In conversation with Sharad Bajaj, the sharp, extremely knowledgeable and driven co-founder of ROT Internet Ventures Pvt Ltd, the company behind www.roofontop.com - India's fastest growing property platform.
BCM : roofontop.com is one of the fastest growing real estate platforms in India. What was the inspiration behind the platform?
Sharad Bajaj : Anil (Anil Kapilashrami, Co-founder) and I were eager to enter the consumer Internet space, out of all online markets - we found real estate had the greatest opportunity - the most white space. This space is exciting, its growing and the revenue potential is tremendous.
BCM : In an overcrowded real estate market, what is you key differentiator & how does roofontop.com set it’s services apart?
Sharad Bajaj : A lot of people talk to us about the overcrowded space, in reality there is no company that currently exits in our space. We look at ourselves as a complete real estate service provider, we hand hold our customers through their journey - from the time a customer goes on the website all the way until the property transaction is completed. On this journey there are many differentiators - our website (usability, information and flow), our platinum broker network (certified, trained and curated), our customer service team, our no-spamming no pushing policy, our E2R real estate technology. However our biggest differentiator is that we don’t wash our hands of the customer once they click on a listing, we provide managed fulfillment - that’s what everyone hasn’t figured out - there is more to the internet than just classifieds.
BCM : How does roofontop.com control real estate deals and maintain a higher quality transaction for it’s customers?
Sharad Bajaj : Our technology provides the first level of creating an overall higher standard. Our duplicity algorithms prevent the same property from being listed multiple times, our price check algorithms control the quality of data and our ranking algorithms give a higher placement to listings with pictures. The level of intelligence in this system is not seen anywhere else in the online real estate space.
Our second level of higher quality comes from our platinum network. We curate property agents. To be a roofontop.com platinum network agent - you need to pass the reference & background check, submit your income tax returns, sign our contract with SLAs included and attend the roofontop.com training. No such network of professional real estate service providers exist in India. Our customers use the highest quality service providers in the country - the quality of transaction is so far beyond anything ever seen before in India.
BCM : In the short time that roofontop.com has been live, how has the response been to the website and the roofontop.com experience?
Sharad Bajaj : Our online presence is growing steadily, we have expanded the network across six metros already and hope to be in every city in India over the next three years. We measure feedback on the roofontop.com experience through the number of referrals and repeat customers. All I can say is so far we are humbled by the overwhelming positive feedback, however its best to log on to roofontop.com and find out for yourself!
BCM : Technology and roofontop.com are close siblings and your digital solution is quite elaborate being spread over web and mobile platforms. What made you choose Brand Catalyst Media as a technology partner and how has your experience been so far?
Sharad Bajaj : Anil and I both being technologists initially found it difficult to outsource the core development of the website. In reality its been the best outsourced solution we have been a part of, that’s saying alot since Anil was the founding CIO for GECIS. Zahir has become the acting CTO of roofontop.com, all timelines have been met and the quality of work always exceeds our already high expectations. Roofontop.com’s partnership with BCM has been a major contributor to the success of roofontop.com and the speed to market which we have been able to achieve.
BCM : roofontop.com has undoubtedly gained fantastic traction in the past year, what about the future? What’s next?
Sharad Bajaj : Lots of new innovative functionality on the website, an entire new section (will be the first in india), expansion of the network across the country, and an upcoming major advertising campaign. Lots happening in our world these days!
BCM : Is there any advice you would like to give to startups in today’s market?
Sharad Bajaj : My only advice is ignore all advice. If you fail, you learn and try again. Just believe and keep at it. Advice comes from what has been, success comes from what will be!