1) Short profile
My name is Balaji Ramaswami, I was born in the South of India in Chennai. I was a curious student with a passion for the maritime industry. After having been a navigator for more than nine years, I desired a career change, so I did my MBA in INSEAD Singapore.
After graduation I was offered the position as Managing Director for House.com.mm in Yangon. I took the job without hesitation. Working for a venture of Rocket Internet, the world’s largest start up incubator, in one of the most interesting markets was an opportunity I had to take.
2) What is House.com.mm for?
House.com.mm is a platform that connects supply and demand of the real estate industry. It helps agents and developers accelerate deals by increasing their exposure and reach massively. At the same time, it provides home seekers personalized search options. This enables everyone to compare more offers in a shorter and more convenient way.
3) What is your prediction for internet business in Myanmar?
Internet businesses are booming in emerging markets. A vastly expanding internet infrastructure plus a rising demand without ample supply make for the perfect start up society.
Myanmar is no exception to the global rise of Internet businesses, even though the country is lacking sufficient infrastructure. While Myanmar remains to have one of the lowest internet penetration rates and holds on to traditional payment terms of a cash society, it is experiencing an accelerating shift online with a rate of 300%, faster than most developing countries globally.
Internet businesses are already multiplying in Myanmar, demonstrating the huge potential for online space. Rocket Internet alone has six different internet ventures apart from House.com.mm: Motors.com.mm, Work.com.mm, Shop.com.mm, Kaymu.com.mm, Ads.com.mm, and the newest venture: Jovago.com.mm.
5) What are the challenges for your website?
The concept and benefits of online platforms and marketplaces remain to be underestimated in Myanmar. Encouraging sellers, agents, and developers to shift online is currently one of our main focus points. Once an individual or company shifted, we rarely have to convince anyone to stay online, as the advantages were experienced first-hand.
We are continuing to hold academies and educational forums, explaining the rewards of using online channels for the supplier side. I am convinced that trust in online portals needs to be established in order to move forward, this simply takes time but is no serious point of concern.
6) Did you find it easy or difficult to start a business in Myanmar?
House.com.mm offers a service that provides value to all involved parties of the house seeking process, making it highly desired. This consequently made the market entrance relatively easy for the company.
Whenever a product is needed and relevant, starting a related business isn’t too difficult. Myanmar is an interesting market because it is challenging and its environment is changing constantly. Anyone interested in starting his own project here has to take this into consideration.
7) What do you think which type of business can move Myanmar faster forward?
Myanmar as a business environment has huge potential, especially since both demand and supply of all sectors are expanding. A platform like ours, which really accelerated the process of connecting, is necessary. Any business that has the potential of moving Myanmar forward requires the necessary infrastructure.
8) What do you advice Myanmar entrepreneurs?
Every business that provides value has the potential to be successful. Take a look at neighboring countries and analyze their markets. House.com.mm’s business model has been proven successful in developed markets. In Singapore, Europe and the US, almost all properties transactions start online. Picking up your laptop and searching for houses on the Internet is automatically the initial step for properties seekers in those countries. House.com.mm realizes that Myanmar’s future is imminently the same.