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Sharon Lobo

IWB Blogger

Lawyer-Turned-Entrepreneur Puja Arti Will Help You Build A Team You Need For Your Dream Home

  • IWB Post
  •  July 11, 2018

An outgoing 26-year-old lawyer-turned-entrepreneur, Puja Arti is an inspiration for millennials who wish to start their own venture. Puja and her co-founder, Rohan Shenoy, founded Build-Inn in August 2015 to solve the problem of finding home builders, interior decorators, and repairmen.

Lots of people often spend months looking for the perfect vendors after buying a house. Puja decided it was time to organize this space and cut down the hassle of vendor management. “The focus is on bringing quality to the construction industry,” says Puja.

The love of law and the zeal to organize the unorganized sector is what drives Puja. In this interview, she tells us what it’s like to have a startup in a disorganized industry and discusses how law led her to become an entrepreneur. Excerpts:

How did you come up with Build Inn’s idea?

I come from a family of engineers, and we always had this conversation about various issues that Indian construction industry faces such as design issues, labor issues, etc. because the sector is very unorganized. In the third year of college, I studied labor laws and that instigated me to start Build Inn. I got along with a friend who’s an architect and even he agreed that there are quite a lot of challenges this industry faces. So, we decided to build a marketplace where you can get connected with designers, architects, engineers, etc.

Tell us how your startup is divided into the online and offline sector.

Our business is predominantly offline; the online platform is only for discovery and lets people know the kind of services we provide. We are trying to bridge the gap and bring a lot of services online for people who want to build their own houses, but the execution of the business is primarily offline.

Could you tell us about the position of women entrepreneurs in this industry?

The industry is labor-intensive, and hence, it’s a man’s world. But people are more welcoming of women designers. Though there are very few women out there, more women who want to come into this industry are always welcomed.

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Since this is such an unorganized sector, do you have any plan in place to get your processes organized?

We have soft skills training for people who work with us on construction projects. We also have detailed information about these people and try to gauge what they’re good at. Basically, we are trying to get everything in place by training our workers.

The unorganized sector in India is a huge market. What advice would you give a person who’s starting a venture dealing with unorganized sector?

A thorough research about the problem is a must because we need to be clear about the issue from its roots. Another essential thing is to be in touch with all the stakeholders of the businesses and understand their concerns because in the unorganized sector it’s a little challenging to stay in touch with all the people you are dealing with. The third and crucial factor is a full-proof verification of the person who wants to come and join because for our customers it’s our employee and our company’s face, so we have to ensure and verify all the information. Also, unorganized sector works on a word of mouth agreement, but we have got all our agreements on paper.

Your startup is a culmination of both offline and online operations; do you think non-tech startups are ignored considering that there are many tech-startups?

Non-tech startups require a lot of efforts. Also, it’s difficult to establish a purely brick & mortar model because that requires a lot of time to scale up. Maybe, that’s the reason that tech startups are in focus these days.

What did your transformation look like from a lawyer to an entrepreneur?

I haven’t completely transitioned from being a lawyer to an entrepreneur as I am a 50% lawyer and 50% entrepreneur in the company. In fact, studying law opened my mind to the problems that I am solving as an entrepreneur, and I firmly believe that law actually led me to pursue entrepreneurship.

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 If not for Build Inn, would you have been an entrepreneur or a lawyer?

I would have definitely been an entrepreneur. We are employing the underprivileged section through Build Inn and solving a problem here. If not for Build Inn, I would have anyway ventured out to solve a problem at the grass-root level.

Sounds like you are on the path to becoming a social entrepreneur.

Yes, I do! In fact, 10 years down the line that’s my ultimate goal.

What’s your success mantra?

Believe in your team and make your customers happy. This mantra is imperative for any business who wants to be successful.

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Tell us about your one happy client who has stuck with you even today.

Our very first client is still with us, and we are again doing his projects. We are glad that we were able to build that kind of trust and build such a great relationship with the client.

What’s that one thing aside from your work that you do to rejuvenate yourself?

I go hiking; trekking and I read a lot and go out with friends on the weekends. I travel whenever I can to rejuvenate myself.

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Name one book that changed your life.

Well, I can’t think of any book that has changed my life, but I draw inspiration from mythological and inspirational books. For example, I recently read a book called The Twentieth Wife; it’s about Nur Jahan’s journey of rising to power.

One advice you want to give to anyone aiming to start a business.

Just jump into it, and you will always be able to figure out a way.

This article was first published on December 29, 2017.

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