Nexus Venture Partners-backed real estate portal Housing.co.in has finally bought the Housing.com domain name as well as a national number 03-333-333-333, for a substantial sum of $1 million. According to Advitiya Sharma, co-founder, Housing, the domain was purchased for over half that amount, while the rest was spent on getting the number. It (domain) was purchased from an individual in the US, who was not using it at the time.
We asked Sharma why did the company spend so much on a domain, to which he replied, "Apart from the fact that this is our first step towards global expansion, the .com domain has its own set of advantages. First of all, .com commands a very important place in the minds of the market and the consumers, and also adds a lot of brand value."
"In addition, it also has its monetary advantages when it comes to search engine optimisation (SEO)," he said. The national line makes sense since the company wants to stay connected to on-the-move real-estate customers even when they are not connected to the internet. "It's hard to forget the Just Dial number; we want the same kind of recall for our new number as well," he said. Sharma added that the company has a number of Asian countries on its radar and will expand internationally in the six months.
The company had raised $2.5 million in pre-Series A funding from Nexus Venture Partners in June this year. Sharma mentioned that part of that has been used to make the purchases.
Prior to that, it also attracted two rounds of angel funding. In March 2013, the company raised angel funding from former Network18 CEO Haresh Chawla, immediately after securing an undisclosed sum from a group of angel investors, led by Zishaan Hayath, co-founder of the phone commerce company Chaupaati Bazaar, which was acquired by Kishore Biyani's Future Group a couple of years ago.
Mumbai-based Housing was set up in 2012 by a group from IIT Bombay. It enables real estate brokers to upload unlimited listings on the site while users can search properties for free. The venture is owned and operated by Locon Solutions Pvt Ltd and currently has 30 IIT graduates on board. The service is currently available in seven cities—Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Gurgaon, Chennai, Noida and Ghaziabad (a majority of which were added this year).
Earlier this month, the company had appointed Richa Bansal, co-founder and managing director of online jewellery and fashion accessories retailer 21Diamonds.in, as its chief business officer. As part of her new role, Bansal will lead sales in the firm for both the broker as well as land verticals.
Last month, the firm added a 'land classified segment' feature that will enable farmers and villagers to list and sell their land on its platform. Around the same time, in an exclusive video interview with Techcircle.in, Sharma had mentioned that the company is building its business on the lines of Zillow, a NASDAQ-listed online real estate database founded in 2005 by Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink, former Microsoft executives and founders of the Microsoft spin-off Expedia.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)