How NoBroker reinvented the traditional and fragmented real estate market

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When Saurabh Garg went house-hunting in Mumbai back in 2007, he logged on to a few tech platforms. These services had snazzy user interfaces but merely turned out to be online versions of the highly fragmented and unorganised industry. In addition to paying high brokerage fees while signing the deal, the broker also turned up when the agreement was being renewed with the landlord. Mr. Garg soon realised that his problem was shared by millions of people in the country.

Faced with an unmet need, Mr. Garg along with his co-founders founded NoBroker in 2013. It has since disrupted the real estate segment by eliminating middlemen. The company connects residential and commercial property owners with tenants and buyers. 

With no comparable business model in either America or China, NoBroker is has managed to create a niche in India. Investors took a while to warm up to the idea which was lapped up by consumers. Today, the service saves a staggering Rs. 1,000 crores ($125m) annually in brokerage fees across six metropolitan cities.

He credits an “extremely simple, seamless and intuitive user experience” of its platform. It was equally important to spread the word to have customers discover the new service. “Naturally, Meta was the first platform of choice”, says Mr. Garg.

With a “Digital First” strategy, it was particularly crucial to reach a wide audience through interactive video ads. Additionally, NoBroker allowed time-starved netizens to download its product directly through app-install ad campaigns with one or two taps. 

The user-friendliness extends to property owners too. When they upload pictures of their estate on WhatsApp, the platform’s deep-learning algorithm kicks in to approve these images. They are then automatically featured against the relevant listing. NoBroker was one of India’s first real estate outfits to use WhatsApp. The end-to-end process also saved on operational costs for such photo uploads. 

Today, 18 million customers are connected on the NoBroker platform and 20% of the company’s paid registrations were driven by Meta. Last year, NoBroker became India’s first realty startup unicorn, a tag assigned to startups valued at more than a billion dollars. “We didn’t set out to become a unicorn”, confesses Mr. Garg. “We just started with a simple idea and a problem that we ourselves had faced. The magic happened when we got discovered by the right audiences through platforms like Facebook and Instagram.”

Moneycontrol journalists were not involved in the creation of the article