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We at the PTC would describe ourselves as “connoisseurs” of the world’s finest (take-away) cuisines- with a common point of consternation being whether to opt for Chinese or Indian food- both being excellent!.
It would seem that global capital VC funds were also weighing up a similar quandary between the two giants of APAC and have made their decision on who they are currently favoring.
There is an awful lot the world doesn’t know (yet) about India. In this article we strive to get more clarity on the ins and outs of this booming economy. How does the Indian culture affect spending habits, what should start-ups know before entering the Indian market and what does the Proptech landscape in India look like today?
India is just built a little different. The average revenue per user is entirely concentrated around long-term assets. It’s not a big consumer nation but instead focusses on education, health, real estate, and gold. Especially gold is a big HIT: 18% of the world’s gold is held by Indian consumers! Interesting is that those consumers (all consumers, not only gold consumers) are primarily men. Financial products like credit cards, home loans or investments are exclusively bought by men. A shockingly low number of Indian women has an independent income: Less than 7% of the urban female population! Even the fashion spend is mostly done by men. Female fashion is often bought by the man for their partner. For comparison purposes: in most markets women’s fashion spend is 5-7x more than men’s fashion spend.
India is by nature a low trust society resulting in trust being hyper local or hyper national. This means that trust is placed either family/extended family/community or in mega brands and conglomerates. This landscape makes it harder for start-ups to enter the Indian market. They need to invest time and money in becoming a trusted brand before monetization begins. Where focus on niche markets would work in other countries, in India the opposite is the case. If you want to monetize, going wide is the key, instead of a narrow focus. This is even more the case, because the gross of the people does not have capital to spend: 70-80% of all discretionary spending is done by only 2% of the population. The top 30 million (out of 1.5 billion population) keeps the average income much higher than it is under the majority of the nation.
It doesn’t make sense for an Indian start-up to look at the daily or monthly active users (DAU/MAU), because most of the user numbers won’t convert to active revenue. Additionally, the Indian is consumer is very calculated and will always try to save money…unless...it’s on weddings. The average Indian will spend 10-20x their annual income on weddings! Even when we look at the sale of suitcases, most suitcases (80%!) are bought for the bride to transport her goods to her husband and not for traveling purposes.
Besides weddings, also healthcare and education see some proper spending as Indians prefer to spend money on collective goods. We also see this inside houses as Indian people spend way more money on products for the living room than on products for the bedroom.
So, how about real estate? And the opportunities for Proptech? We already said in the beginning of this article that real estate is in the top 4 focus areas for spending.
The Indian real estate sector is growing exponentially: By 2030, 5 million homes will be built every year (vs. 500 thousand in 2019). Since 2019, REITs started operating in the country.
The real estate sector covers around 6-7% of the GDP and the opportunity to apply new technologies in the sector is huge. The adoption of digital technologies (especially in sales and marketing) has seen an acceleration in the last year. Residential real estate in particular, has been made easier with digital platforms for smooth home buying transactions.
The sector shows a readiness for further technology implementation like blockchain, IoT, Augmented and Virtual Reality, and machine learning! India’s real estate sector is expected to contribute 13% of the GDP by 2025 and will likely reach a market size of 1 trillion+ USD by 2030. Technology will be needed to bring efficiency to the rapidly growing sector. Proptech can help reduce losses and friction and increase customer satisfaction.
VC investments have been rising steadily and in July 2021, for the first time ever, VC investment in India was higher than in China. In that year, VC investment in India increased with 150%, while in China there was a 100% increase. Over 211 (+33% from 2020) funds made a debut investment in India! The real estate sector even increased its investments midst pandemic: From 549 million in 2019 to 551 million in 2020!
With the booming real estate sector AND the glowing investment landscape, the opportunity for Proptech is substantial. The entire Proptech space can be divided into 4 main categories:
Property listing/information and transaction
Companies that provide a platform to list properties (analytics included) where people can buy, sell and rent out the listings.
Virtual home viewing/ BIM
Building Information Modeling is a set of tools that helps constructing and designing property.
A sub-domain wherein users have an option to invest in Grade ‘A’ fractional properties like retail spaces, tech parks or data centers. They have an option to own these properties infractions. A SPV (Specific Purpose Vehicle) is created, whereby investors will hold the shares of the SPV holding the property.
As the name suggests, a lot of companies these days are buying off an entire property, renovating it and converting it into a living space.
Is it time?
Now is the time to enter the Indian market as a start-up.
This cultural way of spending of course is rooted in the nation, however, something else is going to change! Historically majority of Indians couldn’t get a credit card. To get a credit card you had to demonstrate a proof of stable income on record, making credit cards only available to a very small fraction, as India largely has an informal economy. New changes to the system have made it easier to get a credit card. Identity has been made easier and digital payments have been made seamless. One call can now give access to all bank data, tax data, etc.
With much more digital data available, this might be THE decade to enter the Indian market. India already has a large talent pool. Capital is available, support from the regulators and government is present and the economy is stable. Also, consumer readiness towards tech is higher than ever.
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