Interview: Kaling Porwal, Managing Director of Downtown Lifespaces

Kaling Porwal

Interview with Kaling Porwal, Managing Director of Downtown Lifespaces

Kaling Porwal is a seasoned entrepreneur who has pioneered unique concepts in the real estate sector. For instance, while adopting a design-first attitude, he remains a stickler for aesthetics and style, which is also reflected in the projects that the company creates.

In his capacity as the Managing Director, he is responsible for the overall leadership and strategic direction of Downtown Lifespaces, which is one of the leading real estate companies in Mumbai.

With considerable experience in the industry, Kaling’s core strength lies in sales, marketing, branding, finance, design and conceptualisation of projects.

He has been instrumental in promoting a culture in the company that rewards trust, transparency, technology, mindful design and long-lasting relationships, which also act as its building blocks.

As a serial entrepreneur, he has had the foresight in introducing new concepts which India has never seen before. 

Additionally, he has successfully established brands like Goldenhand Wellness, which aims at transforming human life by unleashing the full potential of the mind, body and soul.

Kaling holds a BSc. (Hons) Management (Accounting and Finance) degree from the University of Manchester, UK, and has been a driving force in adding new dimensions to the existing business and enhancing capacities.

He is a trendsetter who has integrated technology and innovation into his product offerings along with providing superior customer experience.

As he started working at a young age, he remains self-motivated and has a contemporary and growth-oriented mind-set.

Being born and brought up in Neemuch, Madhya Pradesh, Kaling went to a British boarding school, followed by completing his junior college studies in Mumbai and then graduating from a prestigious institution in Manchester, UK.

His exposure to different nations, cultures, people, and infrastructure gives him an edge to envision the future to make urban living future-ready.  

With his prowess in finance, he understands different asset classes apart from real estate such as the securities market, crypto-currencies, gold, etc.  

Kaling is passionate about investing and wants to encourage everyone to actively grow their wealth. He believes that money idling in the bank account will depreciate and hence will lead to erosion of purchasing power.

Currently, working as the Managing Director of his company, Kaling calls his passion for knowledge as the driving force behind his success.

The thirst for surpassing his own cognizance at every step and the opportunity to have learnt a lot practically, blessed him with an upper hand at everything. He finds facing day-to-day challenges quite intriguing, requiring him to put all his energy and efforts to it.

He is passionate about encouraging youth to explore real estate as it is one of the most stable and reputed asset classes that has been time-tested to generate generational wealth.

He also believes that women’s representation in real estate is low and there is a plethora of opportunity in real estate that can help them achieve equality and gain women empowerment.

Kaling is versatility personified, apart from being an astute entrepreneur, he is involved in various social enterprises.

These are organisations that are not just set up for the greater good but are also developed in a way that they make profits, which makes the enterprise sustainable and independent for self-sustaining over the years.

Being a sports enthusiast, he is a firm believer of well-living and holds high spiritual values in nature. With fitness as his core mantra, he wants to empower the occupants to be the best version of themselves through providing health and well-being-centric amenities in various projects.  

Tell us a little about yourself

Kaling Porwal: I, Kaling Porwal, was born in Neemuch, MP, India. I belong to a business family with interests in Automobile, Farming & Real Estate in and around Neemuch.

I grew up in a close knit baniya family and had got the virtues of ideal business practices instilled in me from a very young age.

After early schooling from my hometown I got admitted into a Boarding School in Indore where I spent 5 years growing up.

Daly College (the boarding school) was established in 1882 by the British for the aristocracy of India. It is one of the most renowned co-ed boarding schools in India for its culture and discipline.

Since we had students from all across India, it enabled me to acquire the invaluable interpersonal skills coupled with a strong understanding of diversity and cultures.

I decided to move to Mumbai after I finished my 10th and joined Jay Hind and Mithibai College for my FYJC and SYJC respectively.

I predominantly focussed my time on my academics. Moreover, I made sure to involve myself in fests and events to build on my team working capabilities and most importantly network.

I knew this city will be the centre of the global economy in the future. Understanding the inevitability of Mumbai being the next mega metropolitan, it was important to let the city of dreams sink in and build a network.

The hard work paid off, as usual, and I got an invite from The University of Manchester for B.Sc. Management (Accounting & Finance).

I managed to ace academically and secured a First Class Honours whilst being actively involved in the International Society & ENACTUS as the Indian Representative and Innovation Hub Head respectively.

I also worked in a restaurant serving shawarmas from behind the counter at Selfridges, London over the vacations.

Manchester is a student city with majority of its revenue coming in from students that come from all across the world in pursue of the best education offered by 3 world class universities present in Manchester.

Manchester is also the birth place of the industrial revolution, often symbolised by a bee to reflect the hard working attitude of people there.

The 3 years of university rounded me as an individual and taught me in depth about business, finance & enabled me to understand money and life with first principals thinking.

Although I saw myself working in Investment Banking & Trading, I decided to move back to India. I knew India was the place to be for the decades to come.

I co-founded Goldenhand Wellness, a self-development start-up. I built a team of counsellors & holistic healers, curated group programs & established strategic partnerships with co-working spaces and high end residential complexes to expand our customer base.

Once I had the business and management streamlined, I took up a job as a business development executive in Foxworks Lights LLP, my uncle’s lighting design and Fixtures Company.

I’d spend my hours learning about architectural lighting design, cold calling interior designers and architects and pitching our products and services.

Nine months into the job, my family was in Mumbai and us discussing our lighting business with an uncle who had been a successful developer in Mumbai for over 25 years by the brand name of JPV Realtors.

Things turned interesting when he introduced us to the redevelopment business model and associated dynamics.

The concept of redevelopment sounded just short of too good to be true because it presented a win-win-win solution for the exiting landlords, the developer and also for the city’s infrastructure.

By late 2019, we had a blueprint for a sister concern of JPV Realtors, Downtown Lifespaces.  Under the Downtown label we would take up hand picked projects that would re-define the standards of redevelopment in Mumbai.

JPV’s legacy of over 26 years with over 35 project deliveries and over 9 ongoing projects came in handy for the successful execution of the same.

Can you provide an overview of your role and responsibilities as the Managing Director of Downtown Lifespaces?

Kaling Porwal: My core strength lies in project acquisition, finance & cash flow management, sales & marketing, branding along with design & conceptualisation of projects.

I have been instrumental in promoting a culture in the company that rewards trust, transparency and encourages innovation and technology.

With a culture driven by trust, transparency and technology, the company is able to place their stakeholders at the heart of everything we do.

My knack for design, aesthetics and style has instilled a culture of mindful design and planning, the company is motivated by a design philosophy that is underpinned by quality, choice and excellence, which is cantered around the idea that form follows function.

Hence, the company is able to strive to develop projects that are not only optimised for the needs of modern living but also is an aesthetic reflection of the style and status of its residents.

My leadership at Downtown Lifespaces emphasis on the fact that we are not merely developing premium real estate, instead we are creating a community of people who value impeccable design, superior craftsmanship, and the finest appointments.

Kindly brief us about your company, its specialization, and the services that it offers?

Kaling Porwal: Downtown Lifespaces, headquartered in Mumbai, is a full-service development company driven by an internal team of talented real estate professionals whose combined breadth of experience includes all areas of real estate development.

Transparent functioning, excellent redevelopment know-how and proficient execution enable us to successfully acquire, finance, develop, market, and manage the most sophisticated development projects in Mumbai.

What motivated you to start a new-age construction company like Downtown Lifespaces?

Kaling Porwal: My zeal to make a positive impact in the lives of people in Mumbai and its Infrastructure. Lack of mindful and aesthetic designs in the existing redevelopment projects.

To deliver a brand and projects that the buyers can be proud to associate with. Establishing a benchmark for redevelopment in Mumbai and building for the next generation of home buyers who look far and beyond meritocracy.

Can you describe any unique or standout projects that Downtown Lifespaces is working on?

Kaling Porwal: Pratap Elegance, a mid-century European Architecture Inspired project: I fell in love with European architecture, its details & appreciation of craftsmanship during my time in university at the University of Manchester. It became a major source of inspiration whilst conceptualizing this project.

How do you approach sustainability and environmentally-friendly practices in your construction projects?

Kaling Porwal: Sustainability and environmentally friendly practices are integrated into every stage of the project development. 

It also boils down to the culture in the company that enables us to strive to create buildings that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also contribute to a healthier and greener future for our communities and the environment.

For instance, we consciously source eco-friendly materials, promote energy efficient designs and incorporate renewable energy solutions in all our projects.

This ensures our stance as the next generation mindful builders who take a wholesome approach towards development.

What strategies do you employ to maintain a high level of quality and craftsmanship in your work?

  • Efficient reporting & quality checks
  • Collaboration with the best architects, contractors, interior designers and other consultants
  • Experienced & skilled inhouse team
  • Exhaustive SOPs
  • R&D
  • Culture that puts impeccable design and flawless execution on the highest priority

How do you ensure effective project management and timely completion of construction projects?

Kaling Porwal: We ensure effective project management and timely completion of construction projects through meticulous planning, skilled project management teams, clear communication, and regular monitoring.

Our focus on risk management, quality control, and efficient resource allocation helps us streamline the construction process.

By leveraging technology and adhering to regulations, we optimize productivity and compliance. Our commitment to these practices allows us to consistently deliver projects on schedule, within budget, and to the highest quality standards, ensuring client satisfaction and project success.

How do you manage relationships and collaborations with subcontractors, suppliers, and other stakeholders in the construction process?

Kaling Porwal: Building and managing relationships with stakeholders in one of the most crucial part of being a developer.

Every project directly or indirectly interacts with over 85 industries over the lifecycle of the project. Each stakeholder is important and maintaining a collaborative environment ensures smooth construction process, enhances project efficiency and leads to successful outcomes.

I use a combination of effective communication, regular updates and clear expectations. Moreover, having open dialogue, addressing concerns promptly and providing timely payments goes a long way towards fostering trust and cooperation.

Most importantly, treating all stakeholders as valuable partners and acknowledging their contributions in the construction process enables long-term commitment to shared goals and mutual success.

Are there any specific areas of specialization or expertise that Downtown Lifespaces focuses on?

Kaling Porwal: In the world of redevelopment, acquisition of project is as important as the execution itself. This is because in redevelopment projects, the developer and majority of the landlords have to come to an agreement on the terms of the development.

Moreover, the landlords have to trust the developer with the possession of their property and the promises made their in.

This becomes a major barrier to entry since it becomes very important to have a track record & good will in the market.

In addition to that, acquisition of redevelopment projects can get very complex as the involved parties are usually existing members of the society and their respective families with various expectations that might or might not match with that of the rest of the members and/or the developer.

Therefore we double down on our expertise to acquire these projects that enables us as developers to kickstart the project using 25% of the total project cost.

It enables us to make the projects lucrative since the land cost gets eliminated and the costs associated are limited to the premiums, the rentals and other hardship compensation.

Acquisition is half the battle won, the other half is to build quality projects considering the limitations of the redevelopment plots and subsequent regulations adhering to it.

We specialise in efficient project design and planning ensuring optimal utilization of the limited spaces available.

We ensure that irrespective of the constraints, we provide curated amenities for the wellbeing of the future residents whilst also maintaining a sense of style in our projects.

Thank you, Mr. Kaling Porwal, for sharing your insights and experiences with us. Your dedication to excellence and sustainability in real estate development is truly inspiring. We wish you continued success in your future endeavors with Downtown Lifespaces.

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