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Startup Interview with Viktor Viktorov, Founder & CEO of REINNO by@nataliashirshova

Startup Interview with Viktor Viktorov, Founder & CEO of REINNO

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Natalia Shirshova HackerNoon profile picture

Natalia Shirshova

Natalia's background is in Economics and Communications. These worlds collided when she joined REINNO's founding team.

HackerNoon Reporter: Please tell us briefly about your background.

I’m a serial entrepreneur with successful fundraising rounds. I spent over nine years in the e-commerce space, launching several successful platforms. One of them was a sporting goods retailer that grew to seven countries with a market leadership position in three of them. Now I am the co-founder and CEO of REINNO - a fintech startup bringing liquidity to commercial real estate investors.

REINNO’s goal is to make real estate a flexible, easy, and liquid investment. REINNO combines the power of blockchain with proprietary, data-driven lending software to create the first tokenized instant lending model for commercial real estate. This makes our loans paperless, effortless, and cheaper than a traditional mortgage.

What's your startup called? And in a sentence or two, what does it do?

REINNO developed a lending product to help commercial real estate investors gain liquidity with blockchain technology. We provide, purchase, and refinance loans as well as instant credit lines, all backed by digital real estate securities.

What is the origin story?

A few years ago, I heard about blockchain and cryptocurrencies for the first time and it sparked my interest. I decided to quit my position as the CEO of a successful e-commerce retailer to start a new venture. While I was initially focused on cryptocurrencies, I soon realized that blockchain had a stronger application in commercial real estate. Commercial real estate has always been very conservative and suffered from a lack of liquidity. I discovered that fractional digital ownership could solve many issues in that sector, making it more accessible and efficient. And just like that, REINNO was born.

What do you love about your team, and why are you the ones to solve this problem?

We have a great mix of talent and try to keep the company structure as flat as possible. Every member is important and contributes to the common goal. For us, REINNO is more than just a company, it is a vision. I have two co-founders, Kristiyan Lozanov and Natalia Shirshova. Kristiyan is our COO who previously worked on a marketplace for digital assets and managed IT projects for some of the biggest banks in Western Europe. Natalia is our CMO; her background is in PR, communications, and economic research. Our CDO Hristo Piyankov has 10+ years of experience in banking and 8+ in data science. Kim Tucker-Knotts is our CFO; she is a licensed real estate broker, loan originator, investment advisor, and tax expert. REINNO also has the best legal team a blockchain startup could wish for, with Andrew Bull and Tyler Harttraft.

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If you weren’t building your startup, what would you be doing?

I love to challenge myself and stay on top of emerging technology trends. Even right now, when I’m fully concentrated on REINNO, I notice intriguing opportunities for new businesses and projects that could be done in real estate, finance, blockchain, and DeFi. If I weren’t building REINNO, I’d still be innovating and working on a startup.

At the moment, how do you measure success? What are your core metrics?

Of course, we’re tracking some data like the value and number of loans in the pipeline, average LTV, etc. These metrics are important but most often qualitative results feel more rewarding than quantitative ones. In the long run, our goal is to become the go-to lender for commercial real estate investors. The commercial mortgage market has been stagnant for years so it’s not an easy task. We have to educate the public about new technologies and the benefits they bring. Often people who’ve been dealing with real estate transactions for years are skeptical, and I can’t blame them. However, it feels like a truly great achievement when they finally say, “I get it now. It’s incredible!”

What’s most exciting about your traction to date?

REINNO received a greenlight from MakerDAO to finance REINNO loans with DAI stablecoins. This relationship allows us to bring commercial real estate to Decentralized Finance (DeFi). It's a huge step for the entire industry.

REINNO won Startup World Cup regionals and was recognized as a leading industry player, appearing in such articles as Quality Lending Startups To Look Out For In 2021 by The Startup Pill and Top Fintech Companies in Massachusetts by Daily Finance. REINNO was also selected by Startup Grind (SG) for their 2021 Accelerate Program. Accelerate is the invite-only track for the top 5% of startups from the SG's exclusive Global Startup Membership. Most recently, REINNO became a finalist at the Wealth Management Industry Awards in three categories, including Blockchain and Real Estate. It is also nominated for the Benzinga Fintech Awards.

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What technologies are you currently most excited about, and most worried about? And why?

I am both worried and excited about the switch from the current Ethereum blockchain to Ethereum 2.0. REINNO accepts real estate tokens issued on Ethereum as collateral, so our business is somewhat dependent on this change happening smoothly. This upgrade should increase network security and throughput.

When the number of transactions this blockchain can process per second goes up, the gas fees should go down. Without a doubt, these changes are necessary to keep Ethereum attractive to fintech and DeFi projects. At the same time, we’ve never seen a blockchain of the same size attempt to transition all of its users and assets to an entirely new network while keeping all operations active and running. There are some risks but seeing how hard Ethereum developers are working on the switch. I expect it to be successful.

What drew you to get published on HackerNoon? What do you like most about our platform?

We’ve always looked up to Hackernoon as a leading source of tech stories. I even remember how in the early days of REINNO, one of our marketing tasks was “figure out how to get published on HackerNoon”! It’s a great media outlet for developers who can get useful tips, but it’s also perfect for business leaders trying to catch up with the latest tech trends.

What advice would you give to the 21-year-old version of yourself?

Never give up! When I started my first business, I didn’t have any money or connections. It was hard. However, dedication and perseverance made me the successful entrepreneur I am today. I worked without a salary and kept reinvesting all the money into the business until it was big and stable enough to not only support existing operations but also grow. If you’re just starting your own business, please know that it all pays off in the end. Just keep pushing.

What is something surprising you've learned this year that your contemporaries would benefit from knowing?

I found out that you can get extremely accurate real estate valuations through AI. Artificial Intelligence has always intrigued me. However, I could never apply it in my business. It was either underdeveloped or unreliable until recently. I founded a company that uses AI to estimate commercial real estate values. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the tool worked. Now we can use it to speed up the mortgage origination process for our clients.

This year I also found out that REINNO was nominated for the Startup of the Year award by the HackerNoon editors. What a great surprise! It’s a great honor, and we kindly ask the readers to support us.

Vote for REINNO as Startup of the Year in Wellesley!

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