Sumit Jain grew up in Khatauli, a small town in Uttar Pradesh and pursued engineering in Computer Science from IIT Roorkee in 2006. After a short tenure with Oracle on Server Technologies, he decided to venture into the world of entrepreneurship. In 2007, he started CommonFloor.com along with Lalit Mangal and Vikas Malpani.
Apart from conceptualizing the idea behind CommonFloor.com, building the business from scratch, raising funds, managing cash flow and diversifying into real estate listings, he is also the man behind handling client engagement and identifying new sources of revenue. Enthusiastic and energetic, Sumit believes that his zeal and passion for CommonFloor.com keeps people working with him highly motivated. He is a strong believer in leadership that motivates and inspires people to perform, and advocates that being disciplined and completely focused during working hours helps maintaining a good work-life balance. Sumit respects that people need enough time and space to work.
As the Co-Founder and CEO, Sumit is responsible for driving the strategic direction for CommonFloor.com as well as delivering on company goals. He is focused on providing users with a hassle-free property search experience. His dream is to ensure that, eventually every property seekers is comfortable with buying or selling property online.
Sumit is a firm believer of working hard and partying harder. He loves travelling, exploring new destinations and meeting people from different cultural backgrounds. He enjoys meeting budding entrepreneurs and sharing his experiences with them. Sumit is also a sports enthusiast and likes playing Table Tennis, Billiards, Cricket and Basketball in his free time.
In simplistic terms, CommonFloor is ‘the answer’ to all your property related queries. CommonFloor.com, is India’s leading real estate platform that combines property search, apartment management and vendor management and caters to a person’s complete residential requirements.
From searching for an apartment to facilitating interactions within an apartment community on the ‘CommonFloor’ platform, to connecting one to relevant service providers, the platform is dedicated to meeting all aspects of consumers’ needs around their home. With over 5 lakh active property listings from over 200 cities, it has over 1 lakh residential projects listed with it. CommonFloor.com has been funded by Accel Partners, Tiger Global and Google Capital.
How did you come up with the idea of CommonFloor.com?
The sole aim behind the inception of CommonFloor was to provide property seekers with a platform where they don’t have to use just the traditional ways of finding a property and making the online house hunting much simpler and hassle-free. The idea is to help property seekers reduce the time spent looking for properties that match their requirements and help them make effective decision with the best deals available.
Could you walk us through the process of starting up CommonFloor.com?
It all started when we (the three co-founders of CommonFloor.com – Sumit Jain, Lalit Mangal & Vikas Malpani) came to Bangalore in 2007. Initially, the three of us individually faced lot of challenges in finding the right accommodation. Finally when we did find something, a host of other issues began coming up. One of the biggest problems the apartment complex we were living in was facing was a major sewage blockage. This issue wasn’t getting resolved since very few residents knew each other or had any sort of co-ordination amongst themselves.
Privy to these problems, the three of us decided to create a way to bring people on a common floor or a single platform and hence the idea for CommonFloor.com was born. It was a challenge initially to get communities on board and we had to come up with several iterations to get the product right. We also had to keep the product flexible enough to accommodate different priorities of different communities while still ensuring a good user experience for all. The real confidence came when the communities that adopted us in the beginning started to see real value in our product, appreciated our efforts and even partnered with us in improving it. That is when we started believing that CommonFloor.com will work.
Did you encounter any particular difficulties during startup and if so, how did you guys overcome it?
Our focus has always been on empowering people to realize their property dreams. We aim at providing users with the latest technology giving them a thorough analysis of the property which will eventually help them make an efficient decision. When you are starting off, there are a set of challenges that needs to be taken care of. Creating a brand from the scratch is a time-consuming process and sustaining it, nurturing it is a different challenge altogether. Of course, you need to get like-minded and passionate employees which is another challenge. I am proud to inform you that, today, we have built a great team of over 1000 employees and our constant endeavour is to get the best of talent work with us.
How have you been developing CommonFloor.com since startup?
As a new-age online realty player, technology and innovation are part of our core DNA. Property buying demands huge time and financial investment by the buyer and it is our constant endeavour to create tools and technology that makes property search easy for the consumer and gives them a wow experience. CommonFloor Retina is a result of one such quest that adapts technology smartly to the consumer’s advantage.
CommonFloor Retina is the world’s first virtual reality innovation in real estate that is available to the masses. This technological breakthrough offers ‘real’ property experience for the seekers allowing them to view/review/assess multiple properties from anywhere at any point of time.
Being a technology-driven company, we always have thrived to help property seekers reduce the time spent looking for properties that match their requirements and help them make effective decision with the best deals available.
As amazing as it sounds, today, property seekers can get a look and feel of a property even before it is constructed and that too from the comfort of their own home.
What kind of feedback did you get for CommonFloor.com so far?
The fact that we are backed by the best in the industry is a testimony of the fact that we must be doing something and is an assurance that we are moving in the right direction. Our technology-driven approach helps us to lead the online real-estate sector in its journey to further enhance user experience. We have increased our revenue by 100% in last six months and have 7 million visits every month. We, already, have mapped 10 million homes and certainly aspire to have every single available property listed on our portal. Our team strength has grown from 3, when we started in 2007 to 180 in 2012 to over 1000 this fiscal year so far. This team is constantly working to equip the users with the right knowledge and innovative tools that help them trust us and make us their preferred real estate portal.
Do you face a lot of competition in this industry?
Real estate portals are leaving no stone unturned to provide property seekers with better services to make their lives easier. We, at CommonFloor.com, have introduced various offerings that help the users better understand the property. The online real estate platforms are much easier to work with, allowing the user to make their research much more refined and help them find a property that matches their requirements.
We are the only company with genuine and largest repository of property listings. You can find your home from 5 lakh listings and over 1 lakh projects across 200 cities in India.
The key difference that we have brought to the online real estate market is – while everyone looked at it from a classifieds perspective, we look at it from a community perspective. On our portal, a user will be able complete his/her property journey since we engage with our users right from the time they are looking for a home to when they move into their house and start living there and even when they want to sell it. We are the only real estate platform that offers to cater to all property information needs across the property cycle – search, research, property management, sale and rent.
Have you developed any industry insights that you could share?
At CommonFloor, the Domain Research team is the centre hold of deep industry insights that are highly sought after. We recently hosted our flagship event, ‘The Boardroom Discussion’, shedding light on two key topics – ‘Union Budget 2015-16: An In-depth Analysis’ and ‘Smart Cities – The Way Forward’.
One can expect major real estate activity from second quarter of 2015 when the job market shows more positive signs. Since RBI anticipates GDP growth to rise to 6.5 percent in FY 2015-16, hiring by MNCs is likely to pick up with heightened business activities. Thus, better job scenario will have a positive impact on both residential and commercial asset classes.
If we compare the realty scenario in North India and South India in last 2 years, real estate in South India looked reasonably upbeat. To be more specific, right pricing and small ticket sizes is the reason why Bangalore and Chennai have got their property strategy right.
In contrast, in Delhi-NCR, realty prices have moved extreme northwards due to speculation by the investors. There has been a huge inventory pile-up over the last 2 years and absorption has been relatively low in comparison to cities in South India.
If we look at the supply side, as per CommonFloor’s exclusive yearly report titled “Real Insights: Annual Realty Report” on 6 major metros, Bangalore and Chennai together witnessed three times more launches in 2014 as against that of the entire Delhi-NCR during the same period. This clearly indicates the prevailing market sentiments in both regions.
As for absorption, Delhi-NCR again took a backseat. Data indicates that Delhi-NCR witnessed a drop in absorption of units in 2014 as compared to that of 2013. Delhi-NCR saw a drop of almost 30 % in sales in 2014 as against the corresponding year. But interestingly, Bangalore saw a marginal increase of 4% during the same time period.
Having said this, it is very difficult to pin-point any specific market at a pan-India level. Our research clearly shows that investment in top metros (Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad, MMR and NCR) will be largely micro market or area specific wherein there is a blend of three major components – genuine end-user demand, infrastructure development and proximity to employment generating destinations. If all these parameters are met, then the region or micro market will become a favourable destination for investment.
What is the future of the industry and how do you plan to stay relevant in this industry?
The market size of real estate sector in India is projected to reach US$ 180 billion by 2020. Today, this sector is one of the fastest growing markets in the world. India is a young country with more than 50% between 25 and 35 years in age. We know that this generation breathes the Internet and market will be deeply impacted by Internet adoption in India.
We strongly feel that CommonFloor has redefined the online real estate business by mapping users’ complete real estate journey online, that goes beyond property classifieds. Our innovation-led and consumer-centric approach paves the road to our future.
Were there anything that disappointed you initially?
We started just a year after graduating out of the college. People did not take us seriously initially. There weren’t many serious takers for the new kids on the block at that time. It took us a while to establish our credibility in the market.
What do you think about being an entrepreneur in Asia? Is it harder or easier, why?
It is much harder as the industry is not as organized in Asia as in the West. On the brighter side, it is much more rewarding as the opportunity is bigger.
What is your definition of success?
To create value for the society and the stake holders.
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
To create positive and large impact for the masses. To create an organization where we belong.
In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?
Perseverance, Passion, Creativity and Integrity.
Any parting words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there from your personal experience?
Be honest with yourself and others.