In Conversation With Billionaire Property Tycoon Danial Schon
Businesses are known for their entrepreneurship and flair, not just the building bearing the business names, or the private planes and the extravagant cars. It is the persona of the stakeholders that matters. But even by international business standards, Danial Schon has a certain charisma and a can-do attitude about what he brings to the table.
Danial Schön is a Pakistani billionaire who is a recognized business magnate. He is also the President of Schön Group, one of the largest family businesses in Pakistan. He was selected as one of Dubai’s 100 Most Influential Figures and has received numerous accolades over his career globally. Danial is a father of 2 children and considers himself a ‘family man’. His happiest moment is when he spends time with his kids. “Time is the only rare commodity on Earth, and we must spend it where it matters most.”
Danial has lived between Dubai, London, New York, and Karachi. Danial is known to preach and promote a humanitarian viewpoint on business, where others should benefit for one’s self to benefit. It is the exact opposite of traditional ‘kill or be killed’ capitalist approaches to business and opens a foray of discussion on ideas belonging to physics leading to successes in the business world. Social psychologists refer to it as the “Law of Reciprocity”, Danial terms it the “Law of Giving and Receiving”.
The entrepreneur has had his hands involved in everything from soda beverages, textiles, fertilizers, real estate development, digital banking, airlines, education and microfinance. He made his fortune at the young age of 22 in a brokerage deal which dubbed him as the ‘Boy with the Golden Touch’ which earned USD $ 27 Million in commission income. Everything he touched thereon, turned to gold.
By 2016, he had delivered 1.6 million square feet and expanded his business portfolio globally. In 2018, Dubai’s real estate authority moved against major players in the Dubai real estate market and cancelled projects, including Schon’s, and recently Arabtec has filed for bankruptcy in Dubai.
In 2020, he has diversified his business interests in Pakistan, US, and Europe and his group has USD $ 2 billion property portfolio. His successes continue to make global headlines and we were intrigued by the man and wanted to pick his brain on outlooks on Pakistan. Since he likes to describe himself as a ‘thinking man’, the conversation went deeper into a more spiritual and philosophical side to the business man.
What are your thoughts on Pakistan’s Tech Industry?
Pakistan is the most undervalued technology market in the world. With a population of over 250 million persons, the country has a huge room for further mobile and internet penetration, and a population who is 65% under the age of 30. This growing young population makes Pakistan the biggest technology market to come in the world stage.
The technology sector is missing fintech services such as payment solutions. Once payment solutions come into play correctly, the monetization of the sector will start, and the future will be huge. 10 years from now, our current tech companies will be the most powerful companies of the country. My advice, get involved while you still can.
What is your outlook for Pakistan property?
Pakistan has one of the world’s largest housing shortages of circa 11 million homes. With a population growth rate of circa 5 Million people every year, this number only increases. Karachi’s price per square foot is 90% cheaper than other metropolis’ with similar populations such as Mumbai, Tehran, Bangkok, Delhi. Islamabad and Lahore are significantly undervalued. Pakistan’s upcoming Tier B cities in Sindh and Punjab specially are hugely undervalued.
I believe the best investment in property in Pakistan is creating shopping malls in Tier B & Tier C cities. That offers the most value today for developers and buyers.
Overall, you cannot go wrong buying real estate in Pakistan. The pent-up demand is too big, transactions are still done majority on equity with minimal financing, and there is only one direction the market will head: North.
You lived between London, New York, Karachi and Dubai. Tell us your observations about the cities?
Karachi – The city offers the human capital with the highest IQ, street smarts, and grit. The talent needs to be nurtured, trained, and educated further and it will have a huge positive impact for the country overall.
New York – New Yorkers waste no time, cut to the chase, and are amazing people to work with. It has the world’s best human capital. Energetic, vibrant, and cutthroat; the only city I feel comfortable doing business in as people are quick.
London – London offers the best societal values and is one of the best cities to raise a family. The English legal system is one of the best in the world and is a big plus point in investing or doing business here.
Dubai – Dubai is the World’s most successful PR & Marketing case study and attracts the world’s top talent, resource, and offers the best lifestyle between the West and the East. I consider it my home city and is definitely the safest city in the world.
What qualities do you look for when hiring people?
1/ Good-Hearted – The person must have a good, clean heart. Buffet once said “You can’t make a good deal with a bad person.”
2/ Extremely Positive – I only hire extremely positive people. A negative person is a ‘buzzkill’ for me and I prefer not to even talk to such people.
3/ Hungry – Hunger is one of the biggest attributes for success. The passion for achievement and dedication are very important qualities for me.
What is your advice to young entrepreneurs?
1/ Never give up. You will have ups; you will have downs. You only fail when you give up, so never fail, never give up.
2/ What you Give is What you Get. Newton’s law states “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” You must give to get. If you practice this in business and life, you will always succeed.
3/ Focus on the Focus. In life there are many distractions, many naysayers, and lots of noise. Ignore the noise, use tunnel vision and keep your focus on the focus. Stay extremely positive.
What is your definition of success?
My definition of success is to go to Heaven. As a Muslim, we believe there is an afterlife. If you go to heaven, you will be successful. How do you go to heaven? You do good deeds and worship your Creator. Life is a test, and we must always know this and treat it as such.
To define success in monetary terms is living in a fool’s paradise.
What is business about?
Business is about creating sustainable eco-systems where all players benefit. An entrepreneur’s job is to create win-win situations.
What is life about?
I am a practicing Muslim, and I believe that Allah has sent us here to worship Him and to do good deeds. Fundamentally, that is our job description and our reason for being. Life is about helping others. My belief is that Enterprise and entrepreneurship have the ability to solve all social problems, hence, it is every entrepreneur’s duty to work towards helping others setup enterprise.
Your favorite quote
“The best of people are those who are most beneficial to people.”-Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)