During the course of our lives, we meet people from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. Being 93 percent international, the HEC Paris MBA is an excellent microcosm of this, connecting diverse individuals from around the world. For Sam Abazari, MBA ’20, seeing this door to different cultures and backgrounds reignited a personal goal of his: to bridge social classes by providing value for all stake holders through real estate. Thanks to his newly launched property-management company, AJAN Management, Sam is now one step closer to achieving this goal.
Growing up in Tehran, Sam witnessed first-hand the distressing effects of homelessness, a vicious cycle perpetuated by uncertainty, desperation and costly, temporary housing solutions. Once he moved to Boston, he saw the opposite extreme. His neighbor down the street owned almost half of the property in the area, alongside multiple buildings in New York. Sam later found out that this massive wealth stemmed from a single investment in a 2-bedroom house back in the 1940’s.
A few more observations and conversations down the line, Sam soon established that housing is one of the key drivers of extreme poverty and wealth. Since then, he has committed himself to finding ways to address society’s ever-growing wealth inequality.
The HEC Paris Opportunity
Needing to further develop his business and leadership skills, Sam decided to pursue his MBA degree at HEC Paris. From core curriculum courses, such as Organizational Behaviour, to specialisation-specific ones like Entrepreneurial Finance, new knowledge was acquired, and skills were refined. But above it all, lifelong connections were made, and unbeknownst to Sam at this point, business partners would be found too.
Sam soon established that housing is one of the key drivers of extreme poverty and wealth. Since then, he has committed himself to finding ways to address society’s ever-growing wealth inequality.
The Silver Lining
For the majority of businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely disruptive. For Sam, the pandemic had a silver lining. He turned the three months of mandatory social distancing into three months of pure productivity.
By the end of April, he had created his business model and drafted a full business plan, setting a June launch date for his property-management company. Sam created AJAN Management with the goal of making lives simpler for landlords and tenants alike. Specializing in the 1-4 unit residential segment, AJAN seeks to modernize a dated industry by leveraging technological solutions to provide superior services from property maintenance to tenant management.
The final piece in the puzzle was how to bring the brand to life.
Sitting 5,000 km away in Paris, Davina Chang (MBA ’20) was leveraging her popular Instagram page @thecolordiet to find freelance gigs as a website designer for restaurant and lifestyle brands. It was an easy way for her to generate some work while searching for that perfect post-MBA job. She was in the process of building up her portfolio when she saw Sam’s request for a contact in web design in the Class of 2020’s WhatsApp group. For Davina, it was great opportunity to practice her creative skills.
As she created AJAN Management’s “Mission,”“ Vision,” and “FAQ” pages, her curiosity piqued. With a background purely in finance, she knew almost nothing about real estate. She hadn’t even interacted that much with Sam throughout the program, so it took her a while to realize he was being serious when he suggested, “if you want to join a very, very brand new startup with $0 revenue, we are always looking for talent.”
Within a few days, Davina found herself writing her personal biography on the business’ “Meet the Team” page. In retrospect, it wasn’t a difficult decision. Free-spirited at heart, Davina had left her stable corporate job in search of something more aligned with her values, an unconventional mix of creativity, kindness and spontaneity. Having taken some time to tick off bucket-list items, such as climbing a volcano in Indonesia and bungee jumping in New Zealand, she decided to submerge herself in a new environment, at the same time fulfilling a childhood dream: she moved to Paris.
Beyond an unexplainable desire to improve her French, Davina had also been drawn to HEC Paris’ focus on entrepreneurship. She had been trying to find a way to tie together her broad range of skills – from visual content creation to journalistic writing to analyzing financial data. Starting her own company therefore seemed like the ideal solution, and all she lacked was an idea to kickstart it all. Sam reaching out with AJAN Management was therefore the missing element to make this dream come true.
In the first week of June, the two officially embarked on their startup journey. Sam currently serves as AJAN Management’s CEO and Director of Property Management, while Davina now handles the task of building up the AJAN brand as the Chief Marketing Officer.
Despite the geographical distance, the two work together to promote AJAN’s goal of making real estate a simple, stress-free endeavour. A business created with inspiring personal values, a strong team spirit, world-class academic accreditations and a sprinkle of serendipity, AJAN hopes to proudly represent the HEC Paris MBA brand in the United States, returning a favor for all that the school has provided to them during the past 16 months.
Text by Davina Chang, MBA '20
Davina Chang has built years of experience in finance at Nomura's Singapore office, holding valuable relationships with the region's central banks and sovereign wealth funds. On the side, she has created a strong brand @thecolordiet on Instagram, through which she has helped create unique content for both local and multinational brands including Nespresso, Marriott Bonvoy and The Ritz-Carlton. Throughout the MBA Program, her roles as the Director of Communications for the HEC Impact Club as well as VP of MBAT University Relations prepared her well for her current role as the CMO of AJAN Management, a start-up created with a fellow MBA classmate.