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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]

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Easy to invest. Impossible to exit?

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Investors are living through the most exciting time in 400 years!

Is Entrepreneurship about Invention or Innovation?  If you watch any of the Dragons Den type shows on TV you would be forgiven for thinking that the way to become an entrepreneur is to invent a new product.  Look through history and it is littered with inventions that have changed the world.  As Emerson is reputed to have said ‘Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door’.   Yet not only do we no longer live in the sellers market that Emerson did in the in late nineteenth century, the reality is that just like a ‘better mousetrap’ entrepreneurship is about refining what has gone before to create even more value for others.  Any investor that is waiting for the perfect invention, is in for a long wait.

In February 2018, over a thousand of the top entrepreneurs and investment professionals from around the world are going to be gathering in Istanbul, Turkey for the annual World Business Angel Forum.  This years topic is Innovation.  While innovation is most definitely at the core of entrepreneurship it is an area that has been sadly lacking in finance and investing.

Fortunately that is changing and we are in the middle of probably the most exciting changes in investment and funding since the Dutch East India company decided to sell shares to the public in the 1600’s.  This means that listening to and learning from the best thought leaders in this area from around the world will be critical to seeing where the market is going next.

Innovation typically takes 3 forms.  Incremental, Disruptive and Radical.  As far as investment for startups and early stage companies, the last few years has most definitely touched all three of those areas.  Whether it is crowdfunding, the rise of Angel investing, or the recent flood of money into Initial Coin Offerings (ICO’s), the world of early stage investing has changed beyond recognition in the last 10-20 years.

Yet there is also change at the other end of the equation.  No longer are companies in a hurry to go public.  IPO’s are down 50% from 20 years ago meaning it has never been easier to invest in a company, yet conversely it has also never been harder to exit.  Secondary markets and innovations like Agglomeration have popped up to serve both the entrepreneur and the investors who wish to support and profit from them.

Governments, policymakers, and key players of the equity markets will gather for WBAF 2018 and will be focusing on building partnerships, fostering connections, and discussion of democratising access to finance.  Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an Investor it is time to get innovative and get yourself to Istanbul.

Where:  Istanbul, Turkey
When:  18 – 20th February 2018
How:  Tickets at http://wbaf2018.istanbul/

World Business Angel Forum is an official partner of AsianEntrepreneur and supports Entrepreneurs around the world.

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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Are ICO’s the death of Angels?

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Killing Angels. Are Initial Coin Offerings (ICO’s) the death of early stage investing?

Imagine a startup that aims to build a decentralised cloud storage network, essentially disrupting platforms such as Dropbox and Box. The startup, not having a working product or any traction yet, decides to raise funding.  It does this very successfully raising $257 million. In the past year, this and stories like it have dominated the funding discussions thanks to Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). Yet most traditional Venture Capitalists (VC’s) and Angels missed out on these ‘opportunities’ and have started questioning where their role sits moving forward.

At the annual World Business Angel Forum coming up in February, you can be sure that amongst the normal topics of macro trends, impact investing and philanthropy, that ICO’s are going to be the amongst the hottest conversations both at the conference and in the hallways and bars afterwards.

With ICO’s overtaking early stage Venture Capital it is a topic that everyone is keen to understand

As opposed to equity/debt financing, ICOs are events where a startup raises funding through issuing tokens to the public. These tokens do not represent a stake in the company; rather, it primarily serves either as a securities or utility token. Securities tokens attempt to provide investors with returns for holding them while utility tokens act as “gas” for using the system the startup builds. Either way, investors aim to profit off these tokens on the various crypto exchanges. According to data from ICObench, ICO proceeds increased 141-fold, from $9.7million in Feb 2017 to $1.3billion in Dec 2017.

With more than 180 new ICOs scheduled to launch in 2018  it is easy to see why it is dominating conversations.

Of course, it is not just just early stage investors that are watching this space closely,  governments too are beginning to notice. Late last year, South Korea joined China in banning all forms of ICOs.

But for every South Korea and China, there is Switzerland or Estonia, the former known as Crypto Valley for its political stability and support for ICOs , the latter recently announcing to launch est-coin in its bid to be the global ICO hub.

The question for investors and for governments is whether this is another unsustainable bubble or whether it is some much needed innovation in a sector screaming out to get more funding into the hands of those creating value.  The lack of regulation certainly presents potential investors with another risk factor.

For those looking for a safer way to get involved, one option might be funds such as Polychain Capital and Fenbushi Capital. They specialise in blockchain vertical only portfolios. These funds also do invest in pre-sales, enjoying discounts on token prices and occupying an advisory seat on a startup’s board. This in turn provides the startup with more credibility, boosting demand and eventually prices of the tokens. It doesn’t hurt to diversify into blockchain startups if it falls within an angel’s or a fund’s thesis.

Proper Governance Models; Angels and VCs may look to invest in startups before they raise ICOs once milestones are met or come in at a later stage post-ICO when traction is gained. Alternatively, funds may be locked up in a cold wallet and voted to be released as milestones are reached. This model has not been explored yet but it could offer stability and trust.  However, looking beyond the core business and seeing who is on the Board, or what partnerships are already in place is also very important.

Either way this is a fascinating time to be involved in the scene.  If you want to be involved in the conversation then it is well worth heading to Istanbul to join the World Business Angel Forum 2018

Where:  Istanbul, Turkey
When:  18 – 20th February 2018
How:  Tickets at http://wbaf2018.istanbul/

World Business Angel Forum is an official partner of AsianEntrepreneur and supports Entrepreneurs around the world.

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]

Continue Reading

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