We speak to Mostafa El-Nahawy, the serial entrepreneur behind this startup promising to create homes for independent millennials.
"Introducing a new way of living," Mostafa ElNahawy, who is also the mastermind behind Konak Developments and INCA & Co., decided it's time to add young professionals and students to the Egyptian real estate's customer-base, by starting BirdNest, the Middle East's first co-living startup.
"When we first launched our website and called for applications, we didn't expect much. But we received around 300 applications in just one day; most of which requested a place in New Cairo," ElNahawy tells Startup Scene. Their first project is planned to nestle in New Cairo, and will be announced in the coming two months. However, BirdNest promises to cover Downtown, Maadi, Zamalek, and Sheikh Zayed.
ElNahawy worked in two markets: the real estate and textiles. Both are very huge and old businesses that often don’t include young minds in their decision making. “Therefore, these businesses don’t really understand what millennials are thinking towards, and that’s why they don’t speak to us – they don’t speak to our needs… and that's where we found a room for disruption,” he adds.
The tables have turned, and priorities have changed; “This generation doesn’t really think about marriage as much as it thinks about work and self-development,” he explains; young individuals have either postponed the idea of marriage or suspended it all together. With this reshuffle, this group of young rebels find a real estate industry that only caters for married couples and families. Apartments are overly spacious and therefore require budgets that outweigh millennials' purchasing power, especially with the ongoing financial crisis lingering around the world.
“If a 25-year-old employee wants to rent an apartment, she or he will have to pay a minimum of EGP 60,000 only for the furnishing and finishing – for a temporary apartment,” says ElNahawy. “There is no understanding of the culture of moving out for 6 to 12 months until something comes up. We found this gap and decided to start BirdNest.”
BirdNest is another branch of the shared economy, promoting the concept of co-living; a postmodern concept of living with people who aren't related to you however share same set of values, intentions, and interests. In reality, that translates to renting a room with private amenities such as bathroom and fridge while sharing the kitchen, living area, and reception. “It’s a concept that has been emerging in many cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Singapore, and London in the last four years. It’s growing and what succeeded in London most probably will succeed in Cairo and the Middle East in a larger scale.”
London’s Collective, California’s OpenDoor, and Singapore’s Hmlt have all been making waves with their dorm-like house packages, capitalising on the “co-living,” “commune,” or “hacker house” lifesyle as an extension to the startup culture, bringing in thousands then millions of emerging entrepreneurs to join the trend. New York’s WeLive that is a subsidiary to the co-working tycoon WeWork is living proof for that.
“This entire generation is sharing their life on social media, we might as well share where we live this life instead of living alone,” ElNahawy says. With this demand, will BirdNest be able to help mold the culture of moving out, and will it survive the potential conservative backlash?
Want to find out more about BirdNest? Visit their website.
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