Emmanuel Okpong

My name is Emmanuel Okpong, a young man who just graduated from the Department of Computer Engineering at, the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. I am passionate about bridging technology, and I am skilled in Android development and Technical Project Management.

When the rent I paid for the apartment I rented in my first year at the University almost expired, I began scouting for a single-room apartment to rent. Since I was relatively new in Uyo, I wanted to rent a house that was safe for me. I spent the first week searching for a single room close to my campus at Nwanniba. I missed classes especially CHM 221, and at the end of the second week, I met one man who told me he could help me get any house of my choice and told me his fee, (both his 10% and inspection fee).

It was a relief but the problem was where I would get money for the inspection fee. I could not tell my parents about it because they would see me as a lazy person and ask why I was employing someone to look for a house for me. So I resorted to inconveniencing myself by using the money for my upkeep to pay the man.

The man took me to three houses, two were very far from my school and only one (at Asuquo Ibanga Street Use-effort) was close to my campus – Main Campus. I wasn’t very comfortable with the faces I saw around the house, and the man told me to pay him another money to take me to another house since I had rejected the three houses he showed me. I didn’t have any other money to give him so I accepted the house, made the necessary payment, and packed in.

I did not know the building was in a ghetto, the air that entered my room was always contaminated with smoke from cigarettes and other harmful substances, and the compound was a meeting point for all the “bad guys’ in the area. They would gather around 11 p.m. to talk, shout, smoke, play music, and dance till around 4 a.m. Sometimes minor fights would break out and dismiss the meeting. One thing that stood out was that my property was safe despite the ruggedness of the environment. My Landlord would always assure us that nothing would happen to us, and true to his words nothing happened even if there were robbery cases in the neighbourhood.

After living there for six months I heard a rumour that my landlord and his siblings were planning to sell the property, so I asked him but he denied the rumor. Weeks later, it became a reality that they were selling the property and my rent was still remaining for 6 months. They promised us that the new landlord would either refund the money or allow us to exhaust our rent. Sadly, that did not happen. After he fulfilled the terms and conditions for the purchase of the property, two weeks later, he gave us notice, and asked us to meet our former landlord to get our money and we thought it was a joke.

I still remember that faithful morning, when I was in school, my phone rang and my neighbour told me to come home that the roof of the building I rented had been removed and the house would be demolished in 3 days.  I asked myself what I should do, a naïve young boy like me who just relocated to the city for the first time for studies.

Truly the roof was removed, my landlord was nowhere to be found, no money to rent a new house; our food, credentials, and clothes were at risk if rain fell. The experience was devastating. We went to meet the then Paramount ruler of Uyo, Edidem Sylvanus Effiong Okon, for his intervention. The man made his sincere efforts, but none of the tenants got the remaining part of the house rent. I got my business idea after going through this terrible experience.

The unforeseen circumstance inspired me to start thinking of a solution from the perspective of a software engineering student. The story above is basically similar to what the majority of people face at one point or the other, it captures the problem associated with house hunting in Akwa Ibom State which is time wastage, stress of going around looking for a house, arbitrary charges by agents, fraud, etc.

I kept on asking myself, “Can we have a system where house seekers don’t need to pay agency or inspection fees? No stress of roaming the streets seeking for house? Have access to highly credible houses free from fraud, a system where they can comfortably access houses from the comfort of their homes with their phone just as if they want to buy from Jumia?”

This was what led to the idea of RentEase. RentEase is a software solution to solve the problem of house-hunting. It is a software that helps house seekers to easily find a house, and meet with house owners within Uyo. The software seeks to link house owners to house seekers thereby making it easy to find accommodation in Akwa Ibom.

The software will be accessible via its websites, and mobile App for both Android and IOS users. It will have at least one thousand properties listed per time. It will make it easy for individuals, Real Estate Companies, and house agents to have an account on the site, and list their properties with details such as pictures, videos, addresses, and contact details. House seekers can easily visit the site, search for houses of their choice, and contact the owners. Also, there will be an option for payment to be made online while our staff and team of layers and realtors will verify and process it.

As a team, Tech Affairs Nigeria was officially registered with the Cooperate Affairs Commission in December 2020, we began rendering paid and free digital services towards bridging the technology gap. We have trained people on ICT skills, built software for organizations, and embarked on technological development initiatives. Currently, we are building a product that will solve the problem of house hunting in Nigeria beginning from Akwa Ibom State.

We need financial support to enable us to solve the house hunting problem and make the process of getting houses easier in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal SDGs-11 which is targeted at providing access to quality and affordable houses by 2030. The market outlook is worth investing and the current market size for the Property Technology Sector (PropTech) in Nigeria is $11.7bn and is expected to rise to $23.7bn in 2027.

Globally, the PropTech industry is expected to grow by an average of 5.2% to exceed $85tn over the next 20 years (2022-2050). Akwa Ibom is made up of over 7.2 million people, but out of this number, only about 2.5 million can afford to live in their personal houses, and the remaining are living in rented apartments, this is a huge market for this product. Call us today to get clarification on the area of your concern, we will use the opportunity to show you our calculated Return on Investment.

The mobile Application will generate money through 5 major models which are:

In-App Advertising

This will involve running ads; this may include fixed Price, CPA (Cost Per Action), Cost Per mile (CPM), CPC (Cost Per Click), CPL (Cost Per Lead), or Cost Per Order (CPO). The average cost per click in Google Ads is between $2 and $4 on the Search Network. The average cost per click on the Display Network is under $1. Revenue generated will depend on the traffic of users and number of downloads.

Payment of Verified Listed Property

Trust plays a very important role in any business, therefore to help house owners build this trust, they will be required to pay a given amount to get their property /themselves verified and after the verification process, the property/owner will have a batch with the inscription “Verified”. This will let house seekers know that the property has less risk. The revenue will depend on the number of verified listed properties.

Payment to Optimize Property to Appear on the Landing Page

Properties will be in tens of thousands as the software grows. Research shows that most internet users don’t go beyond the first page of their search results, therefore owners will pay to get their property to appear on the landing page.

Payment to Process Accommodation

Some busy house seekers can engage us in processing the accommodation, doing necessary follow-up, verification and payment, etc. This will involve the seekers making payments online.

Affiliate Marketing

Real estate is a lucrative industry. As the business grows, apart from linking house seekers to house owners, we also plan to make money doing affiliate marketing with houses and advertising on our platform with links to earn us a commission once it is sold.

The startup capital was about eight hundred thousand naira (N800,000) which is basically the equivalent cost of building and developing the software. The major success recorded so far is the development of the minimum viable product of the software. Moreover, the low points of the business are rejections by investors to fund the idea, and the failure to win other pitch competitions.

I have never thought of giving up because for me, giving up is not in my equation. My business is duly registered with the Cooperate Affairs Commission and the registration number is BN:3276700. I don’t work alone, I have a team of 10 young innovators comprising developers, digital marketers, and designers.

Policymakers and investors can assist me with funds to execute the project. This is a link to the mockup of the product. https://www.figma.com/proto/2AAMngdRTmra74EcTJMIuQ/RentEase?type=design&node-id=235-990&scaling=scale-down&page-id=0%3A1

Contact: 09026406860

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