Face To Face With Preeti Markan Of ZingyHomes

Face To Face With Preeti Markan Of ZingyHomes

Preeti Markan is a Delhi Based entrepreneur and the Founder and CEO of ZingyHomes. Prior to starting her own startups, she worked in Sales, Marketing & Business Development of FMCGs, Pharma, Software and Industrial Products for over 7 years. Preeti loves adventure and thinks her entrepreneurial-self is, to some extent, the manifestation of her adventurous-self.

FS: Please briefly tell us about yourself and your passion.

Preeti Markan: By education, I had initially trained to be a scientist – did Physics at St. Stephen’s Delhi but took up an MBA at Faculty of Management Studies [FMS] as a challenge. By nature, I am a traveller at heart and as a youngster wanted to do a lot of adventure sports. I have a strong intuition that since I couldn’t do much of adventure sports for various reasons, the adventurous streak got manifested into entrepreneurship 🙂

FS: Describe your path to becoming an entrepreneur and what you are doing today.

Preeti: I am a die-hard entrepreneur, have worked on a number of entrepreneurial ventures now, most of which broke even and turned into profitable ventures within first couple of months.

My current venture – www.zingyhomes.com has been a different journey though. We have been working on changing habits and the way business is done currently in the space design industry. The scale and the impact potential is much larger as compared to the earlier ventures I started and that is very exciting.

The underlying motivation was to be able to build something that was scalable, had a huge market potential and changed the way people transacted, for the better.

screencapture-www-zingyhomes-com-1452705597184 ZingyHomes 01

screencapture-www-zingyhomes-com-1452705597184 ZingyHomes 01

FS: What was your underlying motivation behind starting ZingyHomes?

Preeti: In 2013, at a networking group I got introduced to the fact that the entire space design and architecture industry in the country still operates mainly by word of mouth. Which pretty much restricts everyone involved. You have limited reach, limited choice, limited growth and limited profits. The ones who can afford it, use advertising, exhibitions etc. for outreach but there is obviously a high tab for such activities.

As an end user, I was already aware of the hassles in finding the right professionals, getting the work done, collating advice from other home owners and had firsthand experience of how tedious it is for a family to find time to together drive around the city trying to source the right materials and products. So it was easy to put two and two together and spot the niche.

We (I had a cofounder then) backed it up with market research – both primary and secondary and when convinced, launched ZingyHomes.

The underlying motivation was to be able to build something that was scalable, had a huge market potential and changed the way people transacted, for the better.

FS: Briefly tell us about ZingyHomes. What ZingyHomes does? What is the business model?

Preeti: ZingyHomes is a unifying online platform for the space design, architecture and construction industry. It enables various stakeholders to connect with each other and transact business.

We make it easy for end users – viz.; property owners and builders to find and hire professionals and source / buy products.

While all stakeholders can use the platform free of charge, premium subscribers get additional perks in terms of aggressive promotion, advertising, preferred lead sharing, online PR. 

ZingyHomes is a unifying online platform for the space design, architecture and construction industry. It enables various stakeholders to connect with each other and transact business.

FS: Tell us about your team and team growth since you launched.

Preeti: I started with a large team, which helped provide the initial impetus. However, as with all startups, we have constantly been besieged with attrition and have mainly relied on the core team, which has pretty much been there since the beginning. There are new additions now and then who bring in their own skill sets and enable different modules.

The life blood of the business though is the core team where every member today knows what is to be done, pool in ideas, take their own initiatives and work together for growth.

FS: Once you got the idea, how did you manage initial funding and connected all the dots and started it?

Preeti: As I mentioned earlier, I have been an entrepreneur for long and so the venture has been completely self-funded over its two year + journey. We are now looking at raising external funds to scale up operations.

screencapture-www-zingyhomes-com-1452705597184 ZingyHomes 03

screencapture-www-zingyhomes-com-1452705597184 ZingyHomes 03

FS: What was first one year look like?

Preeti: The first year was pretty turbulent, much more than in any of my previous ventures. A lot of things didn’t go as per the plan. Market behaved very differently from what our research had thrown up. There were co-founder issues, HR issues. We started with a large (for a startup in seed stage), inexperienced team which brought its own set of challenges and subsequently a lot of attrition.

But every issue brought with it a wealth of learnings and challenged us to innovate, improvise bringing forth creative solutions. Though there were HR issues, every member of the team during the period was instrumental in taking the venture forward and made significant contribution, some more than the others.

FS: Tell us about few major obstacles you faced at the beginning and the way you outperformed those obstacles.

Preeti: Obstacles are the part of any entrepreneurial journey and I believe you are never completely done with them. We have surmounted many over the last 2 years and are still a little way off from the point where we can say we have “outperformed” them fully.

FS: It is incredibly hard to build a company. Particularly, the journey of building a company from scratch is hard one for the founders. Many entrepreneurs referred it equivalent to eating glasses. Let’s talk about your personal challenges as an early stage entrepreneur.

Preeti: The challenges continue beyond the early stage. They just become different. For those of us who choose entrepreneurship, part of the reason we get into it is the thrill the challenges give us. It’s the excitement of doing something that a lot of others would balk at; overcoming difficult situations gives us the kick. That said, I would be lying if I don’t say everyday challenges of the early stage do get overwhelming some days 🙂

FS: Are your family and friends supportive of what you do?

Preeti: To a very large extent. And that is I think true for all entrepreneurs who survive. Despite the initial resistance you may face, when family and friends see you have a strong, unrelenting passion, they do willingly or unwillingly become the rock of support you need.

FS: Was there a point in your life when you decided to take a risk to move for-ward?

Preeti: I have been an entrepreneur for long and finding a new challenge when things gets complacent is now part of the psyche.

FS: Have you had any mentor along the way? Do you think everyone should have a mentor?

Preeti: My dad has been my earliest mentor. At a more formal level though, I have not had a mentor which in hindsight does appear to be a wrong decision. And yes, I strongly think having a mentor can help you reduce your learning curve and also, at times, your time to market by connecting you to the right people.

It’s important though to always recognize that as entrepreneurs we constantly chart new paths and thus need to be prudent about not restricting our thinking based majorly on someone else’s experience. A good mentor is an “enabler” in more ways than one.

The journey requires a lot of hard work and dishes out rejections aplenty. It can also be incredibly lonely at times trying to keep everyone around you in good spirits, even while being misunderstood yourself. But if you love your idea and love the whole thought of “creating” something, its a journey you would willingly take up a thousand times.

FS: Have you ever failed throughout your journey? What do you think about Failure?

Preeti: Several times 🙂 and it is important to fail. Every failure brings with it a wealth of lessons, new ideas, insights, will-power and much more. Failures increase your emotional quotient and build what is termed experience and character. Failures make us a better person in every which way.

FS: 5 lessons from your journey as an entrepreneur.

Preeti:

Preeti Markan 01 Quote– Be open. It’s natural for an entrepreneur to be headstrong and in absolute love with one’s idea but it may sometimes become more like wearing blinkers and losing sight of the real picture. One has to learn to consider any feedback, advice and ideas objectively.

– Building the right team is the most critical aspect of a venture. It’s important to have a good mix of skill sets. People with skills are crucial and complicated and there are new learnings daily despite all these years of being in business. One can expect bulk of one’s time to go into recruitment, training, people management and interpersonal communication.

– Your dream is your dream. And it is important to accept that people you work with will not live, eat, breathe, dream 24×7 about the venture.

– Networking and PR should not be relegated to the last spot though in the beginning it is okay to focus simply on understanding the market, building a compelling product, and getting the users to talk about it organically.

– Often times, in a small business setup, an entrepreneur has to wear multiple hats and have a hands on approach. This micro management invariably leads to losing sight of the big picture. So one has to step back often and look at the situation from above.

Be open. Its natural for an entrepreneur to be headstrong and in absolute love with one’s idea but it may sometimes become more like wearing blinkers and losing sight of the real picture. One has to learn to consider any feedback, ad-vice and ideas objectively.

FS: What does a typical day look like for you?

Preeti: A 12 hour work day is not unusual. I like to mix in some good quality time with family, quick work-outs, good reads and once in a while, nature trips.

FS: What advice would you give to a young person starting out?

Preeti: I see a lot of people starting out and then dumping their ventures within a few months and going back to jobs. Entrepreneurship is not for the impulsive or the faint-hearted. It’s important to do some due diligence, market validation of your concept; take stock of your financial situation and plan accordingly before taking the plunge.

The journey requires a lot of hard work and dishes out rejections aplenty. It can also be incredibly lonely at times trying to keep everyone around you in good spirits, even while being misunderstood yourself. But if you love your idea and love the whole thought of “creating” something, its a journey you would willingly take up a thousand times. So just consider all aspects and contingencies, follow your heart but let the brain decide…prepare yourself as best as you can and dive into the (still) unknown.

I see a lot of people starting out and then dumping their ventures within a few months and going back to jobs. Entrepreneurship is not for the impulsive or the faint-hearted.

FS: What book are you reading now? Tell us few names of your favorite books.

Preeti: I am reading a Ken Follett currently. Books I find myself re-reading are The Greatness Guide, Steve Jobs, Financial Intelligence for Entrepreneurs, Lord of the Rings, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

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