Article By Gerald Fenech
Artem Popov, the co-founder of international investment platform, Roobee told me how he raised $4.5m during the pre-seed round from one of the largest Ethereum and EOS investors. We held an interesting Q & A with him over the project and what he hopes to achieve with it.
What stage is your project currently at?
“We’re planning to have the first version of MVP released at Q1 2019, after having spent a year verifying the idea and testing our business model. The results have been great so far. We established a community with over 200,000 retail investors and potential Roobee clients in the future. We helped over 5,000 people invest over 21,000 ETH (equivalent to 15,000,000$) in several investment funds, venture and blockchain projects, some of the most hyped projects of 2018, with extensive media coverage”.
What do you hope to achieve with Roobee?
“We’re trying to level the playing field on financial markets. Our goal is to provide retail clients with the same investment opportunities and level of security as the largest financial market players, wherever in the world they are and no matter what their capital stands at, even at 10$. There are hardly any investment products available to the general public. Most investment instruments such as commercial property, venture funds, IPO, stock market are unavailable to most people and have high barriers to entry, they don’t cater at all to the retail investor. If a retail investor saves a modest sum of $5000, it will only be enough to get exposure to 1 or 2 investment instruments, but this is a risky approach because these particular 1-2 instruments can show negative performance. In an investment portfolio of 10 instruments, for instance, the risk is hedged. This is just one of the main problems that Roobee is set to solve for retail investors”.
What, according to you, sets Roobee apart from the competition?
“To put it short, Roobee is like Uber, but in the world of investing. Roobee will comprise various instruments from different markets and provide retail investors with instant access to them with 0% fees. From every financial market, we select the best services, companies, and investment opportunities.Roobee is designed to help people create an investment portfolio consisting of instruments and options such as equity, venture, property, lending, investment funds, capital management, IPO and seed rounds, crypto currencies. Users will also be able to manually assemble their unique investment portfolio”.
What is the target audience of Roobee?
“Our product’s primary target audience are investors of generations Z and Y (born after 1981). According to the UN projections, by 2020 at least 63% of the overall consumer audience will be represented by gen Z and Y. They tend to put less trusts into banks and rarely use traditional banking and financial products. They do not want to follow hundreds of indexes, spend extra time to comprehend complex data and learn investing in detail. They prefer simplicity, gamification, transparency and gains with low effort, living in the “automated payment” mode. Roobee will be there to provide it all to them”.
Sounds great, but how can you help your users pick optimal investment options out of hundreds available on the market?
“Every year hundreds of new investment companies come to the market. It’s becoming difficult to understand who to work with, mostly due to the lack of transparency – their real yield is often not published. This is why all of the investment instruments will be subject to due diligence by our analytical team, and this is why we incorporate blockchain technology for additional transparency. Every investment instrument on the Roobee platform will have an immutable track record for its performance indicators – money invested by users, payouts, real yield, number of investors e.t.c. Every user transaction will be recorded on the blockchain, becoming a proof of ownership and proving its validity. All of these measures will help users get a better understanding of the instruments they are choosing for their portfolio and invest in the best-performing ones”.
What is your opinion on the present situation on the crypto market, where do you think it’s going in the coming few months?
“The way I see it, the market is going through regular cycles, the likes of which it has undergone multiple times already. Every time BTC price went 85% down, it came back even stronger. The more I speak to the industry leaders such as John McAfee, Changpeng Zhao, Dr. Larry Sanger, Charlie Lee, Roger Ver – the more I’m convinced of this point of view. The period from December 17, 2017 to December 17, 2018 illustrates one of such cycles, the likes of which have been observed 4 times already. No one can tell you with 100% certainty where the market is headed next though, because it’s still not mature enough and is heavily affected by external factors. “At the same time you see such organizations as NASDAQ planning to launch BTC futures trading. Western Union, Mastercard, VISA, Intel, Microsoft, Samsung and IBM are actively researching blockchain technology and increasingly integrate it in their business processes, invest in blockchain projects or even employ certain existing cryptocurrencies – this demonstrates that the blockchain industry is here to stay. You may have noticed, that the stock market is going through a similar downtrend. Over the last 6 months, the stocks of leading companies lost over $1 trillion in capitalization, this loss itself being 8 times as big as the whole crypto market cap. So as you can see, in comparison, crypto market losses are not that significant.
What is your current funding stage and further plans?
“We have successfully completed our pre-seed round. One of the world’s largest investors, known as 200m_trader, invested 10 955 ETH into Roobee ($4,500,000) in early August. His previous investment targets were Ethereum and EOS, which he entered during private rounds. This person was featured in a Bloomberg article in 2017 after transforming $55m into $283m within a month. Currently, we are wrapping up the 2nd private round, finalizing negotiations with other large investors, the owner of the world’s largest Eth wallets being one of them. We no longer accept applications for this private round. In the future we are planning to hold another round for retail investors, since this is the whole point of our product – enabling the retail investors to access the best opportunities. It would go against our principles of equality not to hold a public round. The details will later be announced on our official website”.
What made such large investors put their trust in Roobee in a falling market, especially during the pre-seed round?
“What mattered the most for them is the fact that we’ve tested the efficiency of our business model in practice over the last year, and with excellent results. Some of Roobee investors have had the chance to try our services out and we helped them invest into various projects already. Moreover, our investors see great potential in the markets in which Roobee will provide investment opportunities, and forecast their size to grow by 10 trillions of dollars in the next 3 years.
Quoting one of our investors: “I only invest in projects that can reach a capitalization of $1bn within the time frame of 5 years. I see this potential in your project. I followed the same guidelines investing in Ethereum* back in 2014”.
Have you already set goals for 2019 and where do you see your company in the long term?
“As I’ve outlined already – we are releasing the first MVP version of Roobee in Q1 2019, and we expect over 10 000 of whitelist submissions from people eager to use our product by March 2019. We estimate that our user base will increase to 100 000 by late 2019/early 2020 and expect it to surpass 1 000 000 by 2024. The market cap of Roobee, as per our business plan, will reach $1bn by 2024″.