By Amelia Isaacs on Wednesday 4 May 2022
A combination of NFTs and luxury goods, founded across Ukraine and Germany, comes Investables, a new investment startup.
“Once the war is over and we can rent a house, work in a startup environment, get to know each other […] that will be just amazing.”
Having come up with the plan for their new venture in mid-February this year, Investables co-founders Dmytro Lokshyn, Oleh Shkinder and Victor Shalhinov have never all met together in person, though it is clear this has not hindered their excitement for this new project.
The idea came about sitting on a couch and wondering what the three of them could do together to fill a gap in the market, though they were each in their separate homes, remotely.
They were all in Ukraine when the war started, and Shkinder and Shalhinov are still there now.
Lokshyn, who is a German citizen, managed to leave, driving across five borders over a week and a half with his girlfriend and her mother to get to Germany, where he is now.
A remote-first company regardless of the war, they said, the three got used to Zoom life and remote working because of covid, and came together at their previous venture, ChangeBlock, though Lokshyn and Shalhinov have worked together for over six years.
Shalhinov, the company’s chief technology officer, is located close to the fighting in Ukraine.
”When there’s an alarm, he just sits and he codes. He’s very stress reluctant. He’s really badass,” CEO Lokshyn told AltFi.
“Sometimes it’s alarms, sometimes it’s fighter jets. I got used to it, [Lokshyn] hasn’t got used to it,” chief product officer Shkinder said.
“[The war] affected our work for maybe a week or so and then we reorganised and continued working on the startup,” Lokshyn said.
The team quickly put together a proof-of-concept and began pitching their idea to investors.
“What was quite incredible was that despite the war, despite working remotely, investors believed in this idea a lot and would fund us,” he continued.
The alternative fractional investment platform uses blockchain technology to enable customers to purchase shares in rare collectibles, whether that is a 1965 Ford Shelby or a Rolex GMT.
Investables source, verify and acquire noteworthy and rare items into collections and then break these down into fractions so that anyone can invest regardless of budget.
People can invest in real-time with the ability to diversify their investment portfolio, spreading the risk across collections of items.
The company also uses blockchain to mint Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) that are backed by the luxury physical items, including cars, watches and wine, that are stored in a vault.
This ensures that all investments are secure and publicly verifiable.
“We are not selling digital NFTs like art pieces or tweets from Jack Dorsey. We’re going a different way because it’s a hype market, and despite the NFTs we’re still a traditional startup,” Lokshyn said.
Lokshyn explained they are looking to create something with more “substantial, fundamental value” that cannot be diluted too much because it’s backed by a physical object, a counter-trend they are trying to drive.
Readying to launch
Currently at the pre-launch stage with early access sign up, the company is looking to launch in the UK and the US in about three months, before expanding to Europe, then the Middle East and South East Asia.
In a way, the company is trying to democratise investing by allowing the average person access to luxury items, removing the typical high entry cost.
The aim is to “create a global marketplace to serve people from all around the world” and to “allow people, regardless of the country, with the help of blockchain, to invest in those collectibles”.
“We’re playing in the intersection of the physical and digital worlds at this point. We want to combine those worlds and get them together in one piece,” Shkinder said.
Having the physical asset provides “more credibility and transparency” in the investment, Shkinder explained, and investors can even put in a buyout offer if they are particularly attached to an item.
Shkinder described the company as being at the intersection of NFT people, people who love collectibles, and investors who want to diversify their assets and the need to think about different incentives for their different target audiences.
“Investors will be looking at returns, so the assets must be worth it. NFT people want to have an NFT. For people who love collectibles we need to evoke emotion, they need to see something,” he said.
When asked how exactly this would work for those who want access to the physical luxury collectibles, they chuckled.
“People need to stay tuned, we have something in mind, it’s going to be a surprise,” they said.