By Shaan Bajaj
Being in my 20s often feels like I am on a roller coaster; a good thing for an adrenaline junkie like myself. I’m strapped in for the all the twists and turns that come with being an adult. It’s exciting. It’s nauseating. On good days, you raise a toast to paying your bills, and on bad days, you wonder how you seem to be falling behind. An individual who can relate to my experience is the young Jaikar ‘Jay’ Singh Manchanda, who is using his youth to take calculated risk within the stock market and real estate investments.
Born and raised in Bangkok, Jay started investing in foreign stock markets as soon as he learnt about investing in his ‘business studies’ classes at Ascot International School. “What caught my interest was only 10 percent tax was deducted,” says Jay when we sat to talk about his journey at Rosewood Bangkok. “The stock market happens almost 24/7, depending on the markets you play with, and that was perfect for me. I started with THB 10,000 across stocks and crypto and grew it to an amount large enough for me to start investing in real estate.”
In an exclusive sit down with Masala, Jay speaks about his risk-taking attitude, investing, and being a young director at Phuket-based real estate company, Utopia Corporation.
How has your family’s textile business inspired you to go into business and eventually pursue the industry beyond your family business? Did you face any family pressure to join the business?
I joined the business in 2014, and it was a means of getting some extra pocket money. My dad had suggested it as I wanted money to hang out with my friends. During my time working there, I learnt about textiles and how to engage in retail sales. I also learnt how to receive criticism from an early age, which taught me how to deal with rejection. For a brief while, I worked at a competitor’s business. My dad constantly used to say, “always learn from your competitors,” and indeed, through that, I picked up more information on different textiles and management styles. My family’s business was profitable but it felt a bit mundane for me, and I was looking for an exciting job that did not feel like a job. There was no pressure; in Indian families, it is about what you like to do and how you become the best in that field.
What motivated you to start investing?
After learning about investing during business class, I started monitoring the stocks and it slowly proved to be another way of making money without the hard labour.
Why were you looking to invest in real estate in Phuket specifically?
Real estate is an asset that you can manoeuvre in any way you want, you can take a loan, sell, or use it to drive business. It has been traded for more than 100 years, and people can make a lot of money from it. That was my main goal. Additionally, when I sell people property, they smile, they plan to live in it for many years; it is not just a handbag or for show; it impacts their lives and changes them. It also allows me to be creative and implement my ideas into the properties. When you speak to real estate agents, they will tell you that everyone wants to live in Phuket, and it is a resilient market. Even during COVID, it was surviving. Now it is growing again and the re-sale values are actually stronger than Bangkok.
How did you learn of Utopia Corporation? When did you join, and what encouraged you to become a shareholder?
In 2021, I was researching Phuket-based real estate developers to invest in, and while there were many good ones, Utopia Corporation seemed to be dominating like a shark. They started in 2015, and had 10 projects under their belt by 2022. They even had a deal with Tonino Lamborghini. I met with the CEO, Hachi Yin, and felt a sense of connection. We shared the same ‘dare to dream’ mindset, and I knew I wanted to work with him and the company.
Utopia Corporation’s policy is to develop first and deliver on time; we do not just take money. We aim to provide the best service by being a reliable company, and we have created a loyal customer base, with clients who have bought up to 20 units, which is something we are proud to claim. We advertise to every demographic and build for the common man. We focus on providing accessibility, affordability, and great development, for people to live a comfortable lifestyle. Although we are a fairly new company, we have created a well-known brand, one to be reckoned with.
I joined as a small shareholder in March 2022 and have recently stepped up and bought more shares because I believe in the values Utopia Corporation embodies, and there is a lot of potential. Buying more shares meant I could implement my ideas and make it a reality and I can work with more partners. Currently my role is to be the face of the company and bring in sales, while also growing Utopia.
What plans do you have for Utopia Corporation going forward?
We will finally kick off the Tonino Lamborghini project in partnership with Botanica Company in Ao Po, and we have just signed a deal with Theptiptanatorn Company, who are developing a stadium in Mai Khao. In the future, we are looking to develop more in Phuket and expand worldwide.
Do you have any tips for someone looking to invest into real estate?
- Make yourself aware of what is going on in the market by reading financial reports and daily updates, especially about the stocks you are interested in. It will help you figure out when is the right time to buy and sell.
- Avoid short-term trading and commit to a long-term strategy.
- Diversify your portfolio.
- In real estate, buy low and stay wary of your upfront costs.