We are much bigger than what we were before Covid
Online rental platform NoBroker.com has maintained its revenue growth rate in FY21 fiscal year despite the Covid pandemic. Over these years, the company has also added many business lines like financial services, apartment management, home services among others. The platform has raised total funding of more than $151 million from SAIF partners, Beenext, KTB Ventures, and General Atlantic and its valuation stands at $361 million. In an exclusive interview with Bizz Buzz, its cofounder and CTO, Akhil Gupta, said each of its four business lines has the potential to become a billion-dollar company in coming years. He also said that the company is seeing good traction on its recently launched commercial real estate platform.
We have three-four other service lines. None of the business lines can be assumed as smaller lines. In NoBroker, we are running four companies- NoBroker Core platform, NoBroker home services, NoBroker Financial services and NoBrokerHood and each of these business lines has the potential of becoming a billion-dollar company
We have done extremely well in the financial services segment. We are the market leader in payment of rent through our platform. We grow 10-15% month-on-month. Yet, we have scratched the surface in the rental payment space despite our platform being used by a few million people.
How much NoBroker has been impacted during the Covid period as we see many vacant residential houses in cities? Do you feel a hybrid working model is going to negatively impact NoBroker's business model?
We got impacted during lockdown. But after opening up, brokers were not there in the market. So, more people came to our platform. Last year, March-July period was bad. Though rentals are our core business, we also provide various other services like packers & movers, home service, house cleaning, payment of rentals on NoBroker, home loan, insurance. We also have a service called NoBrokerHood, which is all about apartment management. In short, the Covid pandemic has helped us. We are much bigger than what we were in March. Every year, we grow three times and this year also, we have grown 2.5 to three times despite Covid.
Some survey is now indicating that there is fatigue setting in with respect to 'Work from Home (WFH)'. In this context, how much 'WFH' working model will stay in the post-Covid world?
Immediately after Covid, WFH model was adopted. Two-three months into Covid, people started talking about this would be adopted widely, commercial rentals would go (away) among other things. I had a feeling at that time that this was not the case. Everything that is new, looks good. There is, of course, fatigue. Physical communication has a lot of value in business. All that is gone in this model. Also, we learn a lot from our colleagues. Physical interaction, meeting people, and such other activities have a lot more emotional quotient (EQ) and intelligence quotient (IQ) involved in these. So, hybrid model will work. Complete WFH is a remote possibility.
Has NoBroker grown during the pandemic at the cost of brokers?
The pandemic has not made NoBroker. Brokers are not adding any value to the ecosystem. It's just a matter of time that they will be no longer required. This process has been accelerated due to Covid.
How much revenues, NoBroker draws from its other service lines apart from its core rental business?
We draw substantial revenues from other service lines. We have three-four other service lines. None of the business lines can be assumed as smaller lines. In Nobroker, we are running four companies- NoBroker Core platform, NoBroker home services, NoBroker Financial services and NoBrokerHood and each of these business lines have the potential of becoming a billion-dollar companies.
So, how soon will it be?
It is matter of time. Who has thought that NoBroker will grow this much in four years. But we don't measure our success when we will be a billion-dollar company. We measure our success with the value we are adding to the system, how many houses we have closed (in terms of deals), whether customers are happy, whether one of our customers will recommend our service to his friends or not.
Are you in talks in raising some money as of now?
No, we are not in talks to raise money at this point of time. We are adequately capitalised.
We have seen higher buyers' interest in purchasing residential properties due to various factors. Has it benefitted NoBroker? What is your exposure to the commercial real estate market?
This is the start of buy-sell upcycle, which we are entering into. Towards the end of 2020, people started buying houses due to multiple factors like low housing loan rates, stamp duty cut among others. At the end of the day, digital platforms have distinct advantage over traditional channels in this respect.
As far as commercial real estate is concerned, we have launched a platform just before the lockdown. We are seeing good traction in that platform. A lot of offices and shops, which are owned by individuals, are coming to the NoBroker platform. Demand is slowly coming back with opening up offices.
How is your financial services business line performing?
We have done extremely well in the financial services segment. We are the market leader in payment of rent through our platform. We grow 10-15 percent month on month. Yet, we have scratched the surface in the rental payment space despite our platform being used by a few million people. So, we feel there will be good growth in coming years. Even in the home loan and insurance segments, we are doing well.
What are your plans for expansion? How has it been impacted due to Covid?
Due to Covid, our growth plans were stalled in 2020. But we feel that we will be in 20 cities in next three-four years. We launched in couple of cities like Delhi-NCR. Once we start getting more traction in these cities, we will look at some other cities.
Are there any changes to the breakeven plan due to the pandemic?
We have been investing on our growth. Due to Covid, we have not deferred our plans on the profitability front.
We have seen good response to the IPO of Nazara Technologies. Will you look at going public as a successful startup?
Why not. We have our responsibility towards our investors. We will be happy to give good returns to them. Whether it will be through IPO or some other mode, all the options are open. I can't comment on where we will be listing our company.