A property deal into the family of one of the founders, followed by a plethora of problems led to the birth of Milkiyat, an online app-based real estate solution in summer capital Srinagar.
The journey was embarked upon by two college friends, Muhammad TawqeerMunshi and JibranMukhtarMattoo, both students of R.V College of Engineering, Bengaluru. The duo were swept away by the start-up culture in Bangalore, be it in terms of accessibility to business solutions or anything a good start-up idea might require to flourish and most importantly by the passion of the start-up community. Leading them to think “If Bangalore can do it, why can’t Kashmir?”
According to founder, Muhammad TawqeerMunshi, the journey of Milkiyat has been full of challenges. “We witnessed a plethora of complications while finalizing the deal. This prompted us to understand the way real-estate is dealt with in Kashmir,” Munshi told Greater Kashmir.
“We also noticed lack of transparency and professionalism to irregular structure in the processes,” he says, adding “Getting inspired from the start-up culture of Bangalore, we wanted to build a technological solution to address the problem we intended to address because we truly believe that technological advancement is a driving force towards development. The market is ripe, and people are smarter than ever before. People look for better solutions, and thus, we decided to lay the foundation of Milkiyat.”
He says that this foundation was laid after months of research into the functioning of Kashmir’s ‘Real-Estate market’ and multiple brainstorming sessions between the two friends.
“We soon decided to have our own App while keeping certain factors in mind to cater to our unique business model. In our bid to provide the best experience, our application has one of the best interfaces. It is available on both IOS and Android platforms,” Munishi says. “We also have a website with all the functionalities that the App has.”
Team of Milkiyat
Milkiyat is run by a team of seven members, all of whom believe in the vision of building the next-gen real-estate solution of Kashmir. This start-up isn’t a mere business idea but a step to bring about a change in Kashmir. The intent is to build a world-class infrastructure within Kashmir.”
“Many skilled youngsters end up leaving Kashmir to earn money because of a lack of job opportunities. Creating such opportunities is a prioritized mission for our team. Not only do we want to create jobs, but our motive is to use technology to drive processes,” says, co-founder, MIlkiyat, JibranMukhtarMattoo.
“Technology is a necessity in today’s world, and if we do not grow along with it, we’re always going to be devoid of opportunities. In a place like Kashmir, it is very important for us, especially the youth, to take steps to ideate, innovate, build better solutions and drive growth,” he says, “We are way behind the world at the moment, but the energy in our youth is immense which we believe is severely underutilized.”
He credits Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos for pretty much making “impossible” into today’s “possible”. “We must use this energy to build great things and go wild with the wonderful minds bestowed upon us and we are taking inspiration from leaders like Elon and Jeff.”
In the initial days, Tawqeer and Jibran rode their two-wheeler across the city to conduct site visits to verify the properties. They used to travel all day, verifying properties and making site visits from one corner of the city to another while facing the societal wrath due to the stigmatization of the profession thus being labelled as “Draal”.
“We haven’t gone big on our marketing yet as we’re aware that this is a sector of many peculiarities. Thus, we need to counter every problem that comes our way to become the brand we want to be. So far, Milkiyat has close to 500 properties from Kashmir listed on its App, the highest for any real-estate firm,” says Munshi.
“We’re the only technology-driven real-estate firm in Kashmir and our vision is to be the one-stop solution for all the real-estate requirements of Kashmiris,” he assured. He says that the team at the Milkiyat was continuously evolving and improving our processes according to customer feedback.
“Our Applications have frequent updates and we’re continuously witnessing and solving newer problems. Since it has been a lockdown, we encounter newer problems every day, and every evening we have a solution. We’re a bunch of passionate problem solvers building the largest real-estate ecosystem in Kashmir,” he says.
“The response so far we have gotten from people has been fantastic. People have told us, “This was much needed.” People are pleased about Milkiyat and have clearly shown their trust in us.”
The founder, Muhammad TawqeerMunishi, who hails from Buchpora, Soura, area in Srinagar and JibranMukhtarMattoo, from SafaKadal, Srinagar, say people ask us, “How are you different from solutions like 99Acres, housing.com, etc.?” The answer is simple; we’re involved in every deal that takes place. We moderate to ensure transparency, offer paperwork solutions and guide our clients for site visits. We’re a more people-oriented platform that associates with people and ensures a necessary human touch along with leveraging technology to drive the process.”
According to founders, the problems that they are solving include Trust: People find it very hard to trust people in situations that involve spending lakhs and crores of their money, more so because of the fraud culture that has prevailed in the real-estate sector. There has been no accountability, transparency and awareness among people. Milkiyat as a solution is not peer-to-peer but involves our moderation to ensure transparency between the two parties. We ensure accountability and educate our clients about the rates, paperwork and all the relevant details involved in the process of property dealing.
Unorganised sector: Milkiyat is an all-in-one solution. We operate in all spaces of real-estate like commercial, residential (including apartments), investment and rental spaces. We ensure our users have a wide choice of properties available in every area and under all budgets.
We provide owners with the ease to post their properties and buyers/renters the ease to browse through all the properties from the comfort of their homes. We also have a “Send Us Your Requirements” feature on our App where clients can send us their requirements if they are having trouble looking for the right properties. The UI of Milkiyat is easy to use and has been optimised for 2G networks as well. In fact, it was a priority while developing the App considering the nature of our situation. We have also tried to give it an indigenous Kashmiri vibe to connect with our people.
Limited information and too much effort: Users get detailed information about the properties on the App and they can enquire, shortlist, share or even schedule visits based on their time schedule. This allows the users to judge a property before visiting and saves time and effort.
Munshi says that the tagline for the startup is “Kashmir’s Real-Estate Solution” with emphasis on the word solution. “We aim to build an all in one, technology abled platform which provides end to end service in Property dealing in Kashmir,” he says.
“The next two years are going to be instrumental. I expect Milkiyat to be operational in all districts of Kashmir with over 50K active users and sell 50Cr+ worth of properties. We will also be expecting to grow as a team and will be hiring across verticals throughout Kashmir. In two years, I can see Milkiyat as a goto name for Kashmiris for any property needs,”
Challenges amid COVID crisis
The founders say that COVID certainly is a challenge to operate. “We are taking precautions at every step to ensure safety of our staff as well as the clients. I think, from the beginning we have very efficiently been able to work from home and we don’t necessitate coming to office every day,” they say. However, proper protocols have been made for our sales executives to ensure their safety and the safety of our clients. “So the only out of office activity – the site visits are conducted with all safety protocols. Quite naturally, people are hesitant in moving out at this time and the number of site visits are relatively less.”
The founding members say that Milkiyat as a startup was facing problems including stressed economic conditions, for instance because of the situation from the last 2 years in Kashmir, people are economically weaker and very few want to invest in property. The real-estate market has significantly gone down and very few transactions are taking place in the valley.
High Prices: Kashmir is witnessing a boom in property prices despite the prevailing economic conditions. Some people are not willing to sell properties at genuine prices because their neighbor sold it at a “certain price”. This is a major problem that needs to be addressed before a bubble bursts.
“We’re currently only operating in Srinagar and will soon be expanding to other districts of Kashmir and then to Jammu. Our 2023 vision is to be the top real-estate company of Kashmir with a user base of over 100K, over 5,000 listed properties, and to employ the youth of Kashmir. This is just the beginning, and someday we hope to expand to other cities in the country,” the founders say, adding “Our social media platforms keep people up to date with the latest updates and can be used as an extension to enquire about our services and properties information.”