Neil Patel

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In the bustling streets of Bombay, amidst the vibrant tapestry of culture, finance, and ambition, a dream was born. This dream would eventually transcend borders, continents, and expectations, manifesting into a remarkable tale of entrepreneurship, resilience, and vision.

At the heart of this narrative lies Dhimaan Shah, the founder of Isprava, whose journey from the corridors of investment banking in New York City to the serene landscapes of Goa depicts the essence of chasing one’s dreams against all odds.

In this interview, Dhimaan talks in detail about equity and Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs). He also reveals his thoughts on the fundamental building blocks of businesses.

Listen to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here.

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A Journey of Discovery: From Bombay to Chicago

Growing up in Bombay, India’s pulsating metropolis, Dhimaan Shah was immersed in a world of opportunity and diversity from a young age.

Bombay, a bustling cosmopolitan with a kaleidoscope of experiences, exposed him to the intricacies of finance, business, and the arts, setting the stage for a journey marked by curiosity and ambition.

However, Dhimaan’s quest for knowledge and exploration led him beyond the shores of his homeland to the hallowed halls of Northwestern University in Chicago. As he explains, students going abroad to study is a common practice in India.

Dhimaan graduated in economics in 2008 and, after that, moved on to navigating the fast-paced world of investment banking in New York City. Working at HSBC Bank as an analyst, Dhimaan honed his skills and knowledge, laying the foundation for his future endeavors.

Dhimaan was in New York from 2008 to 2011 and then resigned to move back to India.

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The Leap of Faith: Returning to India

Despite having a successful career in investment banking, Dhimaan was ready to realize his high school dream of becoming an entrepreneur. As he recalls, he had always wanted to do something of his own. That was the trigger number one that was always playing at the back of his mind.

Dhimaan was also inspired by India’s untapped potential, which quickly became trigger number two. India was an exciting place to be in since it is the largest democracy and has a lot of good things going, but at the time, it was never really considered a really economic powerhouse.

Dhimaan could recognize the highly aspirational mindset of the young population. He knew that the opportunities would only get more extensive and more vibrant. Combining the two triggers, Dhimaan could see a powerful consumer story, which became the macro factor that triggered his move.

Only now, in 2023 and 2024, India is taking the global stage as an economic powerhouse. Dhimaan also talks about a third trigger–his family is in India, and he wanted to be around them and not two continents away on the other side of the world.

So, Dhimaan bid farewell to the comforts of corporate life and embarked on a journey to be a founder.

Ideating and Building Isprava

Returning to India with a clear vision and unwavering determination, Dhimaan co-founded Isprava—a luxury real estate brand committed to redefining the concept of home.

With a focus on creating bespoke, fully-furnished homes in idyllic locales such as Goa and Alibag, Isprava set out to revolutionize the real estate landscape in India.

Dhimaan has an interesting story to tell about founding Isprava. As he explains, Goa is just a 45-minute flight from Bombay, where his family holidayed often.

Having been away for seven to eight years, Dhimaan wanted to take a short break in Goa with his brother and fell back in love with the city.

That’s when Dhimaan suggested buying a small place there, but not finding any great options, he and his brother decided to build a home.

As Dhimaan explains, getting into real estate in the cities in India is really difficult since land is very expensive. And there are far too many hoops to jump through.

However, Goa seemed to check the boxes, and Dhimaan saw that the capital commitments would not be too ludicrous. The two brothers convinced their father to mortgage his home to take out a loan and pooled their savings.

Constructing and Selling Real Estate in Goa

The duo used the money to purchase a plot of land in Goa and built their first home. They sold the property just short of $2M, which was great considering that the average selling price for a home in Goa is $250,000.

At the onset, it seemed like a losing proposition since no one thought there would be buyers for a $2M property in Goa, which isn’t a primary city. But Dhimaan was very clear about the fact that they would build only a world-class product layer on a world-class service.

Each of the properties the brothers developed is fully furnished, including flooring, paint on the walls, furniture, white goods, accessories, and an espresso machine. Residents only need to bring their clothes, which is something the Indian market had just not seen.

Isprava is essentially a luxury brand, and the first customer who bought it recommended it to at least 35 to 40 new customers. Dhimaan opines that they came into the market with a unique product and service that hit at the opportune time.

Innovating the Paradigm: The Isprava Model

Central to Isprava’s success is its innovative business model, combining equity financing elements and special purpose vehicles (SPVs).

By leveraging SPVs to acquire specific parcels of land and partnering with investors for project funding, Isprava circumvented the challenges of traditional real estate financing, ensuring capital efficiency and risk mitigation.

As Dhimaan explains, each HSPV is a project that can accommodate 1 to 15 homes, depending on the size of the plot. During the starting stages, they were able to buy land just for one project. That’s when they decided not to use their capital to purchase land.

Instead, Dhimaan and his brother started working with professional investors, large family offices, and smaller financial institutions.

They would identify and target a parcel of land and put it into an SPV to attract investors to invest. Then, they would draw up a joint development agreement (JDA) and work on a revenue share model with them.

The SPV owners would earn returns, and Isprava would take a percentage of the profit, making it highly capital-efficient and zero-risk. This model allows Dhimaan and his brother to focus on execution and quality rather than get layered by the romanticism of land banking.

Furthermore, Isprava’s unwavering commitment to quality and customer satisfaction, exemplified by its fully-furnished, meticulously designed homes, positioned the brand as a beacon of luxury and excellence in the Indian real estate market.

Turning Challenges into Triumphs: The Isprava Experience

The journey of Isprava, however, was not without its challenges. From navigating the complexities of land acquisition to weathering the storm of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dhimaan Shah and his team confronted adversity with resilience and ingenuity.

One pivotal moment in Isprava’s journey came when a roof malfunction in one of their homes threatened to tarnish the brand’s reputation. Instead of shying away from responsibility, Dhimaan and his team took decisive action despite the home being out of the warranty period.

Dhimaan prioritized customer satisfaction over short-term gains, which cemented Isprava’s reputation for integrity and accountability. This commitment to excellence earned Isprava over $15M in sales thanks to the referrals the customer brought them.

Dhimaan also points to the advantage of having good advisors and partners in the early stages of building their business, especially during the pivotal moments.

Navigating the Winds of Change: Isprava in the Post-COVID Era

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges to businesses worldwide, yet for Isprava, it also heralded a period of transformation and growth.

As remote work became the norm and urban dwellers sought refuge in spacious, nature-centric homes, Isprava’s luxury properties emerged as coveted sanctuaries, embodying the aspirations of a new generation of homeowners.

As Dhimaan recalls, just as the lockdowns started to lift sometime in June 2020, Isprava was deluged with phone calls from potential clients.

Suddenly, there was high demand for homes in a place called Alibag, considered the Hamptons of Bombay, and accessible with a a short 30-minute car ride.

Dhimaan points out that in the next 20 years, people in India will be getting rich very fast and want a better quality of life. Although metros, highways, roads, and other infrastructure are being built quickly, they come with challenges like pollution and noise when living in cities.

The availability of highways and airports enables people to work from anywhere since they can commute. COVID-19 changed people’s mindset, resulting in a permanent shift toward more space, greenery, a natural environment, and clean air with open spaces.

Embracing this shift in consumer behavior, Isprava positioned itself as a builder of bespoke, experiential living spaces that offered unparalleled comfort, tranquility, and serenity. This vision resonated deeply with discerning clientele seeking respite from the chaos of urban life.

Raising Capital for Isprava

Dhimaan explains their capital raising processes for Isprava. There are two levels in the business. one is at the core or the equity level in the company, and they have raised $25M to date.

The second is the SPV level, a churn in and out as each project is completed. For this, Isprava raises between $65M and $70M.

This is a really efficient way to raise capital because the company is not giving away equity at the SPV level. Essentially, it’s project funding without being in debt.

Dhimaan and his team chose this strategy because when they started out, people did not think equity investment made sense, not wanting to lock their capital for too long.

Instead, by investing in the SPV, the land parcel acted as collateral and security, while the JDA gave investors equity-style returns of around 22% to 23%. Isprava offers a revenue share with much higher payouts with higher de-risking. Being a luxury brand, they can drive margins higher.

Storytelling is everything, which is something that Dhimaan Shah was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend Peter Thiel (see it here), where the most critical slides are highlighted.

Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

Charting the Course Ahead: Dhimaan Shah’s Vision for Isprava

As Dhimaan Shah reflects on Isprava’s journey—a saga of innovation, resilience, and unwavering commitment—he envisions a future where Isprava continues to redefine the paradigms of luxury living, community engagement, and sustainable development.

In this vision, Isprava becomes more than a real estate brand; it becomes a catalyst for social change, fostering vibrant communities, preserving natural landscapes, and empowering individuals to live their dreams to the fullest.

In the world of Isprava, every home is a testament to the boundless possibilities of imagination, craftsmanship, and innovation. In this world, dreams are not just realized but exceeded, one luxury home at a time.

Listen to the full podcast episode to know more, including:

  • Dhimaan Shah’s journey underscores the importance of pursuing entrepreneurial dreams fueled by passion and purpose, transcending the confines of conventional career paths.
  • Isprava’s innovative business model, blending equity financing and SPVs, exemplifies how creative approaches can revolutionize traditional industries and unlock new opportunities.
  • Prioritizing customer satisfaction and integrity, even in the face of challenges, is paramount for building a resilient brand with enduring loyalty.
  • Isprava’s ability to pivot and thrive amidst the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of adaptability and agility in navigating turbulent times.
  • Isprava’s unwavering commitment to quality and excellence sets it apart in the competitive real estate market, resonating with discerning clientele seeking unparalleled luxury and craftsmanship.
  • Isprava’s vision extends beyond luxury homes to fostering vibrant communities and sustainable development, emphasizing the transformative power of social responsibility.
  • Dhimaan Shah’s journey reminds us that success is not achieved overnight but through perseverance, resilience, and a steadfast belief in one’s vision, even in the face of adversity.



For a winning deck, see the commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400M (see it here). 

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The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks

Remember to unlock for free the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

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Neil Patel

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want help with your fundraising or acquisition, just book a call

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