How this realty startup is creating one stop solution for construction business.
26th, February 2019 - Startup
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going” is what Mr. Harsh, co-founder of Construmart believes and adopted in his entrepreneurial journey. We interviewed Mr. Harsh to learn about his journey in the new startup.
S J: Please introduce the co-founders of Construmart?
Construmart was founded by Harsh Sethi and Mitesh Kumar, who have over 25 years of cumulative experience in real estate and allied industries. Both have hands-on experience with B2B e-commerce companies, traditional trading companies as well as manufacturers.
Harsh Sethi has over 15 years of experience working with emerging brands operating in the B2B construction domain. He has held critical positions across portfolios including internal systems, telesales, and marketing. He has worked with renowned new age companies focused on real estate space, including Power2SME and Tolexo.
Mitesh holds extensive experience in housing material sector and has held critical roles in companies like Buildzar, Power2SME and RAMA TMT in his previous jobs.
S J: How Construmart is conceptualized?
While scouting for interior designers for our own house, we saw a gap in the market around washrooms. We realized that while many online players already existed in the market, there was no niche player who was focusing only on restrooms as a concept.
We saw this as a tremendous opportunity, considering India on the world's biggest washroom building spree with the Modi Government’s ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign fast gaining steam and the sanitary market poised for strong growth due to rapid urbanization, infrastructure development, increased awareness and increased disposable incomes.
S J: Realty sector - especially construction is unorganized. How Construmart deliver the values
Ans: The construction sector in India contributes about 8% of the overall GDP. The industry is at an interesting stage of growth right now and is ripe of disruption. As the last craft industry, construction has yet to enter the technology era.
Interesting, today, there is an increasing trend of people investing their time and money in building their homes as per their choices. The challenge is that the procurement process is still the same as it was 3-4 decades ago. This acts more like a roadblock and is not only a tedious process but also lacks economies of scale.
We saw a need to transform the industry, by leveraging technology. We understood that this sector is relatively unorganized and has little cognizance with technology. Hence, we decided to begin our entrepreneurial journey with a concept that will provide a solution to the hassles of procurement.
Unlike other start-ups in this space, we are not a marketplace. Instead, we are trying to create a platform focused on sanitary ware & washrooms, at the click of a button. We want to leverage the best of technology for a seamless and hassle-free experience in the designing/renovating and buying via our innovative, interconnected concept of experiential store and online purchases
S J: What are the philosophy and core values of Construmart that they stand and deliver?
Construmart is a new age company with the vision of acting as a catalyst in the sanitation ecosystem in the country. It is committed to transforming the washroom economy in the country, by leveraging the best of technology.
S J: You were able to break-even within a year. Can you share your journey and experience?
We offered customized one-stop solution focused around washrooms as a complete package across price points. Our innovative offerings received an overwhelming response from brands and end consumers.
The fact that we were the only player operating in this space also helped us to gain ground quickly. Our cost-effective approach ensured that we break-even within the first year of operations.
S J: What Construmart stand for and what are the services it offers?
Construmart was founded in June 2016 with the vision to transform the construction industry in the country. This new age startup is focusing on building materials, finishes, and hardware, with significant involvement in the retail market for construction and home improvement.
The company has been committed to offering a one-stop solution for washrooms. It is leveraging technology to offer best-in-class solutions to its customers. Construmart provides a seamless and hassle-free experience in building material procurement via its innovative, interconnected concept of experiential store and online purchase.
S J: Since the domain is unorganized, how did you manage the competition? Who are your major competitors?
India faces two significant challenges – first is waste generation and its management, and the second is lack of access to a primary sanitation facility like a toilet.
We are trying to act as a catalyst by creating a platform which would offer complete washroom as a preset template across price points. We do not see any other player in the market operating or approaching this space.
S J: The realty sector was affected largely due to Demonetization. What is your take on GoI's move?
We had some temporary impact of demonetization. This is primarily because our customer base is broadly B2C. This was addressed in a couple of months.
We did not have any major impact on our cash-flow.
S J: How do you see the future market in India?
India is one of the world’s most vibrant markets for building and interiors at the moment. There are huge sums of money that are being pumped into a comprehensive range of construction projects, from major infrastructure upgrades, sweeping residential housing programs, and commercial city building. According to a recent report by a market research firm called Timetric, the Indian building market, the sector will grow at a CAGR of 4.16% until 2021. The report also states that residential construction is a key focus area. The Indian government is planning on building 20 million low-cost units by 2022, to address the issues of affordable housing in the country.
The time is right, and the market is expected to grow steadily. Also, with increased awareness and interest, we foresee huge traction in the niche market around washrooms (both traditional and smart). India should also have a greater share of world toilet economy given the proven success of the ‘Swacch Bharat’ campaign.
S J: You have raised funds. Can you please share where and how did you utilize the amount?
We have utilized our seed capital and some part of the angel fund (raised in December 2017) to scale up our business, acquire new customers, and build a team in line with our business requirements.
S J: How did the market respond initially? What are the critical challenges you have faced?
The initial response from the customers was very encouraging as they were saved from the hassles of going from store to store to buy different products to be used in the construction of their washrooms.
There have been numerous challenges that we have faced over the last three years. Hiring and retaining the right talent is one big challenge that all startups face & we are no different.
S J: Your plans
We plan to operate Pan India, via our experience stores in a franchise based model.
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