CHENNAI: Classmates, friends and business partners — this is the story of Sarfaraz Nazeem and Leeladharr TV, who quit their jobs to start a company that helps customers manage their multiple property leases online.
What Chennai-based Lease Info Services India Pvt Ltd does is provide a web-based platform where all the details of a customer’s property lease are captured online and are easily available for the customer. Thus, it helps the customer know when a lease is expiring or due for renewal, and throws up details as to how much revenue per sq ft the property is making in case of a retail property, which, in turn, helps the client decide whether it needs such a large space.
“This is business intelligence. How they should strategise on their future locations, compare rents in different cities and based on all these, they can re-negotiate with the lessor,” says Sarfaraz, Associate Vice-President – Client Acquisition.
In the company’s logo, ‘ease’ in ‘Lease’ is highlighted just so that prospective customers are in no doubt that the whole effort is to make their task of managing their property leases easier, he points out.
According to Leeladharr, COO, Lease Info’s services are available on a shared software platform that customers can use by paying an annual subscription fee. This is better than going in for an on-premise installation and then moving to SaaS (Software as a Service) platform.
It was Leeladharr, who had worked in the IT industry, who mooted the SaaS — where software and associated data are hosted on a cloud — model for Lease Info.
Set up in June 2010, Lease Info has a team of 10, of whom some are involved in populating lease agreement data on to the platform and the others in improving the software and providing more features to the customers.
The duo invested ?2 lakh from their savings and started the venture in a small residential apartment in a Chennai suburb before moving to an office complex on the arterial Anna Salai.
Lease Info now has about 25 clients, managing in all 3,500 leases for them. The clients include a few Chennai-based property developers and companies that have rented space across the country, including HDFC Ergo, an insurance company, and Hatsun Agro, a dairy company.
Striking it together
Sarfaraz and Leeladharr, both 33 years old now, studied Physics in their under-graduate course. While the former went on to complete a Master’s in computer applications, Leeladharr specialised in HR.
Sarfaraz, after a stint in the bank industry, was with a multinational property management consultant.
It was Sarfaraz’s knowledge of the real estate industry and the complexities of managing leases on multiple properties that gave rise to the idea.
The two friends talked it out and decided to start on their own, with Leeladharr giving the technological edge to the business.
When they started, SaaS was still at a nascent stage in India, says Leeladharr, but he was convinced that it was much more advantageous to all concerned to be on a shared software platform rather than install the program individually in customers’ offices. They acknowledge that the initial challenge was in selling the concept to their customers, typically those occupying multiple properties in different locations on lease.
They have not yet raised any funds, but were in the finals of the pitch fest organised as part of TiE Chennai’s annual conference last year.
They met a handful of investors and made presentations, but are confident that they can manage for a year or two before they need to raise funds to grow.