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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

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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