Rama Krishna Sangem
Posham Narsi Reddy,42, founder and CEO of Ira Realty India, is someone who believes today’s Indian youth are highly talented and interested in becoming entrepreneurs to set up startups. “But, our Indian startup ecosystem has one big problem – that is shortage of initial capital to run them,” says he, in an interview to Excel India. He believes that this is the time India should fully tap its technology potential.
Currently, his Ira group, estimated to value around $ 300 millions (Rs 2,660 crore), is one of the few top notch realty groups in Hyderabad. He is known for his commitment to infuse technology into realty and make it more transparent and accountable to the customers. “Why can’t we make this sector more clear, clean and efficient?” he asked.
Narsi Reddy, who bails from an ordinary agricultural family from a tiny village Penchikaldinne in Mellachervu mandal of Suryapet district of Telangana, is a self-made person. Both mother and father have formal education. He received many awards like Champion of Change and got recognition for his contributions.
Having had his schooling in government, Narsi Reddy did his B Tech from Siddhartha Engineering College in Vijayawada and MTech from IIT Khargapur in 2001. His specialization in IIT is electronics and semiconductors. His passion to create something innovative and launch a startup has driven him through the years.
Narsi Reddy spoke to me at his simple but swanky office near Financial District in Hyderabad in the March summer. Here are excerpts from the interview:
What were your plans after coming out of IIT?
I always wanted to become an entrepreneur in the field of technology. I was associated with some firms to gain first hand knowledge in this direction. In our country most of youth are in service sector, working for companies as employees and make a living. Since my childhood, I am a problem solver and I have a mindset of doing something on my own.
After IIT, I along with a few others was working on 3G technology and demonstrated the software for a company that was associated with Docomo. In fact, ours was the first project to demonstrate 3G technology in India.
Why did you go to the US?
I was not that interested going to the US then. But, I went there in 2002, due to some circumstances. Before that, I was in Bangalore working on 3G, but that technology was not available in India. So, our manager booked tickets and sent me to California in the US to access the technology. I was in the US for over 12 years doing different assignments, before coming back to India to work for another Japanese company here.
How was your experience in the US ?
The US is a great country, great people with a lot of advanced technologies and a better work culture. But, I always feel in the US like going to the house of a rich friend for a few days, but finally you have to come to your own house and feel home (laughs). I learnt a lot from working for companies like CISCO and a few other giants.
I am not a person who constantly cribs over problems here, like our roads are bad, our facilities are bad etc. Many people who have exposure to the US crib like this. But, here in India, we have huge talent and skilled persons. The only thing that we lack here is initial capital and infrastructure facilities.
What did you do after returning to India?
After returning to Hyderabad in 2012 I started a company by being its zero (first) employee and we developed chip making. Our firm involved three countries – India, Russia and the US – for making a chip competing with Intel’s product. Later, we sold our company to Intel, at a valuation of around Rs 3,000 crore. We made money, our investors made money, that’s good. And, that’s how Intel came to Hyderabad. Today, Intel has a huge presence in Hyderabad.
What startups you founded later?
After selling our company to Intel, we wanted to do some top notch world class electronic products. The came the idea of Smartron, a hardware firm in 2016-17. We did a phone, a laptop, a health band etc. As any startup is linked to problem solving and that requires a lot of money for research and development. We faced shortage of funds.
Then, we identified four verticals. First one is agriculture technologies (agri-tech), second one is financial technologies (fin-tech), third one is insurance technologies (insurance tech) and the fourth one is real estate sector (reality tech). All the four sectors needed technology enabled simplified processes. We launched startups in these areas. Now, all startup are brought under Ira Group.
We chose the name Ira with a purpose. Ira means Goddess Saraswati, deity of knowledge. Goddess Lakshmi, deity of wealth and prosperity, is a derivative Goddess Saraswati. We, at Ira, want to combine knowledge with wealth and prosperity. Ira also has another meaning – Investors’ Reality Army -IRA. Today, we have around 2,500 members (customers) in this army.
What is reality tech? I mean, how technology works here?
We all know today, real estate sector in our country or in Hyderabad is mostly unorganized. There are no standard prices or standard procedures. There are a lot of issues between the realtors and buyers or consumers. Due to lack of transparency, this sector witnesses a lot of litigation. Consumers have no trust in the real estate developers or builders.
Because, they have no say in the running of the realty firms. But, here in Ira, we make our customers as shareholders of our company. So that they not only own up the company, but the company also is accountable to the shareholders. Our accounts are open and accessible to our customers. We use technology to ensure this accountability.
Our agri-tech brand name is One Basket. Here, we help farmers by creating demand. Our insurance tech brand is Ice, means cool, with a full form of Insurance Coverage for Everyone. This is a platform for insurance brokers, with end to end services. Onion is our fin-tech company, an App based loans aggregator, for corporate employees for their short term financial needs.
We also have a couple of more startups like P-GO, a paying guest aggregator, for youth in finding accommodation in metro cities. We have a startup, arranging electrical vehicles, which is part of Smartron. We have some high- end real estate projects in Hyderabad.
We have completed one project in Gachibowli and now started another of luxury villas near Shamshabad International Airport area.
What are your next plans?
We want to build a IRA (investors reality army) of 10,000 by 2025 and then go for an IPO. We may emerge as a Unicorn (a billion US dollar company) valued at around Rs 7,500 crore. We want to enhance trust and confidence into our projects.
What is your view of Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR)’s recent decision to do away with GO (Government Order) No 111?
I think CM KCR has taken a good decision. The GO prohibits construction activity within a radius of 10 km from two water bodies – Himayat Sagar and Osman Sagar – that used to supply drinking water to Hyderabad city. As the Telangana Cabinet has mentioned, now these two lakes are not the sole suppliers of drinking water to the city . We made sufficient arrangements to get drinking water from Godavari and Krishna rivers.
Gram Panchayats of around 89 villages in this zone have passed resolutions urging the government to cancel the GO. Now the government responded to the pleas of people.
The cancellation of the GO will help release a huge a land bank of over 1.3 lakh acres for real estate. But, we need to create some organic cities to protect the environmental balance in this zone. The Cabinet has already made it clear that the water sources to two rivers – Musi and Isa – that fill these two lakes would be protected. That’s a good strategy.