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Investors

Alejtin Berisha

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Alejtin is revolutionising education using a Finnish inspired education system which is fun, creative, engaging and personalised.

What’s your story?
I am a serial entrepreneur and the Founder of Kosovo Business Angels Network. Currently back to being an entrepreneur with the founding of Finnish Schools International, an innovative international school network utilising the Finnish education system and teachers, (which is considered the best in the world) combined with unique and proprietary educational technology. Our first three campuses in Prishtina, Kosovo, Tirana, Albania and Zagreb to open in September 2018. We are on the road to revolutionising the global education system, one school at a time.

What is your involvement with Investment?
I am the founder of Kosovo Business Angels Network and have been involved in a few investments mostly in my own country and mostly in EdTech.

How did that come about?
I was an active member and perhaps one of the drivers of the startup ecosystem in Kosovo and the Balkans. During this time, I saw how important and scarce financing for entrepreneurs is and after meeting Baybars Altuntas, the plans to create an Angel Network in Kosovo greatly accelerated. We finally established the KOSBAN (Kosovo Business Angel Network) in May 2014 and got the ‘Most Promising BAN (Business Angel Network) in SEE award later that year from WBAF.

What are some of the key things you have learnt about Investing?
There are three main lessons I would want to list: 1. You have to invest in people first and not in the idea. 2. Only invest in those businesses where the Entrepreneur has got ‘so much to loose’ and 3. Only invest in those businesses where you have the expertise and the commitment to help succeed.

What mistakes do you see less experienced investors making?
As a new investor, you find most ideas and entrepreneurs interesting and in the rush to become a ‘billionaire’ you might invest in the wrong business.

What mistakes do you see Entrepreneurs making?
One major mistake is asking for an investment with only an idea. That is completely wrong. I like to say that I have at least a thousand ideas at any given time and Google has at least a few million. The second mistake is developing your product or businesses without testing it with the customers.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
If you’ve got nothing to lose, go for it!

What advice would you give to those seeking funding?
Come prepared, have a product/service prototype and convince me that ‘you mean business’ by proving that you’ve got so much to lose, if the business goes wrong. In this way, I know that you have high stakes and will do everything to make it!

Who inspires you?
I am an enthusiastic person and get inspired frequently by people and events surrounding me. But I don’t have a particular idol.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The idea that we can produce killer drones, scares me to death! As an enthusiastic believer in artificial intelligence, I think we should make sure that we use it to improve our lives not destroy them.

What business book do you recommend the most?
Zero to One is the last business book I read that I found interesting and useful and would recommend everyone read it, although there were some exaggerations.

Shameless plug for your business/organisation:
Finnish Schools International is the most innovative international school network utilising the Finnish education system and teachers – the best in the world – combined with unique and proprietary educational technology. We use: 1. Technology and games to individualise the learning for every student; 2. Outdoor learning, sports and a unique learning environment design to improve the health and wellbeing of our students; 3. Integrated arts and crafts to develop creativity and team dynamics; and 4. Kitchen science, programming and robotics to develop a love for STEM. In every school, we developed a miniature town called HelPriCity where our students learn the concepts of citizenship, business, entrepreneurship, governance, professional life and leadership through experiential learning. Our schools are fun, creative, engaging and personalized. www.finnish.school

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

Social Media profiles?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/alejtin/
www.facebook.com/alejtin.berisha
www.twitter.com/alejtin

This article is part of the World Business Angel Forum media partnership with AsianEntrepreneur.org

If you would like more information about WBAF, please contact Callum Laing WBAF High Commissioner for Singapore. [email protected]

Investors

Emmanuelle Norchet

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Emmanuelle Norchet works with Golden Equator Capital. His focus is on technology investments across the southeast region in the online travel, media and entertainment, digital health and financial tech sectors.

What’s your story?
I am currently working as an investment professional with Golden Equator Capital, a private equity and venture capital fund manager, with a strong focus on technology, headquartered in Singapore. I joined the firm to look at technology investments across the Southeast Asia region, with a focus and interest for sectors such as online travel, media and entertainment, digital health and financial technology. The firm currently has 11 investments that are active across 2 technology funds. Our portfolio can be found here: https://www.goldenequatorcapital.com/portfolio-2/.

Prior to joining Golden Equator Capital, I worked with Nest, an early venture capital firm focusing on B2B technology plays in sectors such as healthcare, financial services, automotive and insurance. In my early days at Nest, I gained operational experience acting as general manager for Investable.vc, a first-to-market equity crowdfunding platform in Hong Kong set up to help early stage companies get access to financing through a community of over 800+ accredited investors and subsidiary of the Nest Group. I started my career working at a Chinese law firm in the field of inbound and outbound direct investments. I hold a Bachelor of Law, a MSc in Finance and I have been admitted to the Bar of Quebec, Canada.

What is your involvement with Investment?
As part of the investment team, I am involved with sourcing, identifying new investment themes, due diligence on new potential investments, presenting those opportunities to our investment committee, and finally working closely with portfolio companies to help them with their expansion strategy, corporate partnerships, customer acquisition and fundraising post-investment.

How did that come about?
After working with a startup and an early-stage venture firm, it made sense for me to move to Golden Equator Capital and focus on the technology sector in the Southeast Asian region. It is the right timing to focus on the region as we are starting to see more successful companies raising larger rounds from international players such as KKR, Expedia, JD.com and Alibaba.

What are some of the key things you have learnt about Investing?
There will always be some risks and some hurdles along the road, but ultimately, you have to believe in the team you are investing in and their ability to adapt as they continue to grow the business. As the technology sector is evolving quickly, our founders also need to have the ability and drive to move fast and adapt to the new market needs. A clear vision and good synergy between the founding team is important.

What mistakes do you see less experienced investors making?
They have usually seen enough companies, founders and business models to be able to see the big picture, trust their instincts and not doubt their decisions.

What mistakes do you see Entrepreneurs making?
One of the biggest ones that I’ve observed with early stage companies is for the founding team to focus or spend too much time on fundraising, resulting in less attention and focus on business and product development. The other mistakes would be the lack of focus, inability to delegate and building a clear organisational structure, resulting in the inability to do one thing well and affecting the execution.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
As cliche as it sounds, I would go for, “focus on what you can control.”

What advice would you give to those seeking funding?

  • Don’t use buzzwords in your deck or presentations
  • Be clear about the vision and the focus of the company
  • Keep presentations short and to the point, leave most of the time for Q&As
  • Enquire about the fund mandate to ensure alignment (geography, sector, stage)
  • Don’t focus too much on the valuation in the early days
  • Speak to the portfolio companies of your potential investors to better understand their personal experience working with them

Who inspires you?
Many of the local entrepreneurs that have managed to build amazing companies from scratch. Some examples are:

  • Ching Tse-Tseng, founder and CEO of Vault Dragon
  • Joseph Phua, founder and CEO of M17 Entertainment
  • Lingga Madu, founder and CEO of Sale Stock
  • Ethan Lin, founder and CEO of Klook
  • Rosaline Chow Koo, founder and CEO of CXA

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
All of the challenges that JD.com had in their early days to get their company off the ground. I would recommend the book, “The JD.com Story.’

What business book do you recommend the most?
The one I mention above and also, some other interesting reads are:

Shameless plug for your business/organisation:
If your company is looking to join our business club at Spectrum (https://www.spectrum.global/), please contact [email protected]. If you are a startup at the Series A or B stage in the region, please feel free to contact us at [email protected]

How can people connect with you?
[email protected] or [email protected]

Social Media profiles?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/emmanuelle-norchet-b2001ba/

This article is part of the World Business Angel Forum media partnership with AsianEntrepreneur.org

If you would like more information about WBAF, please contact Callum Laing WBAF High Commissioner for Singapore. [email protected]

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Entrepreneurship

Venture Capital Will Be Obsolete

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I don’t think it is too much to say that a venture capital played a major role in the innovation in Silicon Valley. However, in my humble opinion, it will be obsolete in the not so distant future.

Venture capital(VC), literally, has been investing their wealth to generate additional one despite the risk of the danger attached, and I imagine it sounded like a crazy idea for most people at the beginning.

When Arthur Rock was working as a banker in Wall Street, he received a letter from engineers in California. It was a cry for help. At that time, no one at his department knew what to do about it, but he saw an opportunity in this letter because he thought those engineers were brilliant. He went to California to see them, and suggest that they start a company (those engineers hadn’t even considered this before), and he offered to secure funding for their business. He looked for individuals and corporations willing to invest in the new company, but everybody declined interest in it. After the series of efforts to find investors fell short, someone suggested that he meet with Sherman Fairchild. Then finally, Sherman agreed to invest in those guys. The company was called Fiarchild Semiconductor.

Fiarchild Semiconductor’s case was (as you might have guessed), not a successful venture capital funded company; it was owned by an eastern corporation, and the capital policy was opaque/obscure. However, this model became a stepping stone to the VC as we know it today. Moreover, eight engineers (The Traitorous Eight) who left the Fiarchild Semiconductor largely contributed to the development of Silicon Valley (Intel, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, Byers…).

Arthur Rock wanted to do more of this type of funding in the West, but at that time all the money was in the East. So, he collected money in the East, and moved to San Francisco. And he ended up becoming an early investor in major firms including Intel, Apple Computer, Scientific Data Systems and Teledyne.

Now he is known as a pioneer in a VC industry. Venture capitalists like him ventured when other people saw only risks in startup funding. This noble model of venture capitals has been successful and became the standard for early stage startups.

Unfortunately, the world is headed in another direction. I believe a VC will be something like a newspaper today.

Instead, another crazy idea will become the mainstream; Crowdsale. It will open the equity buying to the public, and the fund-raising of startups will mainly be from the crowd. It’s simply a more efficient approach to raising funds. In order to raise funds from VCs, typically, startup founders have to meet lots of investors, pitch their ideas, consult with lawyers, and sign a contract in the end. Whereas, with crowdsale, founders only need to program the smart contract of crowdsale on their own, and explain about their project just once online. A large part of the fund-raising will be done online with a programmable smart contract.

I guess a form of crowdfunding will evolve over time, but in essence, I believe startup fund-raising will be more decentralized; instead of being dominated by rich people in VCs, anyone can participate in the open market where the risks and the gains are more evenly distributed.

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About the Author

This original article was written and submitted by Tai Sukemino.

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