User generated content (reviews) is taking over the internet. It has the power to make or break a company.
How many times have you turned down a hotel or restaurant or some online product owing to bad reviews? We all have this habit of selection in our daily interactions with the internet.
These platforms have proved to be great help for users who go online for all sorts of purchases. Now one such company is coming up to help you with your real estate buys.
Last year, Arpit Mittal, a 31-year-old serial entrepreneur, was looking for a house in Gurgaon and searched for user-generated unbiased review platforms which could help him with real information on various localities and apartments. He found none.
He also observed that while there are user-generated reviews available on restaurants, hotels, travel service providers, electronics products and many more, there is no such platform for the real estate sector.
Mittal, whose previous startup was acquired by Cocubs last year, decided to work on a real estate review startup.
In September 2016, he, along with Kanika Katoch and Charul Agarwal, launched Roofpik, a real estate discovery and review platform in Gurgaon.
The reviews include 16 different parameters, including price affordability, available infrastructure, water and electricity supply, security offered by the societies and parking facilities.
How reviews are generated
Roofpik has created community experts in various societies across different areas of the city. These experts engage residents to write unbiased reviews.
The platform has so far 15 community experts who have engaged with more than 4,000 reviewers and created content on 300 projects in Gurgaon city alone.
The startup currently offers reviews on residential areas only but is looking forward to including commercial space and office areas.
A game of long haul
When asked about the revenue model, Mittal said: “Our aim is to monetise through ads and become a lead generated platform for builders and brokers.”
He, however, added he is not looking at the monetization game instantly and needs a time period of at least three years to set the ball rolling.
“Our aim is to generate 1,00,000, 1 million and 10 million reviews in the next one, two and five years, respectively. In the next two years, we will be in all the metros and many tier-I and II cities. And after three years, we will be in a comfortable position to offer an impactful real estate review platform, which could provide true insights on the industry,” said Mittal.
He also said that for longer sustenance, he is investing judiciously in the company. He is bootstrapping the platform with a total corpus of Rs 40 lakh and is still left with enough funds to sustain the business for the next one year.
He, however, is looking forward to funding for technology development and business expansion. The startup is also looking for a tie-up opportunity with big developers and brokers who can list their properties on the platform.
Recently, Roofpik acquired Shoppist in a cash-and-stock deal. Based on NLP technology, Shoppist offers to fetch consumers the most relevant products based on their interest, personal profile and shopping history. The app is equipped with artificial intelligence and a machine learning module to recommend products and keep you updated if there is any deal or discount applicable.
Post this acquisition, Roofpik is supposed to have a significant impact on the real estate space in terms of personalised property recommendation to users, valid reviews and meaningful analytics from over 5,000 current users.
The platform plans to expand even beyond national borders and set up shop in different countries once it has a full-fledged working model in India.
India is one of the fastest growing real estate markets in the world. According to property consultant Cushman & Wakefield, the Indian real estate market is estimated to reach $180 billion by 2020.
There are many online players finding various kinds of business opportunities in this sector. Of all the existing players, Roofpik has come up with a unique idea and is exploring a new vista.
However, the platform is mainly banking on advertisements as a source of revenue generation followed by lead selling models. Industry experts believe revenue generation from on-site advertising will only happen in the longer run, when the platform has enough hits. Besides, the latter form of business model, lead selling, is not a new idea and has been taken up by many.
They say that with the current challenges, they would still like to see how the platform fares in the coming time.