Investing in DeFi lending for Real Estate Debt

I’m thrilled to announce a pre-seed investment into Robinland via our family office.

Robinland is a much needed bridge between traditional and decentralized financing (DeFi) for the real estate industry. Using crypto tokens which can be secured against the underlying real estate, property developers can raise debt more cost effectively and faster than traditional mortgages. DeFi lenders such as MakerDAO are also benefiting from the platform as the underlying tokens are very safe to lend against as they represent a senior position on the underlying real estate. Holding such real estate tokens in your treasury provides a level of stability and safety that hasn’t yet been experienced across Web 3.0 liquidity pools.

Robinland is Web 3.0 for Real Estate


Robinland’s Impact

Robinland came to me through another VC firm, Agya Ventures; Kunal is someone I highly respect and have worked with in the past, which got me interested in this opportunity. His experience at Blackstone gives him a really deep view of what the ecosystem needs.  I’ve also co-invested with thier VC fund before and consider Agya to be top-tier PropTech investors. I’ve also co-invested with their VC fund before and consider them to be top-tier PropTech investors.

Robinland is unique as an investment platform, because there’s a huge market for all aspects of what they’re doing, both with the traditional real estate sector and the new emerging DeFi industry. The way Robinland sits at the intersection of these two markets is what makes the investment interesting.

They’re innovating in 3 areas I find particularly interesting:

1. Leveling The Playing Field

Traditionally, buying real estate has been for those who have access to lots of capital through their own savings or getting approved by a lender (you need a track record). Typically a bit of both are needed, although neither are easy for most people to get, hence the saying “you need money to make money.” Robinland is shifting this dynamic in favor of anyone who is willing to jump in by lowering the barrier to entry.

They’re effectively democratizing real estate investing.

2. High Liquidity & Low Costs

By tokenizing real estate debt, Robinland is creating a new type of legal security coupled with a small ticket size. This allows for high liquidity and negligible transaction costs. Investors are able to purchase tokens that pay regular dividends, meaning their earnings will be more stable and frequent, without the expenses associated with real world assets.

3. New Type or Crypto Asset

Robinland is introducing a new “crypto bond” asset class that diversifies/hedges crypto portfolios. It’s unique in that it’s backed by RWA (real world assets), meaning it’s farless risky and volatile than other types of cryptos as the tokens are in the treasury and have real, tangible value. Despite being a completely new concept, it’s been deemed legally complaiant (SEC approved)

Why I invested in Robinland

Robin’s core model is the first use case I’ve seen for DeFi lending in real estate that I feel has potential.

Aside from the strong founding team and market potential, I’m drawn to the company’s abilitiy to offer something unique. Solving problems is everything, but Scarlet and her team are doing it in a way that hasn’t been done before, and they’re doing it well.

As someone who was only able to invest in real estate after I sold my company, I’m intrigued by the low barrier to entry Robinland is creating for driven individuals who may not have the capital to invest in high quality real estate deals, or even at all.

The Founding Team

I’ve always felt that investing in the people behind a company is more important than investing in a company itself. An idea with vast potential won’t go far if it’s not supported by the right expertise and drive. Robinland is not only based on a promising model and technology, but its team is well rounded, experienced, and committed.

Their CEO – Scarlet – has a strong background in the industry with a PhD in Economics from Stanford. She’s also an ex Data Scientist of Google and Shopify and the ex CEO and IR at several Bay Area consumer facing start-ups. I actually met Scarlet a couple of times before investing. On each interaction, I learned something new as we both went deep into the DeFi rabbit hole. 

The rest of the team comes from an impressive background as well, spanning across successful brands, including Tinder, Decentral, Metaspace, American Express, Samsung, and Comcast.


Photo of Scarlet

Innovative Mortgage Products

One of the aspects that interested me the most was the fact that they provide a new form of debt financing as an alternative to mortgages. Most traditional Mortgage lenders are uncomfortable with any type of blockchain or tokenization, but Robinland has been able to create a system that works well for all parties, making this a possibility.

I feel that for real estate tokenization to take off as a viable alternative to traditional real estate capital raising, there needs to be leveraged returns. This means equity tokens must exist in the capital stack alongside mortgage-like products such as Robinland, Otherwise, investors are tokenizing for 100% of the equity which reduces return potential. For example, It’s much more powerful if you only purchase 30% of equity but raise debt on the remaining 70%. With this approach, I can see a future where the entire capital stack is tokenized, with Robinland providing the debt piece.

What’s really special about Robinland is that they can provide financing against any type of real estate, regardless of how it’s structured – tokens or traditional. They take a senior position so downsize risk is minimized. They also are the only partners who got approved by makerDAO which is rare and shows how important they are to the ecosystem.

Market Size & Early Success

The real estate industry is tremendous: Combined with financing, it makes up the largest contributor to the US’ GDP. The combined market potential for residential and commercial real estate as well as real estate financial services is 4 trillion per year. The entire asset class itself is $300T so the market size here is enormous.

As if that isn’t exciting enough, recent partnerships with Crowdfunz and MakerDAO means their first set of projects can already generate revenue, setting them up for early success. I am very excited to see how far this project can go and to be supporting Scarlet and the team’s vision.