Every person who has shifted cities knows just how hard it is to find a flat which meets their requirements without making the brokerage burn a hole in their pocket. Grabhouse, a new-age home rental solutions provider, aims to make the process of procuring rental accommodation easier. The company uses a mix of technology and on-ground expertise to offer solutions that aim to solve genuine problems in the home-rental space. India’s rental market is completely unorganized since builders don’t find it viable to build properties for the sole purpose of renting, like in the West, causing the rental market to be run completely by individual home owners. It is here that Grabhouse steps in, trying to unmask today’s rental real estate market through the use of world-class technology.
Founded in 2013 by Prateek Shukla and Pankhuri Shrivastava, Grabhouse was a result of Pankhuri’s harrowing house hunting experience in Mumbai where she had to change 5 flats in 2 years while doing a 2 year fellowship with Teach for India. “An internet search and a lot of exasperation later, I realized that none of the available tools were really capable of solving house hunting problems without a broker” says Pankhuri. This experience made her realize the need for a solutions provider to hassled owners and house seekers in India’s fragmented and unorganized real estate market. She shared her vision with her friend and colleague from Teach for India, Prateek Shukla and together they started Grabhouse as a 2-member team, where they currently employ 200 people and are operating in 11 cities.
At Grabhouse, both founders constantly encourage entrepreneurship and Prateek often mentors budding entrepreneurs. Pankhuri reveals,
“The best part about each and every member of the team is that everybody loves their work and takes ownership in what ever they are working.”
There are three stages to the process of house-hunting : property discovery, shifting and settling in. While most players in the industry only address the discovery part as they are websites which just list the properties, Grabhouse looks at an end-to-end solution of renting. They target two sets of people : the owners on one hand and the seekers on the other. “We are helping the owners to rent out their property by taking the entire responsibility of their property where they do not have to worry about their property being vacant without tenants. And we are helping the tenants find the best and the most suited place for them to stay” adds Pankhuri.
At present, Grabhouse sees a monthly revenue of INR 8,000,000, obtaining their revenue from various sources like initial website registration fees, a fee on the properties rented out through the site as well as renting out self-managed property as shared accommodation. The rental options offered range from PGs (Paying Guest Accommodation), full-fledged flats and managed properties.
While initially bootstrapped, Grabhouse received initial funding from India Quotient after participating in a bootcamp organized by them. This was followed by a Series A funding of $2.5 Million by Sequoia Capital and Kalaari Capital and a Series B funding in 2015 by their initial investors where they raised $10 Million.
At the time of market entry, Grabhouse was the 13th player to enter the market but they have, in a span of 3 years made it to the Top 5. “One of the challenges was to convince the owners to list their properties on our website rather than taking the age old route of going through the brokers which seems convenient to them” says Pankhuri.
Current competitors in the Indian Real Estate Rental space include Commonfloor.com, 99acres.com and Nestaway. There has been a worldwide growth of companies offering both rental solutions as well as short-term shared accommodation. Airbnb gives travelers the option to stay at homestays in local areas saving a lot of money on hotel bills in the process while Shanghai based iwjw is rapidly replacing offline real estate agencies in China’s big cities after having raised a sum of $270 Million from investors. On Grabhouse’s future plans, Pankhuri says “We are looking forward to develop further technologies which will simplify renting even more. We also have a few products in the pipeline which will be launched soon along with our app, which will make booking a property easier for the tenants”.