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Gian Paolo Aliatis Journey

Updated on July 27, 2020
Gian Paolo Aliatis profile image

Gian is the managing director of BRKV, a private investment group that focuses its investment in real estate especially on flat shares.

MY JOURNEY STARTS HERE

After 15 years experience in multiple business ventures across different countries, My current main target of investment is real estate with primary focus on flat shares, which has proven quite profitable, generating over 7 figures annual profit.

Gian Paolo Aliatis Flat Shares Journey

"I started young when it came to entrepreneurship. I want to tell you my story so you can understand how I ended up in the shared accommodation industry and how this industry changed my life." - Gian Paolo Aliatis

Beginning, Present, and Future of My Flat-Shares Journey

I started young when it came to entrepreneurship. I want to tell you my story so you can understand how I ended up in the shared accommodation industry and how this industry changed my life.

Even from a young age I have always found that I can make things go my way. Most of my business ventures before my 20’s were lifestyle based and they involved catching the attention of people in a space that didn’t belong to me. My friends had my back as I had theirs. Those were the good times. “We roll where we control and we control how we roll”, that was the only rule we followed.

By the time I was finishing university, I couldn’t even imagine life as an employee and I started to realise that life was very quickly going to get serious.

You spend years in university supposedly “learning” how to start a successful business, only to finish and find out that you know nothing and you are essentially a nobody.

Those “lifestyle” businesses I had as a student simply didn’t provide enough money to finance a decent living anymore. Suddenly I had to find something else that actually made decent money. This is where the struggle began. No one in school warns you about this part.

Most of your friends and classmates scramble to get a job, yet you stay put. Ready to start a business and make it big on your own but not knowing where to start or WORSE - smugly thinking you have it all worked out, then the dawning realization you really have no clue knocks you sideways.

My first bright idea was to try to replicate a successful restaurant model that started in a neighboring city. However, having little understanding of how to run a restaurant chain, control costs, waste management, maintain standards etc. it ended up in failure. The business barely sold for enough to cover the debts I had incurred in the process of setting it up

I later moved to Barcelona with my then girlfriend and started a pharmaceutical distribution company which collapsed during the 2008 recession. I decided to rent the 3 spare rooms in my apartment, which ended up covering the cost of the whole apartment, meaning I lived rent-free.

When I moved in with my girlfriend I rented out the fourth room and was making 600 euros a month. At the time that sort of money was 60% of an average monthly wage for a person my age, the famous “mileuristas”.

I heard stories about a friend's cousin who was running flat-shares, once we were introduced a partnership was born and we went from having just a few properties between us, to having 250 across 4 different cities. In 2009 we started to get calls from agents in Barcelona and London offering us their properties, turns out acquiring properties wasn’t the challenge, renting the rooms was. At that grassroots time, I was even agreeing to pick clients up off their trains in the early hours of the morning just to secure a deal.

Portfolios grew and time flew by. Profits multiplied and work forces expanded. My role in the game began to change dramatically. No longer was I preparing and showing rooms to people fresh to London or waking up at all hours to chase tenants withholding rent who had been dodging us during working hours. My challenges rose to managing teams, finances, lawyers, accountants, contractors etc.

The game changed and a fresh flat-share system started to flourish around us.

We ditched cash in hand and opened offices and business accounts. Disputes were no longer solved on tenants doorsteps but through the courts, with lawyers involved every step of the way. My skills multiplied, I gained an understanding of property law, recruiting, marketing, pest control, operation management and much more.

Eventually everything fell into the right place, people started doing their jobs, international expansion happened, in house software was developed and new acquisitions became a priority.

With every positive or negative experience encountered, our foresight expanded. As time passed, our contracts grew to include every possible eventuality, giving us complete legal coverage against troublesome tenants, landlords and contractors.

Working with such diverse landlords, from established property tycoons to former gangsters, Jewish to Muslim, those with 1 flat to those with 100 flats in their portfolio, we have been through it all, but most importantly, we have seen and solved it all.

Now I am no longer involved in the day to day activities of flat-shares, my focus lays on how to take portfolios that are yielding a 5% return, to a 12% return. From time to time I will have a former competitor contact me with properties to take on. It doesn't take long to see why they are trying to offload with most of them being structurally flawed and unprofitable. Timing and know-how is everything, especially in the flat-share business.

There have been points when I thought to diversify my business interests. From import/export of seafood, a ceramic tiling company, a geo-social networking and dating platform and a South African goldmine, my interests grew wide. How did I finance these new ventures? Flat-shares. What did I ultimately learn from all these different business interests? That whilst they were all feasible and could have flourished into something much bigger for me, flat-shares remained the least risky and involved the least investments to see a large return of profit.

During the years I have made a lot of mistakes that have cost me time and money, millions sometimes. However, from mistakes comes wisdom, in the long run my mistakes will save me 10 fold in profit compared to what I lost making those initial mistakes.

I am still surprised by the level of business and industry knowledge that I have managed to acquire, which is especially evident when I am talking with people that previously used to be my idols. I feel very proud that I myself am now in a position to teach those idols on aspects of our business they were not aware of.

At the time when we had started to run flat-shares, you could barely say the industry actually existed, it was still operating in the shadows. We learnt the hard way, trial and error. The industry was still a grey area where sub-letters or people running flat-shares were considered crooks whilst conventional estate agencies saw us as amateurs. Fast forward to where we are standing now and those same estate agencies are the ones hounding me for loans. We are the ones running the game, with portfolios those agents could only dream of having. It is very apparent that we are no longer amateurs.

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