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M Fayaz Taher

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Fayaz Taher believes you should just start something to get the ball rolling, then you can start learning some important lessons as an entrepreneur.

What’s your story?
I am from Bangladesh and I live and work here. I studied in the US at Babson College and Clark University. I started a few tech startups in the US and after University, I came back to Bangladesh to start a shoe manufacturing plant and retail brand. I started off as a young entrepreneur with a fried chicken restaurant when I was in highschool.

What is your involvement with Investment?
I have done several angel investments in Bangladesh early on. When the word startup didn’t even exist we took some early risks as a group of angels. Some have been fairly successful and some were not but the lessons we learned, allowed us to understand what works and what doesn’t. Now we are in the process of starting an early stage seed fund.

How did that come about?
It came about because of my passion for technology and also the problems in the access to capital in our country. Our country is very debt and collateral oriented which means tech ventures and talents virtually have no chance. We wanted to create alternative investment options so that the talents do not leave the country or, waste their talent.

What are some of the key things you have learnt about Investing?
It is about long term and not short term. A minimum of 20 years in a new ecosystem. Investing in people and teams are quite important.  Operate in a large market size or create a new market or service that doesn’t exist at all.

What mistakes do you see less experienced investors making?
Term sheets or operating like a bank or personal side venture. Many investors want quick returns and do not see how important it is for founders to be incentivised long term.

What mistakes do you see Entrepreneurs making?
Not hiring the right people on their team and working on their MVP. Too many entrepreneurs assume many things about the customers and do not start testing an early MVP to understand the insights. Also they do not focus on hiring the right team. Sometimes entrepreneurs also think that they cannot start without money and so they seek money first without validating that their concept can actually work in the first place.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Just start. If you do not initiate something, nothing will move and you cannot learn. The best way to learn is to do it.

What advice would you give to those seeking funding?
Just start doing it. Test your concept, test your market and talk to your customers to understand the insights. It is about trial and error and navigation.

Who inspires you?
My father who is a serial entrepreneur and an industrial leader. He has been on the forefront of various industries.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
You need to dig deep in tough times and without facing the tough times you cannot break through. Every successful entrepreneur has gone to the rock bottom and they had to ask themselves whether to continue or give up. The ones who are successful today we know that they kept trying until they hit it because they believe in themselves and the opportunity.

What business book do you recommend the most?
Power of Habits, Start with why? Mindset

Shameless plug for your business/organisation:
Startup Dhaka is a platform that develops the capacity of entrepreneurs through an accelerator program, an online platform and events as well as to connect to investors for fund raising.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

Social Media profiles?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/fayaztaher/
https://www.facebook.com/fayaztaher84

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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