Ajar, Kuwait’s cloud-based property management and rent collection platform, earlier today announced that the company has closed its Pre-Series A round with participation from SBX Capital, 500 Startups, and Seed Partner, bringing its total raised to date to $7.5 million.
The company has revealed that the fresh funds will be deployed to further deepen its platform’s capabilities, grow the team, and expand its footprint in the MENA region and beyond.
Ajar proved to be most critical amid the COVID-19 crisis. Faced with a global financial crisis, lockdowns, and increasing unemployment (which in turn, affected rent payments), landlords and real estate companies turned to Ajar for both a cost-cutting online solution and for advice on how to navigate the uncertainty brought by the pandemic.
Founded in 2016, by CEO, Shaheen Al Khudhari, Ajar is at the forefront of digitizing and transforming property management. Ajar was one of the earliest PropTech players in the Middle East to focus on solutions beyond property listing. The company was established in Kuwait with the aim of solving the nuance of collecting and paying rent and has since expanded its product to include a full suite of automation solutions which help 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.
Commenting on the investment round, Sharif El-Badawi, Managing Partner MENA, 500 Startups in a statement said,
“Ajar is solving a real market problem, and has managed to rally a strong team of passionate innovators to carry its vision. The past few months have only been a testament to the startup’s resilience, and we are excited to see Ajar rise as a leader in PropTech.”
Shaheen Al Khudhari, Founder & CEO of Ajar said,
“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,”
The company focused heavily on market education throughout the crisis, releasing several studies and collaborating with government entities to help them understand the state of the real estate market and guide their strategies.
Ajar has been gearing up for a regional expansion that includes Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain. With a spike in demand since the beginning of the crisis, the company is accelerating its entry into these markets and focusing more on global digital expansion. On similar lines, Shaheen added,
“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,”
Affirming the investment in the company, Saoud AlHumaidhi, founder & CEO of SBX Capital said,
“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.”
“PropTech” has emerged as one of the hottest technologies in the startup world globally. In fact, global investments in PropTech hit a record high of $14 billion in the first half of 2019, according to a report by CREtech. 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.
Ajar is investing heavily in its team and product to capitalize on the opportunity. The company made some key hires amid the crisis to fuel its growth and plans to continue tapping into the regional startup talent pool and vibrant tech community from its new headquarters in the heart of DIFC, Dubai.
Ajar can be exclusively used by property owners, property managers, and real estate companies to manage their properties’ entire leasing lifecycle. The one-stop-platform facilitates fast and secure collection, efficient property management, and provides smart insights and reports. Besides tracking and monitoring the accounting and financial side of real estate, Ajar automates business operations.