Transforming traditional Real Estate: An interview with Ramy Khorshed, Sakneen Co-Founder
Sakneen, the Egypt-based online portal that helps homebuyers search for properties, earlier this year, raised $1.1M in a Seed funding round, led by Algebra Ventures with participation from Sarwa Capital and Foundation Ventures.
Following the fundraise, we caught up with the startup's CEO and Co-Founder, Ramy Khorshed to delve deeper into the Sakneen platform. Ramy discusses the importance of tech to the Real Estate industry, how users are embracing digital property management, wider plans for the future, and more.
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How does the Sakneen platform work?
Simple! Search, browse, enquire.sakneen.com was designed to make exploring and comparing properties as easy as possible. On our website, users have the opportunity to search for exactly what they’re looking for with our unique search filters covering detailed financial information and home features. We were also the first to introduce 3D tours and mandatory floorplans, with a lot more coming up soon.
Have you faced any challenges with the way people in the region perceive digital property management? E.g. do they struggle to move away from traditional methods and how have you overcome this?
There is a very clear willingness to embrace the online space, however, the experience has been so fragmented thus far that many have preferred offline alternatives. We’re here to remind people of the power of tech in an industry as large as real estate by bringing forth an extremely intuitive and user-centric online experience.
How important is tech to Real Estate? Do you believe it can replace the human element?
We aren’t looking to replace the human element, but augment it with data and context. We aim to save people the hassle of having to leave their homes to collect information from multiple sources, by offering an online end-to-end experience. People no longer have the time to visit 100 different homes and instead have the option to quickly and instantly browse those same 100 homes on our website before deciding which home to finally visit and purchase.
Your tech team is working on some exciting new features. Are you able to share some of these details with us, or any other expansion plans?
Not much we want to disclose but ahead of the summer season, we are gearing up to launch an integrated rental experience. People will soon be able to browse for homes in Egypt for rent on sakneen.com.
What do you believe are some of the most exciting things happening in the Proptech world right now?
Real estate is the world’s largest asset class. Beyond aggregators that centralized information, little has changed about the industry. The new frontier in the industry is that companies are enabling new customer experiences that didn’t and couldn’t exist before. Different degrees of vertical integration covering various elements of payments, legal, and operational overheads are enabling new and more flexible ownership and investment mechanisms that will slowly chip away at the archaic way in which real estate and hard assets are currently managed.
What were you looking for from your investors, besides capital?
Ideally, we want long-term partners who share our vision for what we’re building. If you have that alignment then the value add can manifest itself in lots of different ways - networks, advice, introductions among other things but I think the first step is to find that alignment and shared vision. Everything else is downstream of that.
What are your hopes and vision for the future of Sakneen?
We want Sakneen to be a category-defining company as a value-added marketplace - we believe that sharing high-quality and actionable information with the public will be transformational in markets where there are no public disclosures of housing data. Beyond the provision of information, we want to enable more flexible and modern forms of ownership and investment in the world’s largest asset class, and the one that is lagging most in terms of lifecycle customer experience.
Finally, what advice would you give to yourself 5 years ago?
I’d remind myself that building big things takes time - even when you do the right thing you’ll sometimes see the results many years later. Also for most questions that actually matter in life and in business, no one has the answer. The sooner you realize that everyone else is making it up as they go the earlier you’ll turn to action and trial to accelerate the learning process. Also, invest in bitcoin.
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