When youngsters move to metro cities in India, they face a lot of problems while looking for a house. Paying high brokerage fees burns a deep hole in the pockets of young professionals who are just starting their career. A lot of them share rent and try to cover their expenses as much as possible. But the challenge lies in actually finding those roommates.
Fake listings on existing portals without any photos and amenities mentioned clearly increases the time spent in searching a house. But living with a stranger is a challenge of its own kind.
To ease all this by building a brokerage-free site for finding compatible roommates is what the cofounders at Grabhouse had in mind when they thought of this product. Currently in beta, it is a team of 3 very young co-founders who have come up with a simple collaborative portal to help find places to rent or roommates to share and sublet apartments with.
According to co-founder Prateek Shukla, the product saves money, time and trouble of house hunting. The Grabhouse mobile app is a first of its kind real estate app that ensures photos and quick uploading of listings.
The compatibility test and social connect are two features which have been incorporated for the first time in a real estate portal, according to Grabhouse.
The compatibility test brings in a comfort level and confidence about a new roommate as it gives a basic idea about the person's lifestyle. Social connect lets people find roommates from their friends' network and get their opinion about roommates. In fact they are also planning to launch an extension of social connect through which people can also check areas where their friends hang out or stay.
As of now, certainly this product has a bunch of competitors such as established real estate Web sites like magicbricks, 99acres etc., online classifieds like quikr, sulekha and olx, new startups like housing.co.in
However its differentiator is the roommate search on compatibility basis and social connection which is not offered by any of the above mentioned platforms. Last but not the least, Grabhouse does not have broker dominance which is rampant in other websites.
Considering a lot of multinational, software, IT and marketing companies being prominent in metrosi their target customers are in the age bracket of 22-28 who are young professionals out of college working in metro cities). According to UGC reports, there are 17 million graduates every year. So taking into account 10 major cities they have 35 million potential customers each year.
According to Prateek, the product solves the real estate rentals problems and they plan to be one stop for all real estate needs of the people.
He added further: "Most of the traction has come from word of mouth publicity. Our target customers are in search of a better way to find roommates and rented accommodation. Our website gives them exactly that with easy navigation and a user friendly interface."
It's just a couple of months old so I'm guessing they still have a long way to go. In fact I did try searching for many locations in Mumbai and they resulted in very few hits or none at all.
Of course considering the site being just a month old and no serious marketing efforts in place yet, he did say that in a month they have helped 15 people to find roommates/rooms and saved cumulative brokerage fees worth 150,000 rupees (US$2,300). The number of listings should increase steadily.
Grabhouse is a freemium model where later they are planning to have will have premium and paid listings. Hopefully that shouldn't defeat the purpose of eliminating brokers and the pricing is right.
As of now in a month the number of page views are more than 50,000. There are 1700+ registered users till date and there are more than 200 downloads of the Grabhouse mobile app. The company is bootstrapped as of now abd are planning to raise funds soon to expand to 10 major cities, increase marketing efforts and bring in more products to ease house hunting. They are planning to expand to 10 metro cities within six months.
A notable aspect about Grabhouse is that they are a platform that helps people find compatible roommates and rented accommodation. Its like being a marketplace for renters and roomseekers. Their current focus is to do everything possible to maintain accuracy but it is also the onus of the clients to do a background check before finalizing someone.
Well, as of now, this startup certainly has a long way to go in terms of overall traction and problem-solving for the users, certainly having chosen the right direction. Looks like they have an uphill task from here on and we'd certainly be keeping an eye on how this startup shapes up.