Startup Name: Flarow
Founders: Anamik Adhikary, Saket Mayank, Pughalveni, Sivaraman Sethu, Vinay Upadhyay.
Founding year: 2018
Hi Anamik, welcome to startupsindia
Hi Dev, Thank you.
It’s time for discussion to begin.
Hi Anamik, can you give a brief about yourself?
Hello. I am Anamik Adhikary. I did my B.Tech in Information Technology and then went on to join Cognizant where I worked as a Software Engineer for almost 4 years before starting up.
We are a 5 member team at Flarow. Our co-founders are Saket Mayank, Sivaraman Sethu, Vinay Upadhayay and Pughalveni. We have known each other for almost 5 years now, and have worked with each other in different projects.
Our team is based out of Chennai, and our founders had previously worked with the top MNCs in the world like Cognizant, HCL, Accenture, and Mozilla Firefox. In our previous roles, we had built products for the Boeing 787, Axis Bank, HDFC Bank and Travellers (2nd Largest P&C Insurance provider in the US). Our founding team members hold IEEE Papers and joint patents on Drone-based insurance Products to their credit. Amongst us, we have 30+ years of Software Development experience in Cutting Edge Technologies.
We bonded with each other over some great projects we did like making it to the TOP 10 in Prime Minister’s Office Mobile App contest organized by Google & Govt of India. We knew we were the right pair of people to team up as we shared a great bond and understanding.
Which factors influenced you to start the startup?
The idea for our startup came from a very simple incident. The water was not coming properly in my wash basin, and my parents wanted me to raise the complaint since they can’t speak Tamil. The problem is that to raise the complaint I had to physically go down to the security and write it in the complaint register. And you know how mornings are right? I was already getting late for office and just wanted to rush. But instead, I had to go down to write the complaint in the register.
I was like really? In this day when everything is done online why can’t I just raise this complaint from my mobile while I am in my room or while on the way to the office?
How did your journey start towards your dream?
So, I went and asked my neighbour – who was the secretary of the association that why is there no app or any sort of digital mode where this can be done, he said that nobody had told them that they had any problem like this. On further inquiry, I found that the entire society management was done via Excel Sheets and pen-paper mode. So, my next step was to Google any such apartment management software for Gated Communities. I found a few, and I went and asked my friends and colleagues who were using that software about their reviews.
Everything was fine – but there are 3 problems that stood out.
First – it was not very simple to use. It had a learning curve. You have to get used to the system, and you need to get trained.
Second – There was too much information available and as a result, the users were having a hard time to find the relevant info.
Third – It looked cheap upfront when they say like 20-25 Rs per flat per month, but if you see cumulatively, it was costing around Rs 1 Lakh per year for the whole society. An original windows copy costs you less than Rs. 10k for a year but this software costs one lakh? A better alternative was the need of the hour. What they have done is they have built business software for a consumer market. The product didn’t have the appeal.
As I have interviewed many people in these 3 to 4 months as of my experience initial journey to setup startup is not so easy? What is your opinion on it?
It’s true. Any logical person wouldn’t try to set up a startup. The good thing when you are an employee is if anything is going wrong in your life or work, you can always blame the organization or the boss or the system. You could curse them and take out your frustration. You will feel good about yourself. But if you are starting up, then anything that goes wrong in your organization is because of you.
The idea is the easy part. Everybody has an idea. Execution of the idea is the hard part. So unless you are ready to accept that you have to give up a lot of the entitlement that you are used to you won’t be able to make a mark.
What are the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
The biggest misconception is that Gated community management software is needed by only large housing societies. That is the belief because of the huge cost that comes with it. We are trying to remove the barrier, and not making pricing a factor to effective management. When Small & medium sized housing societies use such software, life becomes easy for them too.
You see the role of the society management is a voluntary one. So how do you want to spend your weekends? Stuck in the office room attending to all issues of the society, when you could have spent that time with your family or friends going for a movie. It’s not a smart choice. You can use Flarow. It’s free apartment management software for gated communities or housing societies.
How you funded your startup?
We are a bootstrapped company. We have invested from our own personal savings. Since we have a background in software development, the majority of the product has been built in-house.
We validated our ideas in some National Level Contests, where we won accolades like –
We were named in the Top 25 startups in India by Headstart Network.
We were selected in The Economic Times Power of Ideas which was supported by IIM Ahmedabad, Facebook, Jio and Dept of Science & Technology.
We also made it to the Top in IIM Calcutta Smart Fifty Contest.
All these contests gave us some awards which have largely helped in our product development stage.
Brief about Flarow, why people should choose your startup?
We at Flarow provide tools which help small & medium sized housing societies to help manage their societies better. Using Flarow residents can pay their maintenance Bills online via Credit/Debit Card, UPI, Wallets, Paytm, Net banking and many more. They can raise maintenance related issues and can track them real-time. There is a society discussion forum where both residents and the management can discuss issues. We have a hash tag feature to tag relevant conversations like buy/sell, tuition for kids, carpooling etc.
The housing society Management can know who are the payment defaulters in real time and can send out reminders. With a few months of using the system, they can also predict who are the likely defaulters and can take proactive measures for the same. They can broadcast notices to all the residents instead of pasting the paper notices in lifts and society notice boards.
Is the startup growing at good phase according to your plans? What are the upcoming plans from your end?
We launched two months back – and have already 400+ homes and 1200+ customers using our portal. The market validation has been good. Even societies who were using our other products have shown interest in switching to our platform because of the simplicity of the product, and almost no learning curve.
Right now we are catering to small & medium sized housing societies. But we are working on building the full suite of products like accounting and the security system so that we can target the large housing societies. As we speak our Accounting system is being built using AI which will reduce the treasurer’s work by almost 50%.
What is your stack on the competition? Who are your competitors? How you are overcoming them?
From a customer standpoint in this category – most companies or products available in the market have a post-mortem approach. What I mean is they analyze things after it has happened. Like they will tell you who all have not paid the bills or which flat has a leaking tap. While it was fine few years back when we were in the information age. It’s slowly losing its relevance. Getting info is no longer a problem.
In fact, too much information is the problem. We are in the age of AI where the game is all about putting the information in context and how can we predict future results based on past actions. So, using the available data and patterns can we predict who all will be the probable defaulters and can we take pre-emptive actions? Or can we detect that this flat might have a leaking tap in a few days so can I go and take precautionary actions? We do that at Flarow. We use AI, which helps you predict these things. We have helped housing societies increase their maintenance Bill collection by 80% and saved residents costly maintenance repairs.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manages it?
Don’t know about others but I don’t have a work-life balance. I do have a work-life harmony. I am so invested in the idea that most of my waking time, I am thinking of how to make this product better. But I do manage to catch up on the latest Netflix series and 7 hrs of sleep.
What is your opinion on Startupsindia.in?
It’s an amazing website. You guys are covering a lot of early-stage startups and that’s a good thing. Most media houses will cover startups once they are a unicorn or already big. But you guys are truly inspiring in the way you are reaching out to a larger spectrum of startups in the country.
What is your experience as an Entrepreneur?
It’s amazing more like an addiction. The Adrenalin kick you get is so good, you want to keep doing it and if you love, what you are doing then there is no greater feeling.
Thanks for compliment Let conclude our discussion anything you want to say for young India.
Don’t hesitate to ask, the 30 seconds of insane courage can change your life. So hustle up, invest in yourself and whenever you have doubt just ask. At the most, you would be said no but if you don’t ask you have already been said NO.
That’s it from my end.
Thank You Anamik, for spending your valuable time with us.
Thank you Dev.
This is Dev signing off. That is another success story of the startup. Let us connect with another story.