TanujShori’s interview: Inspiring young entrepreneurs
Success comes through ambition, a hard work ethic, inspiration and motivation. The words of great business owners showcase the tools they have used to inspire themselves. An entrepreneur should hold onto the vision of their business persistently; having a few phrases or words that motivates you to work harder to achieve maximum growth can give business owners the support they need to thrive. Having successful mentors to look up can help you keep your concentration, and avoid making the same mistakes they did. Every entrepreneur and small business owner needs a helpful nudge every once in a while, so we have brought a success story here though an interview that will give you the incentive to push for success. The CEO Magazine has recognized one of the inspirational entrepreneurial personalities in India, Mr. Tanuj Shori –CEO of Square Yards, who has such a wonderful entrepreneurial journey to talk about. Starting the business was not easy for him as starting a business means leaving the comfort and security of a regular work to pursue a passion or dream. Having hands on experience in building one of the India’s biggest and fastest growing real estate advisory firms‘Square Yards’, Tanuj also has a vast experience in capital markets (Equity research) tracking Asia Pacific and US markets for a range of sectors including commodities, luxury, consumer, agri, infrastructure, banking etc. His comprehensive thought has regularly been appreciated by many media houses that includeCNBC, Channel News Asia, and articles in various business print publications.
In the longue with Abhishek Dubey – Editor at TCM
How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
The idea for Square Yards was borne out of my wife’s and my personal experiences. We werebased out of Hong Kong at the time and were looking to invest in real estate in India. Like many of our friends and acquaintances living in India and abroad, we were flabbergasted with the lack of transparency and professionalism in the system and at the information asymmetry that existed in the market then. It struck us that we were living a comfortable life and were looking at the purchase decision for investment purposes. But there must be hundreds of Indians every year who turn to the real estate market to buy their primary homes. We could only imagine what their plight must be like.
What was your mission at the outset?
Our mission was simply to positively influence the lives of people by creating a scalable and sustainable business model. But the overarching ambition has always been to create a concept so disruptive that it alters the very paradigm on which traditional structures and systems work. We aim to bring about a complete transformation of the entire value chain in the real estate discovery and transactional space. We also believe that real estate is an under rated investment product. Even though ~40-50% of wallet size globally goes into real estate, it is still predominantly looked as an end use and emotional decision. We started off with the belief that real estate is the most significant investment decision one makes in their lives. However, because of lack of adequate information and investment-lead research points, many potential investors desist from making investments internationally or are unable to look at property from a risk-reward perspective.
How many employees?
We currently have strength of over 2,000 employees across 40+ cities in 10 countries including major cities in India and global locations like the UAE, UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Canada, Australia, Oman, and Qatar. 15% of our workforce comes from locations outside India.
What service(s) or product(s) do you offer/manufacture?
We are a technology-enabled transaction and aggregator platform for global real estate. Our aim is to transform the unstructured real estate landscape in India with a steady focus on the convenience and benefit of the customer. Square Yards markets and distributes portfolios of over 500 developers to homebuyers and investors across the globe. Services rendered to the customers are completely free. By leveraging powerful research tools and cutting-edge innovations, we are assisting buyers in discovering and identifying the most suitable properties from our vast database. We also handhold them through the entire process of purchasing property and offer help with documentation, taxation etc. Our fintech arm, Square Capital, is India’s largest organized mortgage distributor, working with all major financial institutions. We have also created India’s first and largest mobile-based aggregation platform, Square Connect, for real estate brokers, independent financial agents and stock broking firms. The aim is to provide brokers access to a much larger market than was earlier available to them and to open up more opportunities for them through a larger real estate inventory.
What do you look for in employee an?
The most important aspect we look for in an employee is that he/she should fit into our corporate culture. Aggression is imperative and much needed in an organization that is growing as fast as ours. But we believe that aggression needs to be balanced with empathy and a desire to make a change in the lives of our consumers.
What’s your company’s goal?
Our overarching mission, as defined earlier, is to bring about transparency and trust into the largely unstructured real estate market of India. In terms of specifics, we are looking at capturing 15% share in the primary residential sales market in the country. We expect our broker-driven initiatives such as Square Connect to catalyze much of this growth. Our goal is to beef up our network of partner brokers by 200,000 in the next 3-5 years and to expand our NRI presence. Apart from continuing focus on Indian real estate, which should remain a lion’s opportunity (~with 10x growth plans over 2 years); We are investing aggressively into International real estate, which is one of the fastest growing and most profitable segment of the business. We would gradually expand to 25+ International markets to fulfill its vision of becoming largest global aggregator of primary real estate.
What is unique about your business?
While many business ideas may be alike, I believe what sets the leader apart from the rest of the pack is execution and the people behind that execution. That’s also what is unique about our business and has helped us become the biggest player in the primary residential market surpassing many others who came before us. Another cornerstone of our success is the fact that we have managed to maintain a fine balance between profitability and growth by being flexible and dynamic with our business model. With our capability across 10 countries, and significant and innovative use of technology, we are positioning ourselves to lead efforts on global real estate investments. Most of the global aggregators are localized players, which gives us tremendous opportunity to be innovative and disruptive in our offering and capture market and mind share.
What are your responsibilities as the business head?
For starters, I’m responsible for the overall growth and direction of the company. Profitability, expansion, talent acquisition and retention, branding and marketing are just some of the aspects I oversee. I am also building strong practices, an aggressive sales culture and enabling processes & technology. Many of our practices like our unique sourcing strategy, multichannel distribution, sales metrics & incentive structure etc. have now become industry benchmarks. My biggest responsibility is to ensure that the business is delivering on its mission while maintaining its grip on the profitability path.
What made you choose this type of business?
Mine and my wife’s own tryst with the real estate industry in India opened up our eyes and that’s when we realized that if there is a domain waiting for disruption, it is this one!
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
I am entrepreneur by accident, and I believe entrepreneurship is a widely misunderstood terms. I would rather substitute the word entrepreneurship with a key strategic role, an individual who has the platform to make decisions that could change business model and impact fate and growth of the organization. When one is embarking on the entrepreneurial path, one gets a lot of advice about how one has to toil day and night, be passionate, be more etc. I think the wisest thing to do would be to treat starting out on your own as you would treat a new job. It is imperative to remember that whether you’re your own boss or working under someone, you are fully responsible for your profile, for deliverables and for profitability. The ‘perform or perish’ mantra that applies to a corporate job, applies to entrepreneurship even more vividly. And if you find that you’re unable to take decisions that drive growth and revenue or you’re unable to make an impact, it’s best to pave the way for someone who can!