Homegrown UAE startup Silkhaus is betting big on technology and the surging demand for short-term rentals (STR) to disrupt and transform the region’s real estate sector. The disruptive proptech startup has secured $7.75 million in seed funding, backed by top global venture capitalists and entrepreneurs – one of the largest seed rounds in the history of the MENA region.
Aahan Bhojani, Founder and CEO of Silkhaus, said: “We are witnessing a significant increase in alternative accommodation and short-term rentals. However, the management of short-term rentals is highly fragmented and largely offline. Property owners lack the technology and know-how to deliver a world-class and standardised experience. We are building the operating system for property owners - large or small - to operate high-quality short-term rentals and deliver memorable guest experiences. With the backing of our global investors, we are excited to build Silkhaus into a global category leader.”
Demand for high-quality STRs has far outstripped supply as more professionals relocate to the UAE, on the back of progressive regulations and visa reforms that are attracting top global talent and companies to its shores. The rising trend of ‘global nomads’, professionals who are able to work from anywhere and require transparent, yet flexible, tenancy contracts has also fuelled demand.
Founded in 2021 by Aahan Bhojani and Ashmin Varma, Silkhaus has grown over 10x over the past 12 months, operating in stealth mode. A graduate of Harvard Business School and Yale College, Aahan previously worked across management consulting, investment banking, and product management, in roles that required extensive travel. Taking note of changing leisure and business travel preferences, Aahan founded Silkhaus to reimagine accommodation experiences for medium and long-stay travel across high-growth emerging markets.
Silkhaus has identified a $13 billion TAM across MENA, South Asia and Southeast Asia to unlock opportunities for asset owners. For property investors, STRs offer flexibility in maximising returns on their investments in a red-hot market, without being locked into long-term tenancy contracts. While demand for STRs has been aggregated by online platforms, the supply of STRs still remains hyper-fragmented and largely offline in nature.
Bringing trust, consistency and transparency to the UAE’s real estate sector, Silkhaus provides a technology-powered best-in-class platform for anyone to operate high-quality short-term rentals – be it individual apartment owners, institutional investors, or established operators. As part of its mission to make short-term rentals more accessible to diverse audiences, Silkhaus optimises revenue and streamlines operations for property owners, allowing them to list multiple or single units on the platform with an average revenue yield increase between 20 - 40%. Guests can easily access high-quality, well-maintained properties, elevating their experience, whether they are travelling for business or leisure.
Silkhaus’ investors include leading global venture capital funds, technology funds, real estate funds, and the strongest entrepreneurs across the emerging markets. Global and regional investors joining this round include Nuwa Capital, Nordstar, Global Founders Capital, Yuj Ventures, Whiteboard Capital, and VentureSouq. International family offices, business leaders, and several global proptech entrepreneurs have also joined this round.
Nitin Reen, Partner at Nuwa Capital said: “Our investment in Silkhaus, alongside global technology and strategic investors, reflects our belief in the future of accommodation solutions and Silkhaus’ ability to operationalise and scale the affinity that customers will expect of the Silkhaus brand. Aahan and Ashmin have differentiated themselves in the right ways with an early emphasis on solid unit economics, market leading NPS, and a value add for all of their stakeholders, including guests and property owners.”
Ole Ruch, Managing Partner at Nordstar said: "We are excited to see Silkhaus emerge as the leading platform for short-term rentals across Asia, and particularly excited to partner with Aahan and his team who in short time have proven their ability to disrupt two large and fragmented industries: real estate and hospitality. In Silkhaus we found a product that is loved and recognized by property owners, travellers and enterprises alike, and are tapping into the rapid growth of short-term rentals in emerging markets.”
Silkhaus lists high-grade accommodation options, located in proximity to central business districts and leisure destinations. Multinational enterprises also choose Silkhaus for qualified long-stays for their employees. Connecting supply and demand seamlessly, Silkhaus has focused on assembling the best talent from the global start-up ecosystem, attracting leaders from Microsoft, Airbnb, Deliveroo, Careem, Talabat and other global tech-enabled businesses. Home to employees from 12 nationalities, women comprise nearly 40% of the Silkhaus team. As it focuses on growing global supply on its platform to keep up with demand, Silkhaus anticipates its market opportunity to grow from $13 billion (current) to $18 billion by 2026, across MENA, South Asia and Southeast Asia.