A year ago Cityrene was just a small sparkling thought which our CEO Mr. Dilipan Bose got as he lived in a house of bad construction where the walls were cracked, water leaked from the ceiling, cracked tiles. He also faced frequent power cuts. So, he thought why not build houses using some advanced method which should also solve real life problems. As a civil engineer, he was deeply disturbed that he couldn’t solve these problems. So he kept on thinking about a solution. He then started researching about alternative construction methods and came to know about GFRG which can be real solution for all these problems. He also compared this technology with other technologies and found this as a promising alternative for conventional construction. Glass Fiber Reinforced Gypsum (GFRG) is an Australian technology used since 1990’s for walls in building structures. In India, researches were made by IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) Chennai professors and they came up with a more advanced usage of GFRG i.e. this GFRG can be used also for other structural elements.He felt this could be a life-changing technology which no residential project has seen before. This new technology has got certifications and approvals from USGBC (US green building council), Ministry of housing development government of India, Building materials and technology promotion council, Indian institute of technology Chennai. Once he decided that he can use GFRG for the betterment of constructing houses. He was into collecting data about it. He made a visit to IIT Chennai and met few professors who could help him with this technology and he also visited the house built by IIT Chennai on their campus. He had a business meeting with them and got manual design specifications for GFRG construction. “It’s Not About Idea, It’s About Making Ideas Happen” Being new to business management he needed some help. The idea should be pivoted in a correct path and should be implemented in a smart way. Here comes our VP of sales and marketing Mr. Sam Sundar who is an old friend of Mr.Dilip. He introduced Mr. Dilip to Mr. Gopi Mattel, director of Founder Institute Chennai, and a serial entrepreneur having years of experience in entrepreneurship and startups has been the backbone of the company. He has been providing valuable feedback, reviewing the idea, improving our marketing strategies and also action plans, thus guiding the company in a streamlined path. Finally, Mr. Dilip joined Founder Institute. During the rigorous training for a period of 4 months, the idea was pivoted and improvised at every stage based on the feedback of mentors in Founder Institute, who are local and global CEO’s of many successful companies.
1.What is the Name of Your Venture? Any specific reason for this name?
“Cityrene” stands for City+Serene, A beautiful calm nature loving smart city initiative
2.Who is your target Audience/clients?
Early adopters who are planning to buy a home or construct a home using GFRG.
3.Where is your venture based (city, state, country) & What are your geographical target areas?
Chennai, Tamilnadu, India. Geographical target area is Chennai
4.What problems does your venture resolve? What are your products or services?
Recently Chennai was flooded and people were stranded without power and water in their own houses. I was one among them. None of the houses built today solve real life problems. My house has cracked walls, poor water quality, frequent power cuts .No proper heat insulation, the room temperature would be unbearable in summer. Builders do not deliver construction projects on time. Huge power bills.
We are building houses using Australian technology GFRG (Glass Fiber Reinforced Technology) in under 90 days. GFRG walls are 5X stronger than brick walls. It is fire-proof, water proof, Earthquake resistant and has greater life. Houses are naturally cooler upto 4 degrees. Cityrene homes generate their own power using solar, generate water out of thin air recycles the grey water and bio-degradable waste. Live usage monitoring of power, data and water in your home can be be viewed through mobile app encouraging the user to reduce the usage and save environment
5.Share the idea or story behind the venture. How did it came to an existence? What motivated you to start your own venture?
I, Dilipan Bose (CEO of Cityrene) am a M.Tech Structural Engineer. Being a civil engineer I was deeply disturbed by the construction flaws in my house. As I mentioned earlier, I was stranded in the flood without power and water. Started researching for alternative construction techniques for several months and finally ended up in GFRG technology. Sooner I understood that technical knowledge alone is not important for starting a company. So I joined Founder Institute (startup incubator for aspiring founders) with the help of my friend and co-founder Sam Sundar. During the founder institute incubation I learnt a lot of checking the viability of an idea, the idea was pivoted multiple times and refined, pitching to investors, marketing strategies, growing a team etc and Finally cityrene was incorporated as private limited company with experienced board of advisors and directors.
6.Who are your biggest competitors and how do you differentiate yourself from them?
Some of the biggest competitors are VGN, Casa Grande and other builders in Chennai. We differ by constructing using smart sustainable homes GFRG technology which solves real life problems. We care for our customers so we create a valuable product which solves the customer’s real life problems unlike other builders who construct homes sell them and signing off.
7.How did you identify your co-founder? Tell us some thing about your co-founder/s
Our Co-founder Sam Sundar is my childhood friend and we have been together for more than 10 years. When I told him about the business idea, he directed me to the founder institute. I was a technical person who can take care of the construction and execution part, but I need a partner who can be a technical person in terms of website development and marketing. Sam was a senior business development executive in a US based company. He took care of marketing and website development of that company. Me and Sam had a very good understanding and he believed in my idea too. So Sam was brought into the team as co-founder.
8.How did you hired your first team members? What skills Do you want in your employees/team?
The first team member Nivethitha, was one of my friend too. She was also with me for many years. I knew she was determined. She is a structural engineer too. But I had requirement for marketing activities. She had no knowledge of computers and marketing, but me and sam trained her with social media marketing, digital marketing and SEO. She really picked up the pace and learnt fast and soon started taking care of marketing individually.
Next team member was Vishesh. He is a 2nd year engineering student. When I interviewed him I knew that this kid is ambitious and has got determination. He did not know website development we took him and we trained him and he is really getting along well. He runs for achieving the targets. Believe it or not we launched the website which was a quoted by a private firm for Rs. 55000 at just Rs.4000 with the help of him. We did not stop there we optimised the website, started doing SEO activities for blogging etc.
9.What expansion plans are you looking for the next 2 years, next 5 years?
We are planning to expand our office to Bangalore initially and Mumbai in the next few years as we are getting a lot of leads from northern parts of India for the construction technology we use.
10.Where do you want to see yourself in next 10 years?
To be the industry leader of smart city development projects
11.What are your goals over the next 1, 3, 6 and 12 months?
1 month goal:
We have a pilot project going on in Chennai and we intend to complete it with flying colours
3 month goal:
We are in discussion with few clients to build GFRG houses for them. At-least one such project should be started by that time.
6 month goal:
Completion of the GFRG project taken in the previous 3 months, expansion of team, approaching investors to raise funding for the 100 villa smart sustainable township project.
12 month goal:
Finalising the investor deal and commencement of the township project
12.Have you raised any funding? Or have any plans for the funding?
We have raised funding of Rs.75 lakhs from friends/family for our pilot project. We are planning to raise fund of Rs.40 crores for the first phase of township project.
13.What were the problems you faced during the starting days and how did you resolve them?
Initially we lacked a proper construction team to execute as this is a new construction technology. I went for training to Nellore, Andhra Pradesh to learn GFRG technology, then I came here formed a team and trained them. We had problems in marketing and website development, as a startup we did not have the resource to do all these tasks. Our small team was motivated to learn. We took online tutorials, worked tirelessly for hours and made these tasks happen.
14.What was the most challenging part of your journey till now? How did you overcome those challenges?
Development- It is really hard to develop the company to next stage especially when you start from scratch. Every night I go to sleep with failures and troubles, every morning I wake up with the thought big things don’t happen in a day keep running ,never quit.
Fund raising- Construction being a capital intensive industry one cannot proceed without funds. Investors are scared to give such huge funds to a startup, they want traction. To gain that traction we need funds. It is really really hard to get out of this loop hole. We have partially got out of this by raising funds from friends/family.
15.Are you married, single or in a relationship?
16.What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Football, Badminton. To be frank there s not much of free time or non-work time. I am in search of time to work. 24 hours a day is not sufficient.
17.Whats your favorite food & holiday destination?
Biryani & Pattaya
18.Whom do you consider your idol or biggest motivator?
Gopi Mattel- He is the founder of qcommission and mentor of me. He really motivates me and guides me. He spends just 1% of his time on me but that 1% will transform me instantly, gives me action plans, teaches me business ethics and morals.
19.What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Learning- Being an entrepreneur you get to learn everything or you are forced to learn everything. I am civil engineer, I learn website development, digital marketing, social media marketing, company valuation, company incorporation, company laws, HR and lot more to tell.
Now imagine if I was a normal civil engineer working for someone else, there is no chance for me to learn any of these.
20.If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Racing – I would have become a professional racer. Racing is always about do or die. You put your life on the line and try to win. People who are scared to risk their life and overtake their opponent never wins.
Skydiving – I have done skydiving once, the feel is indescribable. Its almost like you are flying without wings. I would do it over and over again in different locations to see the beauty of nature.
21.How has being an entrepreneur affected your family & Social life?
It has completely disrupted them both. I am an extrovert who goes out with my friends daily. Night shows with my friends atleast twice a week. I used to play badminton daily watch serials. Now I don’t have any of these activities going on in my life. I sleep by 2am, wake up by 8 or 9 am, check the mails reply to it. Go to office, assign tasks to team, meet clients and other people, get back to my home by 10 pm sometimes I stay in my friend’s house because its close to my office. This is my daily schedule.
22.Anything, you would like to say to our readers or upcoming entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurial journey is really really tough but in the end it’s totally worth it. People will insult you, laugh at you, ridicule you just because you are different from them. Just keep in mind regular people never change the world, the rebels, misfits and the crazy ones do. NEVER GIVE UP!
23.Tell us something about your education & family background.
I am a M.Tech structural engineer. My father and mother are govt. employees. My dad is retired now. My elder brother works in a private company.
24.What is your USP which makes it unique & different from other start-ups in similar domains.
Alternative and superior construction technology GFRG (Glass Fiber Reinforced Gypsum)
25. What do you think is the biggest threat to the success of small businesses & Start-ups today?
The Founder himself/herself. The founders do not endure the struggle, they quit in the middle due to their personal commitments and financial crisis. Before entering the entrepreneurial journey clearly fix what your going to do. Get rid of all your commitments and debts because it’s a time bomb. It will blast anytime and kill your startup. Set a run way before starting, how long can you sustain with this money. How much time do you have left before getting external funding.
26. Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success?
I measure success by progress. My company is not the same like how it was before 6 months. We are not stagnant with our progress. We are constantly progressing daily and I proudly call myself successful.
27.Please share complete name, address, phone number, email id & website of Your Business & Contact Person along with the pictures of your founder, co-founder, team(if-any) as well as your logos.