My Startup World speaks to Umer Ali, the Sales Director at PropertyTrader.ae, about the company, the services it offers, and the plans ahead.
Tell us about PropertyTrader.ae.
PropertyTrader.ae is a UAE property listings portal. It provides resources for consumers and real estate professionals to help them explore all stages of the home leasing and home buying process. The site provides an effective medium for users looking to buy, sell, rent or let quality properties, and gives access to financial advice for efficient use of resources.
Our aim is to empower people in the UAE and overseas in making good decisions around Dubai property. Propertytrader.ae offers an easy to use but sophisticated online property search with good depth of information.
How did you come across the idea behind the portal?
Although most of our business projects have been UK-based in the past, we watched with interest the development of the UAE property market – which has performed incredibly well, even during some turbulent global economic times. In terms of property portals servicing the market, we felt that there was space for a new one that was very user friendly and fairly western in look and feel.
We took our time meeting with the main real estate agencies out here to understand what they felt was missing from the space – and we are trying to answer those needs by offering a totally up-to-the-minute site with well written, well researched information and guides for users – as well as just listings. The feedback and progress has been amazing with agents telling us they are delighted by the amount of leads – and we are escalating the business in 2017.
Who is involved in the company apart from you?
The key partners in propertytrader.ae are myself (Umer Ali), Adnan Ali, and Matt Lewis. Matt is a British businessman who has worked on several internationally-focused projects over the past ten years or so, mainly in the hospitality and real estate sectors.
What is your team’s size?
In Dubai, we have a new team of 18 people – but we are recruiting fast. We also work closely with partner marketing agencies and strategists out here as we feel this will give us the edge – notably Blowfish Media.
Which markets do you currently cater to?
We cater to Dubai for now. However, we are planning on moving to other cities in the UAE, before we move on to Qatar.
How do you think your portal will add value to the local property market?
I am sure some people might say – not another Dubai property portal! But in fact despite the number of listings sites out there, our market research tells us consumers are not 100% with the service they have been getting. Common complaints are old listings, bad photography, dodgy agents, and a dearth of genuinely helpful information about making a good choice on renting or buying a home.
Our aim is to take a highly professional, customer friendly approach to running a portal – and build solid relationships with property agents so we can help to raise standards in the market. We are in this for the long haul and want to give property hunters an online resource they can’t do without.
Who is funding the project? Is it bootstrapped or do you have external funders?
We are funded by several UK-based investors. We are also actively looking for new investors. We do have private investor from Qatar and Saudi who we are currently speaking to us, too.
In the next one year or so, we envision to become a market leader and expand the business to other GCC countries – notably Qatar. We are also planning a serious increase in terms of marketing and brand visibility campaigns. You won’t be able to miss us!
Any other info you would like to add?
What we weren’t prepared for, and which we have capitalized on frankly, from doing our research in the market and getting to know the agencies – is that there is still a real desire to see more professionalism in the industry. Whereas our original focus was creating a great portal with up-to-the-minute listings, that benefits both the consumer and agents – we are now striving to distinguish propertytrader.ae by being known as the ‘people friendly’ portal, and the ‘listeners’.
We won’t deal with dodgy operators, and we won’t take anyone’s business for granted – and we are determined to part of the solution to helping further improve the reputation of Dubai’s property market.