Probably the biggest problem of metro cities like Kathmandu is finding a space for rent. At a time when we all are talking about the concept of smart city, and everything is going smart, we are forced to venture out door to door to find a vacant room for rent in Kathmandu. Thus, Rajan Dahal, a pioneer in software engineering has recently come up with a unique project idea, Gharbheti, to solve the problem.
Gharbheti was formally launched on August 1, 2017, in the form of a website and mobile app. The product is developed by Softech Foundation.
The team named the project as ‘Gharbheti’ to give it a local name, and make it easily understandable in terms of rental of properties.
You can find rooms, apartments, flat, building, space, and hostels in the city as per your requirements.
“This is the age of information. Information should be at reach of everyone concerned. It’s a tough job for a person to find appropriate space for rent in Kathmandu. Meanwhile, in the case of landlords, it’s a financial loss if none turns up to rent the space for a long period of time. There should be a medium to bridge the gap between tenants and landlords. Gharbheti simply tries to solve the problem,” Dahal shares about the idea of starting Gharbheti in a conversation to Glocal Khabar.
How to use Gharbheti? And, how it works?
One can sign up on the website filling up the form at the top of the homepage of www.gharbheti.com with details including location, types of spaces, and price range of spaces required. You’ll get notifications after such a space is available with Gharbheti.
As of present, users can search for rooms, flats, apartments, office spaces, whole building, and hostels available for rent in Kathmandu. Gharbheti is just a channel to find a space for rent, or search a tenant. Neither the tenant nor the landlord has to pay charges for the service.
Gharbheti makes people search for spaces for rent in an efficient way, and for the landlords to find the right tenants in the shortest duration of time.
“In the first place, it’s hard to get space for rent for an office. Secondly, it’s even harder to get a space as per your requirement. We want to develop it as that platform and be people’s one-stop solution to search space for rent in every city of Nepal,” says Dahal. “Likewise, the business of finding properties for rent has not been carried out in an organized way. We want to change this,” he adds.
As of now, Gharbheti team itself has been collecting and managing databases about to-let spaces in Kathmandu, with a team of agents residing in various locations of Kathmandu valley. They are planning to open this to the public (verified users) very soon.
Currently, three students from Tribhuvan University are studying and working on the project, who are also preparing a thesis about the challenges of starting a lean startup in Nepal and taking it forward so that a similar model can be replicated by other startups too.
Searching a space for rent in Kathmandu is a very tough job. There is a saying in Kathmandu that it’s easier to search for a bride than finding a room for rent. The demand for rooms is very high. “At such a situation, there is a speedy response from the tenants,” says Dahal.
“But, it’s very challenging in the case of landlords. They still don’t understand and believe the platform. When we approach them to list their properties for rent on the portal, their response would be like they are sure a tenant will come searching for space. Thus, no use of coming to the platform,” he adds about the challenges regarding landlords.
How can landlords benefit from the platform?
If a landlord has to wait for months to get a person to rent a space, there wouldn’t be any revenue from the space for the time being for the landlord. In such a situation, Gharbheti can find a tenant for the space in a very short duration of time.
The first client
The first client for Gharbheti was the person who was searching a flat for rent in Baneshwor area. After around two weeks, he found a space as required. “That was a moment I can’t forget,” Dahal reminisces with joy. “Similarly, a doctor from Norvic Hospital contacted us to find an apartment nearby the hospital. And, he found it after a wait of few weeks. There are numerous of such examples,” shares Dahal.
“Gharbheti has also received wonderful reviews on its Facebook page,” Dahal shares, adding, “Gharbheti.com gets an average of 1000 unique visitors per day, and it’s in an increasing trend.”
As many as 200 people have already found space for rent through the channel, in just two months of operation of the platform.
Challenges in the business
“There are a lot of challenges when you are doing something that none has tried yet. The business of house rental services is not conducted in an organized way in Nepal, till now. In our case, the most striking challenge is in terms of landlords. They are little skeptical about the platform, and don’t even feel it necessary to place a notice of space available for rent online, even if it’s free of cost. They are not ready yet even though we are informing them about all possible benefits of the medium. But, we are sure they’ll be convinced about our business model after some time,” says Dahal.
“Gharbheti is coming up with ‘Featured Listing’ facility on the portal, as part of which a landlord can make his/her properties appear on the top of the portal, paying a certain fee. The benefit for the landlords is their space won’t remain tenants for a long period of time,” says Dahal. “But, the general listing will still be free,” says Dahal.
Many of the users regularly visit the portal to find if space is available for rent. People have even waited as long as one month to get a space. So, we’re glad to get trusted that much by the users. Added to this, agents are also increasing who inform us about the spaces available in their nearby vicinity. I still remember the day of getting a phone call from a landlord who wanted details of his property on rent to be posted on our portal. He himself posted the details on the platform, and it was booked by a user within a few days. It was one of the happiest moments in our journey of working on Gharbheti. – Dahal
Gharbheti wants to work in a franchised model for the services outside of Kathmandu. “As the product is getting popular, and more and more people are coming to the platform, we are hopeful it will be equally liked in other cities of Nepal. There will be three categories in the franchise model: A, B & C, for metro, sub-metro, and municipality. We are expanding it across all cities of Nepal,” Dahal shares the future plans of Gharbheti.
“Another of our plan is to avail furnished rooms in Kathmandu, as people from all nooks and corners of Kathmandu come for various reasons for a short period of time like health treatments, or taking exams. The only option available for them as of now is to stay in hotels, paying an expensive amount of money. We want to see this problem solved,” adds Dahal.
Almost 70% of people in Kathmandu don’t feel satisfied with the space they are living at, they either are compromising on the services available to them like parking space, water, size and number of rooms, location of residence or, or they feel landlords are charging them more than necessary. We want this problem to end. Our ultimate dream is to see a rental problem being solved 100%.
Pokhara, Biratnagar and other cities are also developing in a similar way. From all available options, you can select the houses most appropriate for you. If you are a morning person, you can rent a house facing east (to enjoy sunrise), or if you are an evening person, you can rent the one facing west (to enjoy sunset). We have never thought with such a mindset, though it’s not a luxury at all. There are many properties in Kathmandu that are vacant for a long time, but many people haven’t found them because none of us have time to go door to door. If every such properties come online, it would ultimately change the scenario.
To the aspiring entrepreneurs
Young and emerging entrepreneurs have excitements and aspirations to do wonders. But, you need a good team to actually work on your dream. You need to make a short-term, mid-term and long-term goal on what to achieve and where to reach in the duration of 1, 3 and 5 years roughly. You need to have a clear picture of that. You also need to consider about various challenges that might come on your journey, and the ways to overcome it. If you can determine and work on that, none can stop you from achieving your goal. – Rajan Dahal
Startups for a better Nepal!
Presentation: Basanta Kumar Dhakal