Cherag Ramakrishnan came on board as the CEO at Equinox Realty, in 2007 and from then onwards he has been instrumental in building Equinox Realty (formerly known as Essar Realty) from scratch. Under his energetic leadership, Equinox Realty had created a portfolio of nearly 16 million sq. ft. of projects across India, which are in different stages of development. These projects are located in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Gujarat. An entrepreneur at heart, one of his prominent ventures was Khiladi.com which he co‐founded along with Geet Sethi in the year 2000, which was subsequently sold off to Satyam Infoway (SIFY). Another entrepreneurial success for Cherag was when he set up and successfully ran his business: Ramon Property Services’. Ramon has been a pioneer in luxury home sale/commercial office search /investment sales & design & development consultancy. His strategic thinking, efficient negotiation and ability to seize opportunities come from his meticulous and perseverant endeavour for over 20 years in his professional career.
His latest venture is Ceear Realty, a real estate development firm which will focus on offering its services to a wide range of segments, from investors to large fund houses. Cherag is a Post Graduate in Business Management from the University of Mumbai and also has a certificate for the Global Advance Management Course from ISB Hyderabad & KELLOGG University Chicago. He is an eminent member of RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors). Along with his professional success, he has excelled in sports and also represented the country in two world championships in snooker. He has been amongst the top 8 snooker players in the country for over a decade. In conversation with Dominic Rebello, this brilliant entrepreneur talks about building business from scratch and through its entire fructification process…
What drives you?
The Hunger for respect within the industry you work in and amongst your peers for the kind of work you do and your dealings is really what drives me and my team. I don’t believe in the number game on who is bigger, but I do believe in how we as an organization are perceived and will be 10 years down the line by the Industry.
How big is the potential for a business like yours? Any statistics to compare with international standards?
Our Industry has no limits, in terms of scaling up. Sometimes one can accuse promoters of bordering on greed, as the last decade or so has shown unprecedented growth by peers only to fail more often than succeed. Then too, there is the more stable variety of developers that have been around and continue to command the respect and awe of our industry both in India and Globally. Although there are no statistics when you compare internationally, one can compare on the basis of portfolio, quality of balance sheet, stability of delivery and quality of product. Our approach and benchmark is designed on the lines of globally acclaimed fund managers and developers like Heinz and Tishman Sypers and we hope that we will be able to match up to them on some counts in the years to come.
How do you plan to scale up; raise funds through seed or venture capital or simply grow the old fashioned way through rising turnovers?
Ours is both an acquisition game as much as a delivery one. Hence timing of an acquisition is extremely crucial and one cannot always wait for the rising turnover theory to grow. Also as our model is asset light; it is largely dependent on private equity capital. We act as delivery partners to our PE peers with ambitions to manage and raise our own funds in the coming years as we achieve our first round of growth by the year 2017.
Who would primarily be your consumer audience?
At this point as we are residentially focused and therefore it is more the Middle Class and the Upper Middle class in Mumbai and Bangalore.
Where do you see yourself five years down the road?
Five years from today we will be an 8 year old company, in the middle of our second growth cycle. We would like to be a recognized player in the cities we operate in for the kind of products we deliver as well as a respected development manager, with a proven track record of execution and return of capital invested with us. We believe we will continue to be Western and Southern real-estate players in India, albeit with a wider portfolio other than residential projects alone.