As services offered by start-ups are becoming mainstream and seeing broader adoption, companies are leveraging the opportunity to tap into public markets, and gain access to a wider pool of capital. Zomato led the trend — making a stellar D-street debut in July. Nykaa and Paytm have already joined the league of listed start-ups, while a spate of other Internet firms is gearing up to go public in the coming months.
Now, new unicorn NoBroker is eyeing an initial public offering (IPO) in the next three to five years, says Amit Agarwal, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer. “Is IPO on the cards, in our mind? Three to five years down the line, yes, it is,” Agarwal tells Fortune India.
NoBroker recently got added to the elite unicorn club after a clutch of investors, led by General Atlantic, Tiger Global Management and Moore Strategic Ventures, infused a fresh $210 million into the company, valuing it at $1 billion. Although the financing bagged it the fancy tag of India’s first ‘proptech unicorn’, it has not been easy for the Bengaluru-based real estate platform that saw its revenues dip by as much as 50%, when the first Covid-19 wave hit the country, triggering a prolonged lockdown.
The firm adapted to the new normal by introducing video tours of properties. “When people could not step outside but were still in search of houses, we started renting and selling properties via video tours. We were even able to close property deals through the format,” says Akhil Gupta, Co-founder and Chief Technology, and Product Officer. The rental segment saw steady recovery post the first lockdown, and the company managed to navigate the second wave without much disruption. The business has been brisk and the firm claims that post-Diwali, some of the markets have seen more transactions compared to the pre-pandemic times.
Gupta says that today NoBroker is adding more than 500,000 new customers every month against about 375,000, which they were acquiring during the pre-pandemic times. “The buy and sell verticals have also seen more than 100% growth over the last one year,” adds Saurabh Garg, Co-founder and Chief Business Officer.
What merely started as a real estate platform in 2014 — connecting tenants with landlords and potential property buyers with sellers — has morphed into a broader services player, providing a gamut of offerings to customers that fit in well with their core real-estate proposition, a deft business strategy. For instance, customers of NoBroker can avail themselves of a range of home services, including painting; cleaning and AC installation; services to new tenants, and homebuyers typically sign up for while shifting houses. Interestingly, consumers who are not looking for property deals can also subscribe to the home services, underlining the fact that NoBroker may be competing with players like Urban Company in the space.
The company also offers financial services like facilitating home loans and legal documentation. In fact, the home and financial services verticals now jointly make up about 50% of the firm’s overall revenues.
NoBroker, which is largely present in the metros, will use the fresh capital to expand to 50 more cities in the next two to three years. The firm is betting on Tier-II cities — which, it believes, will provide a huge market opportunity in terms of rentals, as well as buy and sell in the next five to 10 years. “Many IT services companies are setting up offices in these areas. Also, the smart city programme has given a boost to some of the smaller cities. A lot of buying and selling activities already happen in Tier-II cities,” says Garg.
The firm claims to have been recording a three-fold growth in revenues almost every year. Profitability, however, is two to three years away. “Right now, we are investing to go deeper in the existing cities and enter new markets,” avers Garg.
To tap into the gated societies that are home to a large proportion of prospective customers, NoBroker has built the NoBrokerhood app. The idea is to give customers living in the societies easy access to the whole host of services provided by the company via a single app. The firm aims to cover one lakh societies in the next two to three years, from the current 10,000. The company is also incorporating the benefits of a social networking site within the NoBrokerhood app. For instance, it is already connecting individuals and local businesses with potential clients through the app.