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Etienne Kouadio Doh

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Etienne Kouadio Doh is promoting investments and entrepreneurship in the tech sector in the Cote d’Ivoire.

What’s your story?
My Name is Etienne Kouadio Doh, Chief Operating Officer of VITIB, the 1st technology park in western Africa based at Grand-Bassam, the world heritage city of Cote d’Ivoire. The mission of VITIB is to promote investments and entrepreneurship in the technology sector in Cote d’Ivoire. I graduated from the top business school of Abidjan (ESCA) in 1999 and completed an executive programme in telecom management at TEMIC in Canada. Before joining VITIB, I worked for several national and multinational companies in the ICT sector from the assistant position to the top management. I live in Abidjan with my lovely family.

What is your involvement with Investment?
As the Chief Operating Officer of VITIB, my role is to promote the investments in the ICT & Biotechnology sectors in Cote d’Ivoire. VITIB hosts the incubation programme of the Ministry of Digital Economy of Cote d’Ivoire and we are developing separately an accelerating programme for start-ups on the VITIB ICT Park.
Personally, I have invested in some start-ups specializing in digital marketing, IASS and SAAS and I also empower some start-ups on management and marketing skills through a volunteering mentorship.

How did that come about?
I am passionate about marketing, ICT and entrepreneurship. I have spent almost 20 years of my professional life in marketing and ICT working with start-ups, SMEs and multinationals. I created my first start-up, AFRICPARTNERS in 2002 with the support of a business angel from Harvard Business School.

What are some of the key things you have learnt about Investing?
I have learnt three important things about investing…
First, the investor should be passionate about where he is investing. Second, only actions will move your business idea forward into a business model, business plan and business results.
Third, clearly identify your clients who will pay for your services and products, understand your market and identify your competitors, your competitive advantages and your value added proposition.

What mistakes do you see less experienced investors making?
Less experienced investors believe in bright ideas and expect quick returns on investment. They must first trust in people, in market feedback and in an efficient organisation. At the end of the day, they should be patient for their ROI. Sometimes they should be prepared to lose money!

What mistakes do you see Entrepreneurs making?
Most entrepreneurs think that a bright idea = good business. It is not true! Only working hard to transform your idea into business actions will create value. Your best evidence of your business idea will be your first clients. So work hard to get your first clients! Your first clients will help you raise funds, get references and self-confidence.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Trust in yourself, feel from your guts, be confident and go!

What advice would you give to those seeking funding?
For those who are seeking funding, I advise them to be well prepared for what they are offering, understand the returns of the funding they are seeking, look at the market evidence of their business idea and work properly on their business plan before going to external investors.

Who inspires you?
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, one of the top brands of the world, due to his passion for innovation and entrepreneurship. Bill Gates is one the pioneers of the 3rd industrial revolution and the pioneer of the popularization of the ICT to simplify our work and social life. I also admire Bill Gates for his vision, his perseverance, his humility to retire from his prestigious position of CEO of Microsoft and his courageous philanthropic nature, to give back to the society.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
By participating at the AFRICACOM 2017 focused on the technologies of the future, I have learnt that the five technology trends that will positively impact business and create the 4th industrial revolution are: advanced robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, internet of things (IoT) and blockchain.
Businesses invested in those technologies should be the fastest growing business sectors in the next 5-10 years.

What business book do you recommend the most?
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill who focused on the psychological barriers that had stopped most people from being successful. Napoleon Hill had identified 17 simple principles that I believe any investor could learn and practise to experience success.

Shameless plug for your business/organisation:
VITIB S.A is a government and private joint venture company in charge of promoting and managing the ICT and biotechnology free trade zone of Cote d’Ivoire.
One of VITIB missions is to develop a dynamic ecosystem for innovation, start-ups and SMEs and development driven by the latest technology.
VITIB as a Free Trade Zone offers some attractive tax and customs duties incentives to investors for an unlimited business period.
We are also developing an infrastructure programme to build the most attractive Smart City in the sub-region on almost 700 Ha of a prime land, 15min to the international airport of Abidjan and located between the sea and the lagoon.

How can people connect with you?
People can easily connect with me by email ([email protected]) or on social media.

Social Media profiles?
LinkedIn : https://www.linkedin.com/in/kouadiodoh
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/etienne.kouadiodoh
Twitter : https://twitter.com/kouadiodoh

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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