Meet Odunmolorun Osineye, the Co-Founder and CEO of Hiyalo, a platform transforming the Nigerian house-hunting experience. Hiyalo's innovative approach and flexible payment options make house hunting scam-free and hassle-free for tenants, landlords, and agents. Through resilience and adaptability, Hiyalo overcame challenges to envision a bright future and is aiming to become the backbone infrastructure of the real estate industry, empowering homeownership across Africa.
Odunmolorun Osineye or Odun, the Co-Founder and CEO of Hiyalo, had always been drawn to entrepreneurship and technology. With a background in law and a passion for starting businesses, he immersed himself in the tech world after university. He worked as the growth manager at a fintech company, My Stash, where automated savings for professionals and businesses were the core offerings. Before his entry to My Stash, Odun worked at Gradely Technologies, an ed-tech company that digitized homework for schools and identified learning gaps among students.
I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit from the start. I started a couple of businesses while on campus, and my passion for entrepreneurship was always there.
The turning point for Odun came on a Sunday afternoon while he was still working at My Stash. While engaging in research to identify potential industries for business expansion, he stumbled upon a video by the managing director of a mortgage bank. The video shed light on the possibility of young Nigerians accessing mortgages with a certain amount of money. The idea was intriguing to Odun, but the cumbersome and complex process of obtaining a mortgage was a discouragement.
While brainstorming in a bid to simplify this process, Odun had his first lightbulb moment – what if there was a solution that could help young Nigerians easily access mortgages?
That singular idea marked the inception of Hiyalo.
However, as Odun delved into the world of the real estate industry, he realized its vastness and complexity. He observed numerous problems affecting different aspects of the industry. And so he resolved to find the simplest, fastest, and most accessible entry point to tackle these challenges. Rent. Rent was the common thread that everyone, from the average person on the street to seasoned investors, could relate to.
When you meet someone on the street and ask them about mortgages, not everyone in Nigeria might be familiar with the concept. However, if you ask the average person about rent, almost everyone has a clear understanding of what it is.
Odun shifted his focus to the potential impact Hiyalo could make in addressing the problems associated with renting. So, rent became the driving force behind Hiyalo's inception, and from that pivotal moment forward, Hiyalo began to take shape. The platform aimed to make house hunting easy, scam-free, and inclusive, with flexible payment options that would ensure no one was left out.
With a deep understanding of the complex real estate landscape and a commitment to simplifying the process, Hiyalo is a beacon of hope for countless Nigerians seeking trustworthy and accessible housing solutions.
Hiyalo's commitment to differentiation lies in its innovative approach to house hunting, which sets it apart from other platforms in the market. While other platforms may offer only rent finance services, Hiyalo has gone further by completely transforming how users search for apartments.
On traditional online marketplaces, users browse through property listings, contact agents, and then visit the properties. However, Odun and his team realized that this process often led to disappointments and wasted time. Many times, the listed properties were already taken or didn't meet the user's expectations.
To address this, Hiyalo introduced a WhatsApp bot to streamline the house hunting process. Instead of users reaching out to agents, they simply fill out a form on Hiyalo's website, specifying their preferences, budget, and desired location. The moment they submit the form, all agents in the chosen location receive instant notifications on WhatsApp, with the user's contact information. This approach shifts the dynamics of the house hunting process. Instead of contacting agents individually, users now receive inquiries from agents offering properties within the user’s budget and location. This innovative strategy not only saves time but also provides users with multiple options to choose from.
Initially, this influx of agent inquiries was overwhelming, this prompted Hiyalo to add a unique feature. Users can opt for Hiyalo to handle the communication on their behalf, streamlining the process and presenting them with curated property options. With this convenience, house hunters have more options available to them in a shorter timeframe.
Our goal with Hiyalo is to save the amount of time and money people spend trying to get an apartment. Agents now reach out to you instead of you reaching out to agents.
Hiyalo's offerings extend beyond revolutionizing the house hunting experience. The platform also recognises the financial challenges users face during the rental process. To address this, Hiyalo introduced "Rent Finance," an option that allows them to pay users rent upfront and have the users repay it on a monthly basis. With this feature, Hiyalo not only helps users secure their dream homes quickly but also provides landlords with financial certainty.
Naturally, some users may have reservations about using an online platform for house hunting. To address these concerns, Hiyalo has prioritized building trust through transparent communication. Their active presence on various social media platforms, accessibility through direct phone calls and emails, and a personal touch in dealing with users create a strong sense of reliability and care. Hiyalo's commitment to building communities among agents fosters a sense of professionalism and trustworthiness within the industry. Agents are carefully vetted, and regular training sessions are held to maintain high service standards.
To ensure trust in our agent community, we have implemented a system of verification for agents. We have personally called every single one of them and maintain constant communication through group chats.
With a relentless pursuit of innovation and a customer-centric approach, Hiyalo is reshaping the future of house hunting in Nigeria, providing a reliable and efficient solution for all stakeholders involved.
Embracing Challenges and Envisioning a Bright Future
Throughout its journey, Hiyalo has encountered and overcome significant challenges. One such challenge was the initial struggle to onboard landlords. Hiyalo originally aimed to help landlords collect monthly rent, but after a while they realized that most landlords preferred collecting the entire year's rent upfront. Flexibility and adaptability became crucial, and Hiyalo pivoted its approach to accommodate the market's demands.
Raising money and engaging investors has been quite challenging. Some investors dismiss us with phrases like 'good idea, but not sure.' However, we are gradually scaling through these challenges.
As Hiyalo continued to expand, it also faced the common challenges of attracting investors and raising capital. However, Odun recognises that challenges are an integral part of the entrepreneurial journey. He emphasizes the importance of not glorifying challenges but rather embracing them as opportunities for growth and improvement.
Facing challenges in this entrepreneurial journey has made me better and encouraged me to think through my decisions. It's all part of the process, and I hope you can find meaning in this experience too.
Looking to the future, Odun envisions Hiyalo as the backbone infrastructure of the real estate industry in Nigeria. Similar to Google's influence on app development or Apple's App Store's impact on various services, Hiyalo aims to empower other companies by providing a robust data collection system. With a focus on community and property management, Hiyalo seeks to enable landlords and property developers to manage multiple properties efficiently, fostering growth and efficiency within the industry.
Hiyalo's vision extends to building a mortgage bank dedicated to financing property developments. By partnering with real estate developers, Hiyalo aspires to enable young Nigerians to own their homes, increasing the percentage of homeowners in the country and potentially expanding their impact across Africa.
Our vision for the rent finance product is for it to evolve into a mortgage bank that specifically finances property developments. By partnering with real estate developers, our goal is to enable more young Nigerians to realize their dream of homeownership. The current percentage of Nigerians owning their homes is quite low, we aspire to make a significant improvement not just in Nigeria but across Africa.
- Odunmolorun Osineye, the Co-Founder/CEO of Hiyalo
The future of Hiyalo is indeed bright, driven by its visionary Co-Founder/CEO, a dedicated team, and an unwavering determination to transform the real estate landscape in Nigeria and beyond. As they continue to push boundaries and evolve, Hiyalo stands ready to shape the future of house hunting, property management, and homeownership, all with a focus on building trust and delivering exceptional customer experiences.
Find out more on Hiyalo here.
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