Interview with Manoj Nair, CEO of Charity Awards sponsor RedGirraffe
Welcome to the Charity Awards Manoj. Tell us a little about yourself.
I think in short you could say I’m a passionate problem solver. I come from an army family background and was raised in New Delhi. But the entrepreneur bug bit me quite early in life – I saw a huge market gap in power hungry New Delhi where there used to be an average 10 hours of power outage everyday. I formed my first company and we used to trade in captive diesel power plants in Delhi in 1998 as a young 20-something. That grew into a hugely successful turnkey solution venture (purely due to market timing) and I sold my stake in 2005 (3 months after clearing the IAS exams in India). In 2003, I guess the challenge seeker in me embarked on a larger mission. To sit the incredibly competitive Civil Service Exams in India. I feel humbled to have made it to 157th rank in 2005 and all India second ranker in Civil service interview that year. But I must say it was a back breaking two years of preparation.
Working in the Ministry of Finance gave me the experience and in-depth exposure into the nuances of government functioning. I worked very closely with stock exchanges, other financial regulators, industry leaders and OECD on various taxation and industry related issues. Once I moved to London in early 2012, I went on to head a global asset management company providing discretionary and non-discretionary asset management services to multi-banked UHNIs’ family offices, Fund of funds and large institutional corporations until I successfully exited the venture in early 2015. Now, my sole passion is RedGirraffe.com and I’ve been fortunate to work with a great team on this since February 2015. We had started putting processes together in May of 2015.
What is RedGirraffe?
The problem we are trying to solve is this: In India, every landlords biggest worry is whether they would continue to get their rentals realized on time and if they be able to get their property vacated successfully post termination of rental contract (Look at the number of tenancy dispute case dragging in courts for ages). Right now when you rent or let a property in India, it’s pretty much akin to a nightmare. You either have to deal directly with the homeowner or tenant, as the case may be via few of the online property classified websites or have to deal with this entity called “local unregulated unlicensed estate agent”. Tenant verification is unheard of and so is verification of the landlord’s/property’s credentials. If you do manage to close the transaction, then what if there is illegal occupation of the property by unscrupulous tenants.
Our credit check and seven-point stringent verification process considerably reduces the chances of such an unfortunate happening. RG also has multiple value offerings for tenants like online payment processing; inter city and international moving assistance, handyman services etc. We are constantly integrating the value offerings for our landlords and tenants. Our sole motto is to “bring great tenants and great landlords together”. For corporations we make moving their employees as pain-free as possible.
It sounds like you’ve come up with this through personal experience?
Yes, absolutely. It’s not just a problem peculiar to India – many other emerging markets face this rental issue. The degree of severity remains different. Developed markets face a slightly different issue where the market disruptor would for sure be that of bringing pricing efficacy. We have great plans for UK in general and London Zone 1 to Zone 9 in particular. RedGirraffe.com is hopefully at the start of a great journey across a number of markets. I went through great frustration in trying to rent out my property in India, and I know of friends in various geographies around the world who have felt the same.
Our motto is, Why Fit In When You can #StandTall with RedGirraffe. And that’s true – after speaking to many friends, faculty and batch mates at the London School of Economics then at Harvard Business School, few of us have decided to get together and form RedGirraffe.com, to make tenants’ and landlords’ lives easier.
What makes you different, surely there are a number of companies trying to do this?
Until one has a USP there cannot be a valuable business. As of now let me simply put it this way that in India there is no other pan India large tech enabled residential brokerage firm. Add to it our pricing; stringent verification and strategic tie-ups shall for sure make us a formidable player in this space. We have few other strategic offering which I would like to hold it close to the chest for now. It’s just a matter of few months wherein we shall be launching those offerings in London and Mumbai.
And how did you get involved with the Charity Awards?
It’s an incredible opportunity to be involved in an event that is genuinely making a difference not only in Britain, but showcasing great work from around the world. Further also it’s a gathering of 400 people, many of whom are potentially facing or sometime would have surely faced the same issues with regards to unscrupulous estate agent network in India and the resulting utter lack of transparency. We’ve grown substantially – how many E-Commerce companies can confidently speak of generating sizeable revenues within few months of launch? In such a short space of time, and we want to be able to share some of our successes with the others present.
RedGirraffe.com has offices currently in London, Gurgaon and New Delhi. It intends to spread its technology arm to San-Fransisco Bay area soon. It is a disruptive real-estate technology company set up to help landlords and tenants with the often-painful process of finding the right counter party. It does this through a seamless interplay of a sophisticated, proprietary verification and matching technology, and clinical devotion to operational excellence. Via RedGirraffe.com, we want to bring together great Landlords with great Tenants. But we go even further, making sure that corporations, governments and our partner estate agents are happy as part of the ecosystem.
We are the world’s local estate agency. Why fit in when you can #StandTall?
RedGirraffe.com provides verified listings and tenants, qualified and dedicated relationship managers, end-to-end assistance to make the process as pain-free as possible, secure online rental E-commerce payments platform, personalized/ customizable dashboards for both landlords and tenants, and many other value added services.