Interview with Ed Messman and Kevin Cawley of Rook Capital


This week we have an interview with Ed Messman and Kevin Cawley of Rook Capital – where traditional real estate finance meets DeFi. For more info please go to …

Marketing Darwinism:  Ed /Kevin:  Tell us about Rook Capital. Where did the inspiration come from?

For Ed, the inspiration came from two personal real life use cases of having to sell homes prematurely because of lack of access to liquidity.  Then more recently watching the phenomenal rise in housing prices and thinking about the next generation of home buyers getting boxed out from home ownership.  The original idea however has been on Kevin’s mind for a few years.  How can we at once innovate on a mortgage idea without attempting to disrupt what works with mortgages, to provide liquidity to house-poor Americans, and to make real estate appreciation attainable to everyone—these are the questions we feel we’ve answered with Rook.

Marketing Darwinism:  What are the main issues in the Housing Market?

Home affordability (for everyone but particularly for the next generation that is newly entering the workforce and family stage of life).  Access to easy investing in the asset class and/or the simple ability to support a friend, family member or accommodate a unique situation with a home purchase.  Easier access to liquidity for all stakeholders if and when you need it for your largest asset – your home.  The asset class is huge- $45 trillion- but the riches don’t accrue to everyone in a fair manner.

Marketing Darwinism:  Where does innovation come in with regard to these issues?

To fix home affordability we either need to increase supply (which will take years and is multi-pronged in new builds, zoning, supply chain, etc.) or develop new creative financing mechanisms- like a Shared Value Mortgage.  Furthermore, how do we engage the broader community of people to rally around supporting this by giving them a way to help by co-investing together within a fractionalization framework that is easy to understand, trustworthy, and not onerous

Marketing Darwinism:  What is your plan for scale and market ownership?

We will leverage and partner with the existing and entrenched ecosystem of 1.5M real estate agents and 750K mortgage lenders to help them introduce a new option for homebuyers.  By working with the existing ecosystem we align incentives and achieve scale more naturally than trying to completely disrupt or taking a full DTC approach.  We believe very much in scaling through channels and partnerships.

Marketing Darwinism:  Tell us about your individual journeys and how you arrived here?

Ed: I spent the first half of my career in venture finance where I structured financial instruments for high growth tech companies.  I jumped onto the operating side in 2008 where I was involved in software, fintech and data analytics startups.  As a parent of 3 Gen Z kids, I’m watching a new generation embrace new behaviors and mindsets and also face a daunting path to homeownership — which they are redefining what that even means.  The collision of fintech, real estate price acceleration, and DeFI with the behaviors and wants of a new generation has sparked a new mission for us.

Marketing Darwinism:  Parting thoughts?

Owning a home is sacred.  It offers the space for raising a family, for fellowship, for rest and sanctuary.  The issue in front of us and our kids is daunting and will require new creative ways that embrace the new mindsets and behaviors that are already in place.  It will require resilience to innovate in the backdrop of a highly regulated environment.  It will require more than just us…but the community at large…including the brave new world of DeFi.  If there were ever a moment for DeFi to flex it’s might, it is now.

Written by Paul Dunay
Paul Dunay is an award-winning B2B marketing expert with more than 20 years’ success in generating demand and creating awareness for leading technology, consumer products, financial services and professional services organizations. Paul is the global vice president of marketing for Maxymiser a leading web optimization firm, and author of four “Dummies” books: Facebook Marketing for Dummies (Wiley 2009), Social Media and the Contact Center for Dummies (Wiley Custom Publishing 2010), Facebook Advertising for Dummies (Wiley 2010) and Facebook Marketing for Dummies 2nd Edition (Wiley 2011). His unique approach to marketing has led to recognition of Paul as a BtoB Magazine Top 25 B2B Marketer of the Year for 2010 and 2009 and winner of the DemandGen Award for Utilizing Marketing Automation to Fuel Corporate Growth in 2008. He is also a finalist for the last six years in a row in the Marketing Excellence Awards competition of the Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA), and is a 2010 and 2005 gold award winner in Driving Demand. Buzz Marketing for Technology, Paul’s blog, has been recognized as a Top 20 Marketing Blog for 2009 and 2008, a Top Blog to Watch for 2009 and 2008, and an Advertising Age Power 150 blog in the “Daily Ranking of Marketing Blogs.” Paul has shared his marketing thought leadership as a featured speaker for the American Marketing Association, BtoB Magazine, CMO Club, MarketingProfs, Marketing Sherpa, Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG), and ITSMA. He has appeared on Fox News, and his articles have been featured in BusinessWeek, The New York Times, BtoB Magazine, MarketingProfs and MarketingSherpa. Paul holds an Executive Certificate in Strategy and Innovation from MIT’s Sloan School of Management and a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Computer Science from Ithaca College.