Sramana Mitra: When you realized there was very little information available on the Internet to assist you with establishing an owners association, what did you do?
San Banerjee: We recognized that there was a huge vacuum. Apartment complexes were growing very fast in India and owners were looking for information. They were also looking for assistance with the processes for managing their complexes. Once an association was formed it was responsible for running the apartment complex. Associations had to pay for security, grounds maintenance, and everything else. There was nowhere for owners to turn to get assistance with those functions. This was frustrating, especially for first time homeowners.
Venkat and I looked for any software solutions out there for managing and association and we could not find any. Venkat had a high performance computing background and I had an ERP background. We realized that an online mini-ERP solution would be sufficient to help these various associations manage their complexes. We knew that if we built a solution it had to be low budget. Associations are non-profit organizations and they do not have a lot of money to spend.
In 2008 Venkat took a sabbatical and started working on the technical solution. We launched our solution in three months. We offered a prototype that had 5% of the functionality that we offer today. We went to the market with that. We showed it to our apartment complex as well as a few other apartment complexes around. People were very supportive. We then went out and contracted a graphics design firm to develop the UI. The owner of the graphic design firm loved it so much that he did a demo of our solution for his apartment complex. His complex was a bit of a high end complex and they went ahead and purchased a subscription for the product. Within two months of launching the site we had our first paying customer.
Sramana Mitra: How much does a subscription cost?
San Banerjee: Our fees were 100 rupees per flat, per year. Our first complex had 300 flats.
Sramana Mitra: Who was the customer? The association or the individual homeowners?
San Banerjee: The association was the customer. They represented the apartment complex. In India the Managing Committee is equivalent to a Homeowners Association in the US. The management committee is a group of owners elected by the other owners. There were typically 6 to 12 members on a Managing Committee and they are the ones responsible for selecting vendors.
Sramana Mitra: So your sales cycle was primarily focused on the Managing Committees?
San Banerjee: Exactly. They made all of the decisions for the properties as a whole. They were the ones who contracted for grounds maintenance or purchased contracts for security guards. It was a natural fit for us to sell our software to them as well.