Technology-based pension reforms wanted in Middle East, skilled says

RIYADH: Aiming to reimagine the worldwide residing expertise by means of its portfolio of tech-enabled branded residences Stella Stays is planning to develop into the most important residential hospitality participant within the area, mentioned its co-founder and CEO.

Speaking to Arab News in an unique interview, Mohannad Zikra mentioned that the Dubai-based proptech startup that’s disrupting the worldwide residential actual property sector with its modern enterprise mannequin shall be including about 2,500 flats regionally this 12 months of which 50 p.c goes to be in Saudi Arabia.

“We’re adding just over 1,200 apartments mainly focused on Riyadh but we’re also planning to launch soon in Jeddah,” he mentioned. “We’re also looking at Dammam and Alkhobar.”

Zikra went on so as to add that he’s eyeing alternatives in tasks within the Kingdom the place they’re creating new cities. The Saudi Downtown Co., a grasp and lead developer owned by the Public Investment Fund, with 12 tasks situated in 11 areas throughout the Kingdom, as an example, is witnessing plenty of progress and Zikra is eager to faucet alternatives in such tasks.

 Having began in 2019 by creating an providing the place individuals can discover and hire and transfer into a spot inside a couple of minutes, Stella Stays has quickly grown its portfolio. It is eager to proceed its enlargement throughout main cities within the Middle East and North Africa area, Europe and North America.

Zikra desires to proceed to deal with the area over the following 18 months. “We will obviously continue our growth in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey but we’re also looking at Morocco as a huge market for us,” he mentioned. “Then we’re looking at Qatar as a potential market as well after what happened in the World Cup.”

Moving ahead, he defined, Stella Stays shall be taking a look at a few of the rising markets which have large progress alternatives. Particularly nations like India, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

“You have Portugal as well that’s introduced the freelance visas,” he knowledgeable. “So in the next 24 months, we’ll go to markets like Asia that have huge growth potential and are among the top contenders in gross domestic product growth.”

Staying centered

When Stella Stays began it had some non-public traders within the UAE however right now plenty of what the corporate is doing is partnering up immediately with actual property builders. “When we partner with real estate developers, we’re able to take the buildings and we’re able to rebuild technology that allows us to reach 100-percent occupancy in our buildings within eight weeks,” Zikra knowledgeable.

“Hence, we’re able to generate cash flow very quickly from these buildings. And that’s been helping us fund a lot of our growth. So we took a different approach than some of these other startups that are just raising money to raise money.”

Unlike plenty of startups which are struggling as a result of they centered on rising with out caring about profitability, Zikra was at all times clear about constructing a worthwhile enterprise from the very outset.

Not surprisingly, Stella Stays shouldn’t be solely worthwhile but additionally money movement optimistic.

“We’re growing increasingly fast,” mentioned Zikra. “Our average growth rate is about 250 to 300 percent per year since we started in 2019 until 2022.”

Having been profitable in using its funds, Zikra is now working with banks as nicely to assist construct a powerful basis and develop the crew.

Stella Stays can be taking a look at partnering up with actual property funding belief funds as a result of, based on Zikra, they’ve usually confronted difficulties to find the proper actual property investments. His firm may very well be an excellent match for these funds because it has a profitable enterprise mannequin with round 80 p.c of its furnished flats at full capability at anyone time.

We’re rising more and more quick. Our common progress fee is about 250 to 300 p.c per 12 months since we began in 2019 till 2022.

Mohannad Zikra

By all accounts, there may be plenty of demand for such flats and individuals are additionally keen to pay a premium for them.

He added: “By 2024 we’re taking a look at including round 5,100 models. And for that, we’re beginning to have a look at strategic companions and traders within the area, particularly traders which are backed by sovereign funding funds as a result of we’re seeing that there’s a really shut relationship between what we’re doing and what we will contribute towards plenty of the federal government initiatives from a housing perspective.

“You look at Saudi Arabia and Vision 2030, there is a huge plan to grow the population,” Zikra continued. “And with that, they have needs to add over 100,000 homes over the next three years. And this means that these homes are going to have to be rented out. And they’re looking for partners where they can simplify that process.”

This is the place an organization like Stella Stays is available in. “We want to come in as a professional furnished apartment operator where we can come in and provide that consistency that you get in a hotel and provide that service,” mentioned Zikra.

Branded, tech-enabled expertise

“We don’t just take single apartments but we actually work with real estate developers and we take over buildings,” Zikra mentioned.

“When you book a furnished apartment at Stella Stays, you are coming into a fully managed, branded tech-enabled operator, where from the moment you walk into the building, it’s our brand,” he added.

“In all of the apartments that are managed by us we provide that same consistency where you know you’re going to get a clean place and you know there’s going to be 24/7 support for your stay, whether it’s for one night, one week or one month or more.”

To its credit score, Stella Stays has digitized the entire visitor journey. It has executed a lot the identical factor with residence leases that Uber did with ride-hailing. Loads of its company and residents come to its app or web site, see all of the totally different flats that they’ve throughout the totally different cities, and select the one they need.

“They can then choose their dates and pay by credit cards or pay by crypto,” defined Zikra.

“Then after that, they receive information for them to check-in. We have smart door locks across all of our units and access. They find the place, they pay for it, they move in, they can request services and all this without having to ever deal with a person.”

He added: “There’s no need to deal with real estate agents, no need to pick up the phone and make calls. Instead, we have completely digitized the experience.”

Way ahead

Asked who his opponents had been, and pat got here Zikra’s reply: “Our competitors today are nothing other than just traditional landlords who own properties and rent them out on Property Finder and all these different marketplaces or these building owners who want to rent out their apartment on their own. That’s what we want to take over.”

“And that’s why more than anything, we’re partnering up with them and saying, listen, we can take over your assets,” he defined. “Just like Amazon’s done with shopping goods, we can do that with furnished apartments.”

He added that they’ve entered a model new area that they’ve termed “residential hospitality.” According to Zikra residential hospitality is the flexibility to hire a residential condominium in a branded method.

“We want to take over and become the biggest landlord globally with our concept of allowing people to just show up and start living,” he concluded.

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