Arnoldas Nauseda is to Take the Reins at Smartlands as Our New CEO
We are honored that our global team is expanding, further validating our approach to asset tokenization. We are pleased to announce that Arnoldas Nauseda has joined Smartlands,as our CEO. Arnoldas has a long history of corporate and entrepreneurial experience in the banking and fintech industry. Prior to joining Smartlands, he spent four years as a full-time entrepreneur, developing businesses in the fieldsof technology, fintech,and robotics. We’ve managed to pluck Arnoldas from his jet-setting schedule for a talk about his vision for Smartlands.
Please tell us a few words about your background. How did you get into the blockchain industry?
Well, in 2017 if you’re in finance, you had to get into the blockchain industry because it was very fashionable, extremely inspiring, and it was the space where you’d be making constant discoveries; every day something made you go wow, I didn’t expect that!
But, first things first. I started my career in a retail bank in the United States and continued across different geographies and other industries such as real estate, consumer, consulting, fintech, private equity and venture capital, robotics, and technology. I held financial, entrepreneurial and business development executive positions in these industries. In the past four years, I’ve been a full-time entrepreneur focusing on building businesses in the field of technology, fintech, and robotics.
I hold BS in economics, MBA in Finance from Concordia University Wisconsin, recently graduated with an international executive MBA at Baltic Management Institute part of HEC, Paris and took Innovation and Entrepreneurship studies at Aalto University Business School, Finland.
For a little over a year now I’ve been exploring and studying the blockchain technology by investing, taking courses, and traveling around the world. Not to mention visiting events dedicated to all things blockchain and crypto. I have to say, it’s utterly addictive!
But, I didn’t plan on letting the blockchain make too much of an impact on me since I established joint venture company called Blue Ocean Robotics. The name is fairly self-explanatory, and the founders have the combined experience of almost a hundred years . At that point I thought that this was going to be my field for a while; Blue Ocean Robotics is already a global company with the very impressive portfolio of over 30 subsidiaries and spin out companies. But, albeit a fascinating field, robotics was not enough to be a real challenge for now a blockchain-focused entrepreneur at heart and a finance specialist by trade such as myself…
Right, so, while at Blue Ocean Robotics, I met a friend who first introduced me to cryptocurrencies and told me about ICOs as a mode of crowdfunding. I was quite amazed at the opportunities it would present and the actual potential of the space, so I started going to conferences and various international events. I soon realized that this could be the area for me; a comprehensive environment to accommodate all my skills, professional experience, and ambitions.
It’s safe to say that it was a passion for the blockchain technology and the ICO space from the very beginning. I wished, and still do hope very much, to grow, develop, and perfect myself along with the industry, and that happy epiphany was the time when I met the Smartlands team several months ago in Berlin. We began discussions about mutual partnership, musing on capitalizing on the asset tokenization megatrend. Soon afterward, the decision materialized to join Smartlands and work together on asset ownership revolution. It’s kind of like a match made in heaven.
What do you mean by “asset ownership revolution”? Do you mean to say that asset tokenization will revolutionize the rules of ownership in the real economy?
Absolutely. Here’s a recent example, we’ve just gotten a call from a farmer in Colombia. He’s a second generation farmer grossing several thousands of acres, which is a very commanding farm size in that part of the world. Naturally, he is actively looking for expansion opportunities, and Smartlands is the perfect way for him to bring in investors by turning his physical asset into a digital share, which anyone in the world can purchase and watch grow in value. He can offer those shares to a legacy finance institution as collateral and get additional funding that way. He can repackage his shares and create his own security, which he will trade on Smartlands on his own terms — the sky’s the limit.
It’s important to understand that Columbia and many other parts of the world are grossly underfinanced. The small and medium-size businesses are struggling to find additional opportunities for growth and expansion. By creating this digital token that can be worth as little as a fraction of a dollar or euro, for the first time in history small businesses have the real chance to crowdfund growth. You can’t do it on Kickstarter. You can’t do it by walking into a bank and demanding attention. You can’t do it by passing around a tip jar. But, on Smartlands, you can issue a digital bond and sell it to investors globally.
Also, the platform would provide what we call secondary exchange, which is additional liquidity to sell tokens on the secondary market.
What is your vision for the development of the Smartlands Platform for the short and long-term?
Short-term, we’re on a tight schedule to deliver our first tokenization project to be listed on major exchanges. For that, we need to build a legal framework for global expansion. We will be based in Vilnius, Lithuania, which is one of the frontrunners in friendly regulation environments. We plan to have a number of international licenses to be able to offer one-stop-shop asset tokenization for major alternative asset classes including loans and bonds, real estate, project financing, private equity and venture capital, and, of course, startups.
In the long run, I believe we will be able to tokenize hundreds and thousands of projects across the globe and provide access to capital for business development and expansion. For the retail investors, we will create a unique pipeline to cherry-pick business opportunities that, before Smartlands, were available only for a handful of close-circle VCs.
What are your top ambitions at Smartlands?
I would say, to democratize and simplify ownership as such building a €1 billion portfolio of tokenized assets in 5 years, with 1 million customers and investors worldwide.
Which industries do you think are in dire need of tokenization?
When I think of our value proposition, I think of the entire world as Smartlands’ oyster. There are hundreds of thousands of small and medium investors in various industries who for many reasons (political, geographical, the list is quite long) have limited access to institutional investing mechanisms and Smartlands is designed, among other things, to be a stepping stone to those people. In other words, if a VC fund is making a high-yield investment or a private equity fund aims to deliver 12–15% returns to its clients, not many people are eligible to participate. But by tokenizing an asset on the Smartlands platform, we give millions of people around the world an opportunity to buy a small share of that investment. It’s a perfect chance for you to diversify your portfolio by acquiring hundreds of tokens signifying your share in hundreds of enterprises worldwide.
Another opportunity that we provide is funding. Fundraising is a huge part of any business, and Smartlands has created a mechanism for fundraising that is custom-tailored for businesses in need of refinancing or reinvestment especially in countries where money markets are dramatically underfunded. So, it’s not about a particular industry needing tokenization. Essentially, the entire economy needs to rethink and reconstruct its approach to ownership, fundraising and investing in the digital world.
What I’m hearing is that your strategy in building Smartlands into a force to be reckoned with is to design an investment platform for catering to all caliber investors with a wide range of needs and priorities. Some may have limited access to funding (or even to the internet), some have small to negligible portfolio sizes, etc. It’s a pretty tall order, wouldn’t you say?
The plan is to create global and local partnerships with financial institutions and investment banks, then make them accustomed to an idea that they can invest in Smartlands just as Smartlands can invest in them. Once we’ve found partners to build products with, we would have to create consensus with institutional investors, legacy finance, VCs, local governments, and others. At that point we either become partners of competitors, either way, consumers win big.
In which region of the world do you think your product is needed the most and how does Smartlands fit into the current business landscape in those areas? How do you intend to take over some markets, enter new markets, negotiate new terms with the oldtimers of the legacy finance in some countries with pretty rigid traditions?
Kind of a multilayer question, but to answer it, I’d say, we’d have to start with our immediate plans to build a legal framework for a borderless marketplace — it’s already in the works. We have local teams of legal sages working very hard on meeting all the deadlines of our short-term plan.
But the most important problem we need to solve is undercapitalization of some markets. There’s a lot of capital in some countries (US, EU countries) while South America, Africa, some of the Eastern European markets suffer from gross underfunding. To bridge that divide is our ultimate goal.
We’re going to start with markets and their need of access to capital, and connect them with our existing EU partners bringing together local investors on both sides, gauging interest in Smartlands’ products creating the ambassador network across the globe. Very exciting times!