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30 – Entrepreneur on Fire: Mahwussh Alam

Entrepreneur on Fire: Mahwussh Alam

Episode #30 | Entrepreneur on Fire: Mahwussh Alam

Welcome to this edition of The Dare to Scale show, where we are talking to an inspiring entrepreneur based right here in the UAE, Mahwussh Alam. Mahwussh leads One Perfect Group as the Co-founder of One Perfect Stay and Founder of One Perfect Space. One Perfect Stay is a “Holiday home” or “Short Rental” luxury hospitality brand which provides tailored-made service to the homeowners enabling them to let out their homes to guests from around the world.

In this episode Mahwussh shares with us her journey into the world of entrepreneurship, the passion that drives her to thrive and some very inspiring advice for any entrepreneur out there who have had to go through massive challenges while running their business.

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Evan Le Clus 00:01

Hello, you are listening to the Dare To Scale show with me, Evan

Warsha Joshi 00:06

And me Warsha. This show is about all things scaling, scaling your business, your journey and you.


Evan Le Clus 00:14

You’re here because you dare to dream dared to dream big. So, sit back and enjoy the conversation, or perhaps even join in.


Warsha Joshi 00:27

Hello, and welcome to another brand-new episode and today we are talking to a wonderfully inspiring entrepreneur based right here in the UAE. We are talking today with Mahwussh Alam. Mahwussh is the founder of One Perfect Group and there are two brands under the group or rather two companies under the group. One Perfect Stay and One Perfect Space. Join me in welcoming Mahwussh Alam. Today to today’s episode of the Dare to Scale Show. Mahwussh, welcome.


Mahwussh Alam 01:01

Thank you so much, Warsha and thank you so much, Evan for having me on this platform. I’m happy to be here.


Evan Le Clus 01:06

Mahwussh, welcome. Absolutely wonderful to have you here and I mean, your journey has been quite inspiring, two companies, you came from the tech industry, you have a passionate love for interior design and art animal lover, and you’re in hospitality now. So, tell us a little bit about that journey.


Mahwussh Alam 01:27

Where to start? I know, right? It’s a long journey.


Warsha Joshi 01:31

Let’s start before you step into entrepreneurship. Yeah,


Mahwussh Alam 01:35

Sure, begin the beginning. So, I think one thing that I say about myself is that I’m constantly craving change, I cannot stay in one place for a very long time. When I attained that sort of a position where I think that things have reached a certain level of optimization, or, you know, this is where it, it’s reached its best. That’s my time to move on and create something new. Ever since childhood, I would say. I mean, everybody says that about themselves but I do believe that I was different. I was different for a lot of reasons. I love to tell stories and if I didn’t see any I created them and honestly, if I look at my life today, it has been a story that I’ve been living in my head and now you know, I see that getting manifested every day in today’s day and time. So, I started off like early 2000s, late 1990s, undergrad, I did my BS in computer science, you know, trying to do what every brilliant students should do get a degree in something which is meant to be very successful and that can take you to your to your next big thing. So, I pursued software engineering, though my heart was not really into it, but I had to do it, you know, just to prove myself that this is something I could do. So, I mean, just leave it on to me how I completed those three years of, you know, the software engineering completion, but I move forward it and I still try to be an extension of that field and few years later, I was with IBM, doing sales, doing an account management, I did not know much about technology, and especially, you know, profound technology of programming and coding, I don’t know if it’s not for some people, but for me, it was literally alien, but I had to be in that field and since I could talk and I could talk nonstop and maybe people like what I say. So, I went into account management, I was having high profile government accounts and that’s when I think after doing it for four years or so, I had enough and it was again time for me to change but I think doing that for those years and you know, complying to the norms of the society and I don’t know if being a good girl or you know, trying to comply with the so called successful what definition successful has complying to that I had had enough and I said, now it’s time to really get on to what is coming from within and like I said, you know, full of energy, always thinking, always imagining always understanding and trying to, you know, enact my next move. I said I could not be confined into a job into a job structure that would function maybe from nine to five or it would have a certain kind of a framework because the energy and the ideas are just overwhelming. overflowing. Again, like always say huge respect to people you know, who belong to corporate industry and who can manage that kind of a framework and do it regimentally, it needs a certain kind of discipline that maybe I did not have because I wanted to do so many things at the same time. So, I had to start from scratch. I just had a baby. My son was two years old and I had changed countries I had moved from Pakistan, Karachi to Dubai and then I had a gap, you know, and technically these things, they do make a difference in corporate life. So having the stint of, you know, doing mini jobs, and they said that, I put my foot down and I said, no, I have to start something, which is so called, it’s my calling. I was an art enthusiast and literally, I mean, people look at the story. Now, you know, there are interviews happening, and there’s so much going on handling, you know, more than 30 employees to companies and the group but back then, where I started from having a high-flying career with IBM for a few years, I had to start from zero. So, what I did was I started painting and while there was a lot of artistic thoughts inside me, I was a great appreciator and a passionate art lover. I can say that safely now but back then, it used to come with a bit of, you know, difficulty. I think when you are at that crossroads, everything that you are trying to do you need that surety. I’m not really there but I’m trying to be there and so that’s sort of the thing. I would paint, I would write and then I started getting commissioned artworks from Pakistan from different artists, and I would sell them. I mean, on the, you know, like, like a freelancer on three platforms, I would just sell it and I started, you know, getting back onto my own two feet and believe me, it was like, merger money then, but it made me regained that confidence that probably I had lost.


Evan Le Clus 06:35

Oh, wow. That’s amazing. That’s fantastic. Please continue.


Mahwussh Alam 06:39

Yeah, so that was something that that opened with the gateway and I remember the way I found One Perfect Stay was that there was an opportunity for an interior design and because I had studied that a lot, I had seen a lot of amazing work by so many potential interior designers that I knew a thing or two and there was an opportunity where at the last minute, the interior designer, or the firm that was handling, the project had walked off, and I jumped into the opportunity, I volunteered. Here, there’s a saying from Richard Branson, he says, if someone asks you to do a job, and you don’t know how to do it, but just say yes, and learn on your way. So, I took the parachute, I jumped and then on my way down, I figured out how to open it and when I took the job, and I convinced the client that I could, you know, do it for them, I created some amazing mood boards and by the time it was a two-bedroom apartment that was meant for a shorter rental purpose. So, by the time I had finished it, I mean, the client was quite impressed. What should I say, like I had done a really good job, I don’t know, but the client was really impressed and I had a guest who was ready to take that home. So, you know, everything started making sense and that was the first apartment that came to me and there were so many that followed and it all started from this intention that I had to give meaning to what was going on inside the head and I had to respect and I had to listen to the voice that said, you are not meant for a certain thing. You are meant for something else. Go follow that but yeah, I mean, it can be a happy story now, but seven or eight years ago, the struggles, the sweat and the tears, I think they built the foundation of where I am now.


Warsha Joshi 08:26

Of course, and you said something bright in the end. So well, we will come back to that in just a minute. I want to take you back to what you were talking about before, how much importance socially and culturally there is on getting a degree and getting a respectable job and going with the flow, even though every fiber in your being says, but I’m not made for that. That’s not what I want to do and well done on your kudos to you for yes, giving it a shot and eventually saying I’ve given it a shot. I know it’s not for me. That’s what I’m made for and going with it and you’re totally right. When we take that plunge, you’re looking for validation, not just to hold you up, but also to constantly know that you’ve got to succeed because if you fail, someone’s going to maybe turn around, maybe nobody will but it’s so ingrained in us that we are always looking for that validation and right in the end, you said work, the client liked it. I don’t know if I did a good job. Maybe I did a good job. Of course, you did a good job because if the client liked it, that’s all that matters.


Evan Le Clus 09:35

The outcome they were looking for.


Warsha Joshi 09:37

That was the outcome they were looking for, and you gave it to them. So totally, you did a good job. So, take us back to the software engineering days and what went through because a lot of entrepreneurs go through that and what made you finally stand up and say, enough, I’m going to strike out on my own because that’s the world I’m born for. Yeah.


Mahwussh Alam 10:00

Honestly, I knew it in in the first two semesters, I knew it was not for me, you know, there were codes and codes of assemblies and Pascal’s and God knows what, but you’re not one thing I was, I was not a quitter and I think being at that young and that fragile age, I used to take things too personally, like, it meant that, you know, I would fail at something, I had the admission in one of the most reputable art schools from Pakistan, but I just did not go to that, because, again, you know, art versus software engineering, in my, you know, novice opinion, or in my head, I thought, no software engineering, so mainstream, and it’s going to make me climb the ladder, and my mother is going to be so happy of me, you know, so I was like, out of the three siblings, I was the one full of energy, you know, trying to do everything really good at study is really good at extracurricular activities. So, I had to live up to that reputation and I thought, you know, if I’ll get this as well, then there’s no stopping me. So, the first two semesters, I knew, but I kept doing it, I kept pushing and I kept going, because I had to get the degree, I had to get the degree, and I had to finish it. You know, I have to be a software engineer, rather than saying, oh, no, I quit in first two semesters, or yeah, you know, first year, and then I move on to something else. I think the 18-year-old Marsh could not do that. could not take that. So yeah, I mean, I knew it but I played a lot, because I had to finish it off and then you know, even with corporate job, I knew that technically, I mean, coding programming, it’s the desk job, it’s a creative job, by the way, for those who do it but I wasn’t cut out for it. So, like I said, I’ve moved more towards the business development where I could convince the client, I could talk to them about the features and the budgets and the, you know, the costs and everything else. So, so I took that part where I was still connected to people interaction, and, you know, closing the deals and by the way, so, you know, I don’t know, there’s a little bit of bipolarity about me, like, there’s one side, I’m an artist, I’m a poet, I read, I’m an avid reader, and then you know, there’s a very different world to me, but on the other side, I’m a mainstream business person, if I don’t do those deals, every now and then, I mean, it’s so important for me, you know, to keep the balance, like the mainstream business person has to keep going and has to keep growing. So, it’s, you know, usually the artists take and those kinds of people, they’re a bit into their own world, and they don’t really give so much attention to the business sense of the word but in my case, I’m equally hung on to both. So yeah, I mean, that’s how I knew that, yes, there has to be business, and there has to be a lot of growth about it but what kind of business that will still keep me connected to the aesthetics to everything that I deeply feel and I deeply appreciate art, any kind of art.


Warsha Joshi 12:59

Very nice.


Evan Le Clus 13:00

I totally love that. What’s coming through for me is even in the tech space, creative as it is, the coding side wasn’t for you, but the people. So, I just look at the end of each computer phone, clever device, whatever it is, there’s a person, right? And it seems that you’re the bridge between the tech and the people and I think if I’m hearing this correctly, that’s actually flowing into your businesses. Currently, there’s a business side to it but there’s also people side. So how have you used that skill as you’ve gone into the One Stay?


Mahwussh Alam 13:32

Yeah, absolutely. I think every business, whether tech, or hospitality, or real estate, at the end of the day, what really closes the business is the is the trust that is established between the client, and the person who’s offering that service. Always. I think it was my, in my early days, I was so intimidated by the software world, like you said, you know, it can be so easy, and it is so creative, the kind of codes that come out and the ease that it has offered to the world now. It’s all coming from a human mind, and what kind of mind beauty it takes to really roll out that kind of stuff. It’s mind boggling but at the end of the day, what really closes the deal is two humans sitting across the table, having the trust and believe me when I had started off, and I tell this to my team, I have now a team of 10 mainstream business development across both companies and I say always do the deal with sincerity. You know, there’s a lot that happens, you know, when you’re selling it, but at a certain point, that sales pitch should take a backstage and your real human instinct decision making should take over. You should give the pros you should give the cons and let the client decide if they really want to go with you. Yeah, believe me, they see that sincerity. They see that honesty, and not everybody wants to hear Yes, yes, yes, everything is hunky dory you know, go with us, we’ll turn around the world for you. Deep down, they also know the challenges, you are just addressing it for them, making the relationship firmer and more trustworthy, where they know that you are also aligned, and you know what the challenges may be but you’re going to give your best to achieve it to achieve the desired result. So yeah, sales and technology, everything for any business, I would say is not more than 25%. rest of it is, is all human connection. It’s what they think of you what you think of them and you know, coming together, forming a team that can operate together, really achieving the results for the company and for the clients are like,


Warsha Joshi 15:42

Very, very well said, both Evan and I run a couple of businesses over here, that very strong ethic and value that we build and work on every day as well because even from a coaching space, one of the first things that says yes, I’m a business coach, but I’m coaching the founder first is the person behind that business, who’s that person I’m sitting across from and talking to, we must always remember this because no matter what we are humans, we need that interaction and we got to respect the person who’s doing what they’re doing, and present the proper picture. They’re like you very rightly said, it’s very well to promise the sun, moon and the stars at the same time. This is a real world we live in. So, the more open and transparent and honest conversation is, the stronger that trust that will build up. So very, very well said, Oh, brilliant. So, tell us a little bit about how the two businesses came about which came first Stay or Place?


Mahwussh Alam 16:40

One Perfect Stay came first. Nice, like I said, I was managing a handful of homes, for a few investors and 2016, I formally formed the company with my co-founder and of course, my business mentor, Asim Zaka, we formed the company One Perfect Stay. So, 2016 One Perfect Stay came into being but One Perfect Space is also a byproduct of one perfect state, because 80% of the homes that we would get would be unfurnished and I could always imagine the end of how it would look like, rather than you know, just doing it in a business sort of way, like you know, put four chairs, one bed, one painting, one lamp, and your home is ready to be put on Airbnb, I never saw it like that the traveler in me, you know, wanted a little bit more cozy, you know, the artwork should look like this, the lamp, there is less space, okay, let’s suspend it from the ceiling. Nobody had done it and you know, okay, so the nightstand, it’s going to occupy a space it’s to do, let’s fuse it to the bed and eventually, the end result would be so Wow, that the client would hand pick that apartment and say I want this and nothing else and that really made me believe that One Perfect Space was inevitable, I had to do it, there was again, so much rushing, that it has to be formed under a separate company. So, I formed One Perfect Space almost a year back and there are about 15 employees with One Perfect Spaced, who are doing it much more structurally as compared to how I did it with the architects with the engineers and the interior designers.


Warsha Joshi 18:23

Yeah, very nice. So today, of course, after all these years, you are the leader, if not one of them, you’re definitely the leader in that holiday home space. So, talk to us a little bit about what did that market start like when you were starting off? And where and how has it taken shape today?


Mahwussh Alam 18:42

When I started off in 2014/2015, it was still quite unstructured. There were all kinds of people doing it and like I said, now when you look at the listings and the way they’re advertised, they’re much more aesthetically appealing. They’re properly done. Even the photoshoots were they were not up to par most of them would be coming from the real estate groups where you know, they had free inventory or they had idle inventory and they didn’t know what to do with it. So, the same concept would go put a bed for two chairs and put it on Airbnb, and that’s how you know you got to do it but I think now, industry has really evolved as an extension of our hospitality, a variant. We are of our fidelity industry. We are not exactly a real estate industry or let’s say if we are bought if there is real estate and hospitality both then real estate is just the asset part. The main part is hospitality, which takes 70% of the business which is your bookings, which is your ADR’s which is how you present the home, you know aesthetically and everything else. So, when I started off, it was a bit haphazard, but soon 2016 DTCM  was the government body that took over holiday home sector and you know, every unit was given a unit by the DTCM and things became much more structured and much more regularized and then I think after that, there have been so many channels, you know, back then we were just looking at Airbnb and there was a time when booking.com used to say, we don’t do holiday homes, we are just focused on hotels, hotel rooms, and moving on, they realized what a momentum it had gained worldwide. It’s a $6 billion industry and you know, they started welcoming holiday home to their platforms, and everybody and all the companies could enlist their units on booking.com, as well and that really invited much more influx and the tourists now wanted to get into the space of holiday homes, because it gives a local sense of the holiday. Like before, it was like, okay, we will stay at a hotel, we’d have the pool, we’ll have the gym, and we’ll go for the shopping. Now with the new mindset with the millennial’s mindset, you know, you want to be in a cozy apartment, let’s say in Paris, in Brazil, you know, you want to be in that condo, I’ll give an example. I went to Paris in 2017 and I booked an Airbnb, and I left with the journalist and she was writing a book and believe me, the whole experience just changed. You know, you’re waking up into a home, somebody is making coffee for you and she’s sharing her stories and she will tell you where to go what to do. I mean, the experience has become quite personalized. So even when our GRO was our guest relation officers, when they go, when they check in the guest, they tell them you know, install Deliveroo or Zomato, this is how you can order this is where the pool is, go to that show in Opera you know, get the tickets, we can help you get the tickets. So, the experience has become much more personalized and people like that, because at the end of the day, they want to experience that particular city they’re visiting. You know, it’s not just about the hotel anymore. It’s about the whole traveling, vacationing experience.


Evan Le Clus 22:06

That is something that totally resonated with us too. So, I think we’re we wayward millennials or something but the last time we could travel, well, this is pre COVID. We were actually in Alaska, more particularly in Fairbanks, I have to giggle when you say the hotel stay is like in February, in the middle of winter, it’s not about a hotel stay. What we did was we did Airbnb as well and we lived among the locals with the locals, you know, hired a car and we were locals for all intents and purposes and it that’s such a different flavor. It really did and I think that’s the magic that you’re saying. Yeah, and I mean, we totally resonate with what you’re doing was the One Perfect Stay, still love it. So, you started One Perfect Stay, there was a handful of properties and then at some point you wanted to grow. So, you scaled up the company, tell us about that. Maybe the challenges or you knew this was the right thing to do and then how you approach that?


Mahwussh Alam 23:00

Yeah, so now we are almost at 200 homes under One Perfect Stay, but I always remember that, you know, it was just one unit that got me to where I am and it’s all about scaling. Right but I think scale means it means different things to different people. I come from that mindset where, you know, the bottom line has to be positive, I will build it when I will earn it. So, this is exactly how I have done it. There were a lot of challenges, getting the right people on board, building the right team, and then training them and getting the right landlords and the investors who really understand what this industry is all about. So, challenges, they can be many. There were there were many, so from you know, managing my own company to the team, to building up and scaling up and keeping the company positive at all times. There were quite a few I mean, but the best thing is that you have to overcome them, and you have to learn from them and then it’s about you know, moving forward, I just tell myself, there’s nothing that cannot be solved, you know, there’s always a solution to every problem. The thing that matters is that are you willing to take that step? And get on to that resolution to get on to that solution? If yes, that’s where your next successes? If not, then maybe just change direction.


Evan Le Clus 24:26

So, I’m curious because in Dare To Scale, we’re very strong on obviously mindset and then you’ve got you’ve got the mindset and in terms of the support system, let alone the individual bits within the business that you need to look at this. We’re very strong on advocating for a support system. You mentioned Azam Zakar before, how does that sort of fit into the business.


Mahwussh Alam 24:46

So Azam Zakar is more of a mentor for me really.  He is the co-founder with One Perfect Stay and he is someone who run multiple businesses across many geographies and one thing I’d like to add is, you know, the speaking of Azam, when I say this to when the student is ready, the teacher appears, really, and he has been my teacher all along. He is the mentor, I do listen to, and I listen to quite intently. So yeah, he has that role. He’s managing multiple businesses across multiple geographies and he’s the one who has mentored me and like, I mean, imagine me coming from a completely different job structure trying to become some of my own. I think at that point of time, I think I had a lot of anger, and I had a lot of frustration. So, Azam really helped me channel it in the right way. I mean, anybody can get, you know, quite frustrated and quite angry with their circumstances, you know, when their own friends do not understand what is the headspace you are currently but I think he had so many experiences and again, he’s a self-made man, too. So maybe he could see me in him at some point. So, he guided me, he told me to channelize my energies in the most productive way, when to drop the opportunity, when to build on it, and how to read the opportunity how to read people, I mean, I can go on and talk about it forever. So, you know, with the, with the second business, when it came, I was almost ready for all the training that I had for myself and he’s one person from whom I have learned to teach, without holding back, teach your team, teach your people with the most sincerity with all your heart, tell them everything that you know, if you will not leave the space for them to come and acquire, you will not be able to move up on the ladder. So, it’s so important to give everything that you have sincerely and then at the same time, keep learning but it happens with hyperactive people, because they’re so eager to get on to the next stage. So, they have to learn, they have to figure out and they have to sort of, you know, know where their next move?


Warsha Joshi 27:01

Oh, yes, I’m like I said, when the student is ready, the master appears. In fact, we have used that code in our in our book as well, because we absolutely firmly believe in that and also, there’s something else that I say it usually takes two to tango. Finding a great mentor is something that most entrepreneurs don’t give a great deal of importance to, when you find it, it’s equally important for you to be like a sponge, open up and trust the process, trust the word, trust the footsteps of somebody else who has gone ahead of you, and reaching back, and they’re lending a helping hand and say, hold my hand, and I will teach you how to walk that path and well done to you as well. because not a lot of entrepreneurs do this for a lot of entrepreneurs when we come across this quite a bit as well and it’s not the case of where you are in the world anywhere in the world. Because most entrepreneurs start their business with a little bit of ownership to that entire thing it is and one of the things that we say is please Don’t ever call your business, your baby, because it’s not your baby, you’re creating an entity, it’s a separate thing from yourself, be able to separate yourself. So, decisions are not emotion based. It’s not a reactive situation at that stage. So well into you for taking that entire spirit of those learnings that you were getting, and doing what you’re doing. One of the best things that I’ve heard just now on your experience with your brilliant mentor is teach everything that you know, absolutely we are 100% supporter of this teach everything you know, because you know what, there is no such thing as rocket science. I know people around me already know and they’ll giggle when they hear this because I say this so often, you know, not even rocket science is rocket science anymore. You can Google that and you can find out how to build a rocket. There’s nothing in the world that only you know how to do. As no such thing. In fact, the more you share, the more people grow with you. The more your business grows, the more you will grow together and it’s always about I recently appeared on another podcast and that whole entire conversation was about how business essentially is a community that you’re building. While it’s a transaction. Eventually, it’s a transaction in you’ve got to be profitable. Otherwise, you don’t sustain a community but everything from your team, to your customers, to your suppliers to their families. That’s what you’re doing. Basically, you’re building a community. It’s a micro community, but it’s a community all the same. So, give freely an Oh my god, it will come back to you 10 times that so brilliant. Brilliant. Thank you for that absolutely superb share. At the same time. You also have been asked this question to say what was some of those challenges? You know, every entrepreneur goes through some challenges and there’s usually a time when we go through that we come out and it teaches us a lot but it sort of becomes your defining moment as an entrepreneur as a business owner or Just as a person at the absolute base level, what is the first thing that comes to mind? When we talk about this? We’d love to hear from you. What drove you to continue and overcome that and be the person you are today?


Mahwussh Alam 30:14

Yeah, I can safely say there were more than one times where it happened. Especially because you know, we are a hospitality driven business. Yeah and when COVID came early 2020s Honestly, I was being a bit naive, I said, oh, for China, what’s happening in China, and then how it started spreading even March, okay, you don’t maybe this eternally optimistic person in me, sometimes, you know, it doesn’t let me see what sort of the snowball effect it can have and that definitely had that March 2020, we got hundreds of cancellations for the same month, platforms were shut. Airbnb did not release the money, they cancel the reservations, we lost something like more than half a million of bookings and wow, you know, it’s just not me or the company, I’m answerable to the landlords and I have to tell them, you know, what’s going on, I have to tell my team, and it’s a ship, there are so many people with me on board. So, I had to manage a lot of things, on a lot of levels and again, I think at that point, I connected with each one of them on another level on a software level, with my team, I told them that, you know, this is the situation and you know, this may be the last month for some time that, you know, the salaries will be will be deducted. I told the landlords, they will be delay in the payouts because we have not been paid by these platforms and the kind of effort it took from me to communicate all these things to all these peoples constantly and telling myself that, you know, where do I go from here to, I just dropped the shutter, and I go home, or, you know, I really take the clients on board, I tell them, this is the situation but this is not permanent, it will change because everything changes. Everything came from the heart and the emails that I wrote, and I told them, you know, this is what it is, but the whole world is going through this, I drew comparisons, I had to let half of my team go. Thankfully, I have most of them back with me now and those who left they’ve got amazing opportunities, bless them but I had to fight so many battles at so many levels, with the clients with my own team and with myself and you know, answering the questions, finding the answers to the questions I didn’t have at that time. So that really killed me as a person and when that happened, and I look back and something goes down, I say, if I can do that, if I can get over that. I can get over anything.


Warsha Joshi 33:05

Brilliant. Please continue.


Mahwussh Alam 33:07

I will say yeah, that was that was one point where we’re really things took a nosedive, not like a South turn, but a nosedive and the kind of effort, mental effort, it took me, you know, to get up for the challenge and speak to them. I have hundreds of landlords; I was talking to each one of them. They had my numbers, they had my emails and I was talking to each member of the team saying that, you know, this is what we do. We cross sell, or, you know, we get the long term bookings. I was thinking on my feet, because imagine having 100 apartments empty, what do you do? We completely shifted the focus on local market, you know, people who are in long term lease, but they had no visibility. So we repackaged the product, we repackage the service and we said, okay, here you go. As long as you have visibility, and you pay us monthly, we are good. So there was so much of thinking and planning and execution that was done in those times and that’s just I think, a matter of 30 to 40 days, it all crashed, and we built it up again and I mean, after that, if I speak now then we are 400% in growth prior to the time of COVID. So yeah, I mean, every challenge makes you stronger, you have to face it. I mean, you can face it either way, throw the towel and go out. That’s another way but really, if you give all your best and you accept that you don’t know you don’t have the answers, but you can figure it out. So, figure it out, and things do become clear.


Warsha Joshi 34:36

We are so appreciative of you for sharing the story so generously. Because almost every entrepreneur almost every business went through a scenario like this 18 months ago. Yeah, and nobody knew how to handle this because nobody in living memory had any either way idea what to do what comes next, every new yes and your story about how you personally started Talking to, to the landlords to your team. When went back to your initial sharing about it’s the people you connect with them, you put it out there put the story as it is right away and it’s the people you’re talking to as a person, not as a as a business owner who’s putting up a front and that I think, is the biggest takeaway for me that those are the times when we really shine as people and well done on you again, for, as you said, there are so many different ways people take up a challenge for some that may be the only way out to say throw in the towel or bring the shutters down and say, You know what, maybe that is the right course of action and a lot of respect to them. Whatever decision people take is not easy. Absolutely and everybody takes a decision according to what is right for them and that’s why this sharing is so brilliant, because it is an inspiring story. Every single person listening to this podcast today, I know are going to be making a few mental notes as well as I get up curious, and congratulations. So that brings me very nicely to What does entrepreneurship mean to you? You know, for a lot of people, it’s about the hustle. It’s about creating something, it’s about building communities, it’s about so many different things. What does that mean to you?


Mahwussh Alam 36:18

Warsha, if I’ll be honest, when I started off, it was more to do with the money. I can shamelessly say today that it was about money is very important. Okay, we must respect that but now it’s not but I can say that, you know, those people who say money is not important. I say, yes, it is not, but I want you to make a lot and then come to the conclusion that it’s not everything. Do not tell me that money is not important when you don’t have any in your pockets and in your bags. Initially, I started off, because I had to experience life on my own, I had to see my independent side and really, if I look back, everything that has happened in my life has become a reality from where I have imagined it. You know, growing up in a household, I lost my father quite early in life, I was only 10, when my father passed away, my mother was a single parent with three girls, me and my two sisters and I always say that I lived in a very affluent neighborhood, all my relatives around me were very affluent, and I always had the app, but I never had the ownership and now that I look in retrospect, I think that made me ambitious, and all my decisions that were coming, were trying to put me on that path. So, I could also have the ownership or just the access to this is where I had started, I wanted independence and independence and freedom comes when you have money and initially it was all about that it was about scale meant, you know, becoming more and more positive, as far as your profits are concerned, or your cash flows are concerned but now it’s to do with what else can I do? What else is possible? You know, can I create everything that I can imagine, I’m in that continuous, I won’t call it a struggle, but I’m continuously trying to evolve the One Perfect Group, I’m planning to open a real estate company and then there’s a there’s a relatively new concept of re-engineered furnishing, which has to do with saving the environment, saving the energy and I mean, we all know the kind of impact global warming has the forest fires that are happening. So that is on those lines. So, they’re going to be like an extension of One Perfect Stay, and real estate is going to come out of it and with one perfect space, there is going to be a re-engineered furnishing line that is going to be coming out of that very nice.


Evan Le Clus 38:45

I was gonna ask you sort of what next? And you’ve already answered that it’s absolutely wonderful and I love the like you said there’s some honesty to be acknowledged there where you say, you know, money, it’s important, and that’s why I did it. Ultimately, it’s sort of something else and you’ve also not touched on what there’s something else actually is, you know, and that’s very important. Now because we so, know that money is just a means a means to something else. It’s you know, and the money clearly flows through you and that’s one of his big things. So, I mean that that’s definitely wonderful. I want to just take you back, you said very early on that you read a lot. What are your sort of favorite books or what are your favorite especially in the business space? What are your favorite recommendations for the listeners?


Mahwussh Alam 39:26

I mostly read fiction; I’ll be honest but the business books Rich Dad, Poor Dad is one of my favorites and Guy Kawasaki. I do follow him. Gary Vaynerchuk. They are very real estate on the ground, hands on the deck kind of people who have lived it and who have done it. So, these are the people. Recently I’m reading the book. What happened to you by Oprah Winfrey when she’s interviewed quite a few influential people and, you know, rest upon the early happenings of their life, rather than Then, you know, coming out and saying, what exactly? Why do we become what we become? What are the things that happened? And how to unlearn and how to unlearn the traumas and become the better people. It’s a heavy read, but currently I’m reading that and last year I had read becoming by Michelle Obama. Yeah, when I bought it, it was a 600-page book and I was like, but I had to buy it. It’s such an interesting read and it’s such an such 600-page an easy read that Yeah, I just read through it. So again, like, you know, if you if you see her story, from where she came, very ambitious, and she just, you know, going from one step to the next, just recently, me and my colleagues, we were coming back from a meeting and there was a huge proposal that we had to give and the words that came out of my mouth were, how do you eat an elephant, piece by piece,


Warsha Joshi 40:51

one bite at a time,


Mahwussh Alam 40:54

Totally and anything like you know what you want to become one step at a time, but keep going. So, I’m trying to think of business books that now


Warsha Joshi 41:05

This is good, because everything that you’ve shared is brilliant, when we will be putting links to these books in the show notes. So, anybody who’s watching or listening to the episode can literally go and check out what this book is and as we come towards wrapping up this conversation, there is one thing that we must ask you, which we have to know from every single guest who appears on our show powers, we all have an idea to statement hidden in us and you know already where I’m going with this. So, what is yours, please tell us,


Mahwussh Alam 41:38

I would say mine is I dare to create what I imagined. It’s a very vast statement but believe me, life is all about anything imaginable is possible. Just go with that mindset, align your energies, your ambition, everything in line with what you want to do, and it will come to life.


Warsha Joshi 42:03

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. That is, I think one of the best ones we’ve heard. So far, every single one of those that we have heard is an individual statement and every time something resonates with this, and this is superb. Thank you for sharing that and I know as our listeners continue to listen to this episode, they would want to get in touch with you, what is the best way to get in touch with you?


Mahwussh Alam 42:25

Sure, I would love to, you can always reach me on LinkedIn. Yeah, I have a profile on LinkedIn. Feel free to connect with me and I’ll be happy to help in whichever way possible.


Warsha Joshi 42:37

Nice and we would also love to put both your company’s links as well in the show notes. So, whoever our listeners are, you’re one click away, and your businesses are one click away. Oh, my God, what a brilliant, brilliant success story. I am so thrilled and I know I speak for both Evan and me that every single time we have a conversation with an entrepreneur, we ended up learning so much, we end up taking so much from every single story because every entrepreneur has a story that drives them to do what they do and yours is equally as beautiful as everyone that we’ve heard.


Mahwussh Alam 43:15



Evan Le Clus 43:16

totally inspiring. Absolutely. Thank you for sharing and it’s like you mentioned Michelle Obama and there’s a there’s a funny video clip with Barack says for those of you who don’t know me, I’m Michelle’s husband. It’s kind of like that. It’s such an inspiring story that you shed it kudos and keep going. This guy’s


Mahwussh Alam 43:35

The kinds of people, I always try to get on board with the team. All I see is it Warsha? You asked me that during a conversation that what is that you look for, you know, when there is maybe not a relevant degree or you know, not the right credentials. It’s the fire. Yeah, how hungry are they? They? Do they really want to be completely invested in what they’re trying to create?


Warsha Joshi 44:01

Fantastic. That’s what gets me absolutely fabulous and on that note, oh, do we even need to say any more that is going to go as a quotable quote, watch out for this because that last line that you said, Matt was summed up everything that is entrepreneurship for every single person out there. Brilliant conversation. Thank you so much for joining us on today’s Dare to Scale show. so wonderful to having a chat with you. Thank you.


Mahwussh Alam 44:29

Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. It has been brilliant conversation. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Thank you so much. Warsha Thank you so much Evan our pleasure. I’m pleased to be here.


Warsha Joshi 44:41

Pleasure is ours. Thank you.


Warsha Joshi 44:46

Thank you for joining us and for listening all the way through, to get the show notes, the transcription and of course to subscribe, visit dare to scale.fm.


Evan Le Clus 44:56

The success of the show is thanks to you. So please keep the five-star Viewers coming. Remember to share this with your network and keep the community expanding. We’ll catch you in our next episode and in the meantime, keep daring and keep growing.

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