Common Floor, as the name suggests, is a common platform that caters to all of your home needs. A house on sale or rent, home needs, community services, Common Floor is just a click away.In a free flowing interview, Mr. Vikas Malpani, Co-founder, CommonFloor.com opened up to Aishwarya Thilak to share the story of Common Floor.
First of all, many congratulations on the MIT award “Young Innovator of the year”. How does it feel?
I feel great. Our efforts have been recognized and innovation is being understood better. It also gives a good thrust in improving the direction with full speed and now we have people backing behind us.
So what is common floor all about?
Common floor is a one stop destination for your home. There are different aspects of Common Floor. Let me explain by taking examples of different users who use Common Floor. We started by building communities. We helped out owners who resided in communities like apartments, layouts, for them to come together, like communication, spreading formation and managing their community on a day to day basis. So this was the DNA, and we started creating it online, which is managed by the associations in these communities. Then you have the ability to get services you require for yourself. If you’re a vendor, you can register yourself at Common Floor, and give information on what your specialties are and where you’re serving.
So are you the middleman who connects the vendors and users?
We are more of a market place. We have built these communities and now they give services that are specific. The vendors cater to their services and it’s the vendors who actually pay us. For the users, its completely free.
So why an online venture?
It is very distributed. The one in need might be at one end of the city and the one who owns the house at the other, or might not even be in India. So the internet is the only way where all can be brought to a common platform. Nowadays, the communities start with 100 houses, needs a minimum of 100 owners and needs at least bout 400-500 people. Even if you spend 8 hours at office, the rest 16 hours you would be at home. So it’s very important that you have many suggestions to help your requirements with. You need information about everything, about having a salon next door or receiving deliveries. This is where we started to build. We started to build communities which helped them run their societies and get connected better. So common floor becomes a one stop destination for a real estate buyer. It is very convenient to find a property in a particular region.
Also, once you’ve bought or decided to rent out a flat, you can stay connected with your community. Once you come to common floor, basically from there on, it will cater to all your needs. If you want to move in, you can get details of packers and movers from here. If you’ve moved in and want information about drivers, etc, you can log into your community and see what the contact details are and you can also contact your property manager on any issue based on maintenance. You also can get information via emails through your smart phones. It the destination for anyone who believes they desire a dream home. Hence, Common Floor becomes a one stop destination for real estates, all your home needs and association committee members to manage their entire committee.
So who are your major competitors in this field?
We directly compete with the classifieds and the real estates. If your divide the entire buyers’ cycle of purchase, he first does his research and then decides the property he wishes to buy, awaits possession and then starts living. These are 4 different quadrants. And among these, only the 2nd quadrant is getting served because there are only the project marketing websites. All the other 3 are not being served.
I understand it benefits individual seekers and sellers, how well does it benefit real estate agents?
We identify them by their role. We have identified the owners; you have to be approved and connected to your committee. Similarly there is a property manger as a different role and also the real estate broker has a completely different role within the system. So if I'm an NRI, when I post my property, I could also say I’m interested in a broker. Even if any owner has posted a property, the broker can approach him only if he is a part of my system. For the owner, he gets the best service, for he also gets the real estate experts along with the terms very specifically specified. So the brokers in turn help you rent out or sell your property. So once, the owner posts it there, he gets everyone working for him.
I see houses on rent and sale, but do your also give regard to lease houses as well?
Leasing is a very small domain. As in terms, leasing of houses is a special case of rentals. If I can mention the special details within the description that you can lease it, that’s a different case.
So why do you think Common Floor is a better option than real estate brokers?
I would say Common Floor is a more comprehensive place. It does not mean it replaces your real estate agents. You can sit at home, browse your property and be updated on it. You can actually see a more descriptive property, product description, nearby communities, comments on the communities and you could also post a query on the public forum of the community. So within the after log in there is a private respect, which is only accessible by the owner, there is a public phase where you can actually come and post your queries and the owners might reply back. You can search for specific localities, like koramangala and sarjarpura. At the end of the day, you need a solution to your problem; it could be directly from the owners or a broker/real estate agent.
So how would you describe the traffic at your site?
We have close to a lack of visitors coming to us every day. It is good and growing. Our focus is on ensuring as much of factual information possible. We try to portray whatever information out there in the market along with whatever information the users portray. We have already created a brand in Bangalore. Anyone who’s done anything related to home, home search or rentals, etc, he has come across Common Floor at least once.
The Author of this piece Aishwarya Thilak is a Dare Community Writer
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