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PRYPCO Founder Amira Sajwani Goes All In When Betting On Herself (And She Urges You To Do The Same) PRYPCO is a UAE-based proptech firm on a mission to "change the rules of the real estate game."

By Aby Sam Thomas

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

DAMAC Properties
Amira Sajwani, Managing Director of Sales and Development at DAMAC Properties, founder and CEO of PRYPCO, and co-founder of Amali Properties

If there's one thing about Amira Sajwani that stuck with me after I chatted with her for about half an hour or so, it would have to be the confidence that she showcased when speaking with me- indeed, I was truly bowled over by how self-assured this Emirati entrepreneur appeared to be. That said, I perhaps shouldn't have been surprised by it at all, given that she is the daughter of Hussain Sajwani, the legendary founder of the Dubai-born global business conglomerate, DAMAC Group, and, as the saying goes, the apple never does fall far from the tree. Sajwani herself confirmed this when I asked her about where she gets all of her pluck from, saying that as a child, her father always made her feel that there was nothing someone else could achieve that she couldn't as well. "I was told that I have potential that I need to tap into, full-stop," Sajwani shares. "And that has given me a lot of confidence."

It is thus to Sajwani's credit that she cuts an extremely compelling figure in all of the roles that she currently essays in the business world. At DAMAC Group, for instance, Sajwani acts as the Managing Director of Sales and Development at DAMAC Properties, which is the conglomerate's property development arm that has projects spanning the GCC, Levant, Middle East, United Kingdom, and United States. Talking about her role in the family business, Sajwani says that she doesn't see herself as an employee there; on the contrary, she considers herself to be "an owner and an entrepreneur in the DAMAC ecosystem." At the same time, she also has entrepreneurial pursuits that don't fall under the DAMAC umbrella- one of these is Amali Properties, "a boutique ultra-luxury property development firm" that she launched in the UAE with Ali Sajwani, one of her three brothers. In addition, Sajwani is also the founder and CEO of PRYPCO, a UAE-based proptech firm on a mission to "change the rules of the real estate game."

Now, Sajwani has ambitious ideas for all of the companies that she is a part of, but it is when she talks about PRYPCO that her eyes especially light up. It's easy to understand Sajwani's excitement though- as a one-stop shop that brings together buyers, investors, homeowners, developers, brokers, and agents on a single platform, PRYPCO is essentially reimagining how we go about any activity within the real estate sector today. For instance, finding a house in the UAE would have previously needed one to solicit agents and brokers to actually search for a property, while also seeking the support of banks for everything from loan re-approvals to mortgage rates, and, in the middle of all that, also look into securing a long-term visa to reside in the country. Of course, these just constitute a top-line view of the entire process- there will almost certainly a plethora of other tasks that come up as one goes through it, and each would have often required one to liaise with yet another new party. But according to Sajwani, such problems -along with other troubles commonly seen in the real estate domain- can be a thing of the past with PRYPCO's offerings.

Image courtesy PRYPCO.

Here, Sajwani first points our attention to PRYPCO Mortgage. She says that she has witnessed first-hand the difficulty of getting a good mortgage deal in Dubai, and that's why this offering exists- to break down the process, to digitize it as much as possible, and to ease the journey, from start to finish. And the best part of it all? It's a one-stop-shop for the customer should they choose to work with PRYPCO on this undertaking. No wonder then why it's found favor with the market at large- and Sajwani has the numbers to back this assertion. "Last month, we did around US$100 million worth of mortgage disbursements," she reveals. "So, we're on track with that offering, and it's growing well."

Another of PRYPCO's offerings came about after Sajwani noted how high costs were blocking new investors from entering the real estate domain in Dubai. PRYPCO Blocks therefore breaks down prime properties into fractions (aka "Blocks") thus opens up the asset class to a new set of retail investors who, while not being able to afford an entire property, would find themselves able to gain entry into the market all the same. "We just closed our first property on PRYPCO Blocks," Sajwani adds. "It was fully funded on the platform a couple of weeks ago. We're up to our second and third properties on the platform now; so, the traction is building, but we're still quite new."

But the novelty of PRYPCO's offerings also means that the fledgling proptech enterprise will have a fair number of hurdles to deal with on its pathway to growth. "Look, there is a big education curve for it," Sajwani admits. "I think that the first impression many people have of PRYPCO's offerings is to wonder if this is a scam! Like, is it too good to be true? Will this person take my money and run away, and if so, how would I get my money back? So, I think, starting off, there'll be a lot of education that is required, but, with me being who I am, in all humility and gratitude, that's definitely going to help in terms of just credibility. I'm hoping that people research and realize that we're not going to run away, and that we are a Dubai Financial Services Authority-regulated entity... But while the education curve is the biggest challenge right now, I don't see that to be something that cannot be overcome either."

Amira Sajwani is one of the judges (aka "sharks") on the reality television series, Shark Tank Dubai. Source: DAMAC Properties

That said, Sajwani believes that PRYPCO stands to gain a lot if it can make it through this challenging initial period- as she put it: "I think that the proptech industry has massive potential that hasn't been tapped into yet." Sajwani clearly has an eye for opportunities- that facet of her personality was quite evident in her participation on the reality television series, Shark Tank Dubai. The first season of the show, which debuted on Dubai TV in December 2023, had Sajwani as one of the judges (aka "sharks") evaluating short pitches by entrepreneurs seeking investments for their startups. Now, donning an investor hat for Shark Tank Dubai didn't come too difficult to Sajwani, given her experience working with the family office at DAMAC Group, which is known to regularly invest in startups, as well as venture capital and private equity funds. As such, Sajwani has a rather clear-cut formula when it comes to deciding whether to back a startup or not- and she had no qualms about revealing the three-point system that governed pretty much of all her moves while on Shark Tank Dubai.

"I believe in three principles when it comes to investing in a company," Sajwani says. "Number one, and most important for me, is the founder. I need to think that the founder is capable, whether it's based on their energy, or their vision, or even their ability to answer questions that are not related to the business. For instance, if I ask someone what their biggest challenge was and how did they overcome it, and they reply saying they've never had a challenge, then I think there's something wrong there. After all, every founder has had a challenge- you need to be able to acknowledge that, and rise above it. Beyond the founder, the second thing I look at is the size of the market and the opportunity. Is there an actual market for this product, and is it scalable to a required level where you are making, say, 10x on your investment? And lastly, the third thing that I look at is what is the capital that they're asking for, and the valuation that they're stating- to see if the numbers make sense."

Hearing Sajwani talk about founders and challenges makes one wonder about the hurdles or failures that she has personally faced in her time as an entrepreneur. "Those happen regularly," Sajwani replies. "Business is business- there are up days, and there are down days. Examples would be irrelevant, because there are so many examples. Whether it's, say, a failed month on targets, or a failed launch, or management that's made a wrong decision in hiring, or not being able to get the right set of data- there's a lot of instances that can happen. But in any case, I think that the most important thing to do then is to just shake it off, and to say, 'Yes, I've made a mistake, and now, it's time to fix it.'" According to Sajwani, such a mentality is essential if you are going to be a founder. "If you can't accept failure, you're not going to be able to be an entrepreneur," she says. "Because nothing in life doesn't come with failure."

Amira Sajwani with her father, Hussain Sajwani. Image courtesy Amira Sajwani/Instagram.

Learning to deal with failure, as it turns out, ranks high among the most important lessons that Sajwani learnt from her entrepreneurial icon of a father. "There's a lot that I and my brothers have learned from my father, but if you were to ask about the most impactful, number one would be to not be afraid of failure," she shares. "If you fail, you get up, and you move on. That is the definition of an entrepreneur, the ability to get up from failure. Second would be to seize opportunities, and to go all in. If you think that the opportunity is there, and that you are able, then you should do whatever you can to grow and scale your idea. Don't be afraid of how big that opportunity might be, and don't question yourself. The third is to never assume that you know everything. My father always used to always tell us, if you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room. So, you need to surround yourself by people that are specialized in areas where you are not- that's how you build the right team around you, so that your enterprise is able to grow in the manner that you want."

Sajwani's characteristic confidence comes to the fore again as she shares such pieces of advice for her fellow entrepreneurs, but when I ask her how others can take a page out of her book when it comes to her self-assuredness, she does hesitate, albeit only for a moment. "I have two young kids, and I'm in the same dilemma, having this conversation all the time about how we can cultivate confidence in them," she says. "I think confidence starts from a very young age, and it's very dependent on parents, and how they push their kids. I think it's very important for parents to tell their kids well done, no matter if are on the winning side or on the losing side, as long as they did their best. So, I think confidence starts from an early age... But if somebody older in life is asking that question, then I think that it needs to come from a very inward reflection of how you see yourself. If you see yourself with strength, with capability, and with this, let's say, bubble of confidence, then it'll come. However, this is not an overnight kind of achievement- and it's okay to be working on it." That said, there may well be things you can do to hasten the process. "Bet on yourself," Sajwani suggests. "And when you're betting on yourself, you're all in."

Related: Let's Get To Business: The UAE Ranks First On The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor's Global Entrepreneurship Index 2022

Aby Sam Thomas

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor in Chief, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aby Sam Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East. In this role, Aby is responsible for leading the publication on its editorial front, while also working to build the brand and grow its presence across the MENA region through the development and execution of events and other programming, as well as through representation in conferences, media, etc.

Aby has been working in journalism since 2011, prior to which he was an analyst programmer with Accenture, where he worked with J. P. Morgan Chase's investment banking arm at offices in Mumbai, London, and New York. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.  

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