Manoj Nair, Founder & CEO,, ET RealEstate

June 24, 2023

RedGirraffe is trying to transform the real estate transactions happening in the country. It aims to bring in transparency in the real estate financial transactions and bring back the lost trust of home buyers. In an interview with ETRealty, Manoj Nair, Founder & CEO of the company talks about his journey and future plans.

1) What motivated you to choose Entrepreneurship?

I come from an army background. However, at the age of 22, I cited a huge market gap and decided to launch an engineering company that would trade in captive power plants to counter massive and frequent power outages in Delhi. That seemed to have worked well. Later in life, Indian Civil Service happened to me, followed by an opportunity to lead a global Asset Management Firm in London. Now with, we (the founding team) quite clearly see a massive international fin-tech play of fusing Banking and Real Estate together, thereby unlocking significant value to all the stakeholders. So in some way you may say that opportunity mismatch excites me and if I feel I could add value and create a product, I venture in wholeheartedly with whatever resources I would have access to. World may choose to use the term “Entrepreneurship” but in my little world, I like to call it as “chasing passion”. I am reminded of a quote from Peter Drucker here, who once said, “Entrepreneurship is neither a science nor an art. It is just a practice.”

2) What is the core aim of’s business model and what kind of problems are you trying to solve?

Well, I would suggest that you ask your friends, colleagues and family as to when was the last time he/she/they had had to deal with an estate agent or a developer firm and how was the experience like? The answer that you would receive and the painful stories that you would hear are the exact kind of reasons, which made ten of us (co-founders) study this global problem closely while in London & Boston. The market gap that we zeroed in on was of massive “trust deficit” regardless of which jurisdiction we were looking at. The issue of trust deficit albeit in varying degrees, remain as much in Delhi NCR, Mumbai & Hyderabad as much as it remains in London, Singapore or for that matter in Manhattan, New York. There was never a last mile solution at sight. You would have a lot of online classified service offering companies, high street estate agents (in developed markets) or non-regulated brokers (in emerging markets), Developers, Banks, Property buyers, Landlords and Tenants. Bring trust into this business and you would have solved a global conundrum. It’s easier said than done, but we are cautiously optimistic that our Fintech-Realtech last mile layout would radically transform real estate transactions globally. We technologically integrate with every large bank operating in the country where we launch our operations and usher in absolute transparency in the real estate financial transactions via this product. In India’s context, this simple but very powerful change coupled with the current demonetisation initiative would undoubtedly change the game of real estate in India.

3) What’s your outlook on real estate sales market in India?

The prices surely need to cool down. To answer this question in detail we must look at few numbers. As per Assocham and Real Estate Research firm Liases Foras, the unsold inventory in the residential cum commercial real estate segment in India have risen to a range between 22% and 43% with the maximum unsold stock lying in the Delhi NCR followed by Mumbai MR. The number of fully ready but unsold properties within 28 cities in India (as of 10th November 2016) stands at 1,24,906 units. By December 2016, this number would swell to 2,24,672 units. The cumulative figures by end of December 2017 and December 2018 are projected to be 5,82,754 units and 9,14,506 units respectively. So supply being where it is, we believe the story of how much the property prices are going to come down would pretty much be a factor of demand augmentation.

• Interest rate cuts: Demonetisation has flushed banks with Cash. Banks would indeed like to advance loan at attractive pricing.
• Imminent executive orders in USA: It’s reasonably apparent that Trump intends to cut the US corporate tax rates to 15%. The effect; emerging market banks would have to increase the interest rates to control the inflation.
• Stricter Immigration rules: A large hit on ITES would have its ripple down effect in consumer spending.
• Brent Crude price rise: We have seen that in the last one year crude has advanced from its all-time low figure of $28/bbl to $56/bbl. India being a net energy importer, any appreciable rise in oil price fuels inflation.
• Finally, Consumer perception: Post demonetisation, the word on the street is that prices are expected to fall by 30% to 45% from its glory days. People are psychologically ready to wait it out for 24-36 months.

As I see it, someone amongst the three players would have to take a price hit. Either the bankers take a haircut or the buyer moves in to save the day and start buying at the current rates. These two scenarios seem very far-fetched to me. That said, what are we left with? Well, the developers. Yes, all eyes are now on the developers. It’s them who need to act and act fast. No matter who says what otherwise, unless prices are reduced drastically, these properties would struggle to find its buyers

4) How has been the experience so far of doing business in an unorganized sector like real estate?

Real Estate as we know remains one of the most integrated business sectors with over 250 backward and forward linkages to other sectors. However, you would be surprised to know that regardless of whether one is operating in an emerging market or in a matured market like UK or US there remains clearly identifiable market gap. So operating in India in that respect is no different. It surely has operational challenges but offers humongous opportunity as well. Specifically in our case, where we are fusing Technology, Banking with Real Estate, the game becomes exciting. In fact it’s in many ways due to the highly unorganised and unregulated sector that the opportunity to usher in transparency remains paramount. Speaking with consumers, one would realise that there is a sense of helplessness and frustration due to the opaqueness and umpteen cases of cheating and high handedness. Customers look forward to quality service levels. It’s a mistake to assume that Indian urban consumer is always looking for a bargain even at the cost of quality. That’s a wrong notion.

5) What has been your biggest learning in the due course of establishing your business?

Building a business is a highly intuitive process. As a leader one would have to engage in umpteen decisions every day. There remains literally zero margin for error. Whenever you commit one, you need to spring back on your feet in no time. remains my third business venture. My experiences taught me that it all starts with clarity of your purpose. You should start when you can look straight into the eye of the person in the mirror and get a very comfortable and confident feel that you could pull it through successfully. Good or bad, once you take a decision, you stick with it. So the process when the journey starts remains the most crucial one. Secondly, I have learnt that alone one can only achieve that much. It’s always the pack / people or the team that delivers. How powerful the final product remains is the absolute subset of the set of talents you have on your side. I most firmly believe that every business is merely a subset of the quality of people it has. This, I believe remains a universal truth. Spend 10 minutes with the A team of any organisation and you could pretty much gauge the standard of final deliverables to expect. So the most important learning for me was to “Choose one’s team with utmost care. It’s they who are going to shape your organisation in the long run”.

6) What are the challenges you faced so far?

This is a very interesting question, Ankit. Right from the time you ideate the venture, look for and engage in conversation with people you want to Take along in the journey, Build a successful technology platform, Market test your idea, Implement Go to Market strategy, and the first 100 consumers, next 900 customers, strategic partnerships, so on and so forth. If I were to start counting the challenges, I might end up writing a book. But that’s the fun of this beautiful game called “Building a wonderful venture, grounds-up”. I am sure it’s the same story with every dreamer who decides to chart on a path less travelled.

7) Given that there are so many start-ups in this segment, how would you manage to get exclusive mandates from developers?

I see the current global play in four-folds. You have start-ups focussed on classified model of business, the ones which do alternative leasing, ones that support primary and secondary sales, some that’s bringing in virtual reality and AI into the game and finally few of the international players who do large ticket leasing purely due to their principal organisations supporting the regional offices with qualified leads. Look very closely and you would find we don’t fit into any of these segments. You would need to look too fine to understand what’s our play. That said, answering second part of your question; we don’t go after any mandates from developers. In fact, our business model doesn’t warrant any. I firmly believe that in real estate if your business model has a huge pull factor and in laying the processes if you could hold demand side of things, you have an upper hand. Supply is there in plenty. You don’t have an innovative business, if you are engaged in simply and conventionally selling/leasing inventory of developers. That’s not the way to play the game. You don’t want to end up becoming just another Foxtons, CBRE or Zoopla. Such model runs the risk of hitting a glass ceiling at some point in time when the brokerage and subscription fees undergo correction, which it will. I wish I could open up more on the USP of For strategic reasons, I would have to hold few cards close to me for now.

8) What has been your worst business mistake, and what did you do to overcome it?

I cannot think of something off the fly, honestly. Maybe, I was way too lucky not to have committed some grand gaffe’s, which could have potentially left few stories worth sharing. Hope that remains the case going forward as well.

9) Where do you see yourself and your company in 5 years from now?

That’s a pretty futuristic question, which may demand a very specific input. Well, then this is what I have to say. Team RedGirraffe remains steadfastly resolved nevertheless cautiously optimistic to be able to ring the bell on Nasdaq market site on 7th of August 2022. Amen! (Please don’t ask me what’s with the date).>

  • Published On Mar 8, 2017 at 07:36 PM IST

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