Suresh Rangarajan, Founder – CoLife
Suresh is a passionate & intense start-up professional. He was one of the early adopters of the internet world and a part of the founding team of Citi-Times JV TimesOfMoney.com. Under his enterprising leadership, remit2india.com went on to become the world’s #1 online money transfer portal & one of the most successful internet businesses in India. WCRC and Ernst & Young also awarded him the “Trend Setter in Real Estate” in 2014.
CoLife is a network of shared living spaces across the city, fashionably modern and located conveniently near work places. They are positioned as the long stay fully managed serviced apartments for the young millennials moving into the city and is operating under brands CoLive247.com and CoWork247.com.
“The satisfaction of staying in a community full of like-minded youngsters with fully furnished spaces is a dream come true for this segment. Add to this, the convenience of a single and affordable payment to take care of rent, maintenance, utilities & other services are some of the key reasons driving our frenzied customer acquisition and enrolment,” says Mr. Rangarajan.
CoLive247 operates by leasing entire buildings or clusters of 5-20 apartment each in a building on a long term basis and then completely furnishing the spaces and upgrading the premises with a host of amenities like internet, gas, cable, housekeeping, electricity, security, gym, foosball, TT, home theatre, X-Box, gym, etc, under single payment. The company has been operational for the past year and already has 1,000+ young millennials as its members living in communities and also has 25+ start-ups & SMEs operating in its co-working spaces. The co-living and co-working spaces are spread across 15 properties in strategic locations across Bangalore.
CoLife is also working on the blueprint of a unique SaaS-based app and inventory management system that shall help organize and streamline the currently unorganized PG market. The service will also complement their existing business in shared living and working communities. CoLife has raised $1 million and plans to expand in Pune, Hyderabad and Gurgaon.
Here are some more insights from the man in action, Mr. Suresh Rangarajan.
Tell us about your career, interests & passion.
I started my career with a dream job in Citibank. In the early 90s foreign banks were then a big craze. I was always fascinated like any youngster to be working with a large foreign company. One of the biggest attractions was that I could wear a tie to work! Looking back that such simple things could excite me, brings a big smile on my face even today. Everything was going well until I met with an accident in 2000 when I couldn’t go to work at Citi for a couple of months…until then I was under the impression that the bank was heavily dependent on me but realised to my surprise that I was easily dispensable. That was truly my turning point. I realized that I have to be at a place where my absence can to be felt. Realized that being a small fish in a big pond was not my cup of tea, even if the pond is small, I wanted to be the big fish/ shark, as I am very passionate about work. To me work is worship and I place it higher than anything else. Whatever I do, I do it with a lot of zest, passion and energy and the enthusiasm has been infectious and I believe in spreading that energy to my co-workers.
Who is your greatest inspiration & why?
I want to make an impact in whatever I do. I still believe that every human has a duty to perform and a definitive a role to play in the society. I want to be long remembered even after departing this land. To me Gandhi ji is remembered always and never forgotten by us for generations, the impacts created by some people are remembered. That’s my inspiration. Even Rajesh Khanna for that matter is always remembered and cherished. So, I inspire to do things that will be remembered by generations to come.
How did it all start? How were the initial 90 days like?
While I was building Artha as a real estate development company, I realized that all real estate companies like ours were chasing the same target segment – the middle class mid 30s family man. Actually, that target segment is a confused lot, with multiple challenges including young children and ageing parents. And 99% of the developer community was also chasing the same target segment, unmindful of the fact that today’s millennial i.e. the under 30 age group was ignored.
I chose to pursue this segment as an opportunity. Hence I started creating specific products that are addressed at these tenants only. While investors have an opportunity to earn higher returns, the housing shortage for millennials was also being solved in the process. Bangalore alone has over 12,000 PGs and 15 lakh people living in shared rental accommodation. The market hence is huge.
What’s your philosophy when it comes to doing business?
Very simple…being ethical comes naturally. And the mantra that I follow is to deliver whatever you promise and promise only what you can deliver. This has helped me immensely especially in my partner management because it builds lasting relationships on the basis of trust and transparency. People love to deal with me and the companies I represent because they know they don’t have to remind for what is due to them.
What are your expectations from the Real Estate Industry in 2017?
The real estate industry is going to accelerate majorly in the second half of 2017. With a series of sops announced by the government, we are well positioned for a great take off. The interest subsidy is a huge boost and I see micro and nano apartments becoming the darling of the market.
Did you manage to raise any funding?
One seed round of funding through a convertible debenture was raised and announced in the second half of 2016 for Rs.5 crs. We are looking to raise our next round in mid-2017.
What would you like to achieve in the next 3 years?
The vision is to get to 100,000 keys and $100Mn in revenues in 5 years. If we hit the half way mark in 3 years, I would be very happy.