FastFox.com has raised Rs. 30 Crore from Lightspeed India Partners, Blume Ventures, CyberAgent Ventures and others in Series A financing. FastFox.com is India’s first tech-enabled rental brokerage company. The company plans to invest the funds to improve its technology solution, perfect its service delivery model and expand the team across engineering, sales and operations.
The company started by Pallav Pandey and Mukul Bhati in Nov 2014, had earlier raised Rs. 6 Crore in 2015 in Seed round also led by LightSpeed India Partners.
“Pallav and his team have shown us that there is a large market in rentals that suffers from India-specific problems such as information scarcity, information asymmetry, trust deficits and small local networks, all of which can be solved through the power of the Internet and a tech-enabled approach like Fastfox.com.”
said Dev Khare, Partner at Lightspeed India Partners Advisors. GrowX ventures and IMJ Investment Partners also participated in the round.
Real Estate portals in India are not new. They have been around for a very long time and many of them – 99Acres, MagicBricks, Quicker Homes etc. – do have a very impressive portfolio of property listings, running in hundreds of thousands. However, all Real Estate portals have a common problem – lack of authentic information. More than 90% of the listings on these portals are put by real estate brokers who pay these platforms for the listings and whose primary objective is to get the customer’s attention and contact details. In most cases that means incorrect information, which is usually more appealing than the real one. This leads to more brokers putting fake listings.
Platforms have tried to fight this menace of fake listings as this impacts the underlying value of their offering. However, there are two fundamental problems. One, they can’t bite the hand that feeds them – broker listings typically constitute more than 50% of the revenues of these platforms. Second, the cost of verifying a lead is typically 3x of the money the platform makes on these listing, making it unviable to verify them en masse.
These structural issues ensure that large proportion of the listings on the online portals continue to be fake. Hence, there is little exchange of real information except for an introduction of the consumer with a freelance broker. The experience thereafter is completely inconsistent and broken.
“In India, 27% of urban families (approx. 20 Million) live on rent and spend a whopping $32 billion on rent. Yet popular websites are full of fake listings and they leave the home seeker to be serviced by local brokers. In contrast, FastFox.com handholds the customer in the entire journey from online discovery of options to field visits to negotiation with landlord and subsequent paper-work.”
said Pandey, Co-Founder and CEO. “FastFox.com is one-stop shop for anyone looking to rent a home”, he added.
A $32 billion market and there are still no large brands in home rental business!
This is a large market which is waiting to be disrupted. But a good question to ask is why have traditional rental brokerage businesses not scaled?
Brokerage businesses can scale on the back of availability of large quantity of authentic property listings. MB, 99Acres, Quickr has massive listings but mostly inaccurate, deliberately put by brokers to generate leads. Add to that rental inventory has a half life of less than 9 days. Keeping that information refreshed is a huge task. It makes it impossible to scale brokerage business in absence of authentic information.
The only people who have authentic & refreshed property information are local brokers. However, by their very nature brokers have a limited area of influence and are small.
FastFox.com, which also owns BroEx – India’s largest information exchange for real estate brokers; used by 100,000+ brokers across the country, leverages network of brokers to procure updated information on rental homes in near real time.
China has shown the way
The problem of unauthentic information on Real Estate portals is not unique to India. Most Asian economies, including China, face similar problems. However, few years back, some O2O (Online-to-Offline) real estate players have completely transformed the space in China. Lianjia.com, an O2O real estate brokerage company for rental and resale property commands a market share of more than 40% in China. Lianjia and other O2O players not only help customers identify authentic properties online but also service customers offline in terms of showing properties selected by the customers.
FastFox.com is an O2O rental brokerage company based out of Gurgaon. It has more than 2,500 home listings available for renting immediately. All these properties have verified photographs of the house, and the locality around. They also give other details like whether the property is available for Bachelors or not or if the landlord is ok with pets. FastFox.com also professionally assists the customer through the search experience in arranging home visits and helping through owner negotiations. Overall the idea is to make the home search experience for the customer transparent & predictable from online search to home visits to move-in paperwork. It charges customers for successful closure.
Team at FastFox.com
From 6 members in late 2014 to more than 160 as on date.
Before FastFox.com, Pallav Pandey, an IIT Kanpur Alumnus, also founded Sequoia funded Knowlarity Communications, a cloud based telephony solutions provider. Mukul Bhati, Co-founder & CTO, is from IIT Guwahati and had previously played lead tech roles in companies like PayU, Knowlarity, and UrbanTouch. Other core team members include Siddharth Prakash Singh, Head of Engineering, Ex-Google & IIT Guwahati and Anshul Gupta, Head of Marketing and Alumnus ISB Hyderabad. The expanded core includes a robust second layer of leaders from top IITs (Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Roorkee), IIM, NITs, VIT, with prior experience across diverse sectors like consulting, internet, technology, banking etc.
The company continues to seek ambitious young leaders who are passionate about driving change and seek opportunities to work on high impact real world problem. In return it makes a simple commitment –
“2 years in our company will take you farther in your career than 5 yrs anywhere else. Guaranteed!”
Culture at Fastfox
Awards: Recognition of top performers in the organisation
100 Week work anniversary blazers for employees
4th year Engineering students who intern with the company for 6 months, work harder than ever before
& Graduate in Thailand!
Innovations at FastFox
Digital Locks to solve the ‘Key’ issue
In Real Estate, availability of the house keys & access to the house has always been a major challenge – for house owners and service providers. FastFox.com has piloted with Digital Locks – locks that can be operated using smartphones. These locks offer a unique triple advantage of control, access and complete accountability.
- Control: The locks offer complete control to the owner or service provider to check who all get the access to the property.
- Access: To access a property there is no need of physical exchange of keys, this solves a major logistical issue.
- Accountability: The lock keeps a complete account of who all visited the property and when. The same can be accessed by the house owner any time or he can also chose to receive notifications realtime.
A simple innovation like this can bring massive efficiency into the business of home renting and greatly enhance the quality of service delivery.
3D Walkthrough of Apartments
FastFox.com is constantly striving to make the home search experience an easy and simplified process. One way to do that is to offer as much information and media about the property on the portal as possible. The latest innovation is to provide 3D walkthrough of the property that the consumers can access online right from the comfort of their home/office.
Making 3D walkthroughs is a challenge given the lack
of floor plans for most of the properties. To get these floor plans, the company used laser based measurement scales to identify the dimensions of the different part of the properties. That helped build the 2D layouts which are further converted to 3D formats.
This helps customers get a better feel of the property and hence make a more accurate shortlist of what properties they would like to see. This saves time for customers and the company alike.