Taking hostel booking to the next level is MiahUg, an online marketplace for student accommodation, helping students find and book hostel rooms instantly. With a vision set out to succeed in prop tech, MiahUg works towards easing the process of finding accommodation.
Prop tech or property technology is an area in the startup ecosystem that few are aware of or have ventured into in Africa and the world in general. It is an innovative approach to real estate in which technology optimizes the way people research, rent, buy, sell, and manage a property. Emma Akandwanaho, co-founder of MiahUg shares with us what drives his passion for this particular area in technology and how he has managed to thrive.
Akandwanaho Emmanuel discusses MiahUg and prop tech in Uganda
What motivated you to venture into prop tech?
Motivation!! I don’t believe at that time it was motivation. I was trying to figure out my life back but then in my second year (2018). I was finding my ikigai (a purpose in life) and MiahUg was a result, a means to an end. I also realized there was a similar challenge I faced when I was coming to campus is that at the start you do not know many hostels around unless you have a relative at campus who knows the hostels so you find that you are limited.
So I wondered how do I get to know all the hostels in the shortest time and get to pick the best choice based on my budget. I think this is how the idea came about. So I don’t think there was motivation, it was all about creating value for people.
What makes MiahUg unique from other perhaps hostel booking platforms?
MiahUg is unique right from the way it operates. Our value proposition is based on providing a no-hassle experience to our users. We want to provide a platform that enables students and hostel owners access student accommodation conveniently. Students can request to book online and custodians are still in full control and management of their hostel as far as room allocation is concerned.
How has the pandemic affected you, did it cause challenges or opportunities?
Positive or negative effect, there has been a paradigm shift in our intended business model. With the pandemic, some hostels have realized the need for our service. Going forward, we have also realized the need for purpose-built student accommodation that focuses on student well-being, sustainability and student lifestyle.
What does the future look like for you 5 years from now?
This is a very interesting question. To be very certain, I have been battling this question since the beginning of 2021. With the effect of pandemic, student accommodation is among the affected sectors of real estate. 5 years from now, MiahUg will be well established in providing consultancy and advisory concerning the property markets particularly the student accommodation sector.
What do you think is the future for prop-tech startups seeing that this is not something many people venture into?
That’s very true. A few of the people aren’t aware of it. First of all, Proptech stands for Property Technology. Most of the startups in Uganda and Africa at large originate from fintech (finance Technology) which have still gained the highest funding from VCs. However, Proptech has experienced exponential growth rallying over $12Trillion in investment globally.
According to a report by a French Venture capital firm Partech Africa, 146 African startups raised $1.16B in equity funding.
The Real estate market contributes 62% of Uganda’s GDP. According to the Proptech Report on East Africa, prop-tech is driven by research and tech-driven innovations relating to buildings and the real estate industry at large. You can breakdown prop-tech into innovations such as; Big data, AI, shared economy, VR & AR and the use of cloud services which people are already adopting.
Prop-tech is something that people are already adopting but not on a large scale. We know that the prop-tech market is still young so as people try to invest in the property market, it will grow in addition with people coming up with creative ways to solve challenges. That’s enough justification for a bright future of Proptech Uganda.
Do you have plans to expand further, offering services beyond hostel accommodation?
As I have already stated, the sky is the limit and the forces of demand are the direction. The answer isn’t a very clear one but we are guided by our set vision.
Do you plan to collaborate with other startups in the same field or any other field?
Something common about young people starting ventures today is they could feel attached to what they are doing and maybe don’t want to look out for other people to create partnerships. And there is no need for this since everything now relies on collaboration not competition. This is one of my strongest pillars, if I find that I can merge with you and make something better then I’m willing to do that. I’ve been trying to find people who are in line with what we want to do and they can be resourceful in a certain way, I’m looking to partner with those.