Minimizing payouts to property middlemen

Minimizing payouts to property middlemen
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First Published: Tue, Feb 17 2009. 12 57 AM IST

Updated: Tue, Feb 17 2009. 12 57 AM IST
Mumbai: Those not blessed with family and friends munificent enough to provide shelter in Mumbai find it a waste of money to pay their property broker the equivalent of a month’s—in some cases, two months’—rent when taking up leased accommodation in the city. The common refrain is why the prospective tenant should pay when the landlord pays an equal amount.
Munificient Ventures Pvt. Ltd, founded by 20-something business school buddies Shubham Rai and Jaideep H. Patankar, and the more senior Uday Vijayan, runs an online portal that helps, in a way, solve this puzzle for tenants.
Called Rentimental.com, the website matches landlords and tenants online, charging a fixed fee from the landlord and allowing the tenant to have a brokerage-free transaction. The start-up has competitors in Sulekha.com, Makaan.com and Magicbricks.com.
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So how does the website make sure it aggregates the most relevant and current data, and beats competition? What about the well networked bunch of offline property brokers the city boasts of?
“Yes, it is a challenge to source accommodation availability, but we keep updating our database every 4 hours. We’ve built a network of watchmen throughout residential colonies in Mumbai who keep us informed of any flat/accommodation falling vacant,” said Rai.
Besides, the website has tied up with some firms to find accommodation for staff moving to Mumbai, Pune or Bangalore, the cities where Rentimental.com offers its services.
But only 30% of its revenue comes from accommodation. Working on the premise that the “world’s on rent”, it aims to provide anything and everything—including furniture and vehicles—on rent.
The next step for the portal is to launch in Hyderabad, New Delhi and Kolkata, and to make people and their skills available on hire. “It could be a chartered accountant, a lawyer, a cook, an electrician or a plumber,” said Rai. All this will require external funding. “We haven’t approached any venture capitalist yet. Neither has any venture capitalist approached us. We wanted to show that we can run a company on bootstrap money.”
“It’s a good opportunity, but the entry barriers for this business are not large... Unless the management team is extraordinary and they are able to execute much better than competition, I don’t see how the business is scalable,” said Sasha Mirchandani, senior investment director of BlueRun Ventures in India and an active angel investor.
Munificient Ventures Pvt. Ltd and CafeGadgets.in are among the nominated companies in the Tata NEN Hottest Startups competition, of which Mint is the official print media partner. Details of the competition can also be accessed at www.livemint.com/hotteststartups
Graphics by Ahmed Raza Khan / Mint
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First Published: Tue, Feb 17 2009. 12 57 AM IST