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Tell us briefly about ilOsool’s journey so far.
ilOsool is a start-up based in the UAE focused on the MENA region, enabling the smooth and transparent buying and selling of illiquid assets virtually. In June last year, we announced the beta launch of our web portal www.ilosool.com. When I founded the company, the idea was to create a marketplace for illiquid investments, i.e. assets that are not easily saleable in market. We identified three such asset classes which are private equity, real estate and venture capital. People who own these assets find it difficult to transact in them. The idea of ilOsool originated from this very need and our purpose is to serve this need.
I come from an investment background with a total of 11 years of work experience in investment banks and other institutions. When I founded ilOsool out of my own funding, I didn’t have the idea that it would become so successful. In just 6 months we proved the idea to create a trading platform for illiquid assets was right. We have a good number of users now and we’re clocking a growth rate of 100% monthly in terms of number of users. We have listed around 60 deals on the platform in six months.
How does the platform work?
Suppose you own a company and you plan to sell it off. Then you need to come to Ilosool, create a user ID and list your criteria. If visitors are interested in you, they’ll contact you. However, ilOsool doesn’t allow transactions online. The platform is only introductory and any deal or transaction happens to be offline.
For instance, ilOsool focuses on real estate that has commercial value and we’re targeting bulk commercial real estate with potential yield. There are many websites in the UAE and the region focusing on retail investment in real estate, but the idea behind ilOsool was to create a website for investors/buyers looking for commercial investment.
Why did you choose only three categories – venture capital, private equity and real estate?
These three are the most important illiquid assets. If someone wants to sell a private company that’s not listed, it’s very difficult to find buyers for it, unless you have close relatives or friends interested in it. But generally speaking, most owners find it difficult to find investors for their company.
Such sellers can list it on ilOsool. So far, such kind of deals have been happening offline through brokers, friends, websites, newspapers etc. But none of them professionally focused on these asset classes, as there was a lack of transparency in the market. We tried to fill this gap by creating a professional market and providing more choice. The platform gives an opportunity for investors to take a stake or equity in a company, by providing a platform where they can compare companies and the kind of deals they want in an easy-to-use format. If a start-up company is looking for funding, it can come to ilOsool and seek VC funding. So for funding as well as for selling, a company can go to ilOsool.
How much is the average deal size?
Out of the 60 deals we have listed, the deal size are different, their size ranging from $10 million to $30 million.
Do you see any competition?
We’re a pioneer in this and so far we don’t have any competitor. Later on might be.
Since we just play the role of an introductory platform, the owners and investors have to do the due diligence, not us. We believe this online channel is going to provide a better avenue for companies in the region to come together. We’ve tried to create a community where investors can meet virtually and exchange ideas.
Since we have just started, we’ve a lot of plans that would come later on. Our hope is very high from this idea. We need to educate the market first about the concept and how it can help both deal-seekers and the deal-listers.
Do you charge fee for listing?
Not now, but later on we might go for membership fee, or something like that. But we won’t be charging any fee on the actual transaction, as we are just an introductory platform and we’re not responsible for the transaction or the deals. We are only responsible for the listing and the membership. Also, we don’t give any advisory roles through this website.