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Baybars Altuntas

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Helping the Next Generation of Great Companies Move Forward

In light of a new partnership between the World Business Angel Forum and AsianEntrepreneur we are kicking off with an interview of founder and chairman Baybars Altuntas. A very successful entrepreneur, published author and celebrity in his home country of Turkey, Baybars is now committed helping the next generation of entrepreneurs connect with finance and scale around the globe.

In light of the WBAF partnership with AsianEntrepreneur, what is WBAF hoping to achieve in Asia?In the past, inventions were important for the economic development of societies. In the 21st century, however, it is not invention but innovation that counts. In those earlier times, entrepreneurial skills were not needed to get an invention to the market because it was a seller’s economy, where customers were ready to buy anything new. Times have changed, and the rules of the game have changed. Today’s inventors need more than just a clever idea. They need a complex set of skills to move their innovative idea into the market and to ensure it succeeds.

“it is not invention but innovation that counts”

Ours is the age of the entrepreneur. (the buzz word of our century). The current, highlycompetitive economic environment means that scaling up businesses demands special skills of entrepreneurs, who are obliged to secure financing as quickly as possible. Yet finance alone is not sufficient enough to create global success stories. The entrepreneur needs not simply finance, they need the best finance. WBAF’s partnership with AsianEntrepreneur aims to develop a set of skills for of Asian Entrepreneurs to access the best finance.

What presence do you currently have in Asia?

We have appointed Callum Laing as the WBAF High Commissioner in Singapore. We see Singapore as the innovation hub of Asia. We therefore have given special importance to Singapore. Additionally, WBAF has appointed High Commissioners for Hong Kong, Kazakhstan and Bangladesh.

What is the appeal of Asia and what do you think the future holds for investors in Asia?

Singapore, which was recently ranked as the 10th best startup ecosystem in the world by San Francisco-based research agency Compass, is employing resources – money and manpower –to further foster its booming startup scene.

Hong Kong has also seen a boost with this year’s government announcement of an Innovation and Technology Venture Fund worth a HK$2 billion ($256.7M USD). While still less than the Singaporean government’s investment in total, Hong Kong’s location and proximity to manufacturing hubs like Shenzhen mean that hardware startups are flocking from around the region (and the world) to set up offices on the island.

Both countries’ private sectors are also investing in the startups ecosystem with an increasing number of accelerators and incubators springing up. Banks, car manufacturers and even healthcare insurance companies have set up their own accelerator programs to tap into the talent in their particular industry.

Malaysia was the only country to host a Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Asia. It was an initiative of former US President Barack Obama.

On the other hand, small countries like Brunei have founded the Brunei Economic Development Board and one of the Board’s agenda items is to empower the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the country.

After checking each country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem in Asia, I see that challenges in Asia are a bit different to Europe and USA. USA has a good pre-start- up+ start-up +scale-

up +exit system. Europe is not good at scale-up and exit. Europe’s main problem is scale-up. Asia doesn’t have a scale-up problem but an exit problem. Asia has to focus on developing its own exit market within the continent. My personal summary of this is as follows:

  •       USA: pre-start- up+ start-up + scale-up+exit
  •       Asia: pre-start- up + start-up + scale-up
  •       Europe: pre-start- up + start-up
  •       Africa: pre-start- up

What is WBAF doing in the rest of the world?

As I said earlier, ‘’The entrepreneur needs not simply finance, they need the best finance.’’ So, what is the ‘best finance?’

The best finance is a miracle that happens when one is able to combine money, know-how, mentorship and networking. This is perhaps better termed smart finance.

Consider the various sources of finance available to entrepreneurs: Beyond basic bootstrapping, there are corporate ventures, angel investors, crowd funding platforms, accelerators, VC s, banks, public grants, co-investment funds, business plan competitions, technology transfer offices, family offices, private equity investors and stock exchanges. With the notable exception of angel investors, all of these sources provide only money, nothing more.

The only true source of smart finance are angel investors. Angel investors, are able to influence a country’s economic development by providing more than just money to entrepreneurs and SMEs.  They contribute their own know-how, provide mentorship, and share their own networks in contributing to the businesses they invest in. They are thus the main drivers of innovation and the natural leaders of the world’s early-stage investment markets.

In 2015, more than 300,000 angel investors invested more than $25 billion in startups in the US, and more than 310,000 angel investors invested more than 6 billion Euros in Europe. The estimated total global market size of angel investment is over $50 billion every year. Angel investors support entrepreneurs in starting up, and they support SMEs as they scale up their businesses, creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs worldwide every year.

It is rewarding to see that governments around the world have understood the importance of angel investment for boosting their economies. During the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship in 2010, President Obama’s response to concerns I expressed about making available public grants for entrepreneurs was promising. In a special meeting with me, he agreed with and supported my position on the importance of angel investors in terms of converting public money to ‘smart money’, that is, cash that is invested by parties who are experienced, well-informed, and well connected.

Many governments, particularly in Europe, offer generous tax incentives for angel investors. The UK and Turkey have already passed angel investment legislation to support such a system. A number of Middle Eastern countries, particularly in the GCC, have discovered the angel investment system and are keen to pursue it because, among other key reasons, it is 100% compatible with Islamic investment principles. In fact, the Islamic Development Bank included angel investment on the list of recommendations proposed for consideration at its annual conference in Jakarta, in May 2016.

The World Business Angels Investment Forum invites all governments and policymakers to take advantage of the know-how, mentorship, and networking of qualified angel investors and to convert public money to smart money by establishing close collaborations between public institutions and private resources such as business angel networks, corporate ventures and VCs.

As a global organisation, the World Business Angels Investment Forum is bringing together key players of the equity markets to discuss the benefits and challenges of achieving successful growth for businesses and to explore additional possibilities for empowering the world economy.

In the wake of the global economic crisis, it was far from easy to reach out for any kind of finance, smart or otherwise. The World Business Angels Investment Forum focuses on developing innovative financial instruments for entrepreneurs and SMEs as a part of its global agenda.

To focus on the ‘smart’ factor in innovation in the context of entrepreneurial ecosystems, the World Business Angels Investment Forum directs its attention to developing smart investors, smart finance, smart exits, and smart entrepreneurs, startups and SMEs.

What is your background and why is this so important to you?

I am a former Senior Advisor of the Elite Programme of the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG), star of the Turkish version of the television show Dragons’ Den, Chairman of the World Business Angels Investment Forum (WBAF), Vice President of the European Trade Association for Business Angels, Seed Funds, and Early Stage Market Players (EBAN), President of the Business Angels Association of Turkey (TBAA), the World Entrepreneurship Forum Ambassador to Turkey and the Balkan countries, and President of Deulcom International.

I am the recipient of the European Trade Association of Business Angels (EBAN) award for the Best Individual in Europe Globally, Engaging with the Global Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in 2014 (Ireland), 2015 (Netherlands), 2016 (Portugal) and 2017 (Spain). I am the only entrepreneur to be granted a personal audience with former President Obama at the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship in Washington, DC. I am the developer of the world-renowned entrepreneurship theory, the Altuntas Start-up Compass Theory, researched by Sheffield University and used in numerous MBA programmes. I am an advisory board member of the South East Europe Research Council in Greece and appointed as JCI Ambassador, following Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary General of the United Nations. I am regularly profiled by international media such as CNN International and Bloomberg.

Furthermore, I am a co-author of Planet Entrepreneur: The World Entrepreneurship Forums Guide to Business Success Around the World, published by Wiley (2013) and an author of Off the Bus, Into a Supercar! How I Became a Top TV Star and Celebrated Investor, published by Balboa Press (2014) and translated into Chinese, Croatian, Albanian, and Macedonian.

At the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, the only criteria for success was the amount of downloads to my bank account. After you make your wealth, know-how and network; the criteria of success changes, in my case, from downloading to uploading the world! There are many ways of giving-back to the world. You can donate to the government, to the church, to the mosque. Or you can build a hospital and present it to the people for free use. My way of uploading the world is to donate my time and energy to ease access to finance for every entrepreneur in the world. So, WBAF activities are very important for me.

For readers of AsianEntrepreneur who are entrepreneurs seeking funding or would-be entrepreneurs wanting to take the leap, what advice do you have for them?

First of all, it’s important that entrepreneurs starting out are building a business that solves an existing problem and/or fills an existing gap. I say this because as simple as it may sound, an increasing number of young startups I’ve met don’t seem to consider whether there is a real need for their ideas. These are the ones who create a copy of something hoping to achieve the success that the creator of original idea did. That never works except in the very few cases where it is better than the original and/or adjusted better to a regional audience.

But in the digital age, I remind would-be entrepreneurs that there are no borders any more. So whether you find yourself in front of five sharks and a TV audience of millions, or with five minutes and an angel investor audience of one, a big part of their decision is going to be based on the quality of your presentation, and the people involved.

  1.  Prepare yourself, not just your idea. Angel investors invest first in the entrepreneur not in the business plan. It’s important that the investor and entrepreneur get along. They will want to see that you are fast, thoughtful, and efficient, , and can sustain the project through its conception and growth.
  2. Capture the essentials. Angel investors care more about the presentation than the business plan. Can you, in less than five minutes, explain the project, the return on investment and the growth strategy?
  3. Have a plan from day one. Angels are very interested in your exit strategy. Many investors tire after about seven years with a company and look around for new opportunities. So what is your exit strategy? Are you going to sell all your shares to a new entrepreneur? Go public with the company? Sell to venture capitalists? Franchise?
  4.  Do your investor research. You should find out as much as you can about your angel investor. Who has he or she invested in before? Have they been successful? How well do they know your industry? How much time can they devote to you and your idea?
  5.  Take care of due diligence upfront. It takes most investors 3 months to do due diligence on your idea. Make sure that it is not a waste of their time.
  6.  Negotiate a term sheet offer. Lack of experience can make this a very painful part of the whole project. You can go to the website of the WBAF (www.wbaforum.org) to learn more about it.
  7.  Learn the vocabulary—it’s all on the Internet!

I suggest preparing four different presentations for the potential investor:

  •       Business plan of no more than 50 pages
  •       Business plan condensed into PowerPoint presentation of no more than 20 slides
  •       This Powerpoint also condensed down to a 2-page brief
  •       A 5 minute elevator pitch

In Planet Entrepreneur published by the Wiley in New York, I gave a list of 8 things that would turn OFF your investor, and pointed out that only 25% of propositions make it past the first phase. So due diligence is key.

I would like to conclude this interview however, by saying, “It doesn’t matter if you are from the Americas, Europe, Asia, or Africa; the world is waiting for your good ideas.”

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

Eva Law

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Eva Law invests in businesses and people who share something she believes in and understands well.

What’s your story?
I serve affluent families, corporations and investors in Asia. I am well connected with entrepreneurs, wealth creators and the next generation who dream big. I offer my clients solutions which are contingent to their requirements.

Apart from supporting clients with their investment, I am passionate about helping clients with things like family governance, family business growth, management and succession. Since recently establishing the Life-Quest Fellowship, I now support good causes and help them to build a dynamic economy, harmonious society and a ‘greener’ world.

I am available for talks, I welcome co-investment in any form and I am always happy to meet bright people with good ideas.

What is your involvement with Investment?
With regard to my own investment, I together with my vehicles are actively investing in technology, impact investing projects and young companies.
My daily life requires me to work closely with the buy-side parties. They are the wealth owners, the successors and the co-investors. In this role, I need to fully understand their unique requirements. I manage and facilitate the potential formation, execution, disposal and ongoing management of the investment activities either operating in-house or run by mandated external managers.

How did that come about?
I started investing in technology when the tech-bubble burst. For impact investing, I was inspired by people with vision and good hearts and that was when I engaged in the family offices network. My investment in young companies started 2 years ago when I started supporting programs relating to the incubation and acceleration of start-up companies which exhibited the potential to be successful. Being a family office specialist, it is my natural role to offer tangible support to clients to assist in arranging their investments, club deals and asset disposals.

What are some of the key things you have learnt about Investing?

  • Be patient with long-term investing
  • Buy and invest only in businesses or projects you understand
  • Make informed decisions – do due diligence and checking
  • Take diversification seriously
  • Know when to sell and when to buy
  • Maintain liquidity at a reasonable volume

What mistakes do you see less experienced investors making?
Many investors confuse historical returns with future expectations, the investment advice they receive about long term probabilities and average returns may have little or no relevance to the actual results they get.

I have seen on many occasions, investors fail to match investment styles with their own personal goals. There’s no single right answer to investment strategy that will result in financial success for everyone. Investors have to find the path that will adhere to their unique expectations, limitations, skills, resources, goals, values, and risk tolerances for achieving financial success.

Following those ‘gurus’ who have made their millions doing the “blah, blah, blah” strategy doesn’t mean it’s the right strategy for all investors. Investors are advised to be vibrant and be able to make decisions contingent on their own conditions.

What mistakes do you see Entrepreneurs making?
Not being adaptable. Companies don’t fail because of changes to the environment. They fail because their leaders are either unwilling or incapable of dealing with change. Indeed, companies don’t change. People do. It means that to stay competitive in today’s environment warrants not only the skill and will to adapt to change but also the foresight to anticipate it.

Excessive optimism. Failure to consider the downside risks will bring the business to a halt quickly. Often an enterprise or start-up expects to have its product on the market in the near future and have sales growing at aggressive rates with unrealistic margins. Sooner or later, the company will experience cash flow disaster, and most entrepreneurial businesses have no plan whatsoever for such variances. They fail not because the idea was necessarily bad but more than anything because their forecasting was poor and the capital dries up.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I receive advice from the people who surround me – my family, the church, the community. I have shared some of the advice i have received which resonates with me:

  • Don’t give up on what you want most, for what you want now. It’s about sticking to your priorities.
  • You cannot control the external world, but you can control your reaction to it. By focusing on what I can do, I can stay positive.
  • Only pack what you can carry yourself. I realize excessive pressure is no good and it won’t help your end goal.

What advice would you give to those seeking funding?
First, fundraisers should have clear expectations and well contemplated strategies. Second, qualifying the target investors/funders early so they focus their scarce resources on people likely to support them. At last, research the potential investors/funders and build a relationship with them over time. People buy from people they like, trust, respect and believe in.

Other tip: Make the pitch simple. Nobody will buy what they don’t understand. It’s very important to take the complexity of the company and industry and develop a “narrative” that helps investors and funders better understand the context. It’s basically story telling.

Who inspires you?
The people I am surrounded by.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Do what you love and create the environment that’s right for you. That is why I built the Associations, the Fellowship and my own business. I love doing what I want to do and I can help the world along the way.

What business book do you recommend the most?
I recently read Jonathan Taplin’s book, Move Fast and Break Things. It examines the “monopoly platforms” built by Facebook, Google, Amazon and others. It also discussed technology’s impact on society.

Shameless plug for your business/organisation:
Association of Family Offices in Asia (AFO) is a professional society in Asia which distinctively gathers single, multiple and virtual family offices as well as industry societies in the region. AFO offers a range of consultancy services and organized activities to facilitate collaboration and co-investment among the prestige circle.

Asia Co-Investors Club (ACIC) is a group of private investors who organize partnerships. The relevant group in ACIC establishes new ventures, buys or sells securities and real assets based on a majority vote of the members. Club meetings are voluntary, thought provoking and educational. Each member may actively participate in investment decisions.

How can people connect with you?
Connect me via LinkedIn or write to me at [email protected] or reach out to my assistant at [email protected]

Social Media profiles?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/evalaw/

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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Louie Pinto

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Louie Pinto swears by his tried and tested formula – the Billionaire Rule of 3.

What’s your story?
My name is Louie Pinto. I was born in the USA to immigrant parents with humble beginnings. In my 20s, I decided that I wanted more out of life and wanted to live an extraordinary life, so I decided to study the rich and wealthy. For the last 18 years, I’ve studied under some of the top mentors in the word, like Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, Joel Bauer, Harry Dent, etc. I came up with a formula called the Billionaire Rule of 3, which I started to teach and apply in my own life and the lives of others. I’ve spoken to over 10,000 people in the last few years in Asia alone.
Last year, I founded GCBA- Global Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Alliance with 2 partners of mine in Singapore. We started at a coffee shop and less than 1 year later, we have thousands of members and we have impacted many of their lives.

What is your involvement with Investment?
I focus on modern wealth strategies, which include bitcoin and blockchain education. Investing in cryptocurrencies is risky, that is why I teach people to focus on crypto education. I teach people to have a small exposure to crypto, keep their traditional investments, like RE and stocks, but also use a small amount in crypto to supercharge their returns.

How did that come about?
I was first exposed to bitcoin in 2014. I did nothing. Then last year in April, I had a mentor ask me to really take a hard look at bitcoin again as a way to create generational wealth in a short amount of time. I started to share with some friends, then it grew from there. We have thousands of members all around Asia in our Alliance.

What are some of the key things you have learnt about Investing?
Well, my billionaire rule of 3. Step 1. Find the right trend. Step 2. Is it the right time? Step 3. Take massive and immediate action.

What mistakes do you see less experienced investors making?
Focus too much on not having a plan or a strategy. If you don’t have a plan, you become a gambler, and the casino is filled with broken souls and wallets. We focus on having a game plan and simple strategies to make money. Our focus is that investing should be boring, and profitable.

What mistakes do you see Entrepreneurs making?
Not spending enough time on education. One of my friends, just bought a small plane. He asked me if I wanted to go for a ride. As we were talking, I asked him where did he go to pilot school? He said he didn’t, he just watched a few videos on youtube and read a book. Now that is risky and no one in their right mind would fly with that person. But people gamble away their life savings in the markets and other investments, because they are not educating themselves first.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Define your target and keep taking steps, no matter how small, each and every day, until you accomplish it.

What advice would you give to those seeking funding?
You need to have solid proof of your results before you can start to ask people for money.

Who inspires you?
Being a new parent (my little girl is 4 years old), I really admire parents who will do anything, including giving up their dreams, to provide a better life for their children. Only just becoming a parent, have I started to appreciate my own parents even more.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Sometimes you can even surprise yourself. Last year, when I first got started, I never would have imagined that I would be speaking to thousands of people a month, sometimes up to 8 times a week, and be a leader in this field. I grew up with low self esteem and had a really bad stuttering problem that prevented me from speaking in public for many years.

What business book do you recommend the most?
There are so many that I’ve been blessed with over the years. 1) Rich Dad Poor Dad, by Robert K. It shares simple, but powerful ideas on gaining wealth. 2.) Awakening the Giant Within, by Tony Robbins. He focuses on mindset and taking massive action. After reading this book in my 20s, it sent me on a few different paths.

Shameless plug for your business/organisation:
www.GCBA.world

How can people connect with you?
Facebook
Email – [email protected]

Social Media profiles?
https://www.facebook.com/louie.pinto

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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