Exclusive: Ukrainians launch alternative fractional investment startup Investables
With a team scattered across both Ukraine and the world, Investables is launching to international investors just a week after its initial launch in the US.
The idea for Investables, a new fractional investment platform based on physical assets, first came about in February this year, in Ukraine, just as the war was beginning.
Over the past ten months, two of the company’s three founders, Dmytro Lokshyn and Oleh Shkinder, have managed to leave the country, while the third, Victor Shalhinov, and the rest of the team are mostly dotted around Ukraine.
With a backdrop of unprecedented circumstances, the founders went from an idea on a couch, to securing funding from two angel investors in May, to completing the SEC qualification process in early October and launching in the US just two months later.
Now, one week after launching in the US, Investables is going live to international investors in more than 40 countries, including the UK, Europe, Canada, Australia and Brazil.
“I think it's going to be really exciting, mostly because I think our competitors that are also in the US are not really speaking about international investors, even if some of them accept them. It's not something that US companies usually do,” chief product officer Shkinder told AltFi.
“So being available internationally is a really big step for us, because it only proves that we can accept customers from any other country as long as it’s secure and insured.”
The expansion also sees the startup, which already sources its assets – including luxury cars, watches and wine – internationally, also looking to strike partnerships with UK-based and other international companies, CEO Lokshyn said.
Alongside the typical startup struggles and adventures like finding new partners and providers or figuring out regulations, Invetsables has also had to tackle the added layer of having a team predominantly based in a warzone.
“The biggest challenge was when you hear those explosions or you read it in the news and then suddenly the connection breaks up”
Co-founder and chief technology officer Shalhinov is based close to a lot of the fighting, and many of the rest of the team is in Kyiv and Dnipro.
“For me, the biggest challenge was when you hear those explosions or you read it in the news and then suddenly the connection breaks up and you don't have access to the people and you’re writing to them ‘Hey guys, what's up?’ and then for the next two hours no one's responding to you,” Lokshyn said.
“I think this is the biggest issue, maybe less from a startup perspective as well, but just from a human perspective, because you're worried about whether everything’s alright.”
Despite the challenges of having to source generators for the internet and explosions, alarms and fighter jets often going off around them and their colleagues, Investables has readied itself to launch pretty quickly.
With a minimum $10 (or equivalent) entry point, the company wants to lower the barrier to entry for investment in luxury items, similar to Chip, which launched its alternative asset investments in August after acquiring Koia’s customer base.
The aim is to have a “global marketplace” that serves people around the world.
Customers might choose to invest in Yayoi Kusama pumpkins, Hulk and Batman Rolexes or potentially next year… a Russian tank?
“What we’re hoping to do once everything is over is to transport a burnt tank from Ukraine and actually put it on the auction house or create an offering with it and donate all the money to the people in need back home,” Shkinder said.
Right now that obviously is not quite achievable – transporting 50-odd tons of metal across the border would be no mean feat – but it is something the company is hoping to do in the future.
“We thought about it during the launch phase, but then we thought maybe we should postpone it for a bit,” Lokshyn said.
“But this would be quite funny if people can fund a destroyed Russian tank and then this money would go towards people [in Ukraine].”
So after a big 2022, with eyes on a funding round, the hopes of gathering the whole team in one place for the first time, and maybe even a destroyed Russian tank, it looks like Investables is set for an even being 2023.