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Andrew Work

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Having founded a policy journal, worked for himself and now a leading strategist in a fintech business, Andrew Work is particularly interested in finding out more about modern fundraising namely crowdfunding, P2P lending and cryptocurrency adoption.

What’s your story?
A young man in love, I came to Hong Kong and went to work. Marriage and children followed. After seven years, I became a permanent resident (and thereby a voter) and my perspective of my role in Hong Kong changed. It is now home and I am committed to its future. I founded a free market think tank to promote and extend its free market character. Later, I jumped into politics and policy by founding a policy journal, Harbour Times. Recently, I’ve taken up a regional role as Head Content Strategist, Asia Pacific for NexChange while staying in the game of improving Hong Kong’s policy options for the future.

What is your involvement with Investment?
As the founder of a free market think tank and now heavily involved in the fintech sector through NexChange, I’ve been heavily involved in debates about the investment environment in Hong Kong. I’ve been involved in leading debates on issues like competition law and Hong Kong’s corporate tax structure. Of late, my interest has been in Hong Kong’s ability to remain free enough to adopt modern means of fundraising made possible by new ways of thinking, namely crowdfunding, P2P lending and cryptocurrency adoption.

How did that come about?
A passion for Hong Kong, its unique character and a drive to address core issues to change the world have driven me to actively work to address policy issues.

What are some of the key things you have learnt about Investing?
Investment decisions have a wide range of influences, but often it is about what direction people think the macro environment is headed in. Depending on how strong the people are in influencing government, investors will look to either people or leaders to determine how confident they are that an investment, always a risky business, will at least have a fair chance to fight to succeed.

A great business in a hostile environment has to work twice as hard and be twice as lucky to succeed. A business in a favourable – that is free and fair – environment at least has a fighting chance and investors can consider a business on its merits to assess its chance of success.

Investors have to believe the people ‘get it’ and will push their leaders to create an environment where creativity and wealth generations can thrive.

What mistakes do you see less experienced investors making?
Less experienced investors often fail to set clear objectives for their nature of their investment in writing, leading to strife with entrepreneurs later on when they change their minds about where they want the investment to go.

What mistakes do you see Entrepreneurs making?
Entrepreneurs make tons of mistakes – it’s part of the nature of being an entrepreneur. But the biggest mistake is to compound the other mistakes by not seeking help until it is too late. Entrepreneurs have to have confidence in themselves, but it can also be a weakness if they think they can do everything.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Take good advice when you get it and don’t be shy to ask for help when you see the first signs of trouble – not the last signs.

What advice would you give to those seeking funding?
Seek out those that have done it successfully before and enlist their aid. Nothing succeeds like success.

Who inspires you?
As a policy wonk, great thinkings in a tradition of economic freedom from Adam Smith to Friedrich Hayek to Vernon Smith. As business people, those who built their businesses in spite of government, not from securing monopolies or handouts from it. Technology entrepreneurs like the founders of Google are impressive, often creating ahead of the ability of the vast majority of people to understand what they see. Also, persistent small time business people who conduct themselves with honour and dignity, even if they never create huge businesses. They are the lifeblood of vibrant communities.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Pretty much everything I learn about quantum physics blows my mind. But it will need to be moved from the theoretical to practical soon to allow a vast array of other technologies, such as blockchain and AI, to realise their full potential and drive the next wave of human advancement.

What business book do you recommend the most?
I’ve never been one for business books. For a guide to life and how the world does work and how it should work, The Constitution of Liberty by Hayek can’t be beat.

Shameless plug for your business/organisation:
I move through phases where I run my own business and then work for others. Right now, the visionaries I’m working for at NexChange are teaching me tons – things I wish I had known years ago when running my own shop! I think they are going to do amazing things in the area of vertical enterprise social media and in the fintech space. I’m taking notes every day!

How can people connect with you?
Download the NexChange app or get me on LinkedIn. I don’t give out my mobile that often, but prefer to have some level of screening available. If you want to meet, have a reason. No one in Hong Kong has time to meet without purpose.

Social Media profiles?
LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter @mrgandrewwork

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

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]

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