We had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Jamie Pujara, CEO and co-founder of Buyrentkenya Limited. Buyrentkenya is a trusted force to reckon in the real estate industry in Kenya. The company’s main focus is creating the largest community of buyers, sellers, renters, brokers and developers in Kenya while assisting Kenyans find prime property to buy or rent.
Jamie had just moved back to Kenya and was looking for a house, an exercise that proved daunting and frustrating because he had to physically house-hunt. In his frustration, a business idea hit him and at that moment he decided to make it easier for future house-hunters. He later met up with his would-be cofounder and they created an amazing online platform that provides property owners an opportunity to list their properties for sale or lease, and the general public to view these listings for buying or renting.
Online listing has since had a vast breakthrough in the real estate industry and Jamie is glad he took the risk and ventured into this approach of connecting buyers, sellers and those in need of leasing opportunities.
Is your career dream in the Real Estate Industry? Do you dream of becoming an entrepreneur one day? Jamie has these nuggets of wisdom to share;
Brighter Monday: What are the challenges you faced setting up as an entrepreneur?
Jamie: Organizational culture is of paramount importance to me. I wanted from the start to build an organizational culture where everyone from the management, to the support staff understands and lives the organization’s values. Our core at buyrentkenya is making property search easier. It’s fundamental that as a workforce all our beliefs and attitudes are aligned towards this goal.
Of course, there was the challenge of creating an ‘internet market place’ with somewhat new technology and trying to get both potential partners and clients on board with the idea. The concept was new and so we spent many hours convincing clients and consumers about why it would work.
Brighter Monday: What have these challenges taught you?
Jamie: I have learnt the importance of a company’s mission and vision translating into a lifestyle and a passion. I always focus back as to ‘why’ we do what we do and try to look at the bigger picture.
Brighter Monday: How do you define success?
Jamie: That is a tricky one to answer, because success for me keeps changing as reflected by my aspirations. When I reach a milestone, I think about it, relish it, then put it aside and see what’s next ahead. I think that is what makes things achievable; setting attainable goals and then moving on to the next one. A long journey where every small step matters.
Brighter Monday: Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Jamie: Another tough question. Because I look up to different people for different things. However, in entrepreneurship, it definitely would be Jack Ma, he is the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, a family of successful Internet-based businesses. I think his journey and story is incredible.
Brighter Monday: What is your greatest fear and how do you manage it?
Jamie: My greatest fear is failure. At the same time, I understand that failure is a contributor in growth and success. Failure is key for learning and learning translates to growth. Do not be afraid to fail, but make sure from every failure you draw a lesson.
Brighter Monday: What advice would you give entrepreneurs with the desire to venture into the real estate industry?
Jamie: I would advise them to be bold and try out their novel ideas in the field. The real estate industry in Kenya is on the precipice of transformation and opportunities with the dynamic technologies and innovation. Identify the problems and the pain points – these are the opportunities. Create solutions for these problems and convert the situations into entrepreneurial gateways. Don’t focus on copying what is already existing as someone is already doing it and you might end up frustrated. Seek to discover ways of making people’s lives easier and alleviating their pains. That’s what entrepreneurship is all about.
Brighter Monday: Has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Jamie: For me it’s the other way round – How family has affected my business life. I’m a father to two young boys, 3 and 1, I try really hard to be there for them as much as I can be. Before I’d work all the time weekends, late nights, early mornings and now I prioritize my family. It’s important for me to be home every night to put them to bed, to drop them to school and to spend as much time with them as possible. It is important, regardless of what stage of life you are on, to prioritize the important spheres of your life. Striking a balance between personal and business life is something every entrepreneur should strive at. It is not easy, but it is more fulfilling.
Brighter Monday: What three pieces of advice would you give to college students and youth who want to become entrepreneurs?
- 1. If you don’t go after what you want you’ll never have it.
- If you don’t ask the answer will always be no.
- If you don’t step forward you will always be in the same place
Brighter Monday: If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Jamie: I would have liked to have become serious about business earlier. I spent my twenties being more interested in travelling, chasing girls and having a good time. I often look back and feel I passed on many opportunities that I should have taken and tried to be successful as soon as possible
Brighter Monday: If you were to meet your young self today, what would you tell him?
Jamie: “Don’t climb mountains so the world can see you. Climb mountains so you can see the world”