Starpreneur Siddharth Sharma interviewed Gaurav Munjal, CEO Flat.to

BUILDING SOMETHING CONCRETE

There is not a second of the day that Gaurav Munjal  could find some time for thinking something else other than his work. He is always absorbed in his work. The founder and CEO of Flat.to (http://flat.to/), has been chasing his dream of owning a company right from his college days at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies.  During his school and college days, he was an extremely active student, both in the academic and extra-curricular sense of the term. Siddharth Sharma brings you this exclusive interview.

Q.  Tell us about your history?

I am basically from Jaipur. I did my 12th from St. Xavier’s Senior Secondary School, Jaipur in 2008 and after that I moved to Mumbai to pursue my under-graduation in Computer Engineering at NMIMS. I am a die-hard programming fan . I love coding and programming.   During my study at NMIMS, I got a chance to discover my passion. I took part in various competitions and events during my college days and they took me a step closer to my dream. During my college days, I started Unacademy whose aim was to provide free educational high quality video to facilitate students of various streams with their learning. This sowed in me the seeds of entrepreneur and instilled in me the passion towards entrepreneurship. After I completed my under-graduation, I joined Directi as Software Engineering Intern.

Q. What gap in the market did you discover that persuaded you to launch your start-up? Photo 2

Lots of students and professionals relocate to Mumbai every year, but there was not a single website that understands their needs and provides the flawless experience of finding a flat to stay. Most of the sites are classified, which are filled with cluttered ads and fake listings.

So I decided to start Flat.to as an initiative that will provide a rich web experience to anyone (but mainly students and professionals) looking for a place to stay. They can search for flats near their college/workplace, and can also see exactly how far the flats are on a map. Once they have narrowed down their options, they can get in touch with the broker or the owner of that particular flat.

Q. How long did you spend developing before launching?

I had this idea on my mind since the time I was in my college. After I completed my under-graduation, I had an urge to start a company. So I decided to have a reality check and created a group on facebook that catered the need of college students of searching flats. The group became very popular among students and started growing at a tremendous rate.  From this I recognized the gap that existed in the market and decided to turn my idea into reality. After this there was no turning back and I with my team started Flat.to. Development is still on and we recently came out of beta. We invested considerably in social media platforms, because that’s where most of our targeted audience is.

Q. Has your start-up had the feedback and growth you expected since launching?

We received a very warm welcome in the market and I would like to thank all those who trusted me and had faith in me at that time. We first targeted college students and, to our surprise, it became popular among them and we received overwhelming response. It has been growing since then and with time passing by we have been successful in establishing our brand in the market and winning the faith of our clients. The volume of success we achieved can’t be expressed in numbers. We started our facebook page in April this year and I am feeling very proud to tell you that we have over 8900 followers on facebook. I am very happy the way our graph is shooting up day by day.

Q. Where do you see your start-up in 5 Years’ time?

I wish that we establish Flat.to as the segment leader in the new reality niche-online property indexing. We are continuously working on expanding our branches in major cities of India. Currently, the portal covers Mumbai and has partnered with colleges like Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), Thadomal Shahani Engineering College (TSEC), and a student exchange organisation called AIESEC. After consolidating its operations in Mumbai, the company will expand into Bangalore and Pune.

Q. What advice would you offer to any soon to be start-up founders out there?

Well there is no magical formula in the world that makes a start-up successful, but we can always work on making it successful. I believe that one should be passionate about the things one does. One should take a reality check before stepping into the world of entrepreneurship as there is no guarantee of success in this world but there is a lot one can achieve through his/her hard-work and smartness. I would like to conclude with a small saying which always inspired me:

“Manzil unhi ko milti hai, Jinke sapno me jaan hoti hai,
Pankh se kuchh nahi hota, Hauslon se udaan hoti hai.”


About the Author

Amit Grover, founder of AHAtaxis.com, is an IIT Delhi and IIM Indore alumnus, having more than 12 years of industry experience. He started Nurture Talent Academy, and earlier worked with Infosys, Asian Paints, Onida and Mumbai Angels. He regularly blogs on www.amitgrover.co.in. AHA Taxis, his recent venture, offers one way outstation travel across India.

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