One can’t discuss property websites without mentioning 99acres, the grandfather of the concept in India. Launched in 2005 and owned by Noida-based internet company Info Edge, the real estate classifieds platform is India’s oldest property portal. Each month, some 8 million visitors throng the site, either in search of property or to list the same. This traffic helped 99acres earn Rs 49 crore ($6.7 million) in revenue for the quarter ended June 2021.
Legacy, however, counts for increasingly little in the burgeoning and ever-evolving property tech—or proptech—space. Today, the staid classifieds-like format of old-timers like 99acres and Magicbricks are under threat. And while there is competition from startups with far narrower remits—like Data Sutram, which offers AI-driven mapping solutions, and interior design player Livspace—arguably the biggest challenge comes in the form of the space’s first bonafide full-stack aspirant—Square Yards.
Unlike its competitors, which have picked a lane and stuck with it, eight-year-old Square Yards has fully leaned into its ambition of being a one-stop shop for everything real estate, in both business-to-customer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) segments. And the approach is already reaping rich dividends.
In the quarter ended June 2021, Square Yards earned double the revenue of 99acres—Rs 100 crore ($13.7 million) to 99acres’ Rs 49 crore ($6.7 million)—despite only drawing half as much traffic.
The company has managed this through a mix of acquisitions and in-house product and service launches. For rental property management, it acquired Mumbai-based Azuro last year. For data management, it bought PropsAMC bought PropsAMC Economic Times Square Yards acquires PropsAMC, forays into data intelligence space Read more in February 2021. Barely a month later, it followed that up with the purchase of PropVR PropVR Economic Times Square Yards acquires PropVR, AI-based 3D visualisation platform Read more for virtual, 3D property tours. And it tied all this up by launching an in-house interior design arm in May 2021.
A customer looking to buy or rent a home, for instance, would be able to access everything required—information on land prices, home loans, property inspections, registration and other legal services, interior decor, digitise rental agreements and pay rent online. Eventually, she’ll be able to visit her preferred property virtually and play around with designing it.
“Our primary business (direct selling between developer and customer) was strong and that became a cash cow. Therefore, we explored new verticals to capture value in each format,” explains Square Yards’ chief technology officer (CTO), Vivek Agarwal.