Fresh of an undisclosed seed funding round, BitofProperty is charging into Asia with their real estate crowdfunding platform powered by blockchain. This Singapore-headquartered company is looking to make real estate investment accessible to the masses through crowdfunding.
We spoke to Karl Vaan, CEO and Co-Founder of BitofProperty, about his startup and how he plans to expand throughout Asia. Karl is already an astute investor, having made his first foray into investing the young age of 12 and continues to follow and learn more about investing.
He brought passion to his blockchain platform, which is unique to Asia, at least to our research and we were fascinated by the concept of becoming real estate investors with the little (or no) savings that we had. With the prices of real estate generally increasing over time, this seems like a wise investment.
If you don’t can’t find Karl in his office, you’re likely to find him in the kitchen making delicious meals or reading somewhere quiet.
Read his story below.
Sell us your company/service in 300 words?
BitOfProperty is here to make real estate investing simple. We enable blockchain based liquid investing into international real estate starting from small amounts.
The idea of BitOfProperty was born when the founders started to look for ways to invest in real estate. What they found was that real estate investing was expensive, legally difficult and finding information internationally troublesome. That’s when they started looking for ways to bring international real estate investments to the masses – starting from small amounts, providing transparent ownership structure and carrying out due diligence process for investors.
The problems investors are facing today are, firstly, investors have little options to invest in international real estate due to lack of information, complicated due diligence process, and capital intensiveness. Secondly, each country has its own legal structure making it difficult to prove real estate ownership
This is why we have built a platform which enables to invest and match investors’ demand in international properties starting from small amounts. We take care of sourcing, due diligence, and management of the selected properties. Each investment is recorded on the public blockchain, which is accessible to all investors.
During the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) development, we completed our first investment project with the total value of USD 100,000. The total of 35 investors participated in this project with an average investment size of USD 2,850. As of today, we have successfully closed our second deal on the platform. Our focus in terms of properties will now shift to Asia. Investors can now build out their own real estate portfolio by diversifying investments internationally with less hassle and constraints.
What is stopping you from having the largest company in the world?
BitOfProperty is a fintech company operating in the crowded and vast real estate market, which means that there are two things crucial for our success: firstly, regulation and secondly, customer acquisition costs.
Bringing innovation to an incumbent industry is definitely exciting, but it comes with many regulatory constraints. Since we are operating internationally, we have to bear in mind rules and regulations that apply to us in different jurisdictions while creating a commonly smooth experience for the customer. Adhering to all the laws while maintaining usability will mean each country we onboard will require a bit of time until we can open it up to the users.
High customer acquisition cost is one of the most common issues fintech companies face at the beginning. This is highly correlated with trust users give to the company. Once the critical mass is achieved, adoption is increasing and customer acquisition cost will start to go down. That’s when we will be able to penetrate the market more strongly and gain higher market share.
If you could change one thing about the tech industry in Southeast Asia, what would it be?
The tech industry in Southeast Asia is dynamic, vibrant and has strong growth potential. In my opinion, however, is not fully supported by the governments in the region.
You can read about various government and country level initiatives to support tech industry in Southeast Asia, but when talking about fintech then startups have few opportunities to test out their product without going through rigorous legal processes.
Being a startup means constant testing and iteration, but if you have invested increasing amounts of your time and resources to adhere to regulations, then the focus will move from proving the business idea to operational efficiency. The region might, therefore, miss out on great business ideas due to the costs that are related to regulatory requirements.
Name one person in the region, who is making a difference in Technology? As there are many interesting and innovative companies/startups currently out there making the change, for me the most sympathetic is TransferWise. Simple and cost-effective way to send money from one country to another has made a huge impact on everybody. I use TransferWise quite a lot and the way they are challenging big banks is remarkable. Even though they did not start here in Asia and only expanded here quite recently, they have a mindset of going global at a fast pace. This is a great example for all new and existing tech startups in the region, to not stay region specific, but to think bigger.
Name one person in the region, who is making a difference in Technology?
There are many interesting and innovative companies or startups currently out there making the change, but for me, I would say the team at TransferWise. Simple and cost-effective way to send money from one country to another has made a huge impact on everybody. I use TransferWise quite a lot and the way they are challenging big banks is remarkable. Even though they did not start here in Asia and only expanded here quite recently, they have a mindset of going global at a fast pace. This is a great example for all new and existing tech startups in the region, to not stay region specific, but to think bigger.
What would you want people to remember you for, 100 years from now?
100 years from now, I believe that if my team and I have been able to help out in creating a more transparent and internationally accessible real estate investment space that can be built upon in the future then that would be the greatest recognition for us.
Karl Vään is the CEO and Co-Founder of BitofProperty, a blockchain real estate crowdfunding platform based in Singapore.
Karl has a BSc of Business and Economics from Stockholm School of Economics in Riga (SSE Riga) Riga. At university, Karl excelled in his studies and was top of class in entrepreneurship courses.
Having graduated from the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga with a BSc of Business and Economics, Karl Vään went to work in Gunvor, a global commodities trading house. There he gained a wide range of knowledge about different departments in the commodities business. He was in charge of margin calls and supporting traders as a back office specialist.
After a couple of years in corporate, Karl decided to start his own business with two partners. This is his very first startup, BitOfProperty, and which he currently runs.
Views expressed by the interviewee are not necessarily shared by Tech Collective. Some minimal editing is done for clarity’s sake.
To read more great interviews with your favourite startups, click here.