SILA: The Real League of Extraordinary Leaders

Sahil Vora
Sahil Vora SILA

“Success is more than luck. You have to believe in yourself and make it happen.”

― Richard Branson

While Sahil was working at a hedge fund in New York, he took the above quote in Richard Branson’s book “Screw it, let’s do it!” to his heart, and ideas started brewing in his mind, and that is how he ventured SILA in 2010 with his brother Rushabh.

Currently, SILA services eighty-five million sq. Ft. of prime real estate for large MNCs and brands like Goldman Sachs, Huntsman, Xander, Paytm, Google, Facebook, Upgrad, Amazon, Morgan Stanley, JSW, Piramal, Godrej, DLF, Lodha, Brigade, and marquee assets like the Mumbai International Airport (T2), Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru, World Trade Center, Four Seasons Hotel (Mumbai), and many more.

It is one of the very few Indian companies that provide a wide range of real estate services – facility management, project management/interior contracting, and real estate advisory.

Sahil Vora, Founder, SILA, worked at George Weiss Associates, a $3 billion hedge fund in New York, before moving back to India to pursue his passion for entrepreneurship.

Sahil’s leadership capabilities and track record over the last few years led him to be named in Entrepreneur Magazine’s ‘35 under 35’ list in 2018. Sahil is also an avid sportsman and was an Indian National Squash team member.

Before starting SILA with his brother in 2010, Rushabh Vora, Co-founder and CEO, worked in capital markets and investment banking in Singapore and New York. He has worked at BGC Cantor Fitzgerald, UBS Investment Bank, and Lazard. He holds an MBA from INSEAD, France, and a BA in Economics and Chinese from Trinity College, USA.

Rushabh has played squash at the International Level, representing India. Over the last few years, his leadership capabilities and track record led him to be named in Entrepreneur Magazine’s ‘35 under 35’ list in 2018.

Escalating Entrepreneurial Benchmarks

SILA is a Real Estate Platform. Over the last decade, it has scaled efficiently, managing over eighty-five million sq. Ft. of assets with more than 8000 workers, pan India. It has a diverse client base of large corporates, real estate funds, landowners, and developers.

In 2019, SILA ventured into real estate development with a Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) focus. The brownfield development strategy aligns with NBFCs/funds and provides solutions to stressed situations within their portfolios. SILA’s development arm is currently constructing 400,000 sq. Ft. of Real Estate.

“Our main vision with SILA was to reduce operating costs and increase asset productivity. Today, we have lived up to our promise and served clients across sectors, including some of the best names in the industry, such as Piramal Group, TATA, JSW, WeWork, PayTM, Google, Facebook, CRED, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, amongst others,” Sahil says enthusiastically.

Norwest Venture Partners and Samara Capital Group have invested in the services and development businesses respectively.

A Repertoire of Realty Spectrum

With no experience in real estate, Sahil and Rushabh have built and scaled SILA over the last decade to become one of India’s larger homegrown real estate platforms. SILA has two businesses, a real estate services and a real estate development business.

Today, SILA manages over eighty-five million square feet of real estate assets as facility managers, has advised on over $1 billion of real estate transactions for significant global and domestic funds, and is currently developing over 500,000 sq. ft of prime real estate in Mumbai Metropolitan Region. SILA has over 8000 employees and a presence in 75+ cities across India.

Seeing an opportunity two-to-three years ago to align with NBFCs/Funds and provide solutions on stressed situations, SILA ventured into brownfield development with a Mumbai focus. SILA partnered with a domestic NBFC and took over a project in South Mumbai that was stalled for over two years, infused capital to kick start construction, and sold over ₹500cr of inventory.

In 2019, SILA raised private equity for both their services and development businesses from Norwest Venture Partners and Samara Capital Group, respectively. In the services business, the seed investor exited SILA with an over 25x return on their capital.

In ten years, with a total team strength of 8000+ employees working across 75+ cities, SILA has built a repertoire of domain knowledge across industries that have helped fulfil the varied requirements of industry giants across the spectrum.

Real-Tech-Estate Connect

SILA is a tech-first company. Sahil believes that technology will lead the next century of innovation, and they at SILA want to be at the forefront of the change.

As per Sahil, one of the major sectors in real estate that uses technology at a fast pace is facility management. From IoT (Internet of Things) to Artificial Intelligence, expansions in the broader way in technology have already made a significant presence in Facility Management.

SILA believes that technology will enable efficiency, and industry like real estate has been slower in catching on to tech trends.

SILA has invested in customised facility management proprietary software called ‘SILA Connect’ to integrate technology to improve service delivery. SILA Connect is a cloud-based software that allows the operating teams and clients to optimise and monitor service delivery in real-time.

SILA Connect helps in real-time compliance management. Help desk and ticketing, training audits, operational audits. Feedback reports and employee performance management. This system empowers the on-ground teams and clients to reduce costs while increasing overall efficiency.  Technology-driven services are the future, and under Sahil’s leadership, SILA is taking the lead on this one.

From One Leader to the Aspiring Ones

Sahil’s advice to the aspiring leaders in this sector is that there are significant aspects to be focused upon. The critical factors to consider would include –

  • Understand the nuances of real estate development before starting

Real estate projects can pose various challenges for private developers ranging from land acquisition, project finance, market dynamics, vendor management, and many others that can potentially derail even the most committed real estate developer.

Therefore, it is important to factor in the many possibilities and accounts for difficulties while building the project model. Or players with negligible experience in the real estate business would be advised to first begin with real estate services.

  • Assess the ability to leverage capital and the risks involved

The real estate business is capital intensive and exposes entrepreneurs to policy changes or interest rate variations over the project lifecycle. It is vital to consider one’s credit rating and study the impact of taking on debt to fund the first real estate project, especially so as not to hurt the Group company in terms of interest burden or excessive debt being put on the balance sheet

  • Building credibility with internal and external stakeholders

Ensuring the success of the first real estate project, and indeed every project, after that, will need careful management of relations with all internal and external stakeholders involved. Good vendor management practices are vital to ensure timely completion of the various stages and maintain an excellent quality of construction among internal stakeholders.

From a commercial viewpoint, it is essential to engage experienced brokers, property consultants, or other marketing firms to garner customers from an early stage. Finally, the end-customer will determine the success of future endeavours, making it vital to communicate with them regularly, maintain transparent transactions, and deliver on the project’s features before the committed delivery schedule.

Nurturing the SILA Group of Visionary Leaders

Sahil spends a lot of time building leadership at SILA. The next leg of SILA’s journey will be driven by a group of leaders who share the same vision.

Sahil is spending time on the development business on the strategic expansion and setting up a real estate fund.

The goal is for the platform to have a complete real estate services, development, and fund management business over the next decade.

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