VisionTech Angels’ Executive Director Ben Pidgeon recently sat down with Farrukh Malik, founder and CEO of Roomored, to learnmore about the company that’s disrupting the residential construction industry by taking the pain out of buying and selling new homes and eliminating the need for expensive spec homes. Farrukh will be presenting Roomored during our first Pitch Week of 2019, February 25-28. Read on!
BP: You have an interesting story behind Roomored.
FM: I’m somewhat of a citizen of the world. I was born in India, but my family moved to Australia when I was 15. After university, I was an investment banker for Macquarie Infrastructure Partners for nine years, moving from Sydney to Abu Dhabi and ultimately to New York City. Great companies and technologies are often born of pain points. Early in my career I bought a new construction condo. When it was completed, I was disappointed; it looked nothing like what I expected. With each move, the pain continued. Will my furniture work here? How will this two-inch flooring swatch look throughout my home? I have a numbers brain so visualizing what a condo or home would look like was extremely difficult for me.
I wanted to start my own company and partly because of my pain point, I believed the residential construction industry was ripe for change. At the time, virtual reality technology was new and I saw an opportunity to create a tool for custom home builders that would replace the need to build model homes and support the sales process in a way that no one else was doing.
BP: How have home builders traditionally marketed new developments?
FM: Most will build and furnish one or more spec homes, which have to be staffed with sales people. They put together literature on floor plans and options. They have boards with swatches showing colors, tiles, flooring, shingles – you name it. Home buyers have to come out to development, which is usually just a dirt patch, tour the model home and then spend hours trying to visualize their dream home. It’s a tedious, frustrating process!
BP: How does Roomored solve this problem?
FM: Roomored provides a virtual reality (VR) experience not unlike what people see everyday on HGTV. Imagine Fixer Uppers’ Joanna Gaines and the VR designs she shows her clients. Roomored is just like that. We make TV magic real for builders and customers using actual photo-real floor plans, paint colors, finishes, and options offered by the home builder. Roomored creates the home buyer’s dream home in real time so no visualization skills are necessary.
The benefits to home builders are significant. They can avoid the expense of building, furnishing and staffing model homes. Instead, they can have an onsite design center with design stations equipped with Roomored. They can also use the platform on their website, so home buyers can go to the site and design their home online when it’s convenient for them. Roomored cuts the consultation time—the average engagement time is 30 minutes—and shortens the sales cycle time. There’s also higher satisfaction at the end of the project because the home meets the buyers’ expectations.
BP: Did you have any unforeseen hurdles as your were creating Roomored?
FM: We’re very proud of our photo-realism, but early in our product development, we determined that photos are often inaccurate, particularly when we used images supplied by other companies. Lighting and retouching remove the reality of an image pretty quickly. In building our finishes database, we use our own photography to ensure colors, scale, textures, and patterns are as accurate as possible.
BP: What’s your business model?
FM: Software as a Service based on the number of floor plans. Very simple and affordable.
BP: What differentiates Roomored from competitors?
FM: Roomored’s competitive advantage is our ability to provide photorealism that is customizable, while achieving scalability and volume. There are a number of companies (mainly rendering studios and agencies) that can provide really nice photorealism, but zero customization, and it is pretty easy to provide custom layouts, but no photorealism. Roomored is doing both in a way that it makes sense for homebuilders to license a software that helps their buyers visualize what they are buying pre-construction, and make design decisions.
BP: Do you have customers and are you generating revenue?
FM: Yes and yes. We are targeting high-volume builders of residential communities first, followed by mid- to small-sized builders. Our clients currently include Mattamy Homes in Canada, Hillwood Communities in Dallas that has 35 active communities on their books and M. Signature Homes in Austin. The M. Signature Home development, The Grove, is a perfect example of how Roomored supports the sales effort. They are building 1,500 homes and have 25 base floor plans and numerous options and finishes. They’ve chosen to skip the model homes the model homes in favor of a sales center with Roomored for support. With the homes priced from $500,000 up to $1.5 million, that’s a vote of confidence!
BP: Looking forward to your pitch!
FM: We’re looking forward to the road show!