Ajar, the cloud-based property management and rent collection platform, announced today that it has closed its Pre-series A round. The funding came from SBX Capital, 500 Startups, and Seeds Partners, bringing its total raised to date to $7.5 million. The newly raised investment will be deployed to further deepen its platform capabilities, grow the team, and expand its footprint in the MENA region and beyond.
Shaheen Al Khudhari founded Ajar in 2016. It was one of the earliest PropTech players in the Middle East to focus on solutions beyond property listing. Al Khudhari established the startup in Kuwait to avoid the nuisance of collecting and paying rent. Since its conception, it has expanded its product to include a full suite of automation solutions. This helps real estate investors manage their properties efficiently to maximize their return on investment. Today, Ajar manages over 35,000 units across Kuwait and the UAE.
Ajar’s services proved necessary amid the COVID-19 crisis. Due to a global financial crisis, lockdowns, and increasing unemployment, landlords and real estate companies turned to Ajar. Since the platform provides a cost-cutting online solution and gives advice on navigating the uncertainty brought by the pandemic.
“During the COVID-19 lockdown, it quickly became very clear to landlords that going digital was the way forward. Rent collection for those who depended on cash and cheque payments completely stopped, affecting the majority in the market. Landlords saw Ajar as an opportunity to not only go digital, but to also gain insights on how the industry was minimizing losses, what tactics worked, and what didn’t. We became our clients’ advisors,” explained Shaheen Al Khudhari, Founder & CEO of Ajar.
The company focused heavily on market education throughout the crisis. It released several studies and collaborated with government entities to help them understand the state of the real estate market. With a spike in demand since the beginning of the crisis, the company is accelerating its entry into other markets and focusing more on global digital expansion.
Ajar is gearing up for a regional expansion that includes Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain. “Our strategy is to enable anyone – from a landlord with one unit, to a real estate company with 10,000 units – to create an account online and immediately start automating their real estate management, wherever they may be,” added Shaheen.
Saoud AlHumaidhi, Founder & CEO of SBX Capital, a venture capital firm focused on early-stage companies leveraging technology explains the VC’s interest in Ajar.“Real estate makes up the biggest asset class in the region. With the whole world going towards complete digitization, it makes perfect sense to tap into this industry. We are very excited about Ajar and the MENA property technology market, and hence made Ajar our first investment in the MENA region.” affirmed AlHumaidhi.
Property technology or “PropTech” has emerged as one of the hottest technologies in the startup world globally. According to a report by CREtechglobal, investments in PropTech hit a record high of $14 billion in the first half of 2019. Regionally, PropTech investments rose by 4% from 2018-2019, according to Magnitt’s 2019 MENA FinTech Venture Report. This interest will only be amplified in 2020, as demand for technology solutions rises within the real estate industry.
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