Housing.com, the two-year-old housing portal founded by a dozen IITians, has seen that number reduced by a quarter, as the demands of growth lead to attrition within the leadership team.
The company which gained the spotlight for the youthfulness of its founding team–the average age of the founders was 22–as well as their ability to attract significant venture funding, has seen three cofounders leave the company since its inception in 2012.Last month Rishabh Agrawal, head of the marketing and creative team at the Mumbai-based startup, put in his papers. He is the third cofounder to exit after peers Vaibhav Tolia, who left to launch his own energy management solutions company Leaf Technology and Saurabh Goyal, a backend developer who joined the founding team of food ordering app TinyOwl, left in 2012.
“We have changed our business model at least three times and if a co-founder at any point didn’t fit our role requirements, we put them on the bench. As a result some of them have quit,” said Rahul Yadav, chief executive officer of Housing.com which has raised about Rs 138 crore from investors including Helion Venture and Nexus Venture Partners at an estimated valuation of over Rs 300 crore.
The collegians who couldn’t find suitable accommodation after graduating, teamed up to start their own housing portal, which has set up a first-of-its-kind data science laboratory for the real estate industry helping it mine and analyse data on a constant basis.
Tolia, 23, said he quit to complete his engineering degree. The team was still on IIT-Bombay campus when it conceived the idea of a housing portal. He decided to “ultimately never join back.” Goyal and Agrawal did not respond to email queries about the developments.
Investors are of the view that startups must be clear as to what value a cofounder delivers before they team up. “More than three cofounders is always a challenge to manage,” said Anand Daniel, a principal at Accel Partners and a board member at startups such as healthcare startup Forus Health and Taxi For Sure, which have only two co-founders each. “People who don’t fall in the category of technology , marketing or operations will always be a crowd,” he said.
Retail entrepreneur Zishaan Hayath, who led the first round funding for Housing.com in 2012, said the company was too generous in doling out the tag of cofounder to people who joined the team in its early days. “In an ideal situa tion, Housing.com would have 6 cofounders and 6 early employees,” he said. When Hayath backed the firm, it had six core members. “If Rahul Yadav, Abhishek Anand, Snehil Buxy, Ravish Naresh or Advitiya Sharma left, that would worry me.”Housing.com investors Helion Venture Partners and Nexus Venture declined to comment.In the past, other Indian startups too have struggled to balance large cofounding teams. “Even we had seven co-founders to start with, out of which three left in the first year even before the business took off,” said Phanindra Sama, former CEO of RedBus, which was acquired by South Africa’s Naspers last year for over $100 million.”The challenge is to let go of the cofounders with adequate monetary compensation during an investment round to let the business run smoothly and keep the relationships. If cofounders start blaming each other, the startup will fall apart,” Sama said.
Source : Economic Times