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Viktor Wanli

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Viktor Wanli is Founder of Kinguin and is on track to launch an ICO (Initial Coin Offering) in the coming months

Viktor Wanli has big plans for his 100 million USD gaming business, Kinguin. His ambitious aspirations are coming to fruition as he prepares his company for an ICO, Initial Coin Offering, in the next few months. Mr. Wanli not only wants to make a further dent in the USD 100 billion gaming industry but he also plans on expanding his business beyond gaming.

Kinguin is adopting blockchain technology to offer a completely new decentralized game trading platform supported by its own cryptocurrency.  The technology is currently being redeveloped to enable a more transparent and secure trading platform and the ICO forms part of their wider expansion plans with the funds raised supporting their ongoing growth and development.

What is your story? Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m half Syrian, half Czech. I was born in the Czech Republic and grew up in Syria so I speak Arabic as well. I was in marketing and in 2003, I started a video gaming business which later died in 2007 and left me with lots of debt. I moved to Poland for family reasons and in 2013, I started back in the video gaming industry and in ecommerce and that’s when I started Kinguin.

Can you explain a bit about Kinguin?

Kinguin is a marketplace for downloadable PC video games. We only do downloadable games, so nothing is shipped and no mobile games. I started the business in 2013, Kinguin now employs 350 employees, 300 in Poland and 50 in Bulgaria. It has a 100 million USD annual turnover and up until now, Kinguin has been completely self-funded. It is self-sufficient when it comes to financing. I have never sold any equity and the whole expansion of the business to 350 employees, up until now, has been completely self-funded.

I believe, Kinguin’s organic growth has been down to a few factors. Kinguin:

  • Offers something unique in the marketplace
  • Is the 1st organized secondary market for video games
  • Is the 1st market buying from the publishers
  • Has enabled the discovery of games. This discovery process is very important for gamers as the amount of video games in the market increases.

Why is Kinguin different?

Adding to the above reasons for our organic growth, Kinguin is unique, I believe because we offer something unique to our gamers.

The nature of our offer is very appealing to gamers. We are built on reputation and our growth has been organic, through word of mouth. We have 65% returning customers every year and we see this as essential to our expansion.

We deal with all customer enquiries ourselves. About 80% of the issues, we solve them ourselves without involving the merchant himself, so both parties are happy, the buyer gets their issue/s solved and the seller gets their sale without their involvement.

I think, the most exciting challenge in the company, is to react to the issues in real-time. We are similar to Amazon in this sense, in that they too are customer centric.

With organic growth it becomes significantly more difficult to respond with instant solutions to customers’ issues. it’s a challenge, especially with the rapid growth – but it forces us to think about our product selection, etc. without limiting the customers’ user experience.

Also, Kinguin is different because we are turning an existing business into blockchain. A lot of start-ups are adopting block chain technology but not many turn existing businesses.

What are your aspirations for the Kinguin business?

The digital games market is a 108 billion USD market. We still have plenty of room to grow and we will continue to grow, however, we want to grow out of digital games and take on the big guys – Alibaba and Amazon.

We see Kinguin’s growth in a similar fashion to Amazon which started in the books category, then grew into CDs and so on.  But first we need to master our home category as we are not even a drop in the sea of the gaming marketplace.

For us, it’s not to become the next Alibaba, we all want to be different, don’t we? We believe we want to do it in our own way, we want to be different, but we want to be as big and as powerful!

Can you explain what an ICO is?

An ICO stands for initial coin offering and is probably the most advanced and modern way of raising funds for start-ups and existing businesses. Essentially, you are investing in a company over the internet via the use of a cryptocurrency. ICO’s are preferred by some businesses over a traditional IPO. They are less regulated, they don’t cost as much and the business owner doesn’t give up equity in the company.

What are the opportunities with an ICO?

An ICO will give Kinguin the significant push it needs to reach the next level which is very expensive. To reach this level of operations, we need new talent. Talent is a huge issue in the block chain industry. Employing advanced talent for the research and development of blockchain tech is costly. This is hard with our current financials. We need to bring on advanced talent in the blockchain business, which already has a lot of competition. Blockchain engineers are in need. There is not enough talent to pool from to feed the gap and it is growing fast.

An ICO also opens a new horizon for us to reinvent ourselves in this unchartered ocean. We believe the ICO will give us a significant push to take on the big (e-commerce) guys, allowing us to overcome Alibaba.

Regardless of ICOs, blockchain is an exciting tech which allows us to explore new markets. The ICO is a natural progression because of the blockchain technology. I see it as comparable to when the internet started. Blockchain opens up unprecedented opportunities for businesses to explore new blue oceans with not a lot of competition.

Why an ICO over traditional fundraising?

An ICO is less costly than a classic IPO and with less regulation overall, less bureaucracy. Also, you are not giving up any equity in the company.

ICOs are very complimentary to the VC funding process. If nothing else you will get a lot of feedback from the market about your product, and you won’t outlay a lot of cost.  More importantly, the low barriers to entry mean that we can open this up to our customers so that they too can benefit from our growth.

What markets are you focusing on for your business expansion?

Singapore and Abu Dhabi.

The nation of blockchain are welcomed by the Singapore authorities. ICOs were banned in China so this affected Hong Kong and Japan has a similar stance, as does South Korea. But Singapore has a very friendly approach as does Abu Dhabi. They are both very influential economic powers in Asia, a natural extension. Both markets are integral for our expansion and will give us a considerable boost in the industry.

Why are ICOs a good investment (for investors)?

I recently read an article in Business Insider, Australia which quoted a report from VC firm Mangrove Capital Partners which explained that the average returns from blind ICO investments is about 1,320%.

Other than the potential substantial returns on investment, investors in ICOs can avoid traditional brokering companies and their fees. You can invest in a company which appeals to you, without any middlemen involved. You can also decide how long you want to hold onto your purchased tokens.

If you are a gamer, an investor or entrepreneur Kinguin is a company to watch. With its expansion plans in place, and a healthy return on investment predicted for ICOs, Viktor Wanli is looking at a prosperous future for his gaming business. Who knows, Kinguin could be the next (albeit different) Alibaba or Amazon? Stay tuned….

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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