Can a software platform help residents of an apartment complex to not only connect with each other, but also resolve multiple issues that they face? Vikas Malpani, one of the three founders of Commonfloors dot com, believes that only technology can offer an effective solution to the common, and seemingly unsurmountable, problems being faced by apartment residents across India. To specifically cater to the needs of apartment communities, the founders decided to launch a portal that allowed apartment owners to organise, manage and interact as a community. “The software, which is absolutely free, helps an RWA to create groups, share information, manage accounts, and allow residents to interact with each other on a real-time basis, so that there is greater efficiency and transparency in working,” says Malpani.
Six years after launch, Commonfloor today has more than fifty thousand residential communities across the country using its free software. “The basic idea of this Portal is to bring the owners, buyers and members of the RWA in close connect with each other,” says Malpani. The software is basically a complete ERP solution for apartment complexes, and is given free to an RWA that registers with a website. Since large residential communities have multi-crore budgets, and residents want more transparency and accountability in the system, Malpani says their platform helps the communities achieve this objective effectively.
The platform can also be operated through a mobile phone, and messaging can also be customised. In addition, a registered RWA gets a private online space, where people can discuss issues, and plan activities for their communities. “The strength of this platform is that we have very deep focus on technology and the product. Recently we added new features, comprising of a parking management system and facilities booking – the upgradation is a continuous process,” says Malpani.
The revenue model of the company, which has now close to 300 employees in Bangalore, Gurgaon and Noida, is based on connecting the customers with the service providers and product companies, who want to advertise on the Portal.
Commonfloor acts as a sourcing and marketing channel for real estate companies, property dealers and service companies, by allowing them access to a captive audience, in the form of RWA members across the country. “We are a consumer product company not a property listing portal, and the objective is to become a one-stop destination for home seekers, residents and associations across the country,” he says. Malpani says that urban residents today want a quality lifestyle, and wish to simplify the house buying and living experience. The website also acts as an information exchange, listing the legal documents required for various transactions, as well as information about the latest deals and services. Vendors and suppliers of different classes can register themselves online, and offer services to the customers who are members of the online RWA.
When asked about the challenges faced by portals like Commonfloor, Malpani says that a large number of RWAs do not work professionally, and have no standardised systems.