Becoming an employee in the company you founded: Esimsar

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Following the acquisition of Saudi Esimsar by Propertyfinder in 2014, its founder Tarek Zeitoun chose to continue working in his company as a regional manager in the Kingdom.

Esimsar was launched in 2010 in Saudi Arabia, helping real estate brokers showcase information and details about their properties, thus marketing them. It also allowed users to compare and choose between the available offering.

The platform has more than 500 licensed real estate facility, said Zeitoun. It makes money out of monthly brokers subscriptions.Prices differ depending on the type of subscription and its features, such as the regular premium subscription, and the premium with additional banners on home pages.

In addition to providing brokers with a marketing platform, Esimsar gives them a tool to manage their accounts, and detailed reports about their ads and their performance, such as CTR (Click-through rate) and conversion rates.

Esimsar only shows real estate from licensed brokers.

A new phase

Zeitoun, the Syrian entrepreneur living in Saudi Arabia for more than 30 years, was happy with this acquisition.

He told Wamda that “every entrepreneur dreams of getting his company to the acquisition stage. What changed is that I am now an employee: I have to report to the management.”

This young entrepreneur does not hide that everything has its ups and downs. “When you are an entrepreneur, you face a lot of risks because you are investing your own money and have a lot of tasks to worry about. When you become a manager, you must do specific things, make sure you have a cash flow, and monitor a lot of other things”.

Tarek Zeitoun. (image via Tarek Zeitoun).

At the time, Propertyfinder was quickly expanding after receiving an investment led by BECO Capital and various investors from Turkey, Asia, Dubai, and Silicon Valley.

Plenty of its operations were based at the Dubai headquarters. “We had to send almost daily reports to Dubai where the team handled marketing, design, sales follow up, supervision and everything,” he said.

Meanwhile, Propertyfinder had to keep the local aspect of each of its platforms, depending on the company they are operating in.

Each platform thus acquired a different, independent strategy. Each has its designers, its own customer service, and a strategy to discuss with the head office. This explains why Propertyfinder continued operation under Esimsar in Saudi Arabia and Sarouty in Morocco.   

“This made us feel like entrepreneurs within the company,” he commented. For example, Esimsar launched a specialized app for licensed brokers helping them showcase their real estate directly on the platform. Prior to that, they were only able to do it via the website.

This app was his team’s idea and was specific to the Saudi market, he said in a reference to the importance of strategizing for each country on its own.

This young entrepreneur believes one of the advantages of working in a growing company is that it has access to a bigger network and more money. He also believes it gives exposure, helps solving challenges and learning from others’ experiences when working in a group.

Specialization in a requirement

The Saudi real estate market is one of the biggest in the Gulf and the region. Deals made in the beginning of 2017 (up until May) were valued at $24.5 billion and this considered a decrease of 31.5 percent from 2016.

With high internet penetration, online platforms have attracted developers and real estate marketers. It’s a less costly marketing channel that reaches a great number of clients. It also provides salesmen with data helping them specialize their products and ads.

Numerous real estate platforms were launched in Saudi Arabia starting with forums such as Aqarcity, classified platforms such as Haraj and specialized real estate platforms such as Lamudi, Aqarmap, and Esimsar.

Esimsar’s team wants to benefit from their experiences and Propertyfinder’s support to scale up in Saudi Arabia. (image via Tarek Zeitoun).

What sets Esimsar apart and led Propertyfinder to this acquisition is its specialization in real estate, said Zeitoun, particularly in real estate from licensed developers and brokers, in addition to a large clients base, with around 70 percent of renewed subscriptions

Propertyfinder has platforms in the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Lebanon, Morocco and Saudi Arabia. Zeitoun said that the Saudi market has a potential because of its big size, big population, and big digital real estate market that no one is monopolizing.

That is why Esimsar wants to grow further in the Kingdom benefiting from Propertyfinder’s MENA experience that exceeds seven years in MENA.

Zeitoun believes he still has the same passion towards Esimsar, especially that he remained on board following the acquisition and has a minority share of the Propertyfinder group.

Feature image via Pixabay.

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