For our latest installment of The Quintessential Business Traveller series we interviewed Sumit Jain, CEO and co-founder of CommonFloor. Read on to know more about his travels…
1) How did the idea behind CommonFloor evolve?
It all started when we (the three co-founders of CommonFloor.com – Sumit Jain, Lalit Mangal & Vikas Malpani) came to Bangalore in 2007. Initially, the three of us individually faced lot of challenges in finding the right accommodation. Finally when we did find something, a host of other issues began coming up. One of the biggest problems the apartment complex we were living in was a major sewage blockage. This issue wasn’t getting resolved since very few residents knew each other or had any sort of co-ordination amongst themselves. Privy to these problems, the three of us decided to create a way to bring people on a common floor or platform and hence the idea for CommonFloor.com was born. The initial thought was to develop a platform that could bring together people who live in gated communities and had come up with CommonFloor.com in November 2007. It was a challenge initially to get communities on board and we had to come up with several iterations to get the product right. We also had to keep the product flexible enough to accommodate different priorities of different communities while still ensuring a good user experience for all. The real confidence came when the communities that adopted us in the beginning started to see real value in our product, appreciated our efforts and even partnered with us in improving it. That is when we started believing that CommonFloor.com will work.
2) Tell us what keeps you motivated to perform even better than you have before?
Customer satisfaction and delight are our biggest motivators. I would like to share a few incidents
a) During a visit to a gated community when the three of us asked a pair of kids playing all by themselves about their friends, they replied, “Uncle, there is a site called CommonFloor where we came to know of many other children in the neighborhood. They are all our friends and will be joining us soon.”
b) A broker on seeing Lalit wearing a CommonFloor.com t-shirt approached him. He appreciated the Idea behind CommonFloor.com and shared that thanks to CommonFloor.com he now make enough money to pay for his mother’s treatment, and has transformed his small business into an established firm with 30 employees.
c) A lady who works at a radio station thanked Vikas when he was there for an interview, as she had managed to buy a house without brokerage even when the owner was in Dubai.
3) Which is your favourite business destination in India & why?
My favourite business destination is Delhi. We have seen very good business from Delhi and coming here thus makes me feel good. We have also grown here a lot. We today have multiple offices in Delhi. I therefore view Delhi as an important business center. I also like its diversity and good food.
4) What is it about travel that inspires you?
For me travel is a way to break life’s monotony. It gives me an opportunity to meet with different people from diverse cultures and walks of life. Travel also teaches me a lot. It has broken a lot of my assumptions. It also allows me to discover new facets of life.
5) What’s on your travel bucket list for 2014?
Ladakh, Bhutan and Rajasthan (the thar desert for sure)
6) Share an interesting travel experience that you’ve faced while travelling on business…
On a trip to the US Lalit and I had a stopover at UAE. While waiting for our flight at the airport we saw a middle aged Gujarati who appeared extremely tensed and worried. When we inquired about the reason for her anxiety she told us that she had no money and the person who was supposed to pick her up had not arrived. Also, since she didn’t have a local phone or any money she was unable to contact him. I shared my calling card with her and gave her 50 US dollars. I gave the money keeping in mind that I may not get it back. A few day after our return to India I received a phone call from the lady who took my account and transferred the borrowed sum.