One of the most appealing areas for investment in the modern day is in real estate, however, finding a gateway into the real estate investing world can often be challenging. One organisation looking to bridge the gap to entry is Baytukum with its crowdfunding led approach.
With benefits such as low-minimum investments, diversification, automatic investing, and creating saving habits, micro investing is a great first entry point into the world of investments for a complete beginner. However, it also has benefits for seasoned veterans too. Asia Pacific is currently leading the charge for micro-investing with the sector expected to grow by 22.5 per cent CAGR between 2022 and 2032, according to Future Market Insights.
To ensure other regions do not fall behind, startups are taking new, innovative approaches to micro investing. One great example is Baytukum, the crowdfunding platform that empowers, educates, and enables individuals of all ages and income brackets towards financial prosperity by making micro-investments in real estate.
The company is leveraging its mobile app to simplify the investment journey, display portfolio dashboards, returns, and investment history. Baytukum is currently managing the operations of multiple investments and thousands of clients with the capacity of accommodating many more.
To get a better understanding of the company, we sat down with Latifa Bin Haider, founder and managing partner at Baytukum:
What specific challenges has BAYTUKUM encountered and how has the company navigated these obstacles to establish a strong presence in the market?
Baytukum is a regulated entity in crowdfunding for real estate investments. There were many steps that we had to take in order to achieve this although there was no guarantee we would be successful.
That was one of the first and major challenges that I faced when starting Baytukum – especially considering it was a two-year long process. Although it was a challenge, it was very rewarding to become regulated as we’re only one of a handful of companies in the entire UAE that are authorised.
Another challenge was raising awareness about crowdfunding. Even though the concept of crowdfunding is very popular in a lot of places, it wasn’t here. During the two years where I was chasing the licence, I hosted many events and workshops about real estate, the importance of personal finance, and crowd funding and how it works. This was because of its nature as a new concept, many people were risk averse and they wanted to understand if it was credible. Therefore, I had to do a lot of awareness sessions just about the concept before even introducing what my company does.
Earning the trust of first-time investors was a difficult hurdle to overcome. Many are investing for the first time ever with us, although the majority reinvest with us after their first investment process. In fact, many have told their families and friends about it. As a result, a large proportion of our clients are actually from word of mouth.
Finding the right team members to help me achieve my vision for Baytukum was crucial. Explaining the job description and how the company works, as well as our roadmap, was a bit challenging because the nature of Baytukum wasn’t very common. However, examining over 500 CVs for each role was worth it as I believe that a team either makes it or breaks a company.
How does Baytukum differentiate itself from other platforms and what unique features and strategies does it employ to attract and retain investors in a crowded market?
Despite many fintech sectors being overcrowded, this is not the case in the UAE crowdfunding market, which I’m very happy about. The way we differentiate ourselves from the rest of the market is by fully embracing the fact we’re a crowdfunding platform. We’re not just another real estate company.
What distinguishes us is our holistic family approach. We make real estate investments accessible and relatable to families. Furthermore, we’re deeply committed to educating our communities. We provide two education sessions per week in both Arabic and English that simplify the nuances of investments and personal finance.
We have a robust customer service team that is always on hand to ensure every question is answered and every concern is addressed. There’s a lot of hand holding in what we do because it works well for us and it is exactly what our clients need.
We have investors of all ages and income brackets, ranging from 18-year-old college students using their savings to invest, to people in their 80s. We’re very proud of this. We also have entire families investing together. Ultimately, we’re not just a platform, we’re a partner for our clients on their financial journey and we’re dedicated to providing an unparalleled quality of service.
How does Baytukum address the challenge of catering to different investors and their needs and expectations while maintaining a cohesive platform and investment strategy?
The most important thing for us is to address potential investors’ fears and concerns, and understand their hopes and dreams about becoming a property owner.
However, there are hurdles. To overcome these, I started the process of meeting up with people either in group settings or in one-on-one situations to understand their goals. Even with roughly 3,000 users today, we continue to meet with each client individually.
The most common issue we hear is ‘I don’t have sufficient funds to purchase a property on my own.’ Furthermore, potential investors are hesitant to take out a loan for a property if it is only an investment and not a forever home. With other issues ranging from fears of scams to monitoring their investment properly, to restricting themselves financially, there are a lot of hurdles that are stopping people from getting involved.
For those that are worried about funds, if they invest one per cent or 10 per cent, they still earn seven per cent back per annum on their investment. This is a better financial decision that leaving the funds in cash form, which lose value over time. Furthermore, buying a share is a one-time payment, meaning users are not left to pay monthly instalments over a long period of time.
If a potential customer is worried about a lack of experience, we have an expert team that manages the properties and is able to find the perfect entry point for each consumer. To help further calm any concerns, customers are provided with all the reports they need conducted by third parties so they can make an informed decision. We are able to show the valuation of the property and how often it is occupied to ensure consumers feel the utmost confidence when investing.
Additionally, each investor is assigned a relationship manager, which caters to needs on an individual basis. Whether they are a first-time investor that needs to be walked through the steps or someone who is already comfortable in the investment space, our team is able to help any need of our customers.
In a micro-investment space, how important is education?
It’s extremely important. It’s one of core values that we follow. We want to be completely transparent with our customers but in order for us to do this, they need to understand what is going on. For example, if we say the average returns are seven per cent, our customers need to know if this is good or not for a property in Dubai.
We do a manual background check in our sessions with clients to understand their level of knowledge in the investment sector. Throughout the customer’s journey, we constantly stay beside them to help in any way that we can to educate them on any concerns they may have.
Education is a very important part of what we do. We help our customers understand the value of investing in having assets and diversifying their portfolio. However, they need to first have a basic understanding of what personal finance is – this is where Baytukum can really step in and help.
How does Baytukum ensure accessibility for small scale investors?
The majority of our clients are first time investors with many dealing with small scale investments. The smallest investment someone can make is 5,000 Dirham, so many of them start with this amount. In some cases, this is all they can afford while for others, it is an amount they feel comfortable testing the waters with. If they enjoy it, they can put in a much bigger chunk in the next property.
We want to democratise access to real estate investments and crowdfunding. When the clients themselves become ambassadors, that’s how you know that you’re doing a good job as a company. Our user base is increasing rapidly by word of mouth more than anything else and we are seeing emerging user groups across the world.
We already have international investors – the app is not limited to UAE residents. You don’t have to even be here to invest.
The next step would be to provide investment opportunities or properties in different countries as well so that their portfolios are not limited to Dubai or UAE properties.