What it takes to achieve entrepreneurial success

Javed Khattak is a successful serial entrepreneur, an established C-suite executive and an award-winning CFO. However, the young entrepreneur’s path to success hasn’t always been easy. Javed reveals exclusively to Global Banking and Finance Review how he is leading the property market with flexible investments and profitable outcomes.

Property markets are slow to evolve, opaque and inefficient. While some countries like the UK are better than others, there is still significant scope to innovate and improve. Zisk Properties was founded in 2016 by two brothers, Javed and Zafer, with the aim to help solve the challenges that exist in buying and investing in the property market.

Javed, who has a strong corporate background leading multi-billion dollar projects, identified several areas that needed consideration when investing in the property market. These challenges included making transactions more efficient, faster, increasing security, reducing the number of parties involved in a transaction, and most importantly, reducing costs.

In addition, there are a considerable number of challenges associated with purchasing an investment property including requiring large capital, access to good property deals through a strong network within the property market and successfully managing all stakeholders involved (such as sellers, estate agents, lawyers and surveyors). Property investment is currently a complicated and daunting process that is extremely time-consuming. A property transaction can easily take up to 6 months or even longer. Furthermore, managing a property effectively not only requires time but also relevant skills and experience.

Zisk Properties was founded precisely to tackle these challenges, with the aim to innovate while helping everyone (who qualifies) to invest in properties with ease and convenience. The use of latest technologies and data analytics combined with the crowdfunding business concept and an FCA registered fund structure are the key elements that Zisk Properties utilises to enable it to become a leader in the property market and pave a way for a better future.

Javed left his corporate career unsure of the rocky road that lay ahead. A mere 3 years later, Javed has created a new company, completed an extremely successful pilot which helped families in Pakistan to get on the property ladder and just recently launched in the UK, ready to revolutionise the property investment industry. Javed was invited to be part of on an internal panel by Dutch multinational banking and financial services corporation with total assets of US$1 trillion, ING, to discuss and explore the future of PropTech.

Within a year of entering the startup space, Javed was named CFO of the Year by Wealth and Finance Magazine, securing his rightful place in the PropTech industry. Javed states:

“Reinventing myself as an entrepreneur in the tech industry has been a steep but great learning curve. My deep technical knowledge in the field has allowed me to create a business that not only gives the property investment sector a much needed overhaul, but also allows ordinary people, like you and me, to invest in property. Something that has previously been challenging, to say the least.”

Coming into the entrepreneurial world was initially extremely challenging and Javed found himself learning some very expensive lessons. One of the most important lessons was that one’s team is not only one of the most important contributors to a successful business but also one of the most difficult assets to develop. Everyone knows the former but under-appreciates the challenge of the latter, noting the impact of both are significantly more for startups and new companies.

When launching Zisk Properties, it was difficult to find and recruit the right people, having the required mindset, skills and experience. As a startup, limited resources and restricted budgets make this process that much harder. However, perseverance is key. It is important to be open to new taking chances, going with one’s gut and, having the patience to train employees who show the qualities and passion that resonate with you and your business. Equally, it is crucial to protect your business and therefore have the strength and responsiveness to let go of employees who don’t match your company’s culture or needs.

Launching a business is like getting on a roller coaster; there are a variety of highs and lows. Coming from a corporate background, it is important to understand that there are key differences between large organisations and startups, including the availability of and ability to attract quality resources, readily available access to expertise, brand awareness and credibility, technology and systems, governance structures and processes, big budgets and the list goes on. As an entrepreneur, you must learn to walk before you run – with most of the aforementioned items needed to be built from scratch.

Even if you have the financial support to “go big”, it’s not a good idea. Another costly lesson for Javed. Now, Javed’s approach is much more experiment based. Have a view, vision or opinion; create a hypothesis around it and define an experiment to test it with clear KPIs and metrics; undertake them in a very systematic manner understanding your constraints and going with high value potentials and/or low hanging fruit first (doing the usual cost-benefit analysis overlaid with a risk matrix). The final step – this data-driven approach is only as good as the time taken to analyse and interpret the results.

Your clients are absolutely crucial to your business – this can’t be emphasised enough. It is important to talk to your clients and potential clients as part of the experimentation. It is also worth bearing in mind that most likely, your clients won’t know their needs and wants accurately themselves, let alone being able to differentiate between them. So Javed prefers quantitative approaches more than qualitative – not undermining the value of qualitative ones of course. So, it is worthwhile building these processes into your experiments. Only once you have completed these initial steps and verified what your customers need or want, then should one start to scale up whilst still focusing on refining and iterating as is necessary using similar experimentation. Building goodwill with your initial clients and having them on your side goes a long way for a young company. Always aim to help them when the opportunity presents itself and ensure you are consistently providing and creating value for them. We all know “word of mouth is indeed very powerful!”

This is just the beginning of Javed’s success story. Today, he is also supporting various other ventures including creating his own software house to support Zisk Properties and even other technology oriented projects. Through all of his ventures, he wants to continue his father’s legacy of giving back to society, which is very important to him. With Javed’s areas of interest and expertise in combination with his vision and passion to truly make a difference, there is no doubt that much greater things lie ahead.

Javed Khattak
Javed Khattak

Javed Khattak is a qualified actuary (FIA), an LSE graduate, is currently on various boards and regularly advises companies on risk management, strategy, finance, technology (incl FinTech and PropTech), real estate, blockchain/DLT, AI and innovation. His clients range from startups to organisations with a market cap of over £60bn, and include respectable household global brands including HSBC, Thomson Reuters, GSK, M&S, Aviva, PwC and PA Consulting Group, to name a few. Javed is the co-founder of Zisk Properties, which uses the latest technologies and data analytics, combined with a crowdfunding business concept and an FCA registered fund structure to lead the property market.