Now on web3: Play to acquire real estate
Growing up, he “ate” architecture, engineering and construction for breakfast.
After all, Jose Paolo “JP” Gregorio Calma traces his roots back to a family of builders and designers.
“I grew up in the construction business of my father specializing in interior construction of hotels. Architecture, construction and engineering are a serious life topic for us,” he says in an email interview with the Inquirer.
The 44-year-old is the former CEO of Multi-Development & Construction Corp. (MDCC), which executes the complex interior design requirements of the local leisure and hospitality sector. His exposure to the daily challenges of running the family business helped him identify recurrent bottlenecks.
“These challenges made me recognize the current shortcomings in the construction industry, including long lead times, staggering inefficiencies in the design process, the over-reliance on human labor, unsustainable raw materials and not to mention, the huge gap between e-commerce and the sector,” he explains.
Having spearheaded numerous projects, Calma noticed that building homes also took too much time even as technology offered a more efficient way to do such things by applying component engineering and systems architecture, as well as artificial intelligence (AI).
It was during the pandemic when Calma had his epiphany on how to simplify and enhance the building process by using an interplay of tools of tomorrow such as blockchain, AI and web3 into a single real estate platform.
With a starting capital of $300,000, he created Homeqube, a blockchain and AI-powered e-commerce platform for real estate. The goal is to integrate all the aspects of homebuilding and homebuying such as construction, design, supply chain, materials and home utility into a single ecosystem.
“Homeqube began from an operational and engineering standpoint of execution that can build the entire trajectory of the idea … I decided that I’m here for the long haul for the betterment of this industry and see it as a gift that can also pay for itself. I call it an industry fit, not a product fit,” he adds.
Calma says that Homeqube is the first web3 product in the Philippines. Web3 is the third generation of the World Wide Web with the goal of a decentralized and open web with greater benefit for all users.
Homeqube’s targeted users are product sellers, property owners, delivery services and customers or guests.
“Homeqube operates at the heart of web3, where community-focused innovation powers the work of decentralized autonomous organization architecture, parametric design, digital fabrication, project automation and smart contracting,” he explains.
In addition, Homeqube also integrates the “gamified bidding” experience for both buyers and sellers in its platform. “Gamified bidding is Homeqube’s approach to breaking traditional online marketplace activity of scrolling and clicking by allowing users to participate in bidding lobbies, where they can secure their desired home-building materials and accommodations,” Calma says.
The lobby is a virtual space specifically designed for users participating in property auctions or bidding events. It is an “online auction room” wherein users gather together to bid, such as for leasable properties available for short-term stays. “It serves as a digital hub for property bidding activities,” he adds.
Users are encouraged to enter real-time bidding wars, competing with other potential buyers to negotiate and determine the final price of the product.
If a customer wants to participate in the property bidding at Homeqube, he or she first needs to access the bidding lobby. The next step is exploring the property listings. Here the customer can access a catalog of properties that are up for grabs, along with details such as location, amenities and starting bid prices.
A customer who finds a suitable property can join the bidding process. This where gamification comes into play. According to Calma, “The competitive aspect of outbidding others adds excitement to the experience. If you’re the highest bidder when the auction ends, you secure the right to book that property for your desired dates.”
There are two distinct modes to optimize use of the platform: the Seller-Initiated Game (SIG) and the Buyer-Initiated Game (BIG).SIG mode allows sellers or property owners to create a dedicated bidding lobby. It will display the product or property on offer, with creators being required to specify certain parameters, such as the asking price and availability dates. Interested buyers or guests can then access these lobbies to negotiate various terms directly.
BIG mode serves those looking to buy or rent. Buyers or guests can initiate these lobbies, specifying the kind of product or property they are seeking. Sellers and property owners can then enter these BIG lobbies, making their offers in response to the expressed needs.
Calma says that as part of its alpha-testing, Homeqube introduced its utility token called $QUBE, a token that can be used in facilitating games or bidding based on user-defined rules and peer verification. USDC/USDT stablecoins are used for main peer-to-peer transactions. Soon, the platform will also incorporate fiat transactions at peer checkout.
Aside from gamified bidding, Homeqube also offers other embedded functions such as electronic resource planning, including demand forecasting and product performance analytics. Calma adds that through these features, Homeqube can decentralize e-commerce for underserved markets by just being in a game-like environment sans the monthly subscription and technical debt.
Homeqube can only be accessed only using Solana-based cryptowallets like Phantom and Coinbase, Calma adds. The security of these wallets are guaranteed through private keys. Soon, the platform will embed risk calculation modeling through AI systems as well as reputation management to encourage transparency among peers.
Blockchain technology, he says, can play a crucial role in offering solutions to the current housing backlogs in the country. “One of the biggest challenges in the real estate sector can be the transaction fees due to numerous intermediaries. Blockchain can significantly streamline this by facilitating direct transactions between manufacturers and consumers,” he explains.
“By supplanting our current productivity models, deconstructing the process that we are entrenched to, we might be able to deliver this new distributed knowledge to the world and [with] humanity gaining new models of efficiency for the industry, this should translate to a higher gross domestic product for any country,” he adds.