Interview between Maria Aponte, Head of Programs at Fintech Cadence and Bruce & Michelle Malcolm, Co-Founders at Geoclique, recent graduates in our Ascension 2022 Cohort.
GeoClique aims to modernize the real estate market using on-demand asset tokenization, simplifying access to property purchase, investment management, and liquidity.
Can you tell us about your backstory and what inspired you to take the leap into building Geoclique?
Michelle: When Bruce first began his now 15-year journey into the real estate industry, he found himself dealing with expensive barriers to entry, high-interest fees from private lenders, and traditional banks that weren’t open to lending money. He also became interested in blockchain technology and couldn’t believe that the only technological advancements in the real estate industry within the last 30 years were Docusign. He realized that these problems may have been plaguing others as well, and that blockchain could be a solution to digitize real estate. The idea for GeoClique was born through these experiences and Bruce put together a skilled team to make that idea a reality.
Blockchain is proposing exciting possibilities for real estate industry transactions - from expressing initial interest to the transfer of titles. What has been the most exciting aspect of bringing Geoclique to life?
It’s been exciting to learn about traditional payment systems and to see how quickly the space is evolving. We are at the forefront of innovation building in real time to find solutions to the inefficiencies that span all aspects of the real estate industry. We have also loved diving further into the Fintech community and learning about other startups and how they’re building tools to improve Canada’s financial landscape.
On the other side, what have been some of the most challenging aspects of building a startup at the intersection of traditional industries such as real estate and the token economy?
There are always people who are striving for innovation – those looking for efficient ways to transact – but unfortunately, there are also many people who are stuck in the comfort of traditional methods. This resistance to change and the complexities of Proptech regulations make for a challenging landscape to navigate.
Proptech’s role in the sharing economy is disrupting the real estate industry. How do you think the current supply and demand patterns in this industry will change in the next 10 years?
The use of blockchain in our solution means that data will be real-time, rather than lagging, and fractionalized real estate is quicker, more efficient, and more accessible. Therefore, people might try to sell their withholdings quicker in down markets and they may try to buy up the supply faster in up markets. Thus, despite being more efficient, the market may have higher volatility in those swings.
What are some of the next big milestones for Geoclique ?
Some upcoming milestones for GeoClique include listing our first property on the marketplace, as well as developing strategic partnerships within the existing real estate market. Soon after, we would like to onboard our first developer and address the slow settlement issues that accompany real estate transactions (such as the manual notary process). We hope to raise an official seed round, as well as continue to work with the incredible network we’ve built through Fintech Cadence. We may have some other tricks up our sleeves so stay tuned.
As a founder and leader, what are some of the most important skill sets that aspiring entrepreneurs should develop?
Networking is an essential part of being an entrepreneur, not just in launching your business, but also in building it from the ground up. It’s important to find the right people to complement your skill set, rather than trying to take on everything alone. Resiliency, adaptability, and being open to feedback are also crucial in the unpredictable journey of entrepreneurship.
Being a founder and undergoing the startup journey can be a rollercoaster. What have been the driving forces to keep you going despite the lows and what advice would you give to founders?
Our driving forces have been reflecting on the bigger picture; the problem that we’re trying to solve. Our advice to founders would be to take time to reflect on your roadmap, for better or for worse. This includes the little wins as well as the conversations where people don’t understand or don’t believe in your product. It also helps to remember that no matter how many people there are that don’t understand your vision, you can always find people that do. Surround yourself with those people. Don’t take the losses to heart, take them as a strategy to move forward and meet every twist and turn as a learning opportunity.
You’ve been part of the 5th Ascension Cohort that has undertaken a new spin on supporting founders by maximizing their funding opportunities and fostering peer support from founders. What have been some of the biggest takeaways for you?
Bruce: One of the biggest takeaways from this Ascension cohort has been the realization that we’re all in the same boat. Be it other founders, Fintech Cadence, GeoClique, or Venture Capitalists, we’re all trying to solve problems together and raise funds to do so. We’re on the same journey, though perhaps walking different paths and trying to achieve our visions.
Additionally, in Michelle’s experience as COO and founding team member, it’s been inspiring to see other women in this space supporting each other and cheering each other on. The sense of community in an industry in which she had no previous experience has been such a pleasant surprise. Seeing other women succeed while simultaneously lending assurances has reinforced her confidence to take on more challenges within the Fintech industry. She hopes to continue seeing a rise in women taking on the world of tech together.
You’re based in Montreal, QC, what have been some of the support you’ve received as a startup within the province's entrepreneurship ecosystem and how do you think QC (or Canada) can do better?
We’ve been indirect beneficiaries of the Quebec government’s help through their funding of programs such as Fintech Cadence but we haven’t received direct help from Quebec (or Canada) yet. To improve, the government could be more clear about what they’re looking for within new industries. It could help to know their motives and intentions and to clarify regulations. The ideal scenario would be to have an invitation to an open-form chat with blockchain companies to work on policies together. That way, we could have a better understanding of expectations. We look forward to being part of these discussions.
Wrapping up 2022 what’s been one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned you’ll take with you in the new year?
It’s one thing to dream but it’s another thing to build. Now is the time to tackle our challenge and make it happen.
Lastly, any books or podcasts you recommend?
- The All-In Podcast with Chamath, Jason, Sacks & Friedberg
- The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
- Zero to one by Blake Masters and Peter Thiel
- Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight