Dubai: Russian expat Anastasia Denisova may only be 23 years old, but since 2022, she finds herself proudly being referred to as the chief executive officer (CEO) of a Dubai-based tech portal that makes $1 million (Dh3.67 million) in a month. Here’s what makes this young entrepreneur tick.
Denisova, who loves spending any free time she gets by playing tennis and reading, describes herself to be ambitious and incredibly focused at whatever she does. “On a personal level, I enjoy building connections with people. I believe in spreading positivity, while on the look-out for solutions to challenges rather than stressing out on problems,” she said.
This is why family and relationships are of great importance to Denisova, and why she cherishes moments spent with loved ones. “Despite my drive for success, I prioritise maintaining a work-life balance, knowing the worth of personal well-being and making time for what brings me joy.”
Despite my drive for success, I prioritise maintaining a work-life balance, knowing the worth of personal well-being and making time for what brings me joy
UAE resident since 2022
Denisova has been residing in Dubai since March 2022, along with her business partners and team members who moved here with her from Russia. Although it was primarily work that brought her to the UAE, she now finds several aspects of the emirates appealing to her outside of work.
“I enjoy the city's blend of tradition and modernity, the diverse culinary scene, the abundance of leisure and entertainment options, and the emphasis on safety and cleanliness.” Dubai's vibrant social atmosphere and exciting recreational activities contribute to her appreciation for the city.
Before she became an entrepreneur and ventured into how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used to choose profitable properties for investors, in contrast to traditional careers, Denisova said she barely remembers ever being a full-time employee in the last five years.
“From age 18, I was a partner in a PR agency back home, which earned me $9,000 (Dh33,000) per month. The agency eventually expanded and drew in around 200-300 clients. I mainly collaborated with tech entrepreneurs during my time there. In 2020, I got to follow in their footsteps by partnering in a Russia-based AI real estate portal,” she said.
Entrepreneur since 2020
In 2022, the Russian AI firm expanded to the UAE, for which she is now co-founder and CEO. “Since then, we introduced AI-powered realty products in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah, integrated with 27 developers, and increased our monthly revenue to $1 (Dh3.67) million with over 50,000 users.”
While not disclosing initial investments or expenses, Denisova revealed that the tech start-up raised $5 million (Dh18.4 million) over the past three years from angel investors, banks and real estate developers, who were among the first users of the technology.
“The idea behind our startup was to create an AI-powered platform that could streamline investing process for real estate investors. Usually, it takes weeks for investors to research and find the most undervalued property with the most potential to grow. The technology accelerates this process.”
Expanded to 20-plus cities
The AI-run portal, which simply allows investors to purchase real estate directly from developers, by estimating future appreciation rates and ROI within seconds, and manage all the purchased assets in one place, has currently expanded to 20-plus cities worldwide, with plans to branch out more.
“As we continue to explore new collaborations, I often remember the advice of my senior partner, Alex Galtsev, who once told me that regardless of the amount of money you have, the risk you face is always the same,” added Denisova, when referring to investing what you have into growing your business.
“One of the most significant lessons I have learnt is that one must be willing to invest a substantial amount of resources and effort into an entrepreneurial mission. In my case, it is building a leading artificial intelligence company in real estate and, that is where my focus lies.”
Long before she ventured into entrepreneurship at age 18, Denisova recalled how her parents would instill in her the importance of managing finances by giving her a weekly allowance of $10 (Dh36.7) and then providing her with sheets to budget her expenses.
“I would fill them out each week, itemising expenses like lunches and gifts for friends' birthdays, while later seeking approval from my dad, with some points open for discussion. This early lesson taught me how to carefully spend money, prioritise expenses, and plan ahead, and I still abide by this principle to this day. It's impossible for me to run out of money, thanks to my parents' system.”
Denisova feels this principle has been invaluable in her professional life as well. “Running a company requires being mindful of expenses and allocating funds wisely to ensure financial responsibility and sustainability in the long term.
“By creating and sticking to a budget, we ensure our business operates sustainably in a region and make informed decisions about where to invest resources. Regularly reviewing and adjusting our budget allows us to adapt to market changes and stay financially savvy and responsible.”
By creating and sticking to a budget, we ensure our business operates sustainably in a region and make informed decisions about where to invest resources
Saving 20 per cent per month
From the start of her career, Denisova has been saving 20 per cent of her income every month, which has helped her create a financial cushion for prospective entrepreneurial missions.
“Last year, I invested all my accumulated funds into stocks and earned a 40 per cent annual return on various companies listed on the UK-based London Stock Exchange. I diversified my portfolio by investing in the banking sector, real economy, and medical technology stocks,” she added.
“I invest in various other assets which are considered risky and volatile. I also use conservative tools to save a portion of my income. As my income increases, I adjust the percentage I save accordingly. However, my primary focus is on my business, where I have a stake, and hope to raise its value and eventually take it public, securing a comfortable future for myself and my family.”
Key lesson learnt from mistakes?
For Denisova, a common mistake was putting too much emphasis on current earnings at the expense of potential income. She went on to briefly describe an instance from what she was currently experiencing.
“While my focus now is for my business to reach a wider audience, which I believe can potentially generate a considerable amount of personal income in the next five years, the question is if the desired level of income can be attained,” she said, while stressing on how cash can be managed.
“To manage your finances wisely, it's important to view money as a continuous flow and invest it strategically across various projects. Seek out opportunities that can attract clients and generate returns. Ultimately, this approach will be crucial to the company’s success.”