Dubai: Before arriving in the UAE about 17 years ago, Gaurav Aidasani, 38, lived, studied and graduated from a small town known as Sambhar Salt Lake in Jaipur, India. His struggles to complete his education did not stop him from becoming an entrepreneur at the young age of 26. Here’s how he went about it.
“I wanted to study finance when doing my post-graduation, so my parents invested their entire hard-earned savings of that time – Rs500,000 (Dh24,500) in order to enrol me in an university in Delhi, India,” said Aidasani. “It was hard for me to understand business terms at the university given that I was hearing them for the first time.”
Aidasani’s family had gone through extremely challenging times financially in their lives. This is why the value of money and fiscal responsibility was naturally nurtured and instilled in him and his elder brother from a young age.
Comes to Dubai in 2005 with no experience
“I thought I had wasted all of my parents' money on my education but somehow persisted in completing my studies. I became the only student to complete all credits in the first attempt. And then, in 2005, I came to Dubai,” Aidasani added.
“I come from a family where no one has ever been an entrepreneur. My father lived in Dubai since 1983, working to meet our family’s needs. He tried his hand at starting a textile business back in the 1990s, but we lost so much that we went negative in our savings.
"My father then briefly returned to India, but we struggled hard after that since my father had no job and had lost all his savings. Soon after my father returned to Dubai to find a job, he restarted his career again as a salaried employee."
From his father's experience, Aidasani learned to never give up on hope and continue to work hard even in the most challenging times of life.
Here is how Aidasani journey as a realtor started in Dubai
Although all of his family members have always had a history of being employed as salaried workers, he took a leap of faith and invested his entire savings in 2009 to start a business, a real estate company at age 26.
Aidasani started his career in Dubai as a financial consultant at a private firm in 2006, a job he got due to his father’s referral.
"I used to sell financial assets like bonds, notes and initial public offerings (IPOs). Later, when the real estate market started picking up, my company started a real estate division, as everyone had begun selling properties at that time," explained Aidasani.
“My boss told me to sell properties as the clients trusted me when I was selling financial products. I was good at sales, but I was scared as I never wanted my customers' trust in me to fail by selling the wrong products. I started selling properties only to do as I was told. It became my first acquaintance with the real estate business."
Here are four tips Aidasani shares from his entrepreneurial journey:
Tip #1: Don't over-leverage (pledge or borrow money excessively despite the assurance of profits) when you get extra returns from your business.
Aidasani learnt this lesson the hard way when his then boss unfortunately lost all of his hard-earned commissions during the 2008 international market crash.
“My boss had held onto all the employees’ money, promising them to invest it in real estate and give us more benefits. But we lost a huge amount of money just trusting him, because during the financial crisis, he left the country because he over-leveraged himself in real estate.
So then how did you fund your business?
"After the crash, when everyone was being fired, I was lucky to get an offer from a multi-national bank to work as a relationship manager. They knew that I had a good client base. In 2008, when I was just 26 years old and left with minimal savings, I had two choices: To join a salaried secured job or help the clients who trusted me during my previous job. I chose to help the clients whom I had sold real estate."
Aidasani was left with savings of Dh100,000, and with that, he took a small office in Deira Business Village, paid Dh60,000 as rent, Dh30,000 for license fees and Dh10,000 was kept for miscellaneous expenses. “Since my local partner in business was a good friend, he agreed to support my vision, allowing me to pay his local partner fees to him at a little later stage," Aidasani added.
Tip #2: Success will follow if you are true to your clients and when you sincerely intend to help them with your expertise and knowledge.
"When I talked with my family to start a business, everyone was scared, but they trusted my vision. My father said, 'Don't worry; you will not lose, and if you also lose, no problem, have firm conviction to try again',” Aidasani added.
"His words encouraged me to step into the world of the real estate business. The biggest challenge was to fight the negativity built up around the real estate business."
Aidasani’s drive was purely to help people stuck in their investment portfolios. He didn't know whether he would survive in the business for long. Last year, his company sold properties worth Dh3 billion, which is 1 per cent of Dubai's total property business done for the year – Dh300 billion in 2021.
Tip #3: Never take risks with your savings until you have financially secured your and your family's life.
Since everyone in Aidasani’s family was salaried, he firmly believed till 2009 in fixed deposits as a secured investment product to protect your savings. "I understand inflation is higher than interest rates, and we end up losing money, but it gives you an excellent base to take risks in your life."
Aidasani added that only when you have had enough fixed deposits that secure your future, you must take more and more chances in your business and your investments. And never leverage (borrow on the assurance of returns), as it is the biggest mistake many make with their investments and lose money.
Tip #4: Invest only in products which you understand well
"I am a real estate professional, and I believe in growing my money only where I have expertise. I have invested in a couple of assets where I get a rental income of 6 per cent. I have accumulated this income for my kids' studies, and those assets will further secure their future."
What money rules did you learn from your parents that you have taught your kids as well?
"We never got any cash as pocket money at a young age. The only time we used to get some money in our hands was when some guest or relatives would visit us and gift us a small amount as a token of their blessings.”
"We, as siblings, would save that amount to use for festivals and special occasions. We often hoped we get more guests in our home to grow our money collection."
Even today, Aidasani adopts the no-pocket-money rule with his kids.
“We do not give kids pocket money; instead, we provide them with some brownie points if they do something good at school, sports or other activities at home,” Aidasani said.
Aidasani added that these brownie points they get are converted into the gifts or gadgets they desire, encouraging them to collect more points through their conduct.