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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]

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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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