Alisa Zotimova: a happy ending for a failed Russian actress

Six years ago, Alisa Zotimova came to terms with the fact that she would never realise her childhood dream of becoming an actress, so she used her savings to set up AZ Real Estate, which now boasts an annual turnover of over £1m.

918-MM-Alisa-Zotimova-AZ-Real-estate

Zotimova: doing well for a failed actress

Alisa Zotimova, 38, the founder of AZ Real Estate, looks remarkably calm for an entrepreneur who specialises in buying London properties for wealthy Russians, says the Evening Standard. After all, Britain isn't the welcoming market it once was. But she's not fazed.

"While there has been some initial hesitation, don't believe for one second that political tensions will substantially get in the way of property deals," she counters. "London remains a safe haven for investors, with strong rental income and tenant demand There are good, law-abiding and tax-paying Russians out there in abundance. I have, and will, continue to help them to buy buildings in England."

While demand for £50m properties has dwindled, she says, there are still buyers looking to invest up to £5m. AZ Real Estate takes a commission of between 1% and 2%. Zotimova previously advised companies such as Chinese tech giant Huawei on opening offices in Russia before coming to London in 2007 to help her customers buy into the British property market.

Six years ago she came to terms with the fact that she would never realise her childhood dream of becoming an actress, so she decided to use her savings to set up AZ Real Estate, which now boasts an annual turnover of over £1m. Since then she has advised on around £30m worth of transactions ranging from student digs to Mayfair flats. "I'm not doing too badly for a failed actress from Moscow's suburbs."

Making money from muck

Wilhelm Myrer (pictured) set out to combine blockchain and recycling after a chance meeting with Simen Knudsen, chief executive of Nordic Ocean Watch, says Hazel Sheffield on Independent online. Knudsen had asked Myrer how distributed ledger technology could be used to clean up Norway's beaches.

918-MM-Wilhelm-Myer-Empower

"The reason we have a high recycling rate in Norway is that you learn from being a kid that plastic has a value, you can pick it up and buy some candy with it," says Myrer. Now, by paying $1 akilo for rubbish through blockchain, Myrer plans to give people in developing countries a new way to make money and somewhere to save into (a "wallet") at the same time.

Empower also offers asubscription service whereby users can pay up to $10 a month towards plastic waste collection; the company takes a 15% cut. "Ocean plastic is a problem that can be fixed," says Myrer. "It's justabout getting the right resources to the right people."

The next-gen budget hotel

918-MM-Ritesh-Agarwal-Oyo-Rooms

INDIA OYO

Five years ago, Ritesh Agarwal, 24, decided to build a budget hotel that offered basic levels of hygiene and service, say Simon Mundy and Tom Hancock in the Financial Times thus filling agap in the Indian market. "Ifelt, well, this is a fascinating opportunity and maybe nobody's seen it," saysAgarwal. Oyo Rooms hassince grown into India's biggest chain measured by number of rooms, of which ithas 133,000 in India.

The company doesn't actually own its hotels. Rather, it runs them under lease agreements or offers potential owners a franchising deal. It typically collects 20% of the takings. The hotels are renovated by Oyo at the owners' expense a cost that growing numbers of small hotel owners are willing to bear, Agarwal says, when provided with data on the leap in occupancy rates that similar properties have had after joining the network.

Oyo uses its software to tweak prices frequently, monitor staff performance, and provide a customer-friendly interface through which guests can make bookings and order room service. It's a model that hasimpressed Softbank's Masayoshi Son, who called it"next-generation hotel management". His Vision Fund has invested $800m so far, with a further $200m on the cards, in a funding round that valued Oyo Rooms at $5bn, making it India's third-most valuable start-up.

Selling the Armed Forces' skills to recruiters

918-MM-Kayam-Iqbal--OppO-Recruitment

Finding a job selling lottery tickets over the phone for £6.10 an hour made him feel as though he was "starting all over again". He took courses and secured employment as part of BT's technology team. Iqbal realised there had to be others like him. "Armed Forces people possess attributes that many civilians don't: resourcefulness, perseverance, a relentlessness to succeed, and the ability to keep getting back up when they're kicked down," he says. "I wanted to set up a recruitment company to help people like me."

OppO Recruitment was established in 2013. After he landed Vodafone as a client, others followed. Today, Iqbal manages the business of eight staff, turning over £5.5m a year.

Recommended

How to make sure your business doesn't lose out in lockdown
Small business

How to make sure your business doesn't lose out in lockdown

Money is still available via government schemes to help small companies cope with the latest Covid restrictions. David Prosser outlines what you can g…
16 Jan 2021
Elon Musk: the space oddity seeking world domination
People

Elon Musk: the space oddity seeking world domination

Elon Musk, the electric-car and space-travel pioneer who wants to move to Mars is now the world’s richest man. If he seems delusional, that’s all part…
16 Jan 2021
Adar Poonawalla: the vaccine prince who will save the world
People

Adar Poonawalla: the vaccine prince who will save the world

Adar Poonawalla, the chief of the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer by volume, has an ambitious plan to rescue us all from Covid-19. The future for…
11 Jan 2021
Three women CEOs who prove that diversity is the key to success
Entrepreneurs

Three women CEOs who prove that diversity is the key to success

Tom Saunders looks at how three very different women – Shahrzad Rafati, Trinny Woodall and Anne Boden –  have grown successful businesses.
28 Dec 2020

Most Popular

The FTSE 100 is set for a makeover with an influx of new tech stocks
UK stockmarkets

The FTSE 100 is set for a makeover with an influx of new tech stocks

The FTSE 100 – the dullest index in the world – is about to reinvent itself as a host of new firms list on the market. The change is long overdue, say…
24 Jan 2021
Why we won’t see a house-price crash in 2021
House prices

Why we won’t see a house-price crash in 2021

Lockdown sent house prices berserk as cooped up home-workers fled for bigger properties in the country. And while they won’t rise quite as much this y…
18 Jan 2021
Think Tesla is a bubble? This might be the best way to bet on it bursting
Oil

Think Tesla is a bubble? This might be the best way to bet on it bursting

The huge rise in Tesla’s share price means that, by market value, it’s now the sixth-largest company in the US and and the world’s biggest car-maker. …
25 Jan 2021