> Brigade Group-Reaping Tech Rewards

Nirupa Shankar, Director, Brigade Hospitality & Director Brigade REAP

Founded in 1986 by MR Jaishankar, Chairman & Managing Director, the Brigade brand is synonymous with quality, innovation, trust and customer satisfaction.

Everybody wants to know how, as a woman, I manage in a male-dominated field. My answer is I am not trying to manage it, I am trying to disrupt it. I got the idea for REAP while I was on maternity leave. I used the break to create Asia's first real estate tech accelerator, something the country did not have before but desperately needed.

- Nirupa Shankar, Director, Brigade Hospitality & Director Brigade REAP

For the Bengaluru-based real estate major Brigade Group, staying ahead of the curve is second nature. Way back in 1986, when it launched Brigade Towers, the 14-storey office complex was the tallest and the first of its kind in Bengaluru’s property development market. Since then, it has completed over 250 buildings amounting to 40 million sq ft in residential, office, retail, and hospitality sectors, in major cities in south India.

Ranked among the Top 5 Real Estate accelerators in the world by Archipreneur magazine, Brigade REAP’s vision is to accelerate innovation in the real estate sector and help deliver enhanced efficiency to the industry which would also impact consumers positively. It helps early-stage companies which work on the use of cutting-edge technology to develop products or services that could be implemented in the real estate industry across various domains: residential, office, retail or hospitality. The focus sectors are Internet IoT, NanoTech, CleanTech & Renewables, Visual Computing such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, and Logistics.

Brigade REAP wants to help inventors and innovators create sustainable and scalable businesses from India. Its reach, however, is not limited to Bengaluru or India and it receives applications from Singapore, Israel and the US. Startups are selected through a rigorous 2-stage selection process by a jury comprising the leadership team at Brigade, tech and business partners of the programme and VCs. The program runs for 18 weeks and works with the startups on 6 key pillars – product, technology, business model, GTM, people and scale. It also has the advantage of strategic partnerships with Microsoft, Intel, Cisco and CBRE that offer the benefit of mentorship and technology support.

The solutions developed by the startups could be applicable in either the B2B or the B2C models. The group adopts some of the solutions and introduces them to other industry experts and investors as well. Says Shankar in an interview with Aditya Mendonca, “We give 60 percent of the startups opportunities to work on live projects within Brigade. The rest get opportunities to work with developers or architects or allied services.”

Brigade’s hospitality projects include star hotels that are operated by international brands such as Accord, Marriott and IHL.

The Brigade Group develops Grade A commercial properties such as The World Trade Centres in Bengaluru and Kochi, software and IT parks, SEZs and stand-alone offices

The objective is to use technology to make operations more efficient – by either reducing cost or saving time. One of REAP’s successful startups is an end-to-end project site management technology platform called QwikSpec where the client, the contractor and the management can flag snags before a project is ready for delivery. This has made the quality check process easier while monitoring the project management and job site management.

Conventional construction systems in the real estate sector have long been awaiting disruption. Shankar, who has done her Master of Management in Hospitality from Cornell University and oversees almost 2 million sq ft of retail, 10 million of office and a portfolio of 12 hotels (of which 6 are under construction), is leading the transformation of this space. She decided that the best way to be a part of the startup wave was to start an accelerator synergistic with Brigade and encourage other founders with their startup ventures. Her vision is to mentor at least 100 proptec companies, and REAP has already mentored 25 in 2.5 years.  Nearly half of the startups that have graduated through the program have received funding.

With Buzzworks, she’s also attempting to redefine co-working spaces by choosing underutilised areas that are small in scale, manageable, flexible and without major fixed costs. The idea is to create “a high energy co-working space cum managed office service where Brigade can offer Space as a Service. Co-working is a complementary service to our existing office portfolio and the trend towards moving towards flexible office spaces is undeniable”, she says. The first co-working centre is coming up at Whitefield soon, with 8 more on the anvil.

The Brigade Group group has consistently ranked among the 100 Best Places to Work in India for 8 years in a row and was awarded as one of India’s Best companies to work for 2018 by The Economic Times and Great Place to Work. It won three awards at the 9th Realty Plus Conclave & Excellence Awards 2017 – MR Jaishankar was awarded the ‘Scroll of Honour’ for his contribution to the real estate sector, Nirupa Shankar won the ‘Woman CXO of the year’ award and World Trade Centre Kochi won the ‘Commercial project of the Year’ award. Nirupa was also awarded the ‘Rising Star Award – South Asia’ by the International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC) at the Hotel Investment Forum India (HIFI) in 2015.

Brigade Group

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