Monthly Archives: February 2014

The power of travel accomodation which is Airbnb

I’m not a travel bug and the few times I did I always stayed in the same place. But with a small budget, the cost of accommodation is no longer cheap even my favourite destinations in Asia. More than that I want a feeling of home in where I stay. Enter Airbnb. Problem solved. Now here’s one idea I should explore taking to the Philippines.

From the Sydney Morning Herald

Tourists find there’s something in the Airbnb

Robert Upe, Lane Sainty
Published: February 8, 2014

Sydneysiders are cashing in on Airbnb, one of the world’s biggest online travel phenomena that allows householders to rent out a bed, room or their entire house to visitors.

Some hosts are earning thousands of dollars a year.

”Initially I did it for the money,” said Warren Smith who rents out a bedroom in his converted warehouse apartment in Redfern for $89 a night.

”I’m semi-retired, so it helps fill in the gaps financially. But it has also become an enjoyable process. It’s almost like I am travelling without travelling, because the world is coming to me.”

Major events like the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival, which kicked off on Friday, and Vivid Sydney attract tens of thousands of visitors from overseas and interstate, helping to create a windfall for Airbnb hosts as rooms fill up in hotels and other traditional accommodation.

”There’s no doubt major events like the Mardi Gras do drive our business,” an Airbnb spokeswoman said. ”We also have big spikes around Christmas and New Year. On New Year’s Eve 2013 we had over 250,000 people staying on Airbnb around the world.”

An economic impact study by BIS Shrapnel reports that Airbnb supported $214 million in economic activity in Sydney in one year and that on average local hosts earn $4505 per annum. They rent their premises for an average of 37 nights per year and 60 per cent use the income to pay their mortgage.

On the day of the Mardi Gras parade down Oxford Street on March 1, Airbnb has hundreds of properties available, ranging from about $65 to more than $2000 a night. They include trendy inner-city studios, beachside apartments and outer-suburban family homes.

There’s even a motor-yacht for $1000 a night that can be moored anywhere on Sydney Harbour.

Mr Smith said he had been full almost every night since he first listed his warehouse last October.

”I have been so busy that I even blocked out a weekend in January to have a break.

”But I am enjoying the people I am meeting much more than I imagined. They have all been like minded, because I guess they have looked at my profile before booking.”

Airbnb has 500,000 listings in 34,000 cities, including tree houses and castles. The site has about 10,000 listings in Australia, 3200 in Sydney. The number of listings has more than doubled in the past year.

Rodger Powell, managing director of Tourism Accommodation Australia, said the rooms offered by Airbnb should be subject to the same regulations as other kinds of short-stay accommodation.

”Our concerns are around the things governments expect hotels to abide by – fire alarms, fire exits, lighting, accessibility for disabled people,” he said.

Even during huge events like Mardi Gras and New Year’s Eve, there is no dearth of short-stay accommodation that justifies unregulated rooms, he said.

”There are some nights where every hotel room in the city is full … But these nights are few and far between,” Mr Powell said.

This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/tourists-find-theres-something-in-the-airbnb-20140207-3278u.html

Newspapers future is online

I had always been a newspaper reader and had loved the Sydney Morning Herald. Unfortunately, its publisher Fairfax Media, had seen better days in the years past. It had to shed jobs, close printing plants, magazines  as well had to reformat its newspapers to tabloid form. Still its current stock price even with the current rise is a shadow of its $5.27 back in 2007. At same time, its online property business had been a big money spinner. Maybe the future of the paper is to continue its transformation online.

From the Sydney Morning Herald

Fairfax Media boss Greg Hywood rejects reports on Domain IPO

Madeleine Heffernan
Published: February 25, 2014

Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood has strongly rejected a report saying that the company’s real estate classified business Domain is being primed for sale.

Shares in Fairfax rose to a 27-month high on Monday after The Australian reported that Domain was ”considering joining a heady rush for floats with a $500 million listing of Domain on the local stockmarket in early 2015”.

But Mr Hywood said in an email that Fairfax had ”no plans” to float Domain, echoing comments at the company’s half-year results that he was not going to talk about an initial public offering for the business.

”We appointed Antony Catalano as CEO because we wanted to accelerate the growth of Domain. The business is gaining a strong competitive foothold,” Mr Hywood said.

Eyebrows were raised when Fairfax Media, owner of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, in 2013 put Domain in a separate business unit. Domain reported a 33 per cent rise in online revenue, and 50 per cent growth in digital earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation in the six months to December 31.

Macquarie valued Domain at $974.1 million, the bulk of which comes from its digital operations.

Fairfax’s dating site RSVP was valued at $72 million. Its broadcasting arm – including Melbourne’s 3AW and 2UE in Sydney – was valued by Macquarie at $145.5 million.

In a recent note to clients, Macquarie Equities described Domain as the ”standout asset” of Fairfax and said that ”management sees upside opportunity in real estate”.

”Importantly, the Domain business is now well past a critical inflection point, with print contributing only [about] 25 per cent to group revenues and EBITDA, leaving the digital properties to drive the segment trajectory from here,” the broker said.

Both Domain and dominant rival realestate.com.au, majority-owned by News Corp, are focused on selling premium advertising slots to real estate agents, rather than relying on subscriptions.

Credit Suisse said a Domain IPO ”would be a significant share price catalyst” but it did not factor this in to its 91¢ share-price target. Fairfax shares closed 2.8 per cent higher at 92.5¢ on Monday, taking its year-to-date rise to 44.5 per cent.

This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/fairfax-media-boss-greg-hywood-rejects-reports-on-domain-ipo-20140224-33d13.html

Removing restrictions on foreign ownership

One of my challenges in my consulting practice to promote foreign investment in the Philippines is the many restrictions to foreign ownership. And while I can understand President Aquino’s fear of making constitutional changes to remove them (he fears changes may be also made particular in the political areas), this is an essential need to attract them. The writer is right too in saying that this may be another way to make the country build its defences against China in the light of recent territorial issues. Will the President change his mind about the matter? Let’s hope he will eventually will.

From BusinessWorld Philippines

February 23, 2014

Who’s afraid of ChaCha?

By Calixto V  Chikiamco
WHO’S AFRAID of Charter Change?
It seems President Aquino is, judging from his negative remarks when asked about the Belmonte resolution. The Belmonte resolution refers to the House resolution filed by Speaker Sonny Belmonte seeking to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution by inserting the phrase “unless provided by law” into those Constitutional provisions that limit foreign ownership in public utilities, land, mass media and advertising, educational institutions, and exploitation of natural resources.

President Aquino is seeing phantoms. Even if passed, the Belmonte proposal doesn’t really change anything. It just allows the legislature to make changes as conditions permit. In other words, both the Senate and the House have to debate the merits of opening up certain sectors, and even if the bill is passed, it still has to go to the President, who may veto it.

Nonetheless, the Constitutional amendment proposed by Speaker Belmonte will send a powerful signal to foreign investors that the country wants to open up the economy and can do so by legislation, without going through an extremely difficult process of amending the Constitution. The Philippines is one of the few countries in the world where restrictions on foreign ownership are in the Constitution. Mexico’s Constitution excluded foreign ownership in the exploitation of its petroleum resources, but its Congress recently amended its Constitution to remove the restriction.

President Aquino said that China has grown by double digits even if it has restrictions in the foreign ownership of land, implying that we could do a China even with our Constitutional restrictions. Firstly, China doesn’t have limits on foreign ownership in its Constitution. We do, and it covers not only land ownership, but also strategically important public utilities. Secondly, we aren’t China. China welcomes foreign direct investments (FDI). Annual FDI in China totals about $60 billion or more while we have the lowest in Southeast Asia, amounting to about $3 billion or so. Indonesia, at $18 billion, and Vietnam, at $8 billion, attract more FDI than we do. Our Constitution is telling foreign investors to keep out, and the President expects that we can do a China and become an investment haven?

The other objection being raised against liberalizing these Constitutional restrictions is that what matters more to foreign investors are lack of infrastructure and corruption, rather than the foreign ownership restrictions. However, the lack of infrastructure can be related to the Constitutional restrictions in the ownership of public utilities. Foreigners are allowed to build but not operate airports, seaports, toll roads, shipping, airlines, power distribution, and telecoms. Even iceplants are deemed “public utilities” and declared off-limits to foreigners. Because of these restrictive provisions, the Court of Appeals recently declared that Fedex is disallowed from operating a cargo transshipment facility.

This means that there will be an effective lack of competition in Public-Private Partnership Projects in infrastructure because only the same “Filipino” conglomerates can bid for those projects.

Moreover, it’s not only foreigners who are not investing in the Philippines, but even Filipinos. Our investment rate at 19% is lower than the average investment rate of 30% in other Asean countries. Why is this? Alexander Bocchi, the Italian World Bank economist, provided the answer to the puzzle: Monopolies abound in strategic industries in the Philippines, which fetter downstream and upstream industries through high prices, poor quality of products or services, and anti-competitive practices. The only way to break the stranglehold of these monopolies is to allow well-capitalized foreign companies to provide them competition, and that means liberalizing the economic provisions of the Constitution.

Thus, the current restrictive ownership provisions in the Constitution represents a big “binding constraint” to more investment, more jobs, better infrastructure, and all-around inclusive development of the economy.

However, if President Aquino can’t be swayed by economic arguments, he should consider ChaCha in the interest of national security. President Aquino has said that China is on the top of his mind in his remaining years in office. If that is so, the best strategic response to China is ChaCha. Why?

First, because foreign governments will have a greater incentive to help the Philippines uphold its maritime security and freedom of navigation if their citizens have a greater economic interest in the Philippines. If, as President Aquino told the New York Times, he wants more friends and allies in the international community to help the country defend its maritime sovereignty against China because the country can’t do it alone, then why don’t we get more foreign investments to come in? Wouldn’t foreign governments have a greater interest in the territorial integrity and maritime security of the country if their citizens had substantial economic interests tied up in our economy?

Second, because we can’t modernize our vital infrastructure, so necessary for national defense and security, without foreign investments. Government doesn’t have the money nor the technology to modernize our strategic infrastructure — ports, railways, telecommunications, airports, etc. — yet presently, foreign investors are barred from operating infrastructure facilities because they are deemed “public utilities.”

Third, the present restrictive provisions of the Constitution attract only foreigners who are willing to use dummies or creative legal maneuvers to invest. This represents a national security problem because it attracts the wrong kind of foreign investors: those who corrode our values and our institutions. We won’t be able to attract world class companies that are governed by ethical rules of conduct and the anti-graft laws of their respective governments to do business in the Philippines.

Last, because we can’t join the US-led Transpacific Partnership (TPP) if we don’t remove those Constitutional restrictions and level the playing field for all investors, foreign and local. The TPP is the strategic foundation of the US re-pivot to Asia. It’s an economic initiative spearheaded by the US that seeks to promote economic cooperation and trade among member nations in the Pacific with the exception of China. Japan, Vietnam, and Malaysia have already joined.

Not only would not joining put the Philippines at a competitive disadvantage economically vis a vis other nations like Vietnam and Malaysia, but in addition, it would send a bad signal that the country is not interested in a strategic cooperation with the US. Not joining the TPP is inconsistent with President Aquino’s own call to seek assistance from the US and other countries for help in defending the country’s territorial integrity.

President Aquino, connect the dots. We get inclusive growth, more jobs, better infrastructure, improved consumer welfare, enhanced national security, and stronger economic ties with the US and other allies if the Belmonte resolution is passed and the economic provisions are eventually liberalized by legislation.

Article location : http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Opinion&title=Who’s afraid of ChaCha?&id=83812

PHP 3 Billion Ad spend on Philippine Digital platforms

Compared to the total advertising spent in the Philippines, this amount looks tiny. But maybe this is just the start the percentage of people with online excess continue to rise. Currently it is around 30%.

From BusinessWorld Philippines

February 20, 2014

2013 ad spending pegged at P340 billion

ADVERTISERS spent as much as P340 billion last year, most of it going to hygiene-related products, according to a media analyst yesterday.

“We estimate that there’s about P340 billion spent on advertising on radio, TV and print for 2013, based on rate cards. But, probably, the real negotiated rates, more or less, are about 60% of this, because the discounts go to around 50-80% of what was published,” Kantar Media General Manager Gabriel V. Buluran said in a press briefing yesterday, citing the research firm’s 2013 Advertising Expenditure Report.

Mr. Buluran said that, of the total, TV got the lion’s share of P265 billion, followed by radio with about P60 billion and print with about P12 billion.

The official noted that Kantar expects spending on radio ads to grow by at least a tenth.

“Radio could probably grow by 10-15% because, in the past two years, they have been investing to audience measurements allowing them to rationalize their costs,” Mr. Buluran added.

However, TV might be seeing a flat year ahead due to fixed commercial minutes on ads.

“Print will have to continue on selling with the emergence of the digital platform,” he noted.

This year’s sales are seen to end flat due to the lack of election-related ads.

According to Kantar Media, 92% of urban homes and 70% of rural homes own at least one television set while 83% of urban homes and 69% of rural homes own at least one radio unit. When it comes to print, 50% of Filipinos read newspapers and 14% read magazines.

TOP TV ADVERTISERS
Unilever Philippines, Inc. spent the most last year with over P48 billion on television advertising. The company was consistently the top spender in all channels and timeslots. Procter & Gamble Philippines, Inc. and Colgate-Palmolive Philippines, Inc. followed suit with over P33 billion and P15 billion in TV ad spending, respectively.

“Most of the spending would go to the manufacturers of personal products like shampoo, soap, conditioner, and toothpaste,” Mr. Buluran said.

He also said that advertisers “really are still into the traditional radio-TV-print advertising.”

Article location : http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=2013 ad spending pegged at P340 billion&id=83771

Philippine property growth is expected to continue in 2014

2014 is expected to give the Philippine property continued growth particularly from the booming BPO industry. Let’s hope this will offer more opportunities for income inclusion by creating employment in value added services for the industry.

From BusinessWorld Philippines

February 20, 2014

Real estate in the Philippines attracts inflows

A YEAR of strong economic growth and high foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Philippines has set the scene for a wave of new real estate activity during 2014.

Growing demand from the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, rising rents, a construction boom and a substantial increase in foreign remittances will all play a part in driving the sector’s expansion. A move by the banks to rein in lending, meanwhile, should help allay concerns that a real estate bubble could be forming.

The Philippines’ property market has been buoyed by the country’s strong economic performance. Annual GDP growth hit 7.2% last year, exceeding both the government’s targets and many analysts’ expectations, while FDI for the first eight months of 2013 reached $2.8 billion, up 25.4% on the previous year. Foreign remittances, meanwhile, peaked at an all-time monthly high of $2.06 billion in November 2013, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

CONSTRUCTION LEADS THE WAY
Building work, in particular, is booming, sparked by rising demand for residential and office space, especially in Metro Manila. Real estate and construction activity combined now account for one fifth of the Philippines’ economy, edging closer to the manufacturing sector.

The Philippines Constructors’ Association listed 24,400 private projects in the first quarter of 2013, with data showing that residential buildings made up over 70% of the ventures.

A shortage of housing is a major problem for the Philippines. According to a report compiled by the Subdivision and Housing Developers Association, the national housing backlog stood at 3.9m units in 2013, with data suggesting it could rise to 7m during the next 16 years. Reconstruction efforts in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan will also boost construction work and push up foreign remittances.

BPO DRIVING DEMAND FOR OFFICE SPACE
Meanwhile, the expansion of the BPO industry has created high demand for new office space. Manila placed second on investment advisory firm Tholon’s 2014 ranking of top BPO destinations, while Cebu City ranked eighth. Several other municipalities, including Davao, Santa Rosa, Laguna, Iloilo and Baguio, made the top 100.

The BPO industry generated $13.3 billion in export earnings last year, according to BSP figures, notching up 15% growth, with the central bank forecasting a further expansion of 15% in 2014.

The commercial real estate services firm, CBRE Philippines, recently said it expected the industry to continue expanding on the back of growing foreign investment and demand for BPO office space. The firm added that competitive leasing activity had pushed up rents in key office districts, including Makati. Office rental rates in Makati’s premium central business district reached an all-time high of P1,200 per square meter early this year, but still remain lower than those of other prime districts across Asia.

In a joint survey released early this year, PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Land Institute ranked the Philippines fourth on a list of Asia’s best property investment markets, on the back of positive forecasts and growth, ahead of Tokyo, Shanghai and Jakarta.

PRUDENT PLANNING
Accessible financing has played its part in driving real estate development, with stable overnight borrowing and lending rates, held at 3.5% and 5.5%, respectively since October 2012, instilling market confidence.

BSP data shows that local banks’ exposure to the property sector stood at P900.1 billion in June 2013, an increase of 7% over the prior quarter.

With some analysts voicing concern that runaway growth could be putting the sector and wider economy at risk, authorities have moved to introduce policies aimed at controlling growth.

In February 2014, the BSP announced that it was considering implementing stricter guidelines on real estate exposure while continuing with its policy of closely monitoring market activity. “Based on our assessments, the lending practices have not been sacrificed even as lending to the real estate sector has increased. Overall, bank balance sheets have remained sound. The BSP will continue to proactively adjust its policies to ensure that price and financial stability are conducive to growth,” the BSP governor, Amando M Tetangco, Jr., told OBG late last year.

Banks have also moved to restrict real estate lending in recent months. According to a BSP survey, lenders across the country implemented stricter credit standards on commercial real estate loans during the fourth quarter of last year, with banks reporting wider loan margins, reduced credit line sizes and lower loan-to-value ratios for real estate credit.

The BSP expects banks to maintain tighter lending standards for commercial real estate loans in 2014, which will help keep a speculation-driven boom-bust cycle at bay, while encouraging sustainable growth in a buoyant market.

Article location : http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Real estate in the Philippines attracts inflows&id=83769

Philippine Property Index to be developed

Its about time the BSP has decided to develop this index to help better manage the flow of credit to the property market. It will be interesting to see how the index will be developed given that it is common local practice that property owners under declare the real value of the properties sold.

From BusinessWorld Philippines

February 20, 2014

Bangko Sentral readying property price index

THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) is working on a residential real estate price index, which it wants to use as a means of responding preemptively to emerging threats.

Central bank Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo said the “surveillance tool” was being developed with the National Statistics Office.

“With the index, you are distilling everything in one indicator so that would mean a better monitoring of the real estate sector,” he added.

While monetary authorities currently monitor property prices, there is no index that allows them to track averages and compare these across time periods, locations and market segments. The central bank also relies on other indicators, such as price-to-earnings and price-to-income ratios, to assess the expansion of the real estate industry.

The residential real estate price index could be rolled out “this year,” Mr. Guinigundo said, noting that it will initially focus on residential prices and eventually “add commercial real estate prices…”.

David T. Leechiu, Jones Lang LaSalle country head, said: “Having the index is a welcome development. It gives more transparency because our investment climate is opaque.”

“It will serve as a guide and be a reference point for present and prospective investors. They will know whether the market is looking healthy or not and they will have better confidence in investing in the Philippines,” Mr. Leechiu added.

“Though there is no any sense of danger in the real estate market at present because there is no oversupply, we would need this index sooner than later because it would present more opportunities for the Philippines.”

Neighboring Singapore has a real estate index, which calculates price changes that take into account factors such as the property’s distance to a top school or a metro station.

The creation of a Philippine version is in line with the BSP’s move to improve its monitoring of banks’ real estate exposure. In 2012 the central bank, among others required banks to report not only their loans to the real estate sector but also their investments in debt and equity securities issued by real estate companies.

Banks’ real estate exposure amounted to P900.1 billion as of June last year, 6.82% higher than the P842.6 billion recorded as of March. This accounted for 21.7% of the banking system’s total loan portfolio of P4.2 trillion, the BSP said, exceeding the 20% cap.

The central bank stressed that this was not a cause for alarm as the breach was due to changes it made on the definition of banks’ real estate exposure. — ARRG

Article location : http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=TopStory&title=Bangko Sentral readying property price index&id=83774

A great company starts with great values: Property Guru

If there is any company I would like to work for its a company called PropertyGuru. Its a successful company based in Singapore (another place I would want to be) and is doing a service that make its online users appreciate its great value for their property needs. Please read the following article from Technode.com

What Can We Learn From PropertyGuru?

By  on June 8, 2012
Twitter 17Facebook 20Google+ 0

[This article is writing by Chris Evdemon who is an entrepreneur and angel investor based in Beijing. Chris is a Partner at Innovation Works, China’s leading early stage technology venture capital fund. Chris is also a Director of Finn Evdemon Capital Partners Pte. Ltd., an angel investments firm based in Singapore and an investor in PropertyGuru.]


In the past four years, Singapore has been quietly-but-steadily brewing one of South-East Asia’s first, dominant, cash-generating online verticals, certainly one of the very first to successfully make the jump from a domestic Singapore to a truly regional play. PropertyGuru still has some way to go before it realizes its full potential and before the team cashes in on its hard work, but its progress in the past few years should serve as a beacon to all aspiring entrepreneurs in Singapore and the region.

For the lucky few that have been involved with PropertyGuru from the beginning to date, the course has offered a number of invaluable lessons in entrepreneurship and in angel investing. It is impossible to fit them all in a single blog post and in any case, some learnings are always company- or situation-specific. At the very least however, the following should serve as straightforward advice for simple issues that are nevertheless often overlooked by Founders and investors alike.

Start early, create a product that is superior to your competition, a product that your customers are willing to pay for, and stay ahead of the curve all the way. PropertyGuru was not the first online real estate portal in Singapore (or in any of the other markets that it has since entered) but it started early enough, and right from the onset it had the best product in the market, both in terms of design / user experience and quality of data. It provided a new medium and additional transparency in a market previously monopolized by SPH and a tool that has since been – almost religiously – helping real estate agents in their daily work, marketed at a price that they are willing to pay. We are in the services business and quality of service should be the foremost preoccupation of every entrepreneur in this sector. As a result of PropertyGuru’s efforts, conversion to paying customers and subscription renewals have been amongst the highest in the world, by comparison to its peers.

Choose the right early stage investors and make them work for you. Align everyone’s interest around your vision. Be fair and transparent in all your dealings. Jani and Steve, the PropertyGuru Founders, had several financing options early on, as well as in the course of the last few years, including individuals, angel funds, government-backed programmes, corporates and VCs. They chose a small group of trusted individuals with very diverse backgrounds, from hedge fund management, to angel investing, with an academic profile or hands-on VC/PE experience. They did not linger in their selection process and did not make the 2-to-1 or 3-to-1 matching or other similar schemes a priority. Selecting your early stage investors is a lot more than just about the money. Each one of the investors could and did contribute in specific areas: continuous brainstorming around the business model and in terms of the international expansion in due course, sourcing of talent and senior executives, various industry leads and relevant introductions, advice on further financing / potential exit options and preparation for the ensuing negotiations, as well as installing the discipline and accountability that is so important (and yet so easily forgotten by most Founders) by putting in place a proper corporate governance from the beginning, and so on. The list is long. Good early stage investors bring additional confidence to entrepreneurs, at a time when they need it most.

Communicate, communicate, and communicate again. The good news but, even more importantly, the bad news. Externally but, even more importantly, internally. How else can you align everyone’s interest around your vision, be fair and transparent in all your dealings? Jani and Steve have adopted this policy from the first day and have created a company culture that encourages and rewards this behaviour. It started with themselves, with the communication between the Founders, which has been nothing less than 100% honest, direct and always with mutual respect. Good leaders are showing the way and setting the tempo for the entire company. With investors, they are always sharing all industry news, recent PropertyGuru developments, company data, their concerns, their thoughts, their challenges, their plans, everything around the business. Quarterly Board and shareholders’ meetings are prepared well in advance and the materials distributed are truly informative, allowing Directors and shareholders alike to effectively contribute. How else can the entrepreneurs get what they want out of their investors, over the years, other than the initial capital?

Consider your competition carefully but stay focused on your own vision and course. Let your ethos shine. Over the years and until recently, PropertyGuru had to deal with a variety of, at times unprofessional and even malicious, competitors. They are state- or privately-owned incumbents which, for the most part, do not have a true passion to provide a good service to their customers. Despite the occasional competitors’ guerrilla tactics or PropertyGuru’s incredible lack of media coverage within Singapore (as if the country is full of stories of homegrown start-ups, that successfully scale and expand regionally), Jani and Steve have to date remained focused on their own vision and their own plan of execution. They have dealt with everything thrown at them with ethos, never crossing to the other side, a true testament of their characters. The market is smart and will eventually reward this stance.

The Singaporean market is small but good entrepreneurs can still set a great foundation in the domestic market, to build upon in the future. The big plan though, from the first day, must be for regional expansion at the right time. Because of its concise nature, Singapore is often referred to as a great test market for the South-East Asia region. Nonsense. Singapore is as different a market (and Singaporean users, in terms of consumer and usage habits) from its neighbours as it gets. In fact, South-East Asia must be one of the most diverse regional markets in the world. Every country must be considered individually, every country needs product and business model localization and above all, trusted, local management that deeply understands its own market and has been already operating in it. No one can manage a business in the region merely sitting out of their comfort zone in Singapore, without physical presence in each of the local markets – even for purely online plays. PropertGuru first secured a clear leadership position in its home market, achieved stable positive cash flow, and then successfully expanded from Singapore to Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. Jani and Steve achieved “regionalization” in the space of six months by teaming up with talented entrepreneurs that were already active in these markets. The economics of the deals were, once again, dictated by fairness and alignment of interest. Today everyone involved in PropertyGuru is driven to succeed, for what is now a regional group, rather than a domestic company.

The no. 1 ingredient in every company is people. There is no substitute for committed, top class entrepreneurs, who execute well. The Founders are the A to Z in every start-up, especially in the crucial first few years. They make mistakes but correct them fast and (hopefully) never make them again. They listen carefully, they consult, they observe, then apply their own judgment and decide accordingly for every step of the way. They spend the biggest part of their time in building and taking good care of their team. They adapt to a changing environment but they have a clear long-term vision and patience to execute. And here is the magic word: execute. Proven execution ability is the one quality that savvy early stage investors are always looking for, over and above everything else. Jani and Steve are two shining examples of all the above entrepreneurial qualities. Thank you both.

And, hey, the story is not over yet. PropertyGuru has tremendous upside to fulfill in the coming years, for all its stakeholders. It is now “armed” with a great, experienced and like-minded new partner, with cash at hand and a team with an appetite that’s bigger than ever before.

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