Oct 18, 2011 (Calcutta Tube / IBNS): Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty who is currently busy with her newest business venture-GroupHomeBuyers.Com-a website for home buyers talks about buying homes, marriage, Bollywood, business and more. Read the interview at Calcutta Tube.
Fitness DVD, spa, perfume, IPL team and now a real estate website…how did it happen?
GroupHomeBuyers.Com is my new baby and my first venture in the E-Commerce field. It was a casual discussion on how real estate prices are sky-rocketing; how it has actually becoming impossible for a middle-class person to own a home. It has become so difficult to procure a home and the ways and means you have to go about while buying a home, has become unachievable. So I think this platform is actually historical and a proud moment for me and Raj (Kundra, husband) to say in the history of home buying, for a change, a broker will tell you that we are giving you a home, but we are not charging for it; instead we are freebies with it. We had been working on the project for sometime and what better time than Dussehra to launch the project when people think of buying a home or enter a new home.
Who are your target consumers?
We are catering to middle-class, lower middle-class and upper middle-class…they are who we are trying to help get a home.
Many Bollywood celebrities want to buy luxurious bungalows. Will you coax them to buy homes through you site?
See, that’s really not who we are looking at. We are not catering to X, Y, Z actors who want to buy new homes through us. For example, if I am to buy a home, I won’t get a discount. Why will a builder give me discount? To him, I am as good as any person who is going to buy a home. But if I, from Group Home Buyers (GHB), am assuring the builder that I am going to sell 20 homes in your society, he will say: ‘Chalo since you are assuring me, I will give you a discount’. The discount that we get at brokers, we pass it on to our consumers. So that’s the advantage and that’s how the entire thing works. We are trying to help those who really want to save that 5-10% in the market value of a home.
Why did you choose to enter E-Commerce?
Why not? It is obviously the way forward. It’s amazing to see the facts and figures that come out of the penetration we have in our country with a billion people. With just 8% penetration, we cater to a 100 billion internet users, which just goes to show that this definitely is the newest way of home-buying. In a couple of years, we are targeting double the numbers.
There are already a lot of real estate sites. Do you fear competition?
We are the first and only dedicated home-buying site. We don’t have anything to do with properties. So there is no competition for us.
Do you think searching and buying a good house is like searching a good bride or groom?
It’s easier to find a good bride and groom than a good home that’s cheap. You will find a lot of men who are cheap (now my husband’s going to kill me). I don’t think searching a perfect girl or boy needs as much time as searching a perfect home.
What’s the status of your film production house (S2 Productions)?
My film production venture is not on hold. We are still working on it. There will be an official announcement on that one very, very soon.
How will you balance your acting career with so many business projects?
I am not balancing at all. I have taken a back-seat from showbiz. I really didn’t have a choice because I am really enjoying what I am doing at this point. I miss being on the silver screen but I have learnt to prioritize in my life. My married life is obviously is my first priority. And then, all my ventures where I have put my hard-earned money, my sweat and toil. All these requires time and it is not possible for me to handle films right now. So I have taken a two-year break. After these two years, I will definitely get back to films.
Are you turning a full-fledged business woman?
(Laughs). I don’t know that. All I can say that wherever I put my name, be it in endorsements or any new business venture, I make sure I completely believe in it. Money is not a factor. Paise toh aa hi jaate hai at the end of it all if it’s successful. But uske saath saath I have to have a brand belief. People should know that if Shilpa aapna naam laga rahi hai iss cheez mein toh koi baat zaroor hogi. That’s always has been my focus.
What’s the secret of your happy marriage?
Happy marriage? First of all, he (Raj) bought me a home. Staring point of a happy family is to have a good home. The secret to have a happy marriage is to have a balanced life. Like people say, marriages are all about compromises; I don’t believe that…it sounds very, very negative. Any good marriage is based on trust and love. That’s what keeps us together.
– Sreya Basu / Trans World Features (TWF)