Shaheen Alkhudari experienced frustration, like a lot of us when paying rent, collecting rent and managing rental properties. So, he created Ajar Online to streamline rent payment and property management.
What’s your story?
I am a co-founder and CEO, and I hold a bachelor degree of Management Information Systems and a Masters of Business Administration. I successfully have over 9 years experience in diversified fields including logistics, real estate, investments and information technology. Early 2015, I came up with the idea of Ajar Online. As a tenant, it was a real hassle and a hectic process to pay my rent. Every time it was due, it was a nightmare. I had to pay cash, cheque or bank transfers, chasing my landlord to collect my rent or my receipt, or I had to stand in a long queue at the bank, all this, just to settle a simple rent. I worked to validate the idea by researching the real estate market, specifically its traditional methods of rent payment and property management. The conclusion was that both tenants and landlords were feeling the same pain, which all stemmed from inadequate payment methods. It was a common issue for landlords who owned just one property, or thousands.
What is your involvement with Investment?
In late 2016, we closed a second investment in a round led by Dubai-based venture firm BECO Capital, followed by an investment from Sharq Ventures. The first round was in October 2015 by Beco Capital.
How did that come about?
This investment supports Ajar Online’s growth in the region by upgrading the current services, and releasing new tools for the landlords. We believe in our investors as strategic partners, who work alongside our objectives and share our vision. They are the backbone of the company. We use their experience, network and passion to grow effectively.
What are some of the key things you have learnt about Investing?
1. Find the right investors who will support you to grow and self-funding at the start is very likely. Make sure you have the budget for it. I call them smart investors.
2. Invest in the team and the future of the company.
3. Know your competition. With a clear market research and swot analysis, you can identify your unique selling points (USP) and be more appealing for investment.
What mistakes do you see less experienced investors making?
Not asking the right or enough questions. An important factor in forming an investment is asking why. Young investors with a lack of experience haven’t experienced pitfalls in investments, so they ask a lot of questions to avoid it, or if it happens, they learn from it.
What mistakes do you see Entrepreneurs making?
Not knowing the market well enough and merely assuming, or not validating their idea with the right steps. This is a killer, as you can spend a lot of time and money building a product nobody wants to use.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
To stay focused, no matter the distractions and appealing factors. Stay focused on the goals you have set and execute accordingly.
What advice would you give to those seeking funding?
To play it smart, be prepared for all questions by investors, especially the ones regarding market and competition. Have a short pitch deck straight to the point, max 10 slides, don’t bore investors with too much information and stick to the main points: What’s the problem? How do you solve it?
Who inspires you?
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
As a founder, everyday I learn something new that increases my knowledge.
One of the latest trends I am following, are the ones related to Bitcoin, a very unique issue that is creating a buzz globally with its unexpected drops and growth
What business book do you recommend the most?
The lean startup – Eric Reis
Rich dad, poor dad – Robert Kiyosak
Start with why – Simon Sinek
Shameless plug for your business/organisation:
Ajar Online provides optimum free property management solutions by digitizing rent payment and collection services in an effective manner. It is simple, fast and professionally tailored to meet the needs of landlords and tenants.
How can people connect with you?
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/shaheens/
This article is part of the World Business Angel Forum media partnership with AsianEntrepreneur.org
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