Blog Interviews LifeStory World

Man On A Mission

Firdouz Hameed

Inder Bhagnani, Founder of RK Property, was one of the most influential Asians in the year 2017 (top 100). Inder’s family is originally from Mumbai, India. He was born in 1987. In 1995, they shifted to the United Arab Emirates. His father is an LLB holder and also was into the trading business. Inder comes from a middle-class family and was the younger of two sons. Growing up, he was good at sports, but not so much in academics. “I would usually have failing grades, class suspension and even got involved in school troubles. Generally, my parents had a simple upbringing, but my father has a stern character when it comes to teaching life lessons,” he says. As he was leaving for college, his father expressed concern about his future and spoke about focus and time management.

To make him prepare for the future, his father decided that he will only pay for his university fees and basic needs. So Inder became a shoe shop sales agent with a mere salary of AED 500. Then he worked in Carrefour for AED 1000. “I remember joining a luxurious real estate company that gave me a nice desk. On my first day, it was like a dream job for me, only to realize I was more of like an errand boy,” Inder reminisces. But the company had to shut and that made his return to studies.  

His father would fund his studies, food, and transportation again. However, he still did not perform well. This put an end to the support he got. He was left with no choice but to man up and start working. Inder had a supportive Dean who helped him with night classes after work. He never stopped working thereafter. He managed to have his degree but stating that he had not attended the full academic year. To date, Inder doesn’t regret for not attending his graduation. 

“I am bold and assertive which makes me enjoy being into sales and marketing. I love meeting people and learning from them. With that, I keep on joining companies to gain more sales experience until I landed in a real estate company again in 2008,” says Inder. But soon, the market crashed and he went jobless. He looked for every opportunity by knocking door-to-door. Having the principle of learning the hard way, his father won’t still extend his support. 

Inder wants to be in a profession in which he could embrace and improve the character and wear a suit and tie. He kept on pushing and made his way back to the real estate industry. Today, he has gained several awards and achievements. “I am grateful to my ex-boss who believed in me and gave me the platform to change and re-calibrate my life goals. At the age of 25, my father was reluctant about me opening and running a business. I did it anyway with the strong moral support from my brother. That was back in 2012 when RK Property Real Estate Broker was founded”, says Inder.

Inder the philanthropist or the entrepreneur, which role is more important to you? 

Both are equally important to me. They have played an individual role and made me who I am today. I became Inder the entrepreneur first before the latter.

When I joined the business, I learned to try new things and take bolder risks. I was able to enhance myself and learn more in life.

I developed grit and perseverance. One needs to be tough to stay in the arena. Nevertheless, I smarten up in terms of character, nature, experience, and life as a whole.

It has been in our ancestral roots to lend a hand to the needy. My grandmother and other family members are still involved in doing charity work to date without having someone notice it. Just like what the old proverb says, ‘do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing’. In connection to the work profile, it did open a new opportunity, where Inder the Philanthropist came into the picture. In this business, I have seen, met and learned from people from different walks of life. It made me realize that benevolence can make a difference. The difference is, what I always want to give to my clients, customers, business partners, and any individual I’ve met.

Initially, I have worked for name, fame, and money. But with a widened perspective one will realize that in the end, it is the humanity that matters. People will remember one’s good deeds more than anything else. Indeed, it is true that no riches can buy happiness. As an entrepreneur, I found my passion. As a philanthropist, I learned about compassion.   

Real estate in the UAE is not the most stable sector in the world. Would you agree? If so, how do you keep rising despite the market being so unpredictable? 

I would agree with that, but I am glad to be part of the industry. It is fascinating to see successful people despite enormous difficulties. I’ve always wanted to become one. Being in the brokerage, it is like a see-saw battle. You will be tossed in contrasting directions. However, the downscale and upscale will make you see and discover your greatest potentials. I’ve learned to be adaptive, innovative, and I keep changing my methods. If you want to stand in the market, you need to adjust and be flexible. My father has instilled in me that if things are going smooth and stagnant there would be no scope for learning and growing. Thus, I foresee these challenges as motivation.

It is not an easy-peasy road, but these challenges made me grow in life. Yes, it is challenging, but I am enjoying the ride.

5 years after the inception of your company, it was rated par with some of the veterans of the game. Your competitors are vastly experienced and have all the resources. Yet, you managed to do more than just survive. What’s the mantra? 

As I have mentioned, it isn’t easy. For the last five years, I have learned a lot about operating a company. Being paralleled with the veterans of the game is an honor. I do not see them as competitors, threat or as a challenge, but rather more of like a motivation for me to grow. The only threat I am seeing is not being able to learn and grow. I wanted to be better and do better each day. I am my competitor. With the ongoing market fluctuation and volatile demands, I always reassess my approach and try to identify the mistakes. I have already tried and failed numerous strategies. So, nothing is stopping me to evolve. Instead of looking out into my neighbors’ fence, I am busy in improving myself. This period taught me how to push harder and view my competitors as my motivators.

Younus Al Nasser, Assistant Director-General of Dubai Smart City office has recently said that they will be introducing advanced technologies into the real estate industry. How does a company like yours see this?

I have always been a fan of technology and innovations. In these rapidly changing trends, we need to accept the certainty of uncertainty and keep ahead of the curve. I’ve learned that old methods do not stay for long. The roads of Dubai taught me something. A narrow road creates traffic but in a few months, it will get repaired and open a new tunnel, skyway, roundabout, and footbridge that would give solutions to the problem. This gives me the idea that if you stick to what you are used to and let yourself be afraid of the changes, you will end up stuck in the same place.

As a company, I see this as an opportunity to explore what the new demand of the market will be. I am positive that upon the emergence of new technology in real estate, it would improve the client and customer experience, as well as connect more people.

Almost all the major builders are your clients. One of them is Damac Properties. Recently, their Chairman Hussain Sajwani thought that Dubai should halt any new home construction projects for the next two years as the oversupply may cause an economic disaster. Emaar, another client of yours remained to be silent on this. What’s your opinion? Is there an oversupply crisis?

That is a good question. This is a good example of what I always teach my employees. Having a vision is vital in any aspect of life. Short term objectives aim for an immediate result, whilst long term strategy gears toward a permanent solution.

Needless to say, I respect both chairmen and their ability to stand on the changeable market and to remain successful is very much applauded. The most I admire is Emaar’s stature in dealing with long term goals. We may not see a favorable result today, but I am sure it would be fruitful towards the end.

I do not see the negative impact of oversupply, especially in this city where extensive expansion plans are projected. I am sure this oversupply will fade soon for this challenge gives more opportunities. Besides, this is the best time for buyers to invest. It creates a market and a different cycle that will help a lot of developers.

Does the Expo 2020 have any effect on the real estate sector as of now? Will it have any impact on the long run? 

Expo 2020 affected the moment the news broke out a few years back when it carried a promise of driving economic drive, but I do not think it is a game-changer in real estate. It has always been about how the city is growing. There are a lot of horizons where Dubai can attract overseas investors. So, Expo 2020 might not have a great impact in the long run, but there could be a lot of factors that Dubai will implement to attract investors just like before.

2019 was a monumental year for your company. Would you please elaborate on the success? What was your most cherished moment of 2019?

My father had always instilled a major point in my heart and mind that I must not chase money for it is an unworthy priority. Instead, extend help to others, provide and deliver your best service. Then, the money will chase you.

Last year was indeed a monumental year. I started the incorporation of my two companies. One is real estate, where we offer leasing, selling, and property management. The other is technical services where we could extend our assistance to our clients. In six months, we got 150 satisfied customers, which laid more increase in sales than in the last five years.

I wanted to have a company that would provide a one-stop-shop service. My main motive in this business is to make a difference by helping my clients make a careful decision, and also to help them find the right home. I never sell anything without doing in-depth research. I only sell such when I am confident and when I am transparent with my opinions, even if it will jeopardize the deal or will lead to income loss. Honesty has always been my policy. I feel that it is one of the reasons why I am keeping my clients for 7-8 years now, and this has been a secret of my success. Success for me is not about money. It is how I have grown in life and made me a better human.

From an earning of AED 1000 a month to being a founder of a company that deals with almost AED 100 million a year, you are an inspiration for the millennials of the UAE. What would you tell those who aspire to take a similar route? 

It has been a fun journey from earning AED 500 in a shoe shop and then earning AED 1000 in Carrefour. It taught me a priceless life lesson. My message to the millennials is not to worry about the income and do not aim for short term goals. Always look for your passion and in the long run, it will give you high-yielding results. If you wish to put up a company, do not be afraid to fail and be an expert in learning to bounce back higher. One should learn to work harder and harder. Do not look at the competitor as a demotivating factor that competes with you. Be open to change for it is the only constant thing. No one else will and can do it for you. Work with honesty even if it gives you the slowest growth in making money. Bear in mind that the result will pay you back.

What’s next for RK Property? How far ahead as the company planned?

I get genuinely excited thinking of the future of my company. Innovation is my key factor. There are sectors where I may fail badly, but I always try to be different from others and allow myself to grow and improve.

For RK Property, I am planning a different method of leasing and looking into short term rentals, where we are seeing a big market drift. I’ll continue capturing the investment segment. As of the moment, we are giving a 90% solution to our clients and I am working on achieving the other 10%.

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