Mumbai based Flat.to, the online real estate search and listings platform targeted at students and single working professionals, has been acquired by Commonfloor barely a year after it was founded. The financial details of the deal have not been disclosed. However, founder Gaurav Munjal told us that the deal is a cash-and-stock transaction.
Post-acquisition, Munjal continues as CEO of Flat.to and will own some stock in Commonfloor. He has also received some cash as part of the deal, but declined to provide more details. The company’s other founder, former Flurry executive Aakrit Vaish, who also angel funded the company, has exited following the acquisition.
We asked Vaish, who is currently building an exciting mobile app called Haptik, about the return multiple on the investment. “I am not allowed to disclose the commercials per the agreement. I am 100 per cent exiting and this is a good deal for everyone involved,” he said in an email.
Munjal says that Flat.to will operate as an independent entity following the acquisition. This means that the teams and operations will remain separate. “We will have weekly or fortnightly meetings with the Commonfloor founders. You could think of us as an EiR (entrepreneur-in-residence) within Commonfloor,” he said. It will, however, draw on Commonfloor’s centralized resources such as human resource and finance operations.
The making of the deal is an interesting story in itself. Sameer Guglani, founder of Delhi-based startup accelerator The Morpheus, introduced Munjal to Commonfloor co-founder Sumit Jain about eight months ago. Jain has since been a mentor to Munjal and Flat.to, frequently discussing operational aspects of building out the business.
“When we started thinking about raising our next round of funding a couple of months ago, they (Commonfloor) showed interest in getting on board,” says Munjal.
The deal itself started to materialize around February this year.
The Flat.to platform emerged from private beta last July. Since then it claims to have racked up more than 200 colleges in Mumbai and Pune, 5000 users on Facebook and over 25,000 visits per month. After kickstarting services in Mumbai, the company launched services in Pune and Kota, both major hubs for student communities. It followed with Bangalore, Jaipur and Delhi.
The platform offers end-to-end accommodation solutions for students, including features such as paying guests, hostels, finding flat mates, flats without brokers, and profiling brokers who look at the student segment.
“By acquiring Flat.to we will now be able to cater to a new segment of the property market — students and bachelors. This is a large segment in the online real estate space with a unique set of needs and requires a different focus. This move gives us a direct foothold in the market backed by a great team that has experience in operating in this space. Flat.to will continue to function independently with its current identity and Gaurav will continue to head it,” Commonfloor co-founder and CEO Sumit Jain said in a statement.
Bangalore headquartered Commonfloor, founded in 2007, raised Rs 64 crore ($10.38 million) in a Series D round of funding from existing investors Tiger Global and Accel Partners in January this year. The platform combines property search, research, apartment management and vendor management to cater to a person’s complete residential requirements. The platform currently has over 2.5 lakh property listings and over one lakh projects from 120 cities.
“The (Flat.to) acquisition is in line with Commonfloor’s strategy to own the largest share in the online real estate space. Commonfloor is already the number 1 player today and this move is aimed to take a lead in some of the adjacent segments,” Subrata Mitra, partner at Commonfloor investor Accel Partners said.
In the next few months, Flat.to will look to expand services into the 18 cities in which Commonfloor currently has a strong presence. It will expand its current team of 15 gradually as it grows, but will also leverage its parent’s resources where available.