of technology in creating scalable solutions. Lot of startups take route to leverage operations and see success in early stages. I believe that invariably puts constraints on their long term growth.
In next few years we want to be the default app for the agents for their business. Their focus should be on the services they provide to their clients.
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