As the future continues to shift toward an office-optional, remote-first model, especially on the heels of the pandemic, one type of worker may be here to stay: the digital nomad.
Highly skilled and often young, digital nomads rely on technology to conduct their work remotely as they travel across inexpensive countries, setting up shop for short periods at a time. Within that loosely defined group is a sub-category—nomad capitalists, a term coined by author and entrepreneur Andrew Henderson—that Dallas-based Shokworks plans to focus on with its latest venture.
Nomad capitalists tend to make six to seven figures. They often lead or are employed by larger companies, but they yearn for flexibility, mobility, and membership status. They want to travel to Singapore and have the same exclusive amenities as they would in Dallas or anywhere else.
And they can get that with Shokworks’ newly announced project.
Enter Infinity View Villas, a high-end development in the Dominican Republic that will house nine villas, a 4,000-square-foot home, and a members-only rec space. Phase one’s completion date is set for mid-2022.
Shokworks CEO Alejandro Laplana describes it as “WeWork meets Soho House.” As the Dominican Republic continues to holds its status as a first-class destination for high-end nomadic digital workers, Infinity View Villas will act as a place for them to work and live together through exclusive means.
It opens up the possibilities for people to spend three to six months in a country they love, without necessarily choosing to take ownership in those places.
A joint venture with Metrospaces
The villas are being developed by Metrospaces, a Miami-based proptech company that’s powered by Shokworks, and incorporated into its co-living platform dubbed MetroHouse.
The team says the platform, which is being developed with Shokworks, is essentially designed to “completely reframe the co-living model.” The addition of the Infinity View Villas into the upcoming MetroHouse platform will create a luxury residential destinations for working travelers looking to build, support, or lead a company from anywhere on Earth.
The first co-living space to launch will be in Philadelphia, with additional U.S. and international cities (like the Dominican Republic) to follow. Laplana hinted that the team is looking heavily in the Texas area.
Eventually, the CEO and his partners at Metrospaces want to create a global co-living network of luxury properties, all with the same strategic focus on secondary cities and digital nomad/capitalist destinations.
“Our plan is to have at least 15-20 rooms incorporated into MetroHouse by its Sept. 15 launch date and 100-120 rooms by end of 2021,” said Oscar Brito, CEO of Metrospaces. “Infinity View Villas is a very exciting project because, as developers, we can use sale proceeds of a portion of the villas to finance the construction, while keeping the management of the villas for our platform. This will keep our cash investment low, while retaining the most profitable, long-term part of the project’s revenue.”
As Metrospaces and Shokworks build real estate inventory, they plan to take the project a step further with a real estate tokenization platform called Metrocrowd.
The companies will use these assets to create a democratized platform that uses blockchain tokenization to secure and open the fractionalized sale of a real estate portfolio.
Rather than acquiring an entire villa, the platform will offer future token buyers an opportunity for outsized returns with small investments—thus helping to capitalize the venture.
“We use standard token offerings to provide investment options to retail investors outside of the U.S.,” Laplana told Dallas Innovates. “We’re reducing barriers to transaction and to entry with AI-based tools for contract interpretation. So we want any person to be able to buy a fraction of a property, anywhere in the world.”
Investing in its partners
These joint, tech-enabled projects are Laplana’s bread and butter.
Shokworks, which moved its headquarters from Miami to Dallas last year, develops and operates software solutions for startups and large brands. It’s in the spirit of helping companies go digital first: The team specializes in mobile-first app and web design, development, and marketing; big data analytics and artificial intelligence; augmented reality/virtual reality games and activations; and blockchain and fintech.
Since launching five years ago, Shokworks has developed products for clients that include Telefonica, Fox Sports, Real Madrid, Kinesis Money, Dupont Chemicals, FC Barcelona, Telemundo, and the United Kingdom government.
Shokworks takes a niche approach to the companies it works with—it offers both capital and digital prowess.
Often, as in the case with Metrospaces, Laplana will take an ownership stake in the company, depending on its size. Shokworks then provides all back-end programming.
“We do tend to work in that capacity where we basically provide a full-scale digital transformation, and in exchange, we receive equity or stock ownership on the delta,” Laplana says. For instance, Shokworks owns 10 percent of MetroHouse and Metrocrowd, and helped transform Metrospaces from a more traditional property-based company to align with the burgeoning proptech movement.
“We’ll be also assisting with management, we’ll get board seats, and we’re part of the executive committee,” Laplana says. “We’ll be deciding what companies to roll up in the future and kind of adapt into our ecosystem.”
When seeking a partner, the CEO looks for anyone who is meaningfully disrupting the real estate industry.
He sees real estate as a business that’s been largely stagnant. Though many tech and blockchain professionals already provide services that are well adopted in various industry verticals, he wants to consolidate as much as possible to turn this into a “proptech company builder in every aspect of real estate.”
Laplana’s background is in patents, VC, and financial services, but real estate investments have always been apart of his family.
Over time, he’s met with developers and property companies, but never saw the business as piquing his interests. But now he sees the potential.
“With a lot of what’s going on in commercial real estate in Dallas, for instance, there’s so many ways where you can affect flat-out disruption or meaningful efficiency gains,” he says. “I think now’s the time to really target this industry with technology, and specifically blockchain-based technology. It’s becoming extremely exciting and it’s something I want to be a part of.”
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