As the founder and CEO of Square Yards, there is one question I get asked often. What is our exit strategy? Honestly, the slightest thought of a day when I no longer run this business has never crossed my mind. I know that outside investors are focused on performance and returns on investments. I’ve also met serial entrepreneurs who continuously come up with new ideas and build new businesses, checking out of older ones.
However, what I believe in is this; If your startup is your dream, why would you think of an exit?
I reckon that what we create today is the only thing that outlives us. What we leave behind are the quality of lives we have impacted, our core values and the aggregate of the decisions and actions we take while building an organisation. I strongly believe that entrepreneurs and their teams must take responsibility to create legacies that will take the next generation to a level we can only imagine.
At Square Yards, with that very thought on our minds, our journey began. These have been my most important takeaways along the road travelled so far.
Ideas are worth nothing till executed
Square Yards started its operations in 2014 with a handful of people who were driven to provide a dependable and hassle-free home-owning experience to the common man. It was certainly not a new idea and none of the founders of Square Yards had any prior real estate experience. But we always realised and relied on the importance of execution.
We worked hard on identifying gaps and started executing on them. Needless to say that we made some mistakes, but most errors only taught us invaluable lessons, making our execution sharper while also helping us consolidate the numerous processes across different regions.
Institutionalising processes to achieve scale
Scaling up was a way of life for us; we were doubling manpower and revenues year on year. So what started with just three people in 2014 is now an organisation with 2,800 people on its payroll across 10 countries and we are inching closer to an annual gross transactional value of $ 1 billion.
At Square Yards, we are ever committed to growth. Once we had built our broad management skillsets and collaborations, we started acting on standardising processes.
When it comes to processes, flexibility can be the enemy of growth. If a start-up wants to scale, its leaders need to enable standardised and repeatable processes. In the broken real estate distribution industry, there were no readymade solutions, so we got together the right people and built the technology we needed from scratch.
Once we deployed our tech, there were two distinct results; Firstly, it reduced our operating costs and got us firmly on a nonlinear growth path. This ensured that beyond a certain threshold, our revenues could keep increasing without a similar increase in costs. Secondly, by offering tech-enabled value innovations to the consumer, we disrupted a fragmented industry and could create a new scalable and profitable business model in the same space where many businesses had previously tried in vain.
Presently, Square Yards’ network of apps and websites get a traffic of over 1 million visitors monthly while generating more than 18 million customer interactions and more than half a million meetings and site visits annually.
Yet our tech ensures that every point of contact with a customer, be it a scheduled call, a site visit, a mortgage or post sales documentation is digitally logged, monitored and reported, ensuring high levels of customer satisfaction throughout the home buying lifecycle.
It’s all about your people
Every organisation needs to find the best way to inculcate great relationships with its people.
For us, one of the key components of effective leadership has been people management. Our key focus has always been on acquiring the right ownership-driven talent and help them grow and nurture.
At Square Yards, we have pioneered the concept of Principal Partners. Today we have a team of 25 Principal Partners, with them acting as a mini CEO of their own vertical. Likewise, in sales we adopted the concept of a P&L account, making every P&L head accountable for the profits and losses of their individual units.
This model has been very effective in driving the strategic objectives to every part of the organisation amid rapid expansion. We believe hunger, drive to success and ownership are as important as the skill set.
One could be the founder CEO of an organisation or an employee adding value to its operations each day, a nagging question, however, remains; At the end of a long career, what do you want your legacy to be?
Tanuj Shori is the founder and CEO of Square Yards. Startup Stories is a series of accounts by startup entrepreneurs on how they built their businesses and found success. Read them here .