India’s real estate development, for the longest time, had consisted of multi-story residential and commercial buildings in urban settings. With increasing traffic and the cities bursting at their seams, getting to and from work every day had become a tremendous challenge.
We founded Green Village, a real estate development company with a commitment to green buildings and green lifestyles, in 2008.
Among our most fundamental assumptions was that people should work within walking or cycling distance of where they live. Whether we were working in urban or rural settings, this basic assumption led us to design real estate from a new perspective.
In urban settings, where land was expensive and we had to build based on a vertical architectural style, instead of building residential buildings and commercial buildings, we built multi-story towers with 75% residential and 25% commercial space. We structured the residential space such that apartments came in various sizes, and employees at different levels could be accommodated in the same complex.
In rural or small town settings, we created campuses which were largely carbon-free, in that cars were not part of the day-to-day lifestyle. The campuses, again, had both residential and commercial accommodations, and came in multiple sizes and tiers. Bicycles and cycle-rickshaws were the preferred mode of transportation inside the campuses.
In all our projects, we designed around a renewable energy-based lifestyle. Our primary power source was solar energy, in collaboration with AdiShakti.
Among our rural/small town customers were Maya Ray, the highly successful rural BPO, Doctor On Wire and Doctor At Hand, the healthcare companies, as well as Urja and Oishi, two artisan-focused fashion/lifestyle brands.
Our urban customers included numerous IT and ITES companies, as well as financial services firms.
With HDFC, we created excellent financing programs such that companies could offer some of their employees the opportunity to buy their own apartment/house/bungalow, thereby creating a loyalty program. Think about it – you don’t have to drive to work, and your employer is offering to help you buy a place in the same building/campus that you work in…how much better does it get?
While the urban projects were going well, we increasingly focused on the rural/small town projects. The opportunity for creativity was much higher, and the quality of life we were able to provide was orders of magnitude better.
Thus, about five years into our history, we started collaborating with large companies like Infosys, Wipro, Tata, Reliance, IBM, GE, and TI to build enormous rural campuses that could house thousands of people. We would build these campuses as clusters of a hundred residential units and a commercial unit where these 100 people could work. Both commercial and residential facilities were, needless to say, fully connected. All commercial units were equipped with telepresence systems for high resolution video conferencing.
We also paid attention to the amenities in these campuses, and invited retail and restaurant entrepreneurs to set up shop. A very popular category of service emerged out of these collaborations whereby small entrepreneurs came into existence and did all the grocery shopping for the inhabitants of the campuses, taking orders online, and delivering the merchandise to their homes on a daily basis. Another category of service was around delivering fresh-cooked food to the families, which was important because in twenty-first century India, many of the families that lived and worked in these campuses were dual-career households.
The campuses also had daycare facilities, laundromats, hair and beauty salons, health clubs, meditation centers – all the necessary amenities for a healthy, balanced lifestyle. They also had great entertainment including movie theaters, dance clubs, and concert halls.
Gradually, it became evident that Green Village was in the business of building twenty-first century corporate villages.
By 2020, we had built a few thousand such villages and had completely changed the dynamic of India’s development from a concentrated, urbanized phenomenon to one that was distributed and sustainable, offering a tremendously better life to the people in these establishments.
While the model flowed naturally with office-based services companies and small-scale manufacturing, it did not work with heavy industries and large-scale manufacturing. But India’s manufacturing industry was also booming, and all over the country, cars, chips, metals, phones, toys, clothes, and computers were rolling off the pipelines. Mining towns were extracting natural resources from the depths of India’s rich reserves. Power plants were working round the clock to meet the country’s unrelenting hunger for energy.
Workers in all these industries also needed a quality lifestyle. And for that, we founded a separate company, Green Town.
A call to Indian entrepreneurs everywhere, Vision India 2020 challenges and inspires readers to build the future now. In this “futuristic retrospective,” author Sramana Mitra shows how over the next decade, start-up companies in India could be turned into billion-dollar enterprises. Vision India 2020, which encompasses a wide range of sectors from technology to infrastructure, healthcare to education, environmental issues to entertainment, proves how even the most sizeable problems can be solved by exercising bold, ambitious measures. Renowned in the business world, author Sramana Mitra conceived Vision India 2020 from her years of experience as a Silicon Valley strategy consultant and entrepreneur. Well aware of the challenges facing today’s aspiring entrepreneurs, Mitra provides strategies, business models, references, and comparables as a guide to help entrepreneurs manifest their own world-changing ideas.
This segment is a part in the series : Vision India 2020