The Challenge: India’s real-estate environment is experiencing a digital transformation. Leveraging and investing in new technologies to meet customer demands is the need of the hour. In the light of this, CTO Akhil Gupta and his team at NoBroker.com strive to eliminate issues such as duplicate listings and high-broker fees to serve their customers better.
Embracing a chance to make a difference
Graduating from IT Bombay with a degree in Chemical Engineering was one of the proudest moments of my life. Back in 2005, the world was changing rapidly, and companies like Yahoo, Microsoft, and Oracle were setting up shop in India, bringing with them a sense of excitement and possibility. I was fortunate enough to have been hired by Oracle, where I worked on some of the most cutting-edge applications in the world.
As time passed, I began to feel like something was missing. I wanted to be a part of something more than just a big corporation; something that could make a real difference in people's lives. Taking a chance, I joined a startup in the HRMS domain; it was a risky move, but it turned out to be the turning point in my career.
Then, in 2013, a new opportunity presented itself—the chance to build something from scratch, to use my skills and experience to create a product that could truly make a difference. It was an emotional decision, but I knew it was the right one; that's how NoBroker was born.
Going beyond just building a platform
At NoBroker, we're not just building an application or a platform; we're building a better future for our customers. Every day, we use data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to solve real-world problems and make people's lives easier. This mission fills me with pride and purpose, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it.
We have been working on gaining the trust of our customers over the last 9-12 months. Our platform, which is almost 9 years old, has gained the trust of a significant customer base of 2.5 million people who have used NoBroker to complete transactions. We have also posted nearly one crore properties on our platform. Over the last 12-15 months, we have focused on leveraging customer trust to offer additional services. Our ER home services have grown significantly in the last 20 months, including cleaning, AC, and interior services. This required significant technological development as it is a managed marketplace with logistics involved in partnering with NoBroker.
Partnering with AI for ‘The Smart Search’
At NoBroker.com, we’re eager to explore AI and its features to make our customers’ lives easier. We use AI and machine learning algorithms to recommend properties based on the requirements and preferences of our customers and we call this ‘The Smart Search’. With AI, we’re able to consider and incorporate several essential factors such place of work, place of residence, location of schools and so on to suggest suitable, budget-friendly properties to people who are looking for conveniently located accommodation.
Additionally, AI has helped us predict property prices, including rental prices. Depending on the demand on the platform, AI tells us how much time a property will be sold in or how long it would take to rent out a property. We also machine learning to deliver hassle-free home services and predict the cost of movement or relocation.
Another big use-case of AI at NoBroker is to eliminate redundant agent-centric tasks. AI doubles as an assistant to our in-house agents to help increase their productivity and enhance their ability to serve our customers better.
Solving customer-centric problems
When a customer places an order on NoBroker, we ensure that the job is assigned to a location that is feasible for the partner to reach. We provide detailed information on job requirements, including necessary items, customer interaction, and payment collection through the app. Additionally, we have created a user-friendly platform on the NoBroker Roadmap app, enabling customers to easily book home services with just one click.
Furthermore, our platform offers bathroom cleaning subscriptions with various frequency options, such as six times a month. We have also developed innovations for community management, like automatic gate access for amenities and tracking usage for facilities that require payment. These are just a few examples of the many customer issues we have solved through our innovations.
Prioritizing data protection
For me, technology is an enabler. As a startup, we prioritize efficiency over excessive processes. While we have processes, we aim to cut them short to remain agile. This approach allows us to achieve what would have taken 20 years in just nine years.
In the past year, we have achieved various certifications and security measures for our IT processes. We are now ISO 27001 and PCI DSS Level 1 certified, with our own payment checkout process. We conduct regular security audits, including penetration testing every six months, to ensure data safety and adherence to Indian government norms. All data originated in India is kept in India, in compliance with upcoming data protection regulations.
Giving precedence to customer needs
In the last ten years, our customer-first approach has remained unchanged and will continue into the next decade. We prioritize our customers' needs and strive to solve their problems. For example, our home services business was built upon customer feedback. We take pride in developing in-house production solutions such as our CRM, contact center solution, and contact center intelligence solution. Additionally, we have created two SaaS products from our internal offerings.
Millions of customers as well as our call center staff use our site each day, so our infrastructure needs to enhance both customer experience and staff productivity. Furthermore, it needs to be highly secure. With Google Cloud, we can run at 99% uptime while maintaining the utmost compliance.
Building blocks of the future
Over the past decade, my role has evolved from that of an engineer to a strategic solution architect. As we developed our internal products, such as Uniview AI and PEARL AI, we realized that we needed to think bigger and make them horizontally and vertically scalable. Our systems are like building blocks, allowing us to assemble something beautiful from the individual pieces. I strive to give my team the vision to think beyond the current problem and build scalable solutions that can solve future problems.
Our team consistently performs extraordinarily despite the challenges and external work at No Broker. Initially, our broker application was a monolith without microservices, but we changed it to microservices three to four years ago, ensuring horizontal scalability without manual intervention using Kubernetes. We also migrated our cloud service provider and changed the application architecture without any downtime, serving at least 20-30 million customers with a minimum of 3 million miles. This work was exceptional and even featured in a Google Cloud case study.
To stay current with technology, we continuously optimize for efficiency, output, throughput, and cost every quarter. Recently, we reduced our 12+ by 30% through these optimizations. We're also working on improving web application speed with new and existing technologies. Our goal is to provide a near-app experience in the web browser, even offline and on slow internet connections. These innovations will start with chat and expand to other applications, leading to better overall performance in the future.