Property listings portal Housing.com, which was founded by alumni of IIT-Bombay, is planning to expand overseas in markets such as South Africa, Dubai and the Philippines over the next two years. The startup's co founder Advitiya Sharma, 23, told ET that the company had already received queries to open their franchise overseas.
"We have received requests from some international players. We are evaluating which model (franchise, greenfield operations or partnership) to take for global expansion," Sharma told ET. The startup was founded in June 2012 by 12 graduates of IIT Bombay, when they couldn't find suitable accommodation after graduating from their alma mater in 2011. Sharma said though global expansion is expected in next 24 months, the company's immediate focus is to expand to about 40 Indian cities from the current 11.
The real-estate listings market is estimated to be about 150- 200 crore, about 70% of which is owned by two large players-99Acres, run by BSE listed Infoedge, and MagicBricks run by the Times Group, which also owns this newspaper. Experts feel it will be difficult for newer players to gain share unless they break new ground. "MagicBricks has about half a million listings, the largest in the industry and we are innovating constantly on technology to stay ahead," said Sudhir Pai, business head at MagicBricks.com. Other players in the category include CommonFloor, Makaan and IndiaProperty.
To gain an edge over others, Housing.com has gone on a hiring spree from India's top campuses.
"We have hired about 50 IITians in last few months and are recruiting about 25 IIM graduates this placement season to our workforce, which is 780 people strong," said Sharma, who along with the other cofounders are amongst the 110 IITians in the company.
The average age of the Housing.com cofounders is around 22 years, much lower than many of its employees. "Most of the city heads we have hired are elder to us. It's not a problem if a company has right policies in place. We had realised this early on, and mapped right skill-sets to functions for the same," he added.
The company has built a mapping tool and charges about 15,000 from agents for unlimited listings for a period of six months.
The company claims to have about 70,000 residential property listings at present. Earlier branded as Housing.co.in, the startup was funded with $2.4 million (about 15 crore) by Nexus Venture Partners last year.
The company used $1 million ( 6 crore) to buy the domain Housing.com as well as a customer care number 33333333 from Reliance Communications. "We have seen a 40% increase in traffic after we switched over to Housing.com," said Sharma.
"The domain was seen by our investors as an important asset whose value will only increase in the coming years," said Sharma. Most players in the industry are vying for the residential rentals market, in which leases expire every 11 months making it a hot market. "Our vision is to have verified information of every single house available in the country on our website in the next few years," said Advitiya Sharma.