“…But how many of us can afford it?” asks Atul Patel of Bonzer Infra, Navi Mumbai.

He sounds right in many ways. The bludgeoning prices of the land, appearing as if they are propelled by a cartel, are making it very difficult for a middle-class Indian to afford a home in India; and, in a city like Mumbai, it is almost an impossibility. Then, can we expect a low-income group family to even dream about home? The answer is no. Does it mean that they can’t ever own a home?

Atul & Shailesh Patel of Bonzer Infra dare a different answer here.

Being amongst many hundreds of realty & construction business houses, incepted and flourishing in Kharghar, one of the developed nodes of Navi Mumbai, founders of Bonzer Infra chose a different plan to succeed. They had a social responsibility objective blended into their business plan. They wanted a middle class person to come and own a home without a second thought. They worked backwards to make their business plan work. They moved away from the hue and cry of the city and chose a much serene locale, Khopoli, which is just 59 kilometers away from Navi Mumbai; more or less, an hour drive from Vashi.

Its not just away from the city but also away from the exorbitant land acquisition costs and most of the city-based statutory permission/sanctions and regulations expenses which eat into the cost of building a home. These are the primary reasons which make a home unaffordable in the first place and the subsequent delays in the official procedures increase the burden of interest on investments for the builder who’s left with no other way but to levy it on the customer.

“It is unfortunate that this kind of situation prevails in our country which is very unhealthy for development of any industry” says Shailesh Patel and goes on to add “however with the new governance at the helm of affairs, we hope a change in the scenario now”. Yes, hope is everything.

Today, with almost 380+ families owning a home at their Khopoli project, Atul and Shailesh have redefined the art of constructing affordable and quality homes in Navi Mumbai. To know more about these pioneering young and dynamic businessmen, News With Chai caught up with them for a short conversation.

Here are the edited excerpts of the interview.

News With Chai: So tell us…Atul & Shailesh…how did this all start?

Atul Patel: It started with our dad, Narsinh M. Patel, who migrated from Gujarat to Navi Mumbai in the 1980s. We were living in a small settlement called Silvaad Kampa in the Sabarkantha district of Gujarat. There were no rains for many years. We had no other alternative apart from migrating to another state. In 1987, we came to Navi Mumbai with a few hundred rupees in our hand. Our father joined as a labourer in one of the construction projects to get the family going.

Shailesh Patel: In 1989, our father started contracting labourers for the construction projects. Atul was in the 6th standard at that time and I was in the 5th. After a few years of successful stint as labour contractor, my father along with his long-time friend Narsinh K. Patel ventured into redevelopment projects of tenanted properties in Kalyan region of Maharashtra. In 1999, Atul joined as a site supervisor in of our redevelopment projects.

News With Chai: A real story of how a determined entrepreneur makes his way towards success. Great! How & When did Bonzer happen?

Atul Patel: In 2001, we ventured into full time construction business along with our friends and cousins. We built more than 1700 flats in and around the Kamothe region of Navi Mumbai. In 2009, we separated for good and started with Bonzer Infra.

Shailesh Patel: I joined the business in 2003. We were in a partnership with Rasik Patel of Bhoomi Homes. Even today, this brand is one of the reputed and renowned construction business houses in Navi Mumbai. When we started with Bonzer in 2009, we were already blessed with a rich experience of the industry. Thanks to Bhoomi !

News With Chai: That’s nice to know. Didn’t you feel intimidated by the fact that you were two young businessmen in this industry which was already populated with ripe-in-age stalwarts?

Shailesh Patel: No. There’s no reason to be afraid with the vastness or density of the market. There’s a place for everyone in this business. In one way, Navi Mumbai was and is still a pretty young market. And, we were clear in what we wanted to do and where we wanted to venture. Our motto was to deliver affordable and quality homes to our buyers. You need to know how to drive your value proposition. We knew it. We believed in it.

Atul Patel: Affordability doesn’t mean we compromise on the quality. Keeping the cost of construction at the optimum levels and keeping the land acquisition costs as well as the other frill expenses to the least possible limits is itself enough to keep a buyer in all smiles! What all you can give in a given price range matters most. Undercutting the price and compromising on the quality to grab a more market pie is rampant now-a-days. We neither advocate nor follow this philosophy of business.

News With Chai: What are the salient quality differentiators of your project?

Atul Patel: We can’t call them differentiators. These are necessary inclusions that any residential project should have and look into. We just ensured that we implemented them with devotion.

Shailesh Patel: We have installed a water treatment plant with 24/7 water supply facility at the project and introduced an in-house ‘property management services’ to support renting, property maintenance, necessary documentation and for being a guardian for the customers’ properties in their absence. Apart from these, we ensured 100% acrylic exterior paint, embellished entrance lobbies, vitrified tiles and used Tremix PCC instead of the plain cement concrete. These are just a few of our quality features which you own when you buy a Bonzer property!

News With Chai: Is there any check-list for a buyer to look into before he/she goes for the purchase of his/her new home? What’s your advice?

Atul Patel: Check Builder’s Profile! It’s the most important. How many projects has he successfully executed and how many years of experience has he/she garnered individually or organizationally? This is very important. It defines what a customer can expect from them in a single line.

Shailesh Patel: Apart from this, buyers should be wary about the clear title of the property. They should also look into source of uninterrupted water supply, project location, future appreciation possibilities of the property, amenities like the landscaped gardens, gymnasium, club house, etc. These factors talk about the project a lot and with all these in place, if the price is optimized, it’s a steal! Go for it. For example, our Khopoli project is not priced less than the market but we have ensured to provide everything that’s necessary for a happy living in the best price we can offer. We created a happy world in itself! We created a landmark. That’s our signature difference.

We don’t intend to work on price. Instead, we strive to provide the highest quality for an optimal, affordable price. It pays. (Smiles and adds…) It has paid!

News With Chai: Your advice to the new entrepreneurs who are waiting to plunge into this big-money realty and construction industry?

Atul Patel: Customer is king. Keep them happy. Give them quality. They will lead you to the top.

Shailesh Patel: Don’t compromise. Have a strong financial planning and control. Technology is growing every hour. Don’t stop learning. Dare to be different. There’s place for everyone in this market. Don’t stoop to conquer. Quality & Ethics are the foundation of any good business. Money is sure to follow. You will reach the heights if you remember this.

News With Chai: Thank you Folks! It is good talking to you. We wish you all the best in all future endeavors.

Atul Patel & Shailesh Patel, are co-founders of Bonzer Infra, along with their father Narsinh Patel. You can reach them on their email: atul.bonzer@gmail.com and sp.bonzer@gmail.com or visit their facebook page http://www.facebook.com/bonzerinfra

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