‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ is a commonly used proverbial phrase to encourage optimism and a positive can-do attitude in the face of adversity or misfortune. For long-time UAE resident Shilpa Mahtani, age 39, the above proverb was the first lesson she learnt when she started her entrepreneurial journey.
A bitter-turned-sweet experience with an ex-tenant, who initially refused to vacate Shilpa’s apartment despite not paying rent, gave her a profitable business idea.
“A former long-term tenant had kept seeking extensions on her existing contract, saying her Emirates ID was expiring. She kept delaying payments in spite of me and my husband following up with the renter. In May, the occupant left without informing, and on checking the apartment, it was found to be in a terrible state,” Shilpa explained.
“But on realising that it was right in the middle of the summer season and that it was going to be difficult to find a tenant, it was decided to manage the home by listing it on short-term holiday home rental platforms.” This turned out to be a great money-making move, and this is what prompted Shilpa to start a holiday home management company ‘bnbme’ in 2018, along with her husband Vinayak Mahtani.
“The tenant experience led us to put the same upon the Airbnb platform (an online marketplace for lodgings and homestays) and market it for the short term. The instant success of the same then led us to manage friend’s units, thereby paving the way for us to start our holiday home management company.”
She aims to have a niche of luxury properties in her portfolio and create memorable experiences for guests staying in-house. However, before Shilpa ventured into the business world, her upbringing played a big role in how she managed money, and eventually saving enough funds for a start-up.
An entrepreneur’s growing years
Shilpa recalls a time when she received approximately Dh10 each week during her schooling days from her parents to spend it on whatever she desired. During this time, she realised how saving money helped fulfil her wants. She recalls saving the money for a full year, where 50 per cent of her monthly pocket money went towards her drama class fees.
“My mother had stopped my drama classes to enrol me for tennis that she considered was more worthwhile. However, I thoroughly enjoyed drama lessons, so I saved pocket money to pay for those drama classes. My decision eventually landed me in a lead role for a theatre performance, which was also covered in the papers,” said Shilpa, who has lived in Dubai for over a decade.
Following the same concept of pocket money, Shilpa, now a mother of two children …….