The Enfant Terrible of Startups
Rahul Yadav, CEO of Housing.com, has been making news with his unconventional business style – and resignations.
You may not have heard of Rahul Yadav, other than him being a rabble-rouser in the corporate world. However, there’s a lot more to the 26-year-old CEO of one of the most happening start-ups in India — Housing.com. At the same time, it’s tough to look past the combativeness of the young man, solely based on the events that transpired in March 2015. He dared to take on one of India’s largest media behemoths, the Times Group. In a leaked internal email that Yadav sent on March 12, he took offence over a story that appeared in the Economic Times, over allegedly unhappy investors speaking out against him. His primary contention was that there was a conflict of interest with them carrying the story, as the Times Group has a stake in Magicbricks.com, a direct competitor to Housing.com. The Times Group reacted by sending a legal notice to Yadav, among others, demanding Rs 100 crore for defamation.
This was not Yadav’s first (or only) brush with controversy. Just a couple of days before the Times Group fracas, another email surfaced on Quora, in which Yadav warns (in quite strong language) Shailendra Singh, MD of Sequoia Capital, against poaching employees from Housing. Singh replied to the email stating that he was “deeply hurt”. Yadav’s reply, which was later deleted, was again fairly colourful.
Hailing from Alwar, Rajasthan, Yadav’s early years in school weren’t academically sound. However, a stellar showing in his Class 12 exams earned him a 75 per cent scholarship for preparation for the IIT-JEE, and he arrived in IIT Bombay. It was here that his interest in the online space was aroused, but after three years in IIT, Yadav dropped out. Together with Adivitya Sharma, he co-founded Housing.co.in, in 2012, along with ten other IITians. Yadav and Sharma realised what a struggle it was to find a house in Mumbai, and how little information there was about properties listed online. They also learnt how profitable the Mumbai real-estate brokerage business was — with a good network of potential clients among their IIT batchmates, they decided they would become brokers. They were soon earning between Rs 1 to 2 lakh a month.
The next step was to spread their wings nationally, and the site was renamed Housing.com the following year. This is a map-based portal that lists details of the properties, with everything from photographs to the amenities around the property, rentals, broker profiles, price range and finding PGs. Today, Housing.com has more than 750 employees, and has attracted five rounds of institutional funding. It has its presence in both tier-1 and tier-2 cities in India, and its future goals include mapping at least one crore houses on its website, as well as expanding to overseas markets.
“Our mission is innovation and optimism for Housing. As India leapfrogs its way to becoming one of the fastest growing economies on earth, Housing, spearheaded by an ocean of highly ambitious individuals, is at the forefront, changing the way the real-estate industry will be experienced in the future across the planet,” declares Yadav. “Our vision is to help the world live better,” is his and the company’s mantra. That, and never taking a step back, regardless of who the opponent is.