Indiegogo founder launches Vincent, a site to discover alternative investments
Interest rates continue to hover near zero, and many feel the stock market is overbought. In response, some investors are looking to make money by betting on more exotic assets such as art, cryptocurrency, and vintage sneakers.
These sorts of bets—known as alternative investments—are hardly new. Hedge funds and wealthy individuals have dabbled in them for years in an effort to beat the market. But more recently, a growing number of online forums have sprung up to pitch such investments to a broader public. Examples include Yieldstreet, which lets people invest in everything from ships to the outcome of lawsuits, and Masterworks, which invites investors to purchase shares in fine art.
Now, there is a new platform that lets people peruse over 50 of these forums’ offerings on the same website. The site, which has been operating in stealth since this summer, is called Vincent and is the brainchild of Slava Rubin, who founded the popular crowdfunding site Indiegogo.
Rubin says he was inspired to create Vincent given the growing popularity of alternative investments, which, he notes, are expected to grow from $9 trillion to $14 trillion in the next five years.
“As a macro trend in this zero interest rate environment, alternative investments are hotter than ever. But there’s still a significant amount of people intimidated by them,” says Rubin, further explaining his inspiration for the site.
Rubin adds that Vincent is intended to be “the Zillow of investments,” referring to a popular real estate site.
In practice, those who want to explore alternative investments apply a series of filters, including how much they want to invest and the categories to which they are attracted. (Choices include collectibles, art, and real estate). Vincent then displays a range of options drawn from its dozens of partner sites.
The site also asks whether or not the would-be investor is accredited—a distinction that is determined by a person’s net wealth and that can limit the types of investments they are eligible to make. The screenshot below shows a sample of the investments available in the collectibles category:
The chance to own a small share of a rare Nike sneaker or an expensive painting may appeal to many individuals, but it also raises the question of whether all the investments are legitimate. This is especially the case given past controversies involving crowdfunded investment opportunities, which in some cases have proved to be outright scams.
Rubin says Vincent is relying on its partner platforms to keep charlatans off the site, noting that these platforms are overseen by various financial regulators, including the SEC.
As for how the site makes money, Rubin says that investors can use it for free but that Vincent takes a commission from its partners. Rubin launched the site with a $2 million investment, consisting of his own money and that of a handful of angel investors.