ICO Spotlight: Interview with Lloyd Huang from SmartRE
This post is part of the ICO Spotlight, a series of posts with the teams behind the different projects covered by Coinschedule.
Hello Lloyd, please start by telling us: What is SmartRE?
SmartRE is a platform that allows homeowners to liquidate a part of their home equity without accumulating any debt or have any interest rate sensitivity; and buyers to purchase that equity at a very low threshold down to one USD; all assured by a customized insurance policy to mitigate risk. The equity is tokenized on the Ethereum blockchain for escrow, transactions, and logistics as a neutral third party. For example, if a homeowner were to liquidate 10% of a USD one million house, then that 10% (USD 100,000) would be tokenized and made available to buyers. Since the tokens are divided down to eight decimal places, buyers can purchase all the way down to ten one-billionth of a token. This is what’s so powerful about what we’re doing, we are democratizing real estate purchases for everyone, no matter the income level; which has never been done before. You can imagine a portfolio of properties in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Manhattan, Chicago, etc. that would not be feasible before without hundreds of thousands, if not millions of USDs.
So people can unlock equity from their properties using blockchain? That’s brilliant! How do you guys have this idea?
We came up with the idea when we realized that all the homeowners in the San Francisco Bay Area, which includes Silicon Valley, where we live, have this tremendous store of capital. But that it is all locked in their homes. The only options available right now to unlock it are home equity loans or reverse mortgages, which accumulate debt and/or risk losing the homeowner’s property. We decided that there had to be a better way, and with blockchain technology that is maturing quickly, we realized that putting the two together was a great idea that benefits everyone. Homeowners get liquidity without giving up tenancy, buyers get a piece of the American residential real estate in high-demand areas, and SmartRE empowers both parties by using neutral smart contracts on the blockchain for immutability and security.
What about legal implications? Is this available in any country?
Currently, it is only available in the United States, as real estate laws vary from state to state, and certainly country to country. We wish to be international by the second or third year, depending on the flexibility of foreign laws that would allow us to adapt our business model to the local legal framework. Our vision is to allow anyone anywhere in the world to buy a percentage of a property anywhere on Earth. To do so, of course, we would make sure we abide by all local property and commercial laws.
How can you ensure to investors that the equity they are purchasing with SmartRE will be honoured?
Firstly, the platform is actually peer-to-peer, so all contracts are legally between the homeowners and the buyers. SmartRE represents the buyers on the contract, for logistics reasons and in name only, but all benefits accrue to the buyers; similar to a nominee. Therefore, the agreements are direct contracts. Should anything untoward happen, the legal system in the US is solid and the contracts would be enforced in court. In addition, since we have all the information of the homeowners, from the application process, anything that is not upheld on their part will be triggered by our monitoring and swift action will be taken to prevent possible non-market damages to buyers. Secondly, before the tokens are dispatched to buyers and the cash is released to the homeowners, the conditions in the contracts are mutually agreed to by both sides, then committed to the blockchain. That information is forever unalterable and any debate about the agreement can be searched for confirmation. Finally, the customized insurance monitoring will trigger when a property goes up for sale. SmartRE will be notified and we will contact the homeowner to enforce the percentage sharing of the sale price at the fair market value, at least.
What can you tell us about you and your team?
I have known my CTO, TC, since graduate school when we were both in the PhD program at UCLA. He finished and I dropped out after receiving my Master’s in Computer Science. TC’s dissertation was on heterogeneous device computation. After graduation, he’s worked at major companies in Silicon Valley including Microsoft, IBM and Samsung. He has published over 40 peer-reviewed papers and filed over 20 patents, with nine issued to date. He is an avid learner who believes in constant education, having covered parallel computing, big data, mobile computing, machine learning and blockchain tech among his interests. For HL, our Chief Marketing Officer for China, he has an entrepreneurial streak that encompasses both Europe and China, having studied and worked in process engineering in France and China. He was founded two startups and raised millions for them. The strongest strength he brings to the team is his ability to convert people into customers. In the industry, he is known as a great growth hacker, with very innovative methods that others would not think of. As for me, my background is also in engineering, having emphasized supercomputing and VLSI at UC Berkeley and then computer network optimization for my Master’s. I then went off into strategic management consulting where my projects included Fortune 50 companies in the financial and biotech sectors. Thereafter, I was bitten by the startup bug and have immersed myself in them since. The second startup, SMIC, with offices in Silicon Valley and China, was an exciting company as we were able to take it public with a market capitalization of over USD 8 billion on the New York Stock Exchange. My accounts were, at the time, the largest in the company with over USD 10 million per month. I believe our SmartRE team is poised for success given our unique combination of startup experiences, research prowess and curiosity, and entrepreneurial ability to navigate the unexpected that all startups encounter.
Thank you so much Lloyd and good luck with your ICO!
Thank you very much for your time; I truly appreciate it.
For more information and to join the ICO please go to https://www.smartre.io/