Roommate App Flatchat Gets $2.5M Funding From CommonFloor

FlatChatFund_P1Looking for a roommate can be a soul-crushing experience, especially if you are new to a city or on a tight budget. Flatchat wants to make the process a little less tedious for renters in India. The mobile-based platform recently picked up $2.5 million in seed funding from CommonFloor, one of India’s leading real-estate listing sites.

Flatchat, which currently has about 40 employees, will use the funds to hire more people for its product and engineering teams, as well as expand into cities where there are high concentrations of students, young professionals, and other people who need roommates.

The platform is available on mobile only and claims to have racked up 50,000 users since launching six months ago. About 350,000 messages were exchanged through its Android and iOS apps in May.

Gaurav Munjal, who founded Flatchat along with Hemesh Singh, says the startup wants to save renters from combing through dozens of listings on multiple sites and paying broker fees. Users sign up for the app with their Facebook account, create a simple profile, and then filter potential roommates by area and price range. All communications are done through Flatchat’s built-in messaging feature.

“You don’t need to call anyone, you interact with them through messages. Nobody was targeting this market before,” says Munjal. “We have become the fastest way to find a place or roommate.”

Most of Flatchat’s users are currently university students or single men, but the company plans to start marketing to female users.

For CommonFloor, which is backed by Google Ventures, Flatchat represents a tactical investment because it covers a demographic that the site doesn’t serve, since it focuses on people who want to purchase property. CommonFloor claims to be India’s largest real-estate listings portal, though competitors include SoftBank-backed Housing.com and 99acres.com.

By working with Flatchat, CommonFloor has a stake in a new market and can also potentially retain renters as users once they are ready to buy their own homes. In turn, Flatchat gets access to CommonFloor’s data, which helps them pinpoint what cities to target next.

This article is also featured in Techcrunch

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“Competition does not bother us” says Sumit Jain in a candid chat with ET Panache

When asked how he reads competition that has had its share of headlines in recent times, he says, “I have very less clue about the competition.” He explains, “It’s a distraction for us. We are only putting our head down and focusing on our work. You get to read about things for entertainment purpose, that’s a different thing.

But on whether this competition has made valuable inroads in the same space, Jain had this to say. “They are the hot chick in town and we are the girl you finally marry. You find the properties on Commonfloor. The product is not about what is good looking. It is about what delivers.” Jain adds that there is currently a lot of hype about the housing space, but the real problems are yet to be solved. In industry terms, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Read the complete article here

Sumit Jain says Commonfloor.com plans to launch IPO in 3-5 years

1200X628_CFIPO_P1Riding high on the growth in the online real estate segment, property portal Commonfloor.Com is planning to launch an initial public offer (IPO) in three-five years to raise funds for expanding business.The company also expects to turn profitable in two years.

“The online real estate segment is growing rapidly, mainly due to the penetration of internet and increase in usage of smartphones.To further expand our business, we might go public in the next 3-5 years,” company’s Co-founder and CEO Sumit Jain told PTI here.He did not, however, disclose how much the company expects to raise.

“We have been raising funds through various investors and utilising it for creating new products, investing in technology and data gathering. We will be further investing in these three areas to make the platform more robust,” he said, adding the venture will turn profitable in next two years.

The company recently launched two services including CF Retina, which gives virtual experience of the property, and live-in tours in which customers can take a complete virtual tour of the property.
“We plan to roll out live in tours in 17 more cities in the next one month. We currently have 15,000 properties listed through live-in tours and plans to list five lakh rental and resale units under the virtual tour feature in the next six months,” Jain said.

The company has about 10 million homes across 200 cities listed on its portal.The Bengaluru-based firm has so far raised over $60 million from Accel Partners, Tiger Global and Google Capital. “We are looking to turn profitable in the next two years. About 220,000 properties are listed on the site every month. We are well capitalised and have over half of the money raised till now in the bank. We believe in spending on innovation development which enhances customer experience,” he said.

Last year, the company had acquired Flat.To, a real estate service that helps students and bachelors find flats, paying guest accommodation and hostels across Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Kota, Jaipur and Delhi.With the acquisition Commonfloor.Com could cater to a new segment — students and bachelors, Jain said.

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In Search of Smart Cities

Smart Cities has been the latest buzzword in the urban landscape, which is expected to be a catalyst in transforming the way we live. They are essentially an integration of information technology, telecommunications, urban planning, smart infrastructure and operations in an environment geared to maximize the quality of life for a city’s population.

What will make a city ‘Smart’?

While there is no template for a smart city, it’s basically one that is more livable for its citizens. Moreover, it should be sustainable and efficient at all levels like energy use, public transport, communication and health and education facilities.

The following features will be the key pillars for any smart city:
1. Information and Communication Technology: According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report on ‘How smart are our cities?’ these will utilize information and communications technology to scale up an area’s workability, sustainability and livability. This will entail the use of data and digital infrastructure to manage energy and water usage to the creation of intelligent transport networks. Locally procured and indigenous technology and communications solutions will be the key tools for the transformation of any city.

2. Indigenous Water and Waste-Management Solutions: Low cost and decentralized initiatives to meet challenges such as water and waste management with the help of local communities will be only second to technology in defining a smart city. Smart meters, renewable energy, energy conservation, water harvesting, effluent recycling, scientific solid waste disposal methods etc. will be the hallmark of a smart city.

3. Infrastructure and transportation: The concept of smart city is all about embedding a new city with solid public transportation system. A smart city must have its own airport, railway stations, local metro, an efficient road network and other intelligent transport solutions.

4. Successful Public-Private Partnerships: The synergy of public and private spheres in the form of these partnerships will play a key role in the formation of smart cities. They will be instrumental in not only gathering necessary finances but also for the efficient delivery of utilities and services.

5. Redevelopment: This is an important aspect in the development of Brownfield cities. Reconstruction of those city pockets where other interventions are unlikely to bring improvements will be crucial to the making of a smart city.

6. Social Infrastructure: Smart cities cannot be devoid of the appropriate levels of social infrastructure – like schools, hospitals, public spaces, sporting and recreational grounds and retail and entertainment venues.

Smart_Cities_Timeline

Brownfield vs Greenfield Cities
In an ideal scenario, it is easier to build new cities rather than transform old ones into smart cities. However in the Indian context, upgrading cities is also as imperative and it may take several years to accomplish it. The 100 smart cities to be developed in India are likely to be a combination of Brownfield and Greenfield cities, each presenting its own unique opportunities and challenges.

Brownfield Cities: These will include existing heritage cities such as Allahabad, Ajmer as well as Vishakapatnam and Cyberabad.

Greenfield Cities: These cities will be created from scratch and will include Palava near Mumbai, NAINA in Navi Mumbai, Gujarat International Finance Tech (GIFT) City among others.

Challenges & Threats
The government’s ambition of modernising the existing cities and also develop greenfield smart cities will require precise planning, effective disbursement of budgetary funds and a large investment in infrastructure. The following are the major challenges faced by the government and local authorities in the development of smart cities:
City Planning Regulations: Rigid master plans and restrictive zoning regulations limit the availability of land.
Lack of Unified Governance: Fragmented accountability with separate rules and regulations for centre, state and district administration creates disparity in approach.
Improper Funding: Lack of proper funding and investment from the public and private sector is one of the biggest impediments in the way of developing smart cities.

Read all about Smart Cities here > http://commonfloor.com/pages/smart-cities-in-india

Learn How To Build A Home In Less Than 1 Minute!

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CommonFloor believes in making life easy for its employees!

“I started my day as usual. Dropped my kids at school and was on my way to office. On the way, I get a call from my bank asking to provide few additional documents immediately for the loan that I applied for. I informed my manager that I will finish the bank work in an hour and work from home for rest of the day rather than spending more time on commuting to work.”, says Shruti who is one among the many who opt for the available two days ‘work from home’ option on need basis thus making her life (both personal and professional) easier.

We at CommonFloor believe in making life easier, a life where you can achieve some degree of balance between your profession and other realms of life, if not strike the right balance. We continuously strive in providing opportunities for our employees to have time available for activities outside work; to spend time with family or pursue a hobby of their choice to foster a more balanced lifestyle.

TIME IS IN YOUR HANDS, USE IT NOW!

As we understand that time-off from work is necessary for maintaining productivity and effectiveness, CommonFloor has introduced benefits such as flexible work hours, extended weekends, compensatory offs to encourage employees to make better usage of time.“Flexible working hours allow employees to resolve critical personal matters when needed, so that they can bring sharper focus and clarity to their work.”  – says Shilpi Pandey, Vice President, Human Resources.

The unique extended weekend’s initiative introduced by Commonfloor is being widely appreciated by the employees. Over 80% of the employees believe that extended weekends have helped them plan their family holidays more effectively or do those things that couldn’t just fit on a Saturday and a Sunday.

A company which helps its employees grow along with it is a dream for everybody right? CommonFloor aspires to foster a friendly and balanced culture so that you can enjoy the best of both worlds without compromising on anything! Very few companies have been successful in achieving this and CommonFloor for sure is one such company offering its employees a plethora of benefits making life easier.

 

CommonFloor survey report on Buy Vs Rent published in DNA

Buy vs Rent is a constantly reverberating debate and probably one of the most confusing questions for the average buyers. Thus, in order to capture the consumer sentiments, Commonfloor conducted this survey, which brought forth several interesting facts. The survey report was published in the DNA of Property page under the Trend Tracker Section.

Commonfloor-com-DNAproperty-03Read the complete article here

 

Exclusive on Bloomberg TV based on CommonFloor Survey Report on Buy Vs Rent!

A recent survey conducted by CommonFloor.com, ‘Buy Vs Rent: What India Thinks’ addressed one of the most confusing questions, that an average Indian realty buyer encounters, of whether should they rent a house or buy it?

The survey is an in-depth and real time analysis of sentiments persisting in the market. The survey enables one to understand the expectations of property buyers from consumer demand perspective.Bloomberg TV did an exclusive piece based on this survey report. Our co-founder, Vikas Malpani was featured in the story, as he shared some interesting insights about the report.

Watch the complete video below to know more

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Sumit Jain featured in the show ‘Lunch Money; on Bloomberg TV

Sumit Jain featured in the show ‘Lunch Money; on Bloomberg TV, as part of the’ Deal Street’ segment which discussed about the competition heating up in the online realty market and what is CommonFloor.com‘s view point on the same and way forward. Watch Sumit responding to questions on rumors of acquisition, CF virtual tour feature, strategy to increase customer base, cash burn so far, funding plan and a lot more.

Watch the video below for more.

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5 Top Places in Delhi You Can Consider Renting A House For Rs.10000!

The National Capital Territory of Delhi is one of the biggest residential rental markets of the country. Increased migration has increased the demand for rental housing in the national capital. Though the overall market sentiment still remains wobbly, the rental market of Delhi has been largely stable over the last few years. However, rental prices are increasing, making it difficult for low and mid income families, bachelors and students to take up rental units in the prime localities of the city.

Rental-affordability-in-Delhi_P1

The amount of rental space available for the monthly rent of Rs. 10,000 is quite contrasting for different localities in Delhi. As per CommonFloor data (Q1 2015), Najafgarh is one of the most affordable neighborhoods of Delhi where one can get a 3BHK sized approx.1,420 sq. ft. for a monthly rent of Rs. 10,000. Thus, it is an ideal neighborhood for mid income families and bachelors on a sharing basis.

Rohini Sector 23 is next where one can get up to 870 sq. ft. of space which is best suited for working couples and bachelors. The Trans Yamuna neighborhood of Mayur Vihar is the next spot where one can get up to 520 sq. ft. of space on rent.

Meanwhile, the South Delhi localities of Defence Colony and Dhaula Kuan are two of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city. However, the amount of space available for rent in these two localities are 250 sq. ft. and 150 sq. ft. respectively which makes these areas suitable for PG accommodations for working professionals.

Find your home here