Bengaluru: Online real estate rental firm NoBroker Technologies Solutions Pvt. Ltd said its office premises in Bengaluru were attacked by more than 40 local brokers and hooligans, who issued threats to the start-up’s employees and tried to beat up some of them.

NoBroker chief executive officer Amit Agarwal said the mob led by local brokers tried to enter the company’s premises late Tuesday morning. At that point, NoBroker employees locked up the door and tried to speak with the mob. Some of them then tried to assault NoBroker employees, he said.

The company has about 90 people working at its headquarters in Bengaluru.

“After 15-20 minutes of trying to talk with them, they tried to beat up people through the door that we had been holding up. They were angry that we exclude brokers from the rental process and that they were losing out on brokerage fees. No one was hurt but they made a lot of threats and demanded that we shut shop," Agarwal said.

The brokers were forced to leave the building after local police were summoned by NoBroker employees, he said.

A local police officer, who confirmed that real estate brokers had gathered at NoBroker’s premises, said NoBroker filed a written complaint against the brokers.

“Although we aren’t pursuing action against the brokers currently, they’ve been warned that a repeat offence will lead to action," the officer said.

The attack on NoBroker is an instance of old economy stakeholders revolting against the technology-led new age start-ups that are uprooting them. In the past, cab drivers and auto rickshaw drivers have protested against the likes of cab hailing services Ola and Uber. Last October, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), an association of traders, organised a nationwide protest demanding that the government investigate the businesses models of online retailers, which are putting many traders out of business.

NoBroker, which raised $3 million from SAIF Partners in December, is similarly putting many real estate brokers out of business. The company is one of the fast-growing real estate start-ups in India. But unlike its rivals, NoBroker connects customers directly with flat owners. As its name suggests, the company avoids dealing with middlemen.

Indians in the top 25 cities pay roughly $4 billion in brokerage for renting houses, and this amount is growing annually by 25%, according to NoBroker’s estimates, which are based on census data. The company has some 100,000 rental listings on its platform and it added 30,000 listings in the past month, CEO Agarwal said.

NoBroker plans to expand to 20 cities by December from four to boost supply in its battle for market share with Housing.com, CommonFloor and MagicBricks.

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