“I’m here to serve the world. If you do that, the stresses that come with the challenges and all of the ups and downs won’t hit you as hard because you’re like, “I chose to do this for this reason.”– Tanvir Aman
A few months after he joined a startup out of college, the dotcom bubble burst in April of 2000. Thereafter, Tanvir set aside his stockbroker dreams to found two companies as his entrepreneurial career took flight. In a world of uncertainty, Tanvir thrived as an entrepreneur.
Tanvir Aman is a lifelong serial entrepreneur and is currently the Founder and CEO of Dunyha.
He came up with the idea for Dunyha while he was managing his own Airbnb and realized that customer satisfaction from guests and his level of involvement were positively correlated.
After this epiphany, Tanvir started Dunyha, a startup that is revolutionizing the housing crisis by empowering real estate ownership through an operate to own model. This means that you have a host that lives at a property and in exchange for providing hospitality to the guests, they get to stay at the home for free.
“I’ve always wanted to do my own thing and be part of a group of people that were thinking about doing things differently.”– Tanvir Aman
Discussed in this episode…
- [00:46] Overview and background
- [04:25] The differences in entrepreneurship today compared to twenty years ago
- [07:51] Dunyha’s mission and their methodology
- [09:54] The hospitality side of the startup
- [10:53] Dunyha’s operating model
- [12:14] The two-sided problem Dunyha is solving
- [19:24] Dunyha’s standardized and creative aspects
- [21:10] Why Tanvir chose this model to solve the housing crisis
- [25:00] How he discovered this problem
- [26:11] How Tanvir scaled his initiative
- [33:01] What the world would look like if Dunyha fulfilled its vision
- [36:47] How Tanvir contemplates product-market fit as a founder of four startups
- [38:24] What questions to ask your users
- [43:25] What being an entrepreneur has taught Tanvir about life
❗ What is the PROBLEM that Dunyha is solving?
Where people want to stay looks starkly different from ten years ago. Moreover, real estate ownership is becoming increasingly inaccessible for young people, particularly in urban districts and cities. Generation by generation, real estate prices are accelerating while wages are stagnating.
The Problem for Homeowners: Most college graduates are burdened by college debt. Additionally, despite the extra costs, the majority of Generation Z individuals want to live in urban districts or the center of “buzz.” However, 44% of Millenials lack a down payment for a traditional mortgage. Lastly, there is an increasing need for buildings to be built sustainably as a long-term asset that is both efficient and technologically modern.
The Problem for Travelers: Today, more people are attracted to booking Airbnbs or alternative lodging than hotels. Hotels are simply stale, with no element of excitement that can satisfy the adventurous zeal of Generation Z. Even though Airbnbs are great, they tend to have limited property management, security, and service layers in the average lodging experience. Hosts are often faceless and do not provide guidance to travelers.
🛠️ What is Dunyha’s SOLUTION?
A purpose built and curated Airbnb experience.
First, they design sustainable homes that resemble micro hotels. These combine the appeal of Airbnbs with the consistency and hospitality of hotels.
Second, they bring in young people (Generation Z and Millenials) who are passionate about the hospitality industry. These individuals are the ideal operators of the micro-hotels due to their focus on enhancing the service aspect of a guest stay. They’re incentivized by free rent and profit sharing income. After three years, they’re able to purchase the property and business by securing financing.
Typically, you would either pay for rent or if you have enough money, you would make a downpayment to purchase a home. Dunyha gives you a third option with their operate-to-own model. With this model, a young individual can sign up to be a host and offer hospitality to the guests in exchange for free rent and profit sharing income.
As a result, Dunyha harnesses the entrepreneurial spirits of young people and provides them with the income producing assets of real estate.
Dunyha’s mission is to “empower real estate ownership serving travelers.”
🌎 What is Dunyha’s VISION?
To augment traditional travel experiences by creating something entirely new through technology. Riding the wave Airbnb initiated with embracing travel, Tanvir aspires to proliferate the amount of amazing real estate, young entrepreneurs, and small business owners out there. Their business model is an innovative ecosystem that marries venture capital and real estate. This allows for rapid-fire funding. Currently, the construction industry is being reinvented through technology. With 3D printing and modular homes, building homes creates stronger assets long-term.
“Tech is so powerful that it can be applied anywhere and into anything.”– Tanvir Aman
3 Value Bombs
- In the end, your customers will inform your ultimate direction and verify if your product is working or not. Communicate with your user. Ask them not to reserve their opinions. They will be tremendously valuable. One of the most important questions you can ask your users to determine product-market fit is: “How would you feel if we took this product/service away from you?”
- Daniel Dubois (guest from ep #5) and Tanvir are both solving the problem of the rising costs of homeownership but they are both tackling the problem in a completely different way. There are many ways to solve a problem and even if someone else is already solving a problem in one way, you can still come up with a better solution on how you would solve the problem in a different way. Try and identify the gap between the problem and the existing solutions to determine if there is ample space for you to build something that is 10x better.
- When thinking about how to solve a problem, don’t limit yourself to only software solutions. Sometimes it is necessary to invest in capital intensive assets in order to create a better solution. For example, Amazon is much more capital intensive than eBay but they are able to provide a better experience and faster delivery because they can control the experience and as a result, they have nearly destroyed eBay. Similarly, by investing in building their own micro-hotels, Dunyha is able to control the design of the building, which helps them create a better overall experience.
Julian Alvarez: Welcome back everyone to another episode of the Inventing the Future podcast, where our mission is to inspire and empower entrepreneurs to solve the world’s biggest problems. I have Tanvir Aman here with me. He’s the founder and CEO of Dunyha, which will be getting into today. But yeah, Tanvir, welcome to the show. How are you doing today, man?
Tanvir Aman: I’m doing well. How are you, Julian?
Julian: Doing awesome and about to get even more awesome by the minute, especially with this interview. Thanks for coming on here and to get started, I think it’d be great if you could give a bit of an overview and background. I’m specifically curious about where you are now, but what’s a bit of the background of how you got into entrepreneurship and why you even decided to get into entrepreneurship in the first place, knowing that it’s not a traditional or easy path to have gone down?
Tanvir: Yeah, sure. Actually, I’m a little bit older than you, Julian. And so, in the late 90s when I was still in college and the .com era was just starting companies like Amazon, and stuff was just kicking off and the Internet had just been around for just a few years, I was in school and I was getting familiarized with all that. And I was a finance major and I was actually going to be a stockbroker right out of school. But before I became a stockbroker, I was actually investing in a lot of these startups and keeping up with them. I was doing it through my uncle and even participating in some IPOs and stuff. And then so when I got out of school, which is now pretty much two thousand, I was studying to be a stockbroker at Morgan Stanley and all of a sudden, like, I actually met somebody who was at a startup and they were talking about their experience and they’re talking about how they needed some salespeople. And I was thinking to myself, I’m already bored studying finance and I don’t know if I really want to do this. And that’s what happened. I literally never even finished taking the series seven. That’s the test that stockbrokers take. And I was like, ‘Okay, let me join’. And then here’s the crazy thing. I joined and then only a few months later, the bubble burst. The bubble burst in April – you probably don’t remember but the first dotcom era stock market bubble burst in 2000. It was like April of 2000 and all these companies that have been overvalued and everything – they all just plummeted and just became a really crazy time but I stayed at the startup for a little bit longer and it is what determined my appetite, I think, for wanting to do it. I started my own little idea back then as well and something similar to AskMen.com. That’s actually a really popular website but I had something in that realm that I was working on and I had to get a job again, like a regular job. I didn’t go become a stockbroker, but as I was at a big company working, I was always on the side doing some things and trying to figure out ‘okay what’s my next move’. And then that’s when I probably founded, like probably my second company that was a proper company. That was back in like 2006, no actually it was 2005. And then from there, I stayed on the entrepreneurial track. I’ve done a few stints at bigger companies, but for the most part, I’ve always from that point, just like always wanted to be doing my own thing and being part of a group of people that were thinking about doing things differently. That’s the bottom line.
Julian: That’s a great example of being opportunistic and the right moment especially – you couldn’t have predicted it, but it was also kind of luck that you got out of the finance real. That kind of like got to go to war.
Tanvir: Yeah, exactly. It was a combination – I mean, I got in the startup realm where it was a good either, but I would have been unhappy in the finance realm too because it got shaken up and even after that, 9/11 happened a year later. So, there’s a lot. You’re right. Finance became pretty shaky for those years as well.
Julian: Yeah, but then again, entrepreneurship is always shaky.
Tanvir: Yeah, it’s true.
Julian: I’m curious, how has entrepreneurship changed in that time when you were first in a startup in the year? What was it, 2000 to now? Twenty years later, what is change? What’s been easier or more difficult? How would you compare it?
Tanvir: It’s very different. Start with things like you’re doing. You’re doing this podcast, right? Entrepreneurship is all over the place now and there are accelerators and there’s more. If you talk to the average fund or VC fund, I mean, most of them are less than ten years old. And so, this first part of entrepreneurship was all based on the Internet arriving. And when I say entrepreneurship, I mean startups and tech-based companies, it was all part of the first Internet boom and then like I described, it got hit hard in the early 2000s, so there is a reset period. And then kind of things started going again and all these big ideas started finally ramping up and then, boom, you have the financial crisis in 2009. And so that financial crisis then I think really, I would say catapulted things to where they are today. So, if you look at the last 10 to 12 years and you look at companies like Uber and Airbnb and companies that came out of the financial crisis, I think that second boom is what really caused where we are today. It was like the build-up. It’s like okay, now you’ve got company – because you have to understand between like 2000 when the market went down and like maybe 2005, you didn’t have Apple being huge, you didn’t have Facebook, you didn’t have any of these things. But then starting in 2005 after some recovery time and these companies going now, you got all these big companies that are changing the world and taking a real shape in different parts of the world and then you have the financial crisis but then even though it gets hit, the world economy and everything else, the startups is what continues. And that kind of carries and evolves into these new companies like we just talked about, Uber, Airbnb. And so, from that, I think because of the success of what happened post-financial crisis, then it’s like, there’s this appetite, let’s fund these ideas, let’s do this, let’s do that and so we have more accelerators. And so, it’s completely – it’s actually very, very different, mainly because of the infrastructure and just the general like appetite around all different areas of the spectrum.
Julian: And I think perhaps one of the biggest changes is the introduction of smartphones because, without smartphones, Uber and Airbnb and all of these companies would not have even been possible at all. So, I’m sure that’s one of the major shifts. Its accessibility and affordability of technology to the point where today it’s not even a luxury. It’s a necessity.
Tanvir: Yeah, you got it right. Like the first phase was the actual worldwide Internet, just to think that it’s actually only like 25 years old or whatever. It is kind of crazy but then the second part of that, you’re right, is mobility and just clouds and mobile devices and all that stuff. And that’s kind of like you said, it’s kind of pushed this next thing.
Julian: Yeah, now that just creates a whole space of opportunity for new ventures, even though technically they would have been possible before, well, now there are people that can actually access those solutions more than ever and it’s still increasing as now more than half the world has access to the Internet in a smartphone. It’s interesting. We’re in a whole different era (07:51 unintelligible). So, let’s dive into Dunyha then. Your current startup. So, tell me more about it, what you guys do and what the mission behind it is.
Tanvir: Yeah, so our mission is simply to empower real estate ownership serving travelers. And so, what we do is we take what is basically – what you see today in the most urban cities. That’s like a town hall-style home. We’ll look at that type of a shell and we’ll basically design these sustainable homes, but we’ll design them to be like micro hotels. Modern Airbnb. And so, what we’re trying to do is basically bring people that are passionate about the hospitality industry into these homes so they can build a business with us so that they can eventually be in a position and a very short period of time to be able to buy the property and buy the business by securing financing. So that’s really the journey. It’s like, we’re trying to change the hospitality, we know what Airbnb has done, we know that where people want to stay its looks very different today than it did 10 years ago and then on top of that, we also know that real estate ownership for younger people and it’s just getting harder and harder to own homes especially in urban districts and cities. And so, we feel that there’s plenty of people out there that are big into hospitality, those industries are big and especially with covid shaking them up and they are ideal for this type of setup. The ideal operators or the ideal entrepreneurs and can pretty much completely change the trajectory of their financial path, and at the same time, we can improve the entire travel lodging industry.
Julian: Definitely that makes sense. And by hospitality, it really just means that you have someone that’s living in these micro hotels, as you call them, and they’re the ones kind of servicing the guests, the tenants, and are basically in charge of the operational side of that space and of that area and that’s the kind of hospitality side. Right?
Tanvir: Yeah, they have their own little private space. That’s like a New York studio. It’s like a room, essentially, and a kitchenette and they’ve got just a little space. But, yeah, they live on-site, it’s not a full-time gig because it doesn’t need to be so they can continue to pursue their other career path. The majority of the people we have talked to are in the hospitality or food and beverage space but there are other things like (10:20 advance) coordination and stuff like that that make a lot of sense. But for the most part, yes, they’re just there to operate the business. It’s a part-time thing, but it’s a lifestyle choice and it’s a big responsibility because they essentially are the heart and soul of our ecosystem. We’re providing them free rent and profit-sharing and the tools to be successful and they’re building this entire business from the ground up.
Exactly. So, the model, as it’s called, is it basically you own it or what is it called?
Instead of a rent to own or a lease to own model, we call it an operator on the model.
An operator on exactly. So, you’re basically living inside of the home, you’re operating within it and you get two things out of that. You get to stay there for free, rent-free as part of the home, and then you also get a profit share as opposed. So, it’s not just free rent, but it’s also getting some sort of income from that as well, which you can then use to eventually purchase the home entirely.
Tanvir: Yeah. So, we try to get you to have a 10% down payment to secure a business loan for this type of small lodging business. So, it’s basically that journey that we’re trying to get you to, just like you described. Saving money from no living expenses and then profit sharing starting a year or two is what we do. As little as three years, you might have a 10% down payment ready. So that could be like $70,000 – $80,000. If not, we give you five years to be able to pull that off. So, it’s really a three to five-year journey with three years being the most ideal to be able to secure the financing to actually do it. Where it’s now yours. All for you. Right.
Julian: Yeah. Interesting. Let’s take a step back really quick and explore more of the problem space. So, I’m curious how you would describe the problem that you’re aiming to solve here with these homes and not just for the tenants, the millennials, the homeowners themselves, but also maybe for the property owners and the people that come and live in these properties as well? All the dimensions.
Tanvir: Yeah. So, you’ve got two sides. You have the actual travelers and then you have the operators, what we call the host or Dunyha fellows. Those guys and those girls. Whether you come from the hospitality industry or not, the idea is that, if you’re like 25, you’ve got a certain amount of college debt and you’ve got basically a certain amount of debt-to-income ratio. And the ability for you to actually be able to buy something for yourself is pretty limited for several years. You’ve got to turn that ratio around. You got to basically save money; you’ve got to pay off your school loans. It could be 10, 15 years before you’re in a position to do that. The other thing is a lot of your generation is desiring to live in urban districts like they want to live in the center because that’s where they work, that’s where things are happening. It’s different from my generation. Like there’s a huge – event with the pandemic changing younger people leaving places like San Francisco because they can’t afford it, everyone is going to go back once they have the ability to do so just because that’s where people want to be. And so, we’re giving those people the opportunity that actually has the entrepreneurial spirit, they like the space and they get it. I can create wealth now by owning real estate. It’s an asset. It’s an income-producing asset. So that is really the focus of meeting the right type of people that fall in that category. We basically have three buckets. Are they passionate about customers? Are they entrepreneurial-minded? And do they have the small business acumen to run a small business? And that’s really the type of people we’re looking for and there are hundreds and thousands, millions of these types of people. That’s how we see it. And so that’s one aspect of it. The other aspect of it is the travelers themselves. So, there are different areas of travel that are not necessarily being met right now. You have people that are starting to stay at more Airbnb type or alternative lodging and fewer people wanting to stay at hotels. That’s been a trend that has been going on. However, there are some, limitations because the standardization of staying at a property run by a property management company or somebody like that is limited. The security layer is limited. The serviceability is limited and so what’s happening is there’s a lot of – if you know what Airbnb originally based their business on, it was hosted. It was hosted that had like an extra bedroom and that and that was the core of their business. Now, if you look at the majority of Airbnb inventory, it’s property management companies that own traditional dwellings and the other thing is some traditional dwellings are not the best for overnight stays. They’re designed in a way that there are this many bedrooms and this many bathrooms and this many people, and they don’t typically match up. And then on the other side, where you’ve got hotels, the technology is still way behind the times with hotels, booking things and just little things that they’re behind on the average hotel is a problem. But also, beyond that, it’s just stales now. Like if you’re a younger person and you have $100 and you have the ability to stay at this type of Airbnb or like a three-star hotel, the three-star hotel, there’s limited appeal because it’s just kind of like the same blur thing. It’s like free breakfast, this type of room, this type of – and to me that’s getting kind of like for what looks like travel in the next generation. And so, it’s a combination. And what we’re trying to do is create the best things that we’ve seen from this whole Airbnb rise, but they also take things from hotels that people still like. Like the standards, like the security layer, like the ‘oh, I can pick up the phone and talk to somebody if there’s a problem’. Those things are really important. And then the biggest thing that we’re doing that is very much underserved and very clunky is group travel. It is so hard to book things in groups. You just pick and make a decision and make everybody happy because it’s just – group travel is not designed for booking. It’s just really tough and so the majority of the tech we’re creating that’s very original is based on that group travel experience, booking it, searching for it, paying for it, all of the above it.
Julian: Got it. That’s interesting. And what I would highlight there is that on the travelers’ side, you have people that – when you go to an Airbnb, as you call it, they’re faceless. There are faceless hosts as in you don’t really interact with the host. In some cases, you do and, in some cases, you don’t. And don’t get me wrong, some people don’t want to interact with the hosts. They prefer privacy but if you’re going to like a new place and you want to explore or be able to navigate, it’s really helpful to have someone that lives there and is able to guide you and show you what the great things about that area are. So, it just kind of depends on your needs and your desires but the great thing is it’s not just hospitality and being able to interact with someone with a local, but it’s also being able to have that standardizing the design of the experience. Because hotels are standardized, but they’re kind of faceless and Airbnb’s are very variable. Sometimes you’ll get a good guess, sometimes you’ll get a good place, sometimes you won’t but by being able to control the experience and the design of it, that guarantees that you can iterate, improve and actually have a standard quality of what you’re offering.
Tanvir: Yeah, you’re 100% right. We have bare minimum expectations that we will meet at every property. And like you said, the great thing about a host, is they can be as hands-off or hands-on as that guest desires. They provide you with the basics. If you don’t need to be bothered, they don’t even need to see you. So, like you said, but if you’re someone who loves that experience and the whole reason you don’t stay at hotels is so somebody can tell you the local restaurants in the neighborhood and places to go, then you have that option. And then the design is really critical because things are changing, too. Like we build stuff with efficiencies. Like solar. Things like that. So, we’re building homes that are long term assets, they’re more sustainable, they’re smart bills, they have the right technology for our work away from work and a home away from home experience. And then the last part of that, too, is even though we’re standardized like you said, every property has its own touch. We’ll take a local artist and we’ll give them that space and turn it into a gallery essentially. So basically, you’re going to feel similarities of standards, but you’re going to also feel a unique experience every time you go to a different property.
Julian: That’s really interesting. The essential components are standardized, but then there is like a space for creativity, especially the creativity and whatever the host itself wants to do in the space, then that also helps them be like a better host because they feel like they’re more at home and they can show people around. So that’s an interesting component.
Tanvir: Yeah, and they have their own personality. Every host is different. That’s what I’m saying, its enough uniqueness, but with minimum expectations.
Julian: One thing I also want to highlight here is that I interviewed Daniel (unintelligible) in episode number five and the interesting thing is that Daniel is solving a very similar problem to you. So, Daniel is the president and co-founder of (20:10 unintelligible), and their solution is essentially building an economic model where instead of just renting or buying a home, you can do something in between, which is you can own a percentage of a home-like I can buy 12% of a home for as little as 15 thousand dollars and buy equity little at a time. And I bring that up because I think you guys are both solving almost the same problem or a very similar problem. Like, for example, mentioned something similar that you were describing the problem and that it takes an average of 21 years for a young person to save up for the down payment. And so, if you start working at age twenty-two, you’re literally not going to be able to buy a home or put a down payment until your early 40s. So yeah, it’s interesting to note how the problem can be the same but the approaches and the solutions you can take from that are almost infinite. So, I’m curious from that standpoint, why did you decide on this model as a way to solve this somewhat housing crisis or problem with high rent and millennials not being able to afford a house?
Tanvir: Yeah, so I know Daniel, he’s involved in our company, too, at an advisory board level. And there’s actually his approach to fractionalized ownership, we are thinking about how do we use our model on top of his in certain cities like Toronto and New York, where you can’t build. Where the land and the population are even denser. First of all, like, what he’s doing makes so much sense and that trend is starting to – fractionalized ownership is starting to take off, I think. Definitely exciting. Our approach and why we came to it is just from my personal experience. When I built this property, I built it to be a very good Airbnb. But what I realized was when I was running it, a big part of it being very good is not only the fact that we designed it in a certain way that was kind of just like we thought it would be good, we wouldn’t know until we actually tested it and it was very good, but also that the more I was involved with the business, the much better the guest experience was. So, between those two things and me talking to my guest, people would come in there and they would be like, “man, I love staying here” but then they would be so fascinated about the business and the way I designed it. They tell me about their finances and they talk about “I’m renting in Nashville and I don’t know when I’d ever buy, but if I had an opportunity to buy like a business like this, it would make more sense than getting stuck with a mortgage”. So, they keep saying stuff like that and I would say, “you know what, that’s so right”. If we build these things – like until now, I felt that the majority – and don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of people that were doing certain things and then they embraced Airbnb and it’s called rental arbitrage. When you go out there and you take leases and then you manage a bunch of places – and people were doing that so you did have a bunch of entrepreneurs that wanted to do Airbnb that we’re able to do because of this amazing marketplace and platform Airbnb created. But you weren’t really helping anybody accumulate assets. And so, all the short-term rental industry and the hospitality industry based on vacations, it’s all wealthier people that basically have investment properties, secondary homes, and then they’ll hire property management companies to run those things. So, I was like, first of all, there’s space for people who can’t afford to do it because the appetite is there, obviously, for people to stay in these things and then there is definitely, like you said, design elements that can be improved and then the most important thing is we strongly believe that a motivated person that has the ability to change their financial path is going to outperform a property management company that has employees. It’s plain and simple like if I’ve got someone who is motivated to become – like owns a million-dollar asset in a decade, that to me is a lot more powerful than a property management company that has a (24:33 unintelligible).
Julian: Absolutely and I love that’s a focus because you’re helping these younger people, the millennials basically acquire assets and that’s one of the most important things you can do to build up your wealth. So many of us are consumers, and even if we’re paying rent, we’re literally still consumers. We’re just throwing away money without anything in exchange or any assets in return. But what I found most interesting about this, I love that you told this story because I was going to ask you, how did you discover this problem? And it came purely through experience, but not just through experience, but talking through your guests. Talking to these millennials, getting into what are the challenges of problems, what are the desires, their dreams, and that’s kind of where it sprung up from you like, ‘Wow, these people don’t own assets and we have the price of real estate going up while wages are stagnating and staying still. So, the problem for them is only getting worse from generation to generation’. You listen to that, you realize that, and this is a model that’s helping address that.
Tanvir: Yeah, exactly. And that’s what it boils down to, plain and simple. As you said, it’s becoming harder and harder and so you look at the good thing about what’s changing in the industry and I think the pandemic actually is going to even speed it up faster. And it’s like, ‘well, the whole lodging industry is changing. How do I get young people involved in it?’ And then our mission of how do we help them gain assets to?
Julian: Absolutely. Super interesting. A few more questions on the solutions side here. I’m curious, how do you scale an initiative like this? Is that one of your challenges or limitations? Because it seems like you need assets or you need to be able to have people that can be on site. So, what’s kind of the strategy or idea for scaling something like this?
Tanvir: Obviously, the bigger question, how do you scale? But the second part of it is actually the easy part, which you mentioned. Which are people on site. That’s what actually allows us to scale faster because rather than having a huge headcount, we’re actually pretty much creating small business owners. So that is a whole different thing in terms of we feel very strongly about not being able to meet the supply based on the demand. Like we stop interviewing people because we were in a fundraising process now and we’ve given out certain spots in certain cities like Houston and Austin, and we know that they’re there. So that’s not the scalability issue. Scalability issue is the limitation of built. So, do you really want to build from the ground up and do it the right way you constrained on the building? So that’s number one. Number two is venture capital and real estate capital are very tough to marry because they have totally different initiatives and different investment profiles. So, you have to be able to create a structure in a company that supports both those forms of capital and institutional capital because they all have to mix because it’s not just the pure tech play or it’s not just a pure real estate play, it’s a model, it’s an innovative ecosystem, it’s stuff that is disrupting what’s going on now and so it requires venture capital. A real estate person is not going to be comfortable investing in that. And then on the venture side, typically speaking, venture capital does not like to invest in real estate, hardware, things that are capital intensive, especially real estate. And so that’s pretty much the big challenge but again, you know how this world works in terms of if you show that the market is there and you start penetrating it and the money is there and the demand is there, then things take care of themselves. Because there are builders in the United States right now that build ten thousand homes a year. Most of those are in the suburbs but you can build faster and as you might not be that into the construction technology, but there’s 3-D printing going on, modular homes, things like that so there’s a lot of innovation happening in construction. So, we don’t get too caught up in worrying about, ‘building is going to slow us down. What are we going to do?’ We should just look at other real estate assets because the mission has proven that if you build it, you’re building a stronger asset and then it just works better in our model. Not to say that we won’t go to a city and look at existing real estate and try to tweak it but we know that there is a path to building from the ground.
Julian: Definitely and there are two things I want to highlight here that I think is really interesting. One is tech is something so powerful that it can be applied anywhere into anything. So, you’re taking a traditional industry like real estate and finding ways in which tech can augment the traditional experiences for people to create something entirely new. And sometimes there are people that just invest in real estate or people that just invest kind of like on the tech side, but it’s like, what if you marry the two industries or find ways in which tech can augment something in the real estate or another industry that isn’t traditionally tech-intensive? And I think that’s where most of the opportunities are. And the second thing to highlight here is that most of the time when you think about a technical solution, you think about, ‘oh, it’s zero marginal cost, as in it’s very cheap to distribute or the supply is basically close to free. It’s just servers and databases. But sometimes it can be that part of your solution is to invest in capital intensive assets like real estate. So, I would say, like, don’t limit yourself just to technical solutions that don’t cost anything upfront. Like, don’t get me wrong, maybe those are easier, but there’s a time and place for capital intensive assets and to use tech on top of that. And if you want an example, just look at Amazon. Amazon versus eBay. Amazon has their whole warehouses, everything. They have so many items they sell themselves but because they do that, they can control the experience, the quality and everything. And in the end, who is beating eBay? Amazon is destroying them because eBay can’t control the experience. They can’t control the quality of the items. Sure, they don’t have to own anything, but they’re losing out. So, I think for whatever you’re doing, it’s trying to analyze what’s the trade-off there in the pros and cons and try to see if it makes sense to invest in an asset to make your solution better, as is in your case, Tanvir, where investing in the real estate allows you to design the experience then it might be worth it in that case.
Tanvir: Yeah, I think Tesla is a really good example of that too. And obviously, it’s been a very capital-intensive model and a lot of people will argue, ‘well, yeah, Tesla almost got bankrupt because of that. And if it wasn’t because it was Elon Musk, you are already an established entrepreneur, it would have never gone to where it was.’ Those all could be true, but that’s not the point. The point is Tesla is this amazing company that is changing everything in the world related to transportation. And so, it’s very, very crucial to understand that just because we had these formulas that worked for 10 years that we know for sure that pure software plays are the easiest that plug into our formulas, that doesn’t mean you have all the answers yet. Because there’s still a lot of change to be had and there are still other ways to make a transformational company. And you’ve got to keep – I would urge, like venture capitalists that, hey, if you look at the top funds, starting with Secoya and everything, they’re highly diversified. They took chances in areas that most other funds don’t. Because other funds are based on ‘let me recreate the formula. Let me recreate the types of companies that have worked for us for five years so they can work again.’
Julian: I think you just have to identify what works best for you but to keep this option of capital intensive as an option, in fact, it may be the way to enable a new solution that doesn’t exist before. So cool. Super interesting. Last question on Dunyha here, Tanvir. I’m curious from a vision perspective if Dunyha was to achieve its ultimate destiny, like if it got to the point where it fulfilled its vision, what do you think the world would look like?
Tanvir: Yeah, that’s a really great question and I hope one day we can get there. But really the world to us would look like basically a continuation of what Airbnb has done in terms of change, the way travel is embraced, but with a lot of new, amazing real estate and a lot of incredible young entrepreneurs and small business owners that are setting up a trend that is essentially a norm now. So, where it’s like, ‘if I start by being the one that builds the first ten thousand of these worldwide and this model works, who’s to say that when developers build homes and things like that, they’re not hyper-focused on? Well, what about our buyer being someone who’s going to actually turn this into a hybrid between lodging and actually living?’ And so, it’s basically doing a purpose-built and curated Airbnb experience. And so, to us, it still boils down to the design and the entrepreneur or the person who builds the business. And if that trend can turn into a movement that we create, then we feel like the travel industry would be a lot better, because, in the sense that group travel would be better, pricing would be met, its certain standards. We feel – so you asked me what the world would look like. We feel like, there’s a place for unique Airbnb all over the world. There’s a place for five-star hotels that are just amazing and much more a higher-priced experience and more of a luxury. But if you talk about our experience and the type of curation and movement that we’re trying to provide by building these things from the ground up, to me, it could eliminate all these other average hotels, average just places to book, you’re talking about like motels and hotels and things like that. To me, those things can all be replaced 20 years from now. I don’t think there’s any need for it, to be honest.
Julian: Yeah, it’s really about how do you maximize the quality of the experience when you stay at these places without having to compromise on the cost. So high quality, low and relatively great affordability, which would in essence, if you achieve that, replace those three-star hotels and other options.
Tanvir: Yeah, and service. Right. The thing is, the way our models build is technology helps a lot with serviceability. And then one super motivated person or person who leads that operation also helps. And so, the combination of both the tech and that one person and then the ratio of person to rooms and the experience that we’re creating, we think could be unmatched. So, it’s a different approach and we think it’s a collective solution and it’s a win across the board.
Julian: Very cool. Will be interesting to track the progress along with the fulfilment of that vision. But cool. Final few segments here. So, in terms of entrepreneurial lessons, I want to dive into your entrepreneurial experience to ask you in particular about the concept of a product-market fit. So, you’ve been the founder for, I think, around four startups now, and I think from my perspective, product-market fit is one of the most important things. So, I’m curious, how do you think about product-market fit? What is it and how do you end up achieving it? What steps would you take to actually make it happen?
Tanvir: Look, it depends on what industry you’re in, obviously, because the approach of how to get that product-market fit can vary. But in the end, it’s customers that will always tell you what direction to go and if the product you’re creating is working or not. Because at the end of the day, the gap that you think you’re filling, the customer will tell you if you fail that and how you get to that point and how you get to have enough customers, enough users, enough true feedback and true testing to say, ‘hey, this isn’t working or, hey, this is a home run or this is sticking.’ I mean, this is being embraced and it is key and then also, obviously, some of that is analytical, some of that is basically your own intuition. But all you have to do is talk to these people. You have to talk to your user. You have to communicate with them. You’ve to get their feedback. That can be tremendously valuable. You have to talk to them to find out everything good and bad. And they will basically give you what you need to know how close you are to being able to launch something.
Julian: What questions you usually ask when you talk to users.? Is it just like what challenges do you experience or what problems do you experience?
Tanvir: These really need to be simplified because it doesn’t matter what you are in like if you’re doing gaming or you’re doing stuff like me, where its actual travelers staying in a facility or playing a game, you’ve got to ask some basic questions. You’ve got to just say, how much did you like this experience? Tell me what you think? Really don’t reserve any opinion. Tell us exactly what you think. Like, what did you like? What did you not like? You don’t have to go so far as to what can be improved? What could be that? Stick with number one. What is their initial reaction, initial feeling? Because their initial feeling will give you a lot of information. And you can position that in many ways and I know I’m oversimplifying it, but the bottom line is surveys and communication, it always boils down to brevity. It’s simple. You ask them to tell you exactly how they feel and like one or two words or in terms of them embracing something versus them saying, yeah, I don’t care for it. like you just really got to get yourself in a position to do that, I think. And that’s more important. Now, once you start getting engaged users or users that don’t like what you are doing, now you can start asking for more follow-ups and details and all that. But the key to it is how do you ask something where they can tell you flat out, I like this, I don’t like this. This is really great or – because if you leave it too open-ended, then you might get a lot of mixed feedback but if you make it, they’re kind of in a position where they have to tell you, ‘yeah, this is great because I felt this way or yeah, I don’t really get it. It didn’t connect with me.’
Julian: Yeah. It’s important to be open-ended, but to make sure that you get a specific direction and whether it’s positive or negative. Try to uncover that. And I would say that one piece of advice I would give is if you’re conducting or asking them in person, don’t just listen to their words. Also, look at their facial expressions and the tonality of their voice. Because oftentimes they’ll communicate more with their emotions and with their tonality in their face than they do with their words. Especially if they feel restrained in giving critical or negative feedback.
Tanvir: So, I agree with you, the body language in person and the communication if you’re not in person and how it is, is another, I guess, substitution for body language if you’re not doing it in person. But then also the last part of it is how willing are they to be involved now going forward. Like if it was a really bad experience, well, then it might be tough for them to say, ‘oh, well, if we improve things, do you mind if we get back to you?’ They may be like “man I’m good”, but if they liked it and you think they liked it and like you said, they check the positive marks across the board, then you know for sure they really like it. If they’re like, ‘yeah, I’ll help you any way I can. Feel free to reach out to me. If you have anything else for me, let me know.’ They’re going to let you know that they want to be engaged as your journey continues.
Julian: Yeah, and one question I heard, I don’t remember where, but is this really valuable is that you can ask them, “hey, how would you feel if we took this product or the service away from you?” And your case would be like, ‘hey, how would you feel if Dunyha didn’t exist the next time you travelled here? What would that be like?’ And then they’re like, ‘Oh, it’s not fine. There’s Airbnb then it’s like, ‘well, they will be like ‘no, this was amazing. Like what? Please, I’ll give you all my money. Don’t die.’
Tanvir: Yeah, exactly. No, no, that’s great. The actual question of does this even need to exist or is this changing your life is good. Because that is a direct way to find out how important it is.
Julian: Yeah, exactly. And so, once you find that your product does actually solve the problem that your customer has, that’s what the product-market fit is and you’ve almost basically completed the step from going as they call zero to one and you can then start going from 1-N, which is scaling and growing.
Tanvir: Once you have enough data too and you’re feeling good about it, there are lots of comparable and things and then you can bring research into it. But you need to bring your own raw data from these customer experiences to be able to, benchmark it against other things.
Julian: Exactly. Yeah, bridge them. Do your own research, especially in the beginning and then the most valuable research, it usually comes from your customers, but pair that with the data itself on your research. Cool. Awesome. Tanvir, one last question for you. So, I’m curious if you were to wrap it all together in your journey as an entrepreneur, what would you say that being an entrepreneur, in both, it’s glorifying and agonizing moment? What has been an entrepreneur taught you about life?
Tanvir: Yeah, this is a really great question because it’s very near and dear to my heart. Because my entrepreneurial journey has changed a lot. And I would say before my entrepreneurial journey was fulfilled a lot by passion, which was a good thing but I would say it was not necessarily directed passion. It was just like I liked being an entrepreneur. I liked to do stuff that could change things. And it also made me a much more emotional person as well. So, for me, it’s funny to say this, but spirituality and entrepreneurship go really well together for me specifically, because the thing with spirituality is you’re living in the present day. I mean, all spirituality is living in the present and slowing your life down and taking one step at a time in a nutshell without getting too complicated about it, is taking one step at a time. And the thing with entrepreneurship is it’s such like you said, it’s a roller coaster, it’s up and down, and it can be so fulfilling and so agonizing and so stressful and then so you get so much happiness out of one thing and then you get bad news. It’s up and down. And the thing is, you always have to understand why you’re in it, to begin with, and why you’re in it, to begin with, should always go back down to the mission itself. Like that’s why you’re doing it. At the end of the day, if you can’t stand by your mission as the reason why you’re pretty much waking up in the morning and trying to change the world, then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Like if you’re an entrepreneur so you can make money or you can accomplish something one of your idols did or whatever, you’re heading down the wrong path. You really need to be focused on, I’m an entrepreneur because I’m here to serve the world, solve the problem. And if you do that, then all the stresses that come with it, all the ups and downs, they don’t hit you as hard because you’re like, hey, I chose to do this for this reason and that’s all I can control. I can’t control everything else. I can control what I’m doing this for.
Julian: When the suffering is meaningful, it’s much easier to endure the suffering.
Julian: When it comes. And the mission is what makes the suffering meaningful.
Tanvir: Yeah, exactly. That’s the key to it. It’s like there’s no reason otherwise. And there’s a different level of entrepreneurs. Obviously, if you’re a small business owner and you’re a startup, if you’re a startup, you could be really trying to make a big difference in the world. If you’re a small business owner, you might just be trying to do something locally that makes people happy. But the point is that whatever level you’re at, it still should be about, ‘I’m not just doing it for making money. I’m doing it because I’m trying to be better at something and I’m trying to make something better and it’s actually making a difference. And I’m excited about that. And that’s what makes me to.’
Julian: Beautiful answer, and I think it’s a great example of how entrepreneurship and life aren’t too far separated just because what makes life fulfilling is to work on something that is fulfilling and entrepreneurship gives you that vehicle to do that. At least that’s how I see it. So, yeah, beautiful quotes. A great note to end on. So, with that Tanvir thank you for your time. This is really awesome and I’m really excited to follow your progress with Dunyha and see where things end up going. Thanks for being on man.
Tanvir: Yeah. Happy to be on and I look forward to listening to your future podcast as well.
Julian: Cool. Appreciate it. Yeah. With that, we will leave Tanvir Socials and ways to connect with him in the show description and we’ll also have a transcript for this episode and all the show notes on our website, inventingthefuture.ai. So Tanvir, thanks again. And with that, we’ll wrap it up. Thank you all for listening and we will catch you on the next episode. Hey, guys, three quick footnotes here before closing off, so the first is, did you enjoy the topics discussed in this episode? Well, I invite you to join the slack community for this podcast where we’ll keep the conversation going by engaging in discussions related to the episodes discussed in this podcast. Here you’ll be able to engage in conversations with me and other listeners. And if you really enjoy this podcast, it is likely that you would relate well with other listeners that also enjoy the podcast. In this community, you’ll be able to meet, engage, learn from and potentially collaborate with the like-minded entrepreneurs that listen to this podcast. Let’s invent the future together. The second quick note is if you are interested in receiving updates on new episodes, I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter and in this newsletter, I’ll also share notes, insights, wisdom tools and strategies that are designed to help you become a better entrepreneur and live a healthier, fulfilling and more productive life. And finally, the last footnote is that you can follow us on social media accounts to get updates on new episodes and engage with invaluable content related to entrepreneurship. And also, we have a website now you can go to inventingthefuture.ai for detailed show notes on all the episodes. So, the links for joining the slack community, subscribing to the newsletter, the social media accounts and the website can all be found in the show notes for this episode. So with that, I would like to wish you a day, week, year and life filled with an abundance of love, energy and prosperity. Take care and stay infinite my friends.
Want to keep the conversation going?
Join the Slack Community for this podcast to engage in discussions related to the topics discussed in this episode. You’ll also be able to meet, engage, and potentially collaborate with the like-minded people that listen to this podcast. In this community, we’ll share content, advice, and anything else that will help us become better entrepreneurs and humans.
Follow us on our social platforms
Connect with Julian Alvarez
Sign up for our newsletter
Subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates on new episodes. I’ll also share notes, insights, wisdom, tools, and resources that are designed to help you become a better entrepreneur and live a healthier, fulfilling, and more productive life.