Things move and change fast on the FinTech Frontier- and company names are no exception. Earlier this month, a local fintech announced that they had rebranded, and would continue their work under a new name. As you could have guessed by the title of this post- that fintech would be none other than AKRU (formerly Tokenism). In celebration of the company’s relaunch, we sat down with AKRU Founder & CEO Mian Mohsin Masud to learn a little more about the organization and its mission.
Tell us about AKRU- what market are you disrupting and how?
AKRU is an investment management platform aimed to increase access to commercial real estate investing through technology. Our mission is to democratize commercial real estate investing. Because we believe real estate investing should be simple and accessible, we created a platform that lowers the barriers to entry and offers a seamless experience for both investors and owners.
Commercial real estate investments have powered the world’s strongest portfolios for decades and now we want to make the opportunity to invest in those assets widely available. Traditionally someone would need hundreds of thousands of dollars to invest in the types of properties we list on our site, but with AKRU investors can start with as little as $1000. AKRU’s commercial real estate investment platform uses blockchain technology to create a secure and easy-to-use marketplace and allow users to easily diversify their portfolio with total control.
The platform is revolutionary because it creates digital securities & fractionalize (tokenize) real estate assets. Tokenization increases liquidity to a level never seen before in real estate investing. Assets like multifamily units that are typically illiquid can now be liquid like shares on the stock market.
Where did the idea come from?
In January of 2018, I was back in Toronto for a few business meetings when my buddy from University, Haider, broke blockchain technology down for me at dinner and explained the many possible use cases and applications other than crypto. AKRU really started off at that dinner table where my instant need for using blockchain to resolve for liquidity and equal access for all in the commercial real estate space started to come to life. The words: “this could change what I do completely in a very short period” is what I recall as ending the conversation with that night. By April that year (2018) I had come up with a name for the company and within the following month had brought on board some of the brightest minds in the securities space in Cincinnati to work out the legalities of offering these “digital” securities to retail investors. Despite everyone in the tech world discouraging us to set up as a US company and how it would lead to all kinds of regulatory concerns, I knew one thing: we were going to be a fully compliant US based platform that would truly democratize the commercial real estate world. Up until recently the company had retained its original name, Tokenism as in a distinctive practice or a movement for the love of tokens (blockchain reference) and me being an immigrant I didn’t ever realize the implications and negative connotations associated with the word until it was pointed out to me. Upon realizing this we very quickly hired a Brooklyn based agency to help us with the renaming of the company. Countless internal meetings and an infinite number of focus group discussions followed by a major product overhaul led to the birth of “AKRU”.
Can anyone use AKRU to invest in income producing assets?
AKRU is built to level the playing field for all and truly democratize a space that is dominated by the ultra-high net worth men in the US. We have created this platform to make sure that you can invest in the world’s most stable and sought-after asset class: Real Estate, no matter your creed, religion, gender, orientation or color of your skin.
We try to ensure that not only are our users able to build generational wealth but also have an impact in areas that may need it more than others. With a variety of assets being listed on the platform, investors will now have the option to invest in a socially conscious way, be it creating better access to affordable housing projects or projects for community development.
With that all being said, anyone can register and get started on the platform today. However, if you are not an accredited investor, you would be asked to sign up for a waitlist so we can let you know as soon as you can invest using our platform. We hope we are able to achieve this within the next 12 months.
Lastly – seems like you’ve been gaining quite a bit of momentum. Any exciting news to share?
Let’s talk numbers: Over the last week we have had more than 400 people signup on AKRUs waitlist, our total number of registered customers has jumped over 80 and there are 13 new assets coming to the platform over the next 6 months. All of this is since we recently launched a successful rebrand. We worked with Radish Lab, a Brooklyn-based award-winning creative agency, to rename the company and Miradore Productions, based in Dubai, facilitated the rebrand, visual & digital assets along with all of our productions. We unveiled the new brand’s look, tone & feel at the 3rd Annual Security Token Summit last month, produced by Draper Goren Holm, at which AKRU was the Title Sponsor and the event featured a fireside chat with Hester Price (aka Crypto MOM, aka SEC commissioner), members of the US Senate & US Congress along with some of the brightest minds and biggest names in the industry.