Mob of Real Estate Brokers Attack NoBroker.in Office; They Are Angry Because The Startup Is Snatching Their Livelihood
The ongoing war between offline vs online business took a violent turn in Bengaluru. A mob of 40-50 angry real estate brokers attacked NoBroker.in office at HSR Layout in southeast part of the city, claiming that the real estate startup is snatching their livelihood.
Reportedly, this angry mob tried to enter their office and create mayhem. The employees who blocked their way and tried to talk with them were threatened with dire consequences. At the time of attack, NoBroker had around 100 employees in their premises, which included 30 women staff.
Amit, co-founder of this startup said, “After 15-20 minutes of trying to talk with them, they tried to beat up people through the door that we had been holding up. They were angry that we exclude brokers from the rental process and that they were losing out on brokerage fees. No one was hurt but they made a lot of threats and demanded that we shut shop,”
The mob dispersed when local police was called in and written complaint was filed against them. The police is not pursuing any action against the brokers, but have been warned that a repeat of such behavior will lead to action.
NoBroker.in is an online marketplace for buying or renting real estate properties, without any broker in between. Founded in 2013 by ex-IITians Amit Agarwal and Akhil Gupta, they are currently offering broker-free properties in Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru and Chennai.
The startup is backed by SAIF Partners and Fulcrum Ventures and last December-January, they raised $3 million from SAIF Partners. The portal boasts of 1.5 lakh customers on their platform, as 12-14,000 properties are being listed every month.
The startup is disrupting a market, where traditionally, brokers had a permanent role.
In the absence of a direct one-to-one communication between the property owner and the customer, it was the broker who acted as mediator and took some commission from the whole deal. But now, as startups like NoBroker.in are disrupting the market with no requirement of such brokers, they are going berserk, and protesting against the online business model.
This June, a consortium of offline real estate brokers had sued NoBroker.in over a radio advertisement, where they were asking the customers to avoid paying brokerage fee via their online platform.
This is not the first instance of offline vs online battle in the country: Last year, offline retailers of mobile phones boycotted Android One devices, as they were launched only on online portals; offline retailers have demanded an ‘Entry Tax’ for all online goods purchased; they have even dragged the Govt. to court, demanding FDI level playing field against online retailers.
Last year, similar online vs offline war erupted over President Pranab Mukherjee’s new book, which was launched online.
In 2013, offline retailers formed a consortium called ‘We Will Act’, as a consolidated platform for protesting against online business model, all over the country.
But when it comes to real estate, then the power of Internet cannot be simply ignored.
As per a Google research, Internet influenced $43 billion worth of real estate decisions in India.
It is indeed a sad that offline brokers and agents are still not able to understand, that the business model is changing and it will keep on changing as Internet becomes more wide-spread. Either they will be required to evolve, or they will perish.