Hi, my name is Vaneesh Manchanda. I’m one of two partners at Urban Terrace Real Estate. I’ve been in the real estate industry for over 10 years now, have previously worked for other developers but I vowed never to work for another company in 2018… This is my story.
I played cricket when I was young, I got selected for Delhi under-19 at the age of 15. I was an all-rounder. I would’ve probably ended up pursuing cricket if I had a good mentor to guide me. It wasn’t all waste though. I got into Delhi University because of it. I was doing an honor in Psychology when my family’s financial situation worsened, and I had to drop out. I was 17 when I started working at a call center to support them. I switched to a B Com degree - it was easier and more flexible. I studied in the morning and worked at night. It was tough, I would get very little sleep but at the time, I had to do it, I had no other option.
3 years flew by, and I completed my degree. I was on my way to work one day, and I got a call from someone, “We are hiring for jobs in Dubai,” they said. I told my friend about this, we were wearing formals anyway, so we walked in, gave the interview and got selected. It was a job in the banking industry, 6 months initially, then a full-time contract. My friend was hesitant, we had never been abroad and surprisingly, everything was paid for. “It’ll be a vacation,” I told him, and we both packed our bags and left. 15 years later, I am still here, he isn’t, he left after the 6 months ended.
I was in banking for almost 6 years before the 2008 recession hit. Jobs were scarce and I decided to move back to Delhi in 2010. Coincidentally, wherever I went, I managed to find something or other to do. I got a sales job in Microsoft, which at the time, was a big thing for a boy that only had experience in call centers and banks. I was promoted to assistant sales director in just a year and a half. It was great from the outside, but I knew this wasn’t for me. Life was much more comfortable in Delhi; my parents were close, and I had enough money saved up, but I felt like I could do more. I wanted to go back to Dubai… I had gotten used to the city which is why I decided to shift back in 2013.
My first real estate stint was at DAMAC, a well-known property developer where I learned a lot about this industry. The kind of properties I sold there were unbelievable, and it really gave me joy seeing people ecstatic to see their new homes, I knew right there, this was the right thing for me. I moved on and worked for other developers and in May 2018, I got a call from home.
I was at the peak of my career, I had one of the best records of property sales when I came to know my father had been hospitalized. I asked for a two-week break and flew back to Delhi to take care of him. It was a very tough time for me and my family. My dad was undergoing heart surgery. I was and still am very close to him so that hit me hard and I needed to take care of him, my mom and my relatives. I had to show everyone that everything would be okay, I had to calm people down, I had to put up a front of being ‘strong’.
Amid all the chaos, I got an email from HR. I was terminated. It was heart-breaking. I was already on the verge of breaking down given everything that was going on at the time. I had saved up a little, but hospital bills kept piling on and I didn’t really know what to do. There was no reason for termination. It was just two weeks, and I would have been back. I didn’t extend my deadline of return. I had no calls, no message to explain the situation. The only thing that they felt was worthwhile sending was an email that formalized the termination.
My dad got out of the hospital, and we managed the payments somehow but on that very day, I vowed to never work for someone else in my life again. I left for Dubai and found a friend cum partner and started Urban Terrace Real Estate the next month.
A job guaranteed a salary at the end of every month, but a business meant not having constant income coming in. But we made it work. We had to. Starting something of our own was a conscious decision. It was not a spur of the moment thing. And we put everything we had into it. 10 years in this industry, I have sold properties worth 300,000 dirhams all the way up to 27.5 million dirhams and I have loved every moment of it. I continue to show people houses, to stand in lines for tokens of new projects and fight for every deal even though I know only less than 5% of them will ever materialize because this is what I love doing and I wouldn’t change that for anything.
I am currently settled in Dubai. My beautiful wife and I recently had a daughter and when I’m not working, that’s where I spend all my time. She is 4 months old now and there isn’t a second, I miss to get back home and be with her. She is my pride and joy and I hope to one day… gift her her dream home.