We talked to Chao Cheng-Shorland, the CEO and Allen Alishahi the President and the co-founders of ShelterZoom about the concept of tokenizing documents and contracts as well as virtual negotiating room made possible by their latest platform, DocuWalk.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Both: We are doing well, staying safe and healthy. Thank you for asking. Since we are home more often, we are using the time to not only spend with family but innovating our technology for this new remote work and virtual environment.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded ShelterZoom.
Chao Cheng-Shorland: After my 25-year corporate career leading many large-scale programs up to tens of billions of dollars as an Enterprise Architect, I had an increasing desire to create something new based on my own ideas. I have always been an idea person and liked to dream up ideas and invent things. I also have a passion for real estate. So, in 2016, when I met Allen Alishahi, the other co-founder of ShelterZoom and an experienced real estate broker who is unusually creative and knowledgeable, we just clicked.
In 2016, I virtually met Allen Alishahi, a pioneering real estate broker and innovative business strategist, who was keen to tackle a new territory of real estate.
Our shared interest to create something new and different eventually led to our collaboration on ShelterZoom, a one-stop shop to negotiate and finalize real estate deals virtually, more efficiently and in a blockchain secure manner.
How does ShelterZoom innovate?
Allen Alishahi: Our company has taken the concept of tokenizing real estate transactions and expanding that capability to allow a variety of industries to store documents and complete legally binding transactions through our blockchain-based platform. We are also seeing law firms, developers, insurance companies and other businesses utilize our latest platform DocuWalk, which is essentially a virtual negotiating room that creates an all-in-one ecosystem for documents, contract and digital asset storage. There really isn’t anything like it on the market.
Our company has delivered multiple award-winning products and industry-first proven blockchain technology in documents and contract management with advanced virtual collaboration, virtual negotiation rooms invented many of our own concepts and technologies such as a new species of documents and contracts through document tokenization, Contract of Things, and Document of Things. Our innovation doesn’t stop there. We are bringing in many more product lines in the next one to two years to tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues around technology and people’s daily lives.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Chao Cheng-Shorland: We actually moved the launch of DocuWalk up several months because of the pandemic as more and more companies look for remote work solutions to facilitate contracts, documents and business transactions. The early results have been promising with hundreds of transactions taking place on our platform, and we continue to grow as companies search for additional remote work solutions to keep conducting virtual business-as-usual.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Allen Alishahi: The choice to start ShelterZoom was an easy one for us, and expanding it with DocuWalk was even easier. There is no smart contract platform like ours on the market. We have learned that adoption takes time, but for the customers who are transitioning to an all-digital work model with our platform, they are responding very favorably. We also learned that there is a misconception when it comes to blockchain since many individuals associate it with cryptocurrency. So, we are doubling down on our efforts to educate the market on the uses of blockchain beyond that one singular topic and how it has so much potential to keep our digital borders secure.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and ShelterZoom in the future?
Chao Cheng-Shorland: We deal with stress and anxiety the way many people do, by simply going “off-line” for a few hours, spending time with family and talking about the next exciting project in the ShelterZoom family. In addition, we have a strong network of mentors that we turn to from time-to-time for their invaluable perspectives when we need them.
We definitely see our company growing beyond North America, as we have engaged with several key stakeholders in the Middle East, Asia and the Caribbean who seem excited about our concepts. In addition, we also just incorporated in Japan as the country begins its own digital transformation, a key priority for the new Prime Minister, so we see incredible growth potential there as well over the next several years. This is especially as companies adopt longer remote work policies extending into 2021 and as workers remain hesitant to return to their office buildings.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Allen Alishahi: Stakeholders will assume that our competitors are Google Doc, DocuSign and other contract and document sharing platforms. What sets us apart from them is the tokenization and blockchain security of our documents that provide a level of transparency and security that other platforms are lacking. It’s even more evident with remote work expanding and the increased likelihood of security breaches that we had seen over the last six months when the surge in remote work began.
Your final thoughts?
Chao Cheng-Shorland: The pandemic has changed the professional landscape for the foreseeable future as individuals around the world continue working remotely. We also see that landscape change on a global scale with countries around the world, embracing the digital transformation and also the blockchain revolution.
As businesses evaluate their bottom lines and look for cost-effective ways to conduct business-as-usual, we think a growing number of companies will look to technology to help streamline their operations.
We are excited to see what the future holds.
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