Entrepreneurs are the most resilient beings in the world: Vikas Chaturvedi
While the global pandemic has bought economies to a halt and massively disrupted businesses, it has also fuelled start-up dreams and we even saw several Indian start-ups achieve Unicorn status during the pandemic period. The times have never been better for the budding entrepreneurs to give wings to their start-up dreams.
The Government, too, has come up with various schemes to support its ‘Vocal for Local’ drive. A case in point is the recent Rs 1,000 crore Start-up India Seed Fund announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Start-up India International Summit 2021 held earlier this year.
Adgully is turning the spotlight on the entrepreneurs who fought against all odds to bring their dreams to fruition in our special series – START-UP STARS. We at Adgully wholeheartedly support the ‘Vocal for Local’ movement and over the next few months will be featuring all local/ homegrown businesses, brands and Apps.
Before joining Xanadu, Vikas Chaturvedi, CEO, Xanadu Realty, spent the first 15 years working with FMCG and real estate giants in the Middle East and India that taught him valuable life lessons. But working for a well-established outfit and working at a start-up is like chalk and cheese. Chaturvedi loves fighting against all odds and carving a niche for the services that Xanadu provides. That is what motivated him to join a start-up in the first place.
In conversation with Adgully, Vikas Chaturvedi, CEO, Xanadu Realty, speaks about how Xanadu, as a tech-driven marketing and sales solutions start-up for the real estate sector, is convincing the long-established players to experiment with technology-backed customised sales and marketing solutions and much more.
What gap did you want to fulfil with your start-up? What is the core business proposition?
The core business proposition at Xanadu Realty is to create customer-centric brands by leveraging the latest technology and data analytics. Everything we do is deeply rooted in science and this is exactly what we wanted to pioneer in the industry. Many outfits deliver marketing and sales strategies, but what sets Xanadu apart is that we walk the extra mile. We provide unparalleled demand generation and market penetration with customised and comprehensive sales and marketing solutions.
How did you identify your TG? Did you carry out any feasibility study prior to starting your business?
Honestly, 80% of the real estate market is fragmented. Top 10 developers make up to 25% of the total sales. All developers need acceleration and customise solutions to their unique problems to flourish. Xanadu was founded by industry veterans Anurag Singhvi and R Karthik. Both of them brought years of experience and a vision to perpetuate institutional growth for businesses to the table. The TG was well established from the early days – real estate companies, established players, and new entrants. But of course, like any other start-up, we ran thorough feasibility exercises before we went on the floor. This helped us in finetuning our offerings and enabled us to deliver bespoke services to our clients – right from day one.
What were the challenges that you faced in your start-up journey and how did you overcome them?
I was a part of the founding team at Xanadu and the journey from a thriving start-up to an established business has been quite eventful. Since the time we started 5 years back, we have been growing strength to strength. However, there have been multiple challenges that we have been tackling and emerging as winners – right from geopolitical unrest, demonetisation, GST, NBFC crisis to COVID-19. But I feel like the most substantial challenge that we faced as a tech-driven marketing and sales solutions start-up for the real estate sector, was convincing the long-established players to experiment with technology-backed customised sales and marketing solutions. The real estate sector is still relatively conventional and innovative technologies only find a place in the construction aspect of the business. Integrating real estate market with sales, marketing, and customer relationship management aspects of the real estate sector was, in my opinion, quite a challenge.
What were the clearances that you required for your venture from various authorities?
They were the basic licenses that have to be in order for any real estate business, such as getting RERA registered, business registrations, service registrations, procuring real estate operator license, among others. We did not face much of a hassle with paperwork and clearances.
Funds/ finance is the prime issue of almost all start-ups. What can the industry and the Government do to address this issue and ease the capital requirements of start-ups?
Financial crunch is one of the biggest hurdles that all start-ups face in their nascent stage. There is financial aid available for the real estate sector in Mumbai that a mid-sized organisation as service industry cannot provide any collaterals for them. But it can be addressed by the industry only in tandem with the government. Simplifying the registration processes, providing tax exemptions, and deploying multiple schemes to ensure easy-access funds to the registered start-ups, especially in the service sector, are a few ways in which the government can address the capital requirements of start-ups in India.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Modi announced a Startup India Seed Fund. How do you see start-ups benefiting from it?
I think this is a fantastic initiative by the government that envisages a robust start-up ecosystem that nurtures the blooming entrepreneurs of the country. It aims at backing the brilliant domestic business ideas by ensuring the availability of funds. One of the biggest reasons start-ups cannot take off in the market is the lack of funding. It is a great initiative for small, micro start-ups and provides them with a booster in times of distress and enables them to grow and cope up with challenges. This Indian government initiative shines like a beacon of hope for all the aspiring entrepreneurs across the country. However, I will like to add that they should also think about mid-size service organisations.
How is digital helping you further your business?
At Xanadu, we’ve always leveraged technology and smart data analytics to improve operational efficiency and unlock true business potential for our clients – even when the pandemic had not forced businesses to go the digital route. That being said, in the upcoming years, we plan on taking it up by several notches with innovative technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning driving our daily operations.
What were your key learnings from 2020? How do you see the start-up ecosystem progressing in 2021?
My biggest takeaway from the year 2020 has been this – even the best-laid plans can go awry. The start-up ecosystem in India, which was riding the wave of success in late 2019 and early 2020, was severely impacted by the pandemic. Start-ups had to downsize their teams, rethink their expenditure, and shut down. But I genuinely believe that entrepreneurs are the most resilient beings in the world. I have learnt that by being nimble footed and not be bogged down by the challenges. I am glad to say that many start-up entrepreneurs have not only swiftly addressed the situation, but they have also managed to adapt to the changing start-up landscape. Going forward, I am optimistic that the start-up ecosystem will bounce back stronger than ever. We’re mid-way through the year and have already displayed signs of recovery – the remainder of the year will be no different either.
What would be your message for the budding entrepreneurs?
Every entrepreneur goes through challenges and hurdles. Don’t get disheartened by them; instead, be ready to face them head-on. Stay true to your concept. Protect your people. Have clearly defined goals and a strong execution plan in place to achieve them. Don’t waste the funds raised on frivolous prospects. The funds raised are vital for the cash flow and profitability of the business and it is fundamental to all businesses. If you believe in your product and its ability to address a pain point for your TG, then be patient, give your best and success will be yours.