We don’t just build beautiful houses. We craft homes,” says Nibhrant Shah speaking of his venture Isprava Real Estate Private Limited that specializes in the design and construction of luxury holiday homes in Goa and the Nilgiris. Isprava is a Croatian word that means strength. The company logo exemplifies the brand’s name by highlighting pillars. The homes that redefine luxury are efficient, comfortable, elegant and showcase traditional techniques with a contemporary outlook. “Each home is different from the other. Each home has its own unique story to tell,” he says. As of today, Isprava has over a hundred homes at various stages of construction, many of which are sold even before they are ready. About 18 ready homes between Goa and the Nilgiris have been handed over to the buyers already. Despite a current slump in the real estate market in the country, Shah believes the high end holiday home market in India is poised for massive growth. Indians are becoming incredibly discerning. For him, real estate is not a commoditized product but a luxury service that can focus on personal touches and give attention to detail. Shah was very clear about one element from the start: there would be no cookie cutter mentality in the design of the houses.
The thought and care behind the brand has yielded recognition from the industry. Isprava won The ET (The Economic Times) Real Estate Award— Brand of the Year for 2018. More recently, it also won the Hindustan Times Real Estate Award, for Excellence in Luxury Villas. According to an article in The Economic Times of May 24, 2018, Isprava “has raised Rs. 21 crore (over three million USD), in its second institutional round of funding led by the Godrej family, Anand Piramal, son of billionaire businessman Ajay Piramal, and the Taparia family… With this, the total capital raised by Isprava stands at over Rs 70 crore. The investment values Isprava at about Rs 320 crore, a massive jump from the Rs 77 crore it was valued at last year when it raised about Rs 11 crore from investors.” The Isprava board comprises founder and chief executive officer Shah, Nadir Godrej, managing director, Godrej Industries; Nibhrant’s father Darshan Shah, promoter of several companies, who now offers guidance on construction project management and sourcing; Rohan Lamba, former executive director, Nomura, Hong Kong; Nibhrant’s brother Dhimaan Shah, co-founder of StyleCracker which is one of India’s largest internet-based fashion service; and Dr Hiru Bijlani,management consultant. The team devotes utmost attention to every decision, starting from the choice of a plot. “There are various factors that lead to determining whether or not we will select a plot. A few of them include proximity to social infrastructure like restaurants and so on.
This is done since a place like Goa or the Nilgiris attract all age groups and it is important to build around areas where families can have various activities…Another important factor is natural beauty. Homes in such destinations allow people to unwind and relax amidst tranquility,” he explains.
The Isprava homes are essentially of three types — estates, villas and vaddos. The estates are large and palatial, which are valued at more than 10 crore rupees. The villas range from 600 to 1,500 square meters, and are priced between six to 10 crore rupees. The vaddos and hamlets in Goa and the Nilgiris respectively epitomize community style living where each home is built on a plot of 300 to 600 square meters and is Isprava’s take on gated communities. These homes are priced between 3.5 to six crore rupees. Irrespective of the categories, each Isprava home exudes the company’s aesthetics and is built using traditional techniques. The home is fully furnished and maintained by Isprava. “I believe that recycled and upcycled artefacts bring inherent character to homes. Just like Isprava, my design style celebrates a lot of natural material and vintage aesthetics. We believe in sustainability and try to inculcate it through various design elements in our homes, whether it is flooring sourced from old ships or doors and windows sourced from heritage buildings like old government offices and mansions,” adds Nibhrant. He prefers minimalism and is inspired from the various places he travels to. He has an enviable furniture collection comprising vintage, antique, old-world furniture. “There are various such pieces in every Isprava home, each unique and with a special story to tell. My personal favorites are: wainscoting done in the bathroom of one of our homes, Villa Cecelia, sourced from the Bombay High Court and refurbished for this use; a sink used in one of the bathrooms, was originally a bird feeder in a palace in Rajasthan; doors used in a lot of our homes are actually sourced from churches and basilicas across the country.” Much before Nibhrant started Isprava, his first undertaking in India was Themis, an accounting, taxation and human resource management firm which has now merged with Savage and Palmer to become one of the largest firms in this field in India. “As an ex-investment banker, my inclination towards finance will always remain. Even though I am completely involved in the daily management and decisions related to Isprava, I have invested in various start-ups such as Snackible, a leading, healthy snacking company and StyleCracker, a company which has grown to become India’s largest styling platform,” says the 33-year-old entrepreneur. This is a unique personalized styling service where a curated box of clothes and accessories is home delivered to subscribers, based on their unique preferences.
Having earlier worked as an investment banker in New York and London, this economics graduate from Northwestern University in the United States returned to India as he saw incredible opportunities and immense economic growth available here. Born to Darshan and the late Roxanne Shah (née Nazir), Nibhrant had studied at the prestigious Cathedral and John Connon School. While the paternal side of his family are Gujarati speaking Hindus, his mother’s side are Parsis. His maternal grandparents are Dr Adi and Gooloo Nazir. “The times when we meet are always fun and loud with laughter,” he says. “We have a family tradition where every Sunday, we go to my aunt Laila Kizilbash’s home for some authentic Parsi bhonu. It is certainly my favorite cuisine, so whether it is prawn patio or chicken farcha or patrani ni machhi, you will see me binging on it all,” he states. His wife, Alekha Engineer, is a Parsi too. “I believe Parsis all over the world are like a close-knit family, filled with love and laughter. In terms of rituals, my wedding was conducted by a dasturji. Alekha and I ensure we are close to our roots and partake wholeheartedly in all rituals and traditions in our families,” he adds. Nibhrant’s close bonds with the community have impacted his life in a deep way. “I have always known Parsis to be honest and warm. They are food lovers and people who laugh the loudest. Alongside all this, I have looked up to a lot of hard working Parsis in my family who have instilled the ethos of respect, empathy and work priorities in my life,” he states. Having experienced both Hinduism and Zoroastrianism from close quarters, he believes it has honed in him a spiritual worldview: “To me all religions are the same. They expound the values of love, respect and compassion and push one to be the best they can be.” This broad worldview also extends to community service. “I work on many local community-based activities, not just in locations Isprava is present but also through various other initiatives across the country. I strongly believe that community service should not be antagonistic to any religion,” he explains.
Nibhrant has a wide range of hobbies and loves playing various sports, having learnt judo, horse riding, golf and squash through the years. He is extremely passionate about horse riding, and owns a horse as well. Moreover, he loves vintage watches. Juggling family, hobbies, social responsibilities and work, Nibhrant declares, “Our vision as a company has always been to ensure that we leave a legacy through exceptional style, thoughtful personalization and service that goes the extra mile.