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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

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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