Tend aims to bring passion and purpose back to investing with blockchain

8 Jan 2018

Tend CEO and founder Marco Abele. Image: Tend

Our Start-up of the Week is Zurich-based Tend, a blockchain-focused investment player that will launch one of the first regulatory-aligned ICOs in the world in the coming months.

“We believe in the revolutionary power of blockchain, unleashing a hyper-connected, decentralised world where the individual is empowered like never before,” said Tend CEO Marco Abele, former digital chief at global banking giant Credit Suisse.

Tend provides users with opportunities to invest in co-ownership of luxurious items or objects – from art to cars, fine wines and jewellery and more – using blockchain as the mechanism and orchestrating meaningful real-life experiences around them.

‘We particularly see the opportunity in the big megacities of the world’

The platform provides a wallet for the invested assets as well as allowing users to buy and sell these investments.

“Our vision is to create a positive impact on society by giving people access to a new investment world that is driven by passion, purpose and meaning.”

The market

Abele explained that many people today are finding that there is more value in experience than ownership, and that it is about access to fine things, not just possession of them.

“At the same time, conventional investments have become uninteresting for the modern generation.

“That makes meaningful, special assets increasingly desirable and hence valuable. Tend was born out of the opportunities presented by these two trends.

“We conservatively estimate that $1trn (out of the worldwide total of around $70trn) is lying idle in these uninspiring financial products, preventing forward-thinking, like-minded people from investing their money more purposefully. Tend is changing this.

“Our customers have earned their wealth, and they deserve to enjoy it. Worldwide, those people represent our target customers and are a segment of 365m people with a net worth of $100,000 to $1m. We particularly see the opportunity in the big megacities of the world,” said Abele.

The founder

A fintech entrepreneur with a wealth of experience in the banking sphere, Abele was voted one of the top 100 bankers and top 100 digital shapers of Switzerland.

Abele’s career track includes two decades of working in some of the most successful global financial institutions. He has worked at Deutsche Bank as a legal adviser, product manager and global programme leader, as well as holding roles at Credit Suisse as strategy project manager, chief operating officer and chief digital officer.

Having worked on digital innovations for several years, Marco left Credit Suisse in 2017 to found Tend, with the aim of transforming existing business models through the implementation of smart contract and blockchain technologies.

He holds an MBA from Duke University as well as a degree in law from the University of Panthéon-Assas. He is a qualified lawyer, having completed his legal studies at the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, which ranks globally among the top 30 universities for law.

The technology

“Tend’s unique strength is in its leverage of the rise of transformative, new distributed ledger technologies and smart contracts, applied to real-life assets,” Abele explained.

“After a due diligence process, we tokenise real-world assets such as classic cars, vineyards, pieces of art or collectible watches, using blockchain technology.

“Through smart contracts, we allow the buy-and-sell of such tokens on our platform. That core technology is surrounded by a number of other technology elements, such as security, analytics and CRM.

“The Ethereum technology establishes absolute confidence in the traceability of the co-investments, and ownership is recorded on the decentralised, tamper-free ledger.”

Abele said that the ultimate goal is to shift billions of dollars from today’s stagnant and dull financial products into meaningful and purposeful investments.

“By doing so, we will be enriching our customers lives both emotionally and intellectually.

“Tend gives its clients access to unique investment opportunities which are currently beyond their reach, but reflect their aspirations; investments that fulfil a passion or pursuit of a personally important interest; investments that are driven by purpose and emotion.”

Overcoming crypto cynicism

Abele said that the Tend team has developed an alpha version of the product. It is testing it rigorously with the first 20 pilot customers and has successfully completed the technical proof of concept.

“We will hold a token sale (an initial coin offer) in the coming months.”

Abele said that Tend’s Swiss-based ICO aims to be one of the first regulatory-compliant token sales mirroring Swiss securities law.

“To ensure transparency, we will make details of the token sale and the intended use of funds available to all investors. Our forward-looking philosophy is reflected in our funding strategy. Token sales are, we are convinced, the future of financing innovative new ventures like ours. We are very happy to be spearheading these developments.”

Abele said the unique factor about what Tend is proposing to do is that its Swiss ICO will be one of the first regulatory-aligned token sales in the world as it will be regulated under Swiss securities law.

“Due to the extraordinary growth of crypto and the associated partially negative press, one of the challenges we are facing is communicating clearly that our token sale aspires to be the first of a new kind – namely, being compliant in knowing precisely the identity of our investors and increasing the security mechanism of the contribution.”

He believes the European start-up scene is both crucial and thriving.

“I think it should be more enabled and promoted generally. It’s important for a country to progress on innovation, and that typically is spearheaded by start-ups.”

His advice for fellow founders? “Follow your ideas and keep going!”

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years