23 Jun 2017, 09:20 — 8 min read
Deciding what industry to enter can be a crucial decision that decides the level of success an entrepreneur might enjoy. In the case of Fazil Sathar and Priya Fazil, their decision to enter the real estate market in 2004 was motivated by the booming growth of Kochi as an upcoming metropolis and the age-old desire of people from Kerala for owning houses. Thus, Dreamflower Housing Projects Pvt Ltd started in 2004 providing affordable homes for residents in Kochi. Priya has the distinction of being one of the few women entrepreneurs in the building business in the city.
In conversation with GlobalLinker (GL) Fazil Sathar (FS) and Priya Fazil (PS) share the story of their company and their plans for its future. Watch this video to learn more.
GL: Tell us about your business.
FS: Dreamflower Housing Projects was started in 2004. Our objective was to bring affordable housing to Kochi residents. Today, we are a builder known for timely delivery, quality construction and our responsibility does not end with the handing over a home. We take care of all our customer’s requirements afterwards.
Soon after graduation my wife and I had a dream of starting something of our own. We hail from normal middle-class families. I started my career with Asian Paints and then went to the corporate world with IDEA and worked also with Saint Gobain Glass India Limited. My specialisation was marketing and Priya’s specialisation was HR and Finance.
We identified the construction industry as our avenue for setting up an enterprise for one main reason. This was one industry where we could use goods from Kerala, produce our product and sell it within Kerala which did not need much expertise. Malayalis have a passion for real estate and gold so we thought we would capitalise on this low hanging fruit.
Our objective was to do things differently and today we are ‘building dreams and blooming happiness’.
PF: I started this company in 2004. It was a booming business. Business picked up after some time. Around 2008 the business moved on and my husband who was an expert on sales came on board. I take care of the operations side. He takes care of the sales side. We do coordinated work taking this business forward.
GL: What are the challenges you have faced in establishing your business?
FS: We are an intercaste arranged married couple who could today be called a role model for such marriages. We don’t believe in obstacles and challenges. There were only big players when we started out in 2004. We identified a niche segment where our focus was a shorter span of completion for projects - one year. We provide homes which people could afford within city limits. Investors could be assured of success because of guaranteed rentals. With Kochi being the bustling metropolis that it is, we felt sure of success. We started with seed capital of INR 1 lakh rupees and bank funding and took it from there.
PF: A business person has to face challenges every day of his or her life. Challenges, however, are stepping stones to success. When you are doing business you have a lot of trouble with the environment. As builders, you are disturbing the peaceful life of neighbours. Unions, government are all changes that are inherent to the industry. These are always present in the industry. You have to employ the right people in the right role to tackle these challenges. We believe in always giving back to society.
GL: What is the USP of your business?
FS: First, we are a transparent builder. People get transparency on the area, transparency on the home with no hidden cost. Second, we provide what we call fully-loaded homes. Everything is provided for - all you need is your furniture and curtains to move in. That provides huge comfort to the buyer. Why does a customer come to a builder? Because they don’t have the time and expertise to construct a home for themselves. Thirdly, we guarantee on-time delivery and provide after-sales support.
GL: What are some of the milestones of your business?
FS: Dreamflower started business in 2004. At that time we offered a single bedroom flat for INR 4.5 lakh and a two bedroom flat for 6.5 lakh. That is affordable for the middle income group. Slowly we shifted our focus to utility apartments. We were the first to have the basement car park system in Kerala. We now provide premium utility apartments which have lifts, generators, back-ups and centralised gas supply. We have been providing homes in the luxury segment since 2010. Our homes can go up to INR 2 Crore.
Our Skyvilla project is one where every floor is dedicated to one single owner who gets luxury facilities including a 360 degree view of the city. Today, Dream Flower has the highest number of projects close to the metro line. We have 16 projects in the vicinity of metro locations. We also have a luxury project in the much sought after location near the highway.
PF: My company has grown from a small to a large company in terms of turnover and manpower. Over the period of 13 years, we have handed over 43 projects on time.
We were focusing on customers from budget income groups but we found our affordable housing units were taken by customers who were much wealthier than our target segment. Our clientele has been segregated basically to four major sectors - Indian armed services, retail, service sector and government. NRIs constitute 20% of our clientele. 70% of our clients buy our homes to stay, 20% buy it to give it on rental and about 10% buy it with the aim of getting capital appreciation which is a retirement income for many people. Our referral rate is very high and when we did not have money for marketing for the first 7 years, referrals gave our business a major boost.
GL: What role do you feel GlobalLinker plays in connecting and assisting SMEs?
FS: When we started in 2004, lead generation came primarily from advertisements in print media. Fast forward now to 2017 and the vast majority of our leads come from online media. The current generation does not read newspapers. On an online platform like GlobalLinker brand awareness would be generated about our company. It would help us connect with the HNI diaspora of Malayalees who may be interested in buying a home.
GL: What is your big business dream?
FS: I have read through the book ‘The Elephant Catchers’ by Subroto Bagchi. Scalability is a very tricky term. Dreamflower is focused to be a niche builder in Kochin city. We are not intending to build a Burj Khalifa. We are focused on our niche segment of INR 40-80 lakh which will see a steady demand. We grew through the recession of 2008. Our plan is to be the most preferred builder for a person looking for affordable housing within the limits of the city.
GL: What is your message to aspiring entrepreneurs?
FS: Doing business in India or Kerala is not an easy game. There will be challenges. If you work like a dog, then you can live like a king; but if you work like a king then you’ll need to live like a dog.
Network with SMEs mentioned in this article by clicking on the 'Invite' button on their profile. Fazil Sathar and Priya Fazil
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Posted byGlobalLinker Staff
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