“There is no return on capital until there is a return OF capital!”
Pranav merges hospitality, real estate & technology to deliver strong risk-adjusted returns to investors. He dove into his family business at a young age of 13 to carry on his father’s legacy in the hotel businesses. Pranav is the Managing Partner at Revelo Hospitality and Bhakta Capital, Partner at Nillians Investments LLC and RamRan Holdings LLC. He is an advisor to various hospitality real estate firms and has also helped set up hospitality verticals for various prominent family offices worldwide.
Q.1. What motivated you to take interest in the family business at 13 years of age?
A.1. Taking an interest in the family business at the age of 13 had a catalyst – the loss of my father. When I was ten years old, he passed away, which left my brother and me a business to take care of. Once we discovered the valuation differences in capitalization rates/multipliers between California and Texas, we began to sell the real estate we owned in California and started to buy hotels in Texas. During these times, I remember actively going to on-site visits with my brother with my pair of steel-toe-capped shoes and a hard hat. At that young age, rather than reading comic books, I reviewed offering memorandums and investment memorandums that came to the house from the likes of CBRE & JLL delivered in glossy cover-like magazines.
These habits and lifestyles were all rooted in a keen interest in carrying on my father’s legacy- the hotel businesses. As my father used to tell the young eight years old me, “The currency of every culture is relationships.” I wholeheartedly believed and carried that message with me and watched it grow into my motto in all affairs, be it personal or professional.
Q.2. What is your thesis for Bhakta Capital?
A.2. My investment thesis lies at “the intersection of hospitality, real estate and technology (Big Data).” We systematically create cumulative value between Hard Assets (real estate, hotels, and the debt & equity that sit behind it) and Soft Assets (technology) that drive e^2 (efficiency & effectiveness) in the bottom line and top line. Therefore, one has to look at it holistically, which is why I emphasize Systematic and Cumulative Value. There is no return on capital until there is a return OF capital!
Q.3. Tell us about your hotel development companies (Nillians Investments LLC and RamRan Holdings LLC). How has the pandemic affected the hospitality industry?
A.3. Nillians originated from the business we operated in Zambia, where my mother and my siblings were born. It is an investment vehicle that my two brothers and I hold to invest in our hotel investments, developments, and various verticals. Similarly, RamRan is also an investment vehicle controlled by the three brothers for hotel developments, ranging from Element by Marriott to Even by IHG. The name RamRan naturally came from a mix of my father’s and grandfather’s names as they always guide the family business. I also Chair the investment committee on the family side with other verticals that I am involved with, ranging from hotel developments, investment funds to Co-GP Funds and Advisory roles, in creating acquisitions of those theses. That is the overall view of what I do- the family business and my personal, more aspirational things alongside other groups to execute on various verticals. A few of them are Bhakta Capital and Revelo Hospitality.
I also have a Co-GP Fund with a well-known tech company that focuses on delivering lifestyle boutique hotels with an exponential emotional design element, which blends its way into my investment thesis.
Q.4. How did you set up hospitality verticals for various prominent family offices worldwide?
A.4. Here, I add my value with my strategic mindset. Family offices can play in the hospitality vertical through several ways: real estate, corporate M&A, franchise business or management. There is real estate for capital appreciation and residual cash flow for management and franchise businesses, for example, with N.S. Raghavan, we branded and created a hospitality vertical. Did everything from new build lifestyle developments in Australia to buying out franchise-based hotel business and buying out boutique management companies in the Mekong area. That’s the best way to play – vertical integration.
The same was for the Chadha Family when they created CitizenM Hotels- doing everything from start to finish and having control over it.
Q.5. Tell us about your journey with the Trump Organization and your role for its market entry in India.
A.5. Retained as the sole and exclusive consultant for the Trump Organization, I led them into their first deal in India, which later capitalized into many more such deals as a master license developer with Tribeca. Our first deal was Panchshil Realty in Pune. It was a great success. It was fruitful, and it spurred the growth of the company in India. It was all about finding a go-to-market with effectiveness and efficiency with the right real estate partners.
Q.6. What impact will Soft Assets (Technology) have on the Real Estate industry over the next decade?
A.6. Let’s look at the hotel industry. With technology and the advent of digital marketing, property management systems, distribution of rooms, and the internet, everything comes together. In a hotel, there are so many different technologies that come together to make it function. It’s about asking ourselves, “How do we create a new paradigm shift of a fully innovated tech stack where we can operate these hotels more efficiently and have it look seamless?” Well, digital marketing plays a huge role. It allows a guest at every new hotel to be engaged in the social media world. It is ever so important to put your hotel in front of the right eyeballs at the right time to get the right heads in beds. Technology is embedded in us.
Looking at the PropTech VC Funds that have emerged, it has become inevitable that technology will be a part of real estate. Therefore, the industry is embracing it.
Real estate is a very dominant logic industry; it does not spur innovation to real property. How do we drive technology forward to deliver top-line revenues and bottom-line profits to increase the capitalization of that efficiency so that every dollar gets capitalized to value? The answer is technology. Technology is here to stay, and it has become a big part of every industry.
Q.7. Which is a family office you loved working with?
A.7. Pre-covid, we took a big data approach to develop hotels — finding true supply-demand imbalance markets. This includes finding proxies in the market that outperform the market and deliver alpha. Big data allows one to canvas thousands of markets to seek outperformance of a particular brand that is not expected, and RevPAR grows year over year. Usually, the last edition of supply induced demand for that market. If these things check out, building a newer top-performing brand by Marriott and Hilton would make much sense. You’d get the yield on cost of 13% – 15%.
With all this in mind, I ended up finding a handful of markets that exhibited the criteria and was on the hunt to find a capital partner. I structured a Master joint venture with T2 Hospitality as they saw the same vision as me, which is always the start of a solid relationship. I respect Michael Dell, and his stance in the industry via MSD Capital is noteworthy, and the same goes for the Chadha family for CitizenM!
Q.8. What headline do you want to read in the WSJ about Bhakta Capital in 2025?
A.8.“Truly delivering risk-adjusted returns: having a portfolio diversification strategy at the intersection of Hospitality, Real Estate and Technology/Big Data (Hard and Soft assets).” Thus, the market realizes that to be successful in hospitality, you require a diverse portfolio. One must explore different segments, geography, etc. It is possible with upper-midscale service hotels as they help deliver cash on cash yield on cost and lifestyle-oriented urban-centric leisure type of markets where you can bank on capital appreciation. As a gentleman once said, and even Einstein- “to have a successful business, you need to have imagination.” Hence, if you cannot imagine what a diverse portfolio in hospitality is, you need to imagine it, create it, experiment with it, and prove it through the numbers. I’d love to see that one day, a track record of our success across all my various verticals.
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