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TECH TALK: Here comes the Thekaydaar

Updated February 10, 2019

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The Thekaydaar boys pick their niche to cash in on Pakistan’s booming real estate market.— Dawn
The Thekaydaar boys pick their niche to cash in on Pakistan’s booming real estate market.— Dawn

NOT many of us have been lucky enough to build our own house and those who have done so know how daunting it all is: buying material, getting a contractor and regularly surveying the site to ensure you’re not being ripped. But now a local startup has taken it upon itself to make things slightly easier.

Meet Thekaydaar.com, a Karachi-based startup that lets you visualise your house and estimate its cost before starting out. Go to their website, select the estimation tab, choose your plot size, number of beds and baths, kitchen, lounge/parking etc if you’d like and it will display some possible designs for the house. You can then view them in 3D and click to get price quotations for labour and material costs.

An even more detailed price sheet is available, which goes into precise quantities of materials such as steel, concrete or paint required, their labour rate as well as an overall approximate cost for each category. All the plans are in line with the bylaws of Karachi Development Authority and Sindh Building Control Authority as the startup is still limited to only Karachi. The number of designs go up as you increase the plot size but currently there are still quite of them.

While they have an app as well, both their online platforms still need to be improved as they go blank for larger plot sizes and don’t show the full quantity-wise quotation for some filters. “Our website is currently being revamped for which we have hired a marketing firm to work out design and interface so a new version will be up soon,” says Aqib Saleem, a co-founder of Thekaydaar.com.

“Once the updated website is live, we’ll increase the number of filters and let users write their own dimensions and customise other entries as well,” he adds.

The startup was founded by a group of tech, civil and construction engineering, and business guys – Muhammad Samir, Aqib Saleem, Zowad Azad and Talha Ayub – shortly after graduating from university.

“We took part in a startup weekend and realised how there was no involvement of tech in our line of work, except for commercial and high-value projects. The residential market is still not catered and we want to bring visualisation and 3D services to this segment, as it’s such a huge chunk with even higher stakes and no way out other than going to a contractor who rips them off,” Saleem says.

In 2017, they got incubated at the Nest I/O and commercially launched in early 2018. Currently, Thekaydaar is part of the accelerator programme at the National Incubation Centre in Karachi.

There are some visualisation tools such as DreamPlan which let you imagine, design and even decorate your house just through a downloadable application. So why would one need a relatively basic portal? First of all, these platforms are not that easy to use as a layperson to be frank. Plus, they are more for creative brainstorming while Thekaydaar gives you designs, along with estimates, allowed by the bylaws of local regulators.

So far, all the estimation and visualisation is free for everyone which makes one wonder how do these guys make money? Well, they don’t. Not through tech at least. “We offer consultancy and contracting services where we undertake construction projects ourselves, which gets us by,” Saleem explains.

Enough to even make good profits that way given the hefty amounts involved in construction projects but a tech-enabled business model is surely lacking. The almost impossibility of recurrence in home-making leaves out subscription and relatively fewer traffic all but excludes an ad-based revenue stream. So does that make Thekaydaar just like any other contractor out there? Umm, not entirely.

“With those guys, you don’t know what exactly you’re going to get and the cost keeps going up as the project goes on. We, on the other hand, let the user visualise the building and give estimates as on the quantity of material to be used as well as its price. This makes us the go-to portal before you even start visiting contractors,” says Saleem.

“We are also working on a marketplace for construction contractors, of which we already have 12 on board and are trying to bring more. But we have to ensure strict scrutiny and screening before we outsource projects using our portal, since our brand will be involved,” he claims.

Up until now, the startup has been bootstrapped but they are already in talks with an investor to raise the first round, so that Thekaydaar can move beyond Karachi and cash in on the real estate boom in urban Punjab as well. “We’d like to raise investment, but on our own terms,” he clarifies.

The potential use case for tech is quite evident, let’s see if these boys can keep their focus and not get lured away by the quick money contracting services offer.

The writer is member of staff:

m.mutaherkhan@gmail.com

Twitter: @MutaherKhan

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2019