Distilling Venture Capital podcast

Episode 020 - 10Web; Tigran Nazaryan, CEO

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Introduction

Welcome to Distilling Venture Capital.  I am your host, Bill Griesinger

Distilling VC is a visionary podcast that provides an insightful and informed view of the key trends affecting the VC and tech startup world.  My mission is to cut through and go beyond the hype that tends to dominate the tech landscape.  And provide you with information you can use.  

Episode Introduction:

  • Welcome back everyone.  Today, we have a really interesting program for you b/c I have the pleasure of welcoming to the show Tigran Nazaryan, who is the CEO of 10Web, a  
  • Tigran, thank you for making the time to be with me today on the podcast.
  • I am super excited about today’s conversation after learning about the company b/c 10Web has created a really interesting business model and is changing the game around the area of Web design and hosting, and is doing that through automation of an old but very reliable tool and ecosystem many of us are familiar with have used, WordPress.  
  • 10Web has a very interesting history and story and what I believe is a huge addressable market.  Tigran, I thought it would be useful for you to provide us first, with some of your background, and then we can get into the interesting story around the origins of 10Web as a company
  • Five years before founding the company in 2017, a small team of engineers were building WordPress plugins.  This helped you identify the biggest problems in web development, leading to the formation of 10Web.  With vision to create a platform for hosting for professionals and agencies.  
  • We built an advanced, modern type of hosting technology.   Allows automatic creation of WordPress websites and powered by AI algorithms and neural networks.   We also created our own tools for optimizing websites
  • We are getting a lot of momentum, growing really fast…
  • Hear is a quote from a press release after your raised your Seed round last month where you stated, "Tens of millions of WordPress websites are built every year, and an average website launch takes 5 weeks!  We wanted to bring automation to WordPress development to facilitate and speed up this process," can you expand on this?
  • Why did you choose WordPress automation as opposed to, say, building your own website builder tools?
  • Tigran:  Old school platform, but WordPress powers 45% of all websites built.  It is really flexible and workable.  Yet, we found the experience of creating WP websites was really painful.  Flow is time-consuming and requires some deep knowledge where many web developers don’t go that deep.
  • Our vision was to solve these problems for web developers.  Huge potential for automation because WordPress 
  • Here is a quote from your investor at AI Fund;  “10Web has built an innovative, no-code solution utilizing artificial intelligence to automate website porting and creation.” (Perry Wu, General Partner, AI Fund)
  • We spend greater than 2 years with a team of machine learning engineers to create the solution.  Not a simple undertaking.
  • You use Google Cloud as infrastructure, why?  
  • Tigran:  We use Google Cloud for hosting.  Clients’ websites are stored.  We also use AWS, MS Azure.   There is no fundamental difference between these 3 solutions, only difference is in details.
  • Talk about achieving 90+ Google Page speed score.
  • Tigran:  Page Speed score is a metric defined by Google.  Important metric.   Affects conversion, effectiveness of ads, for all web pages of the site.  Technically very challenging.  Not a single plug-in or solution.  Also, WP websites are not all the same.  Helps professionals streamline website development.
  • We offer a full, complete, turn-key solution for agencies
  • Discuss target market and go-to-market strategy. 
  • Tigran:   Our current focus is on develpers, agencies and free-lancers
  • You recently closed a $2MM Seed Round.  Where are you in terms of traction in the marketplace?
  • Tigran:  Priority is to grow.  We have thousands of customers today.
  • How are you rolling out in terms of launch strategy for customer acquisition?
  • Tigran:  We don’t have any specific geographical limitations.  It’s popular with web builders globally and WP is translated into hundreds of languages.  We focus on US and western Europe right now.
  • Can you discuss the subscription-based revenue model?
  • How do you view the competitive landscape given your value proposition of top class hosting and automation of WordPress?
  • Tigran:  Many provide hosting and site building tools.  Competition not only within WP community but also between WP and other platforms
  • Your competitive advantage is in the pricing and the automation, right?
  • Tigran:   Yes, and none of the others provide a specific, customized solution to cover agency site development needs with simplicity through automation.
  • Want to shift back to the technology.  We hear a lot about artificial intelligence (AI)…    Do you think AI will replace traditional web development or is it supplemental technology?
  • Discuss additional capital needs and process…
  • Capital efficient business model;  recurring revenue, high gross margins with major expenses being development and people…
  • Tigran:  AI Fund and Sierra are Seed investors so we will consider other investors, as well

Closing Remarks

  • Tigran, what is a good way for those seeking additional information about 10Web and its products to get in touch? 
    • Obviously, there is the 10Web website:  www.10web.io
    • Invite agencies to sign-up 10Web, we will invite you to our Slack platform for more detailed, closer conversations.
    • Linkedin

Thank you for joining me for this edition of DVC.  I hope you found our discussion today with Tigran Nazaryan and 10Web interesting and it gave you things to think about regarding how you go about building and creating high-quality websites in the future.  I look forward to joining you on my next edition of DVC,  Thank You…

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    Episode 021 - Oddup; FOCUS ON FINTECH; James Giancotti, Founder & CEO

    37:46

    Introduction Welcome to Distilling Venture Capital.  I am your host, Bill Griesinger Distilling VC is a visionary podcast that provides an insightful and informed view of the key trends affecting the VC and tech startup world.  My mission is to cut through and go beyond the hype that tends to dominate the tech landscape.  And provide you with information you can use. Episode Introduction: Welcome back everyone.  I am excited about today´s program because I have the pleasure of welcoming to the show James Giancotti who is the Founder and CEO of a really interesting company called Oddup.   Oddup is a provider of a data-driven, intelligence platform that helps users more efficiently evaluate and understand the startup ecosystem and for digital assets it includes a proprietary Cryptocurrency Rating System.  Oddup provides users with powerful tools and proven methods of data collection and insights for making investment decisions in a more efficient manner…[My attempt at describing the co. and what you do…feel free to give me the succinct, company-preferred version] And, we´ll get into all of that in greater detail…. James, thank you for making the time to be with me on the podcast today… So, before we dig into the meat of what Oddup is and its key offerings, I thought it would be useful if you could tell us a bit about your background and about your journey, more broadly, that ultimately led to the formation of Oddup… Topic Areas Covered: AI and data driven approach, what was the impetus, thesis for developing this into a company in the first place? What is the end-product offering actually and how has it evolved over time? Is it investment research on steroids…or how would you best describe it? Talk about the offerings in more detail;  What is the Startup Rating System, other offerings and services, i.e., Crypto-custody?  Talk about major Customers:  Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg, Google, etc. Key Partners? How would you assess the competitive landscape?  There seems to be a number of newer startups entering this space in different ways Competitive advantages of Oddup offering…Key Value proposition? ´Our main advantage is we have been right often on our valuation assessments which has given our tools and platform credibility as a go-to source.´  Particularly, more recently, we have been very accurate at assessing and valuing crypto and digital asset sectors. How do you get access to all of the detailed information and analysis for what are mostly private companies? Let´s discuss Forge Global, a major private exchange allowing investors to trade shares and evaluate secondary offerings of innovative private companies.  They also offer custody, tools and data in addition trading.  They announced a public offering via a SPAC in September.   Do you view them as an enabler, competitor or other? Is there an interesting story behind the company name? Discuss your recent equity round - $12.8MM Series C  We actually raised the round a year ago.  COVID and pandemic related factors kept us from announcing it until recently.  However, we used the proceeds to build really innovative and quality data analytics tools, especially in the crypto and digital asset sectors. Future plans for capital? Closing Remarks James, what is a good way for those seeking additional information about Oddup to get in touch?  Oddup website:  www.oddup.com Other contact methods you would like to include; Thank you for joining me for this edition of DVC.  I hope you found our discussion today with James Giancotti and Oddup interesting and it gave you things to think about regarding your ability to evaluate, analyze and invest in new economy companies.  I look forward to joining you on my next edition of DVC,  Thank You… Bio: James Giancotti, CEO and Co-founder OddupJames Giancotti is the founder and CEO of Oddup, an early-stage startup ecosystem rating system. James began his career in investment banking and research roles at Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan. After nearly a decade of researching companies’ financials to determine their value and assessing investment risks and opportunities, he saw firsthand the challenges that most institutional investors constantly confronted. The biggest obstacle was a lack of reliable, collated analyst insights that overcome subjectivity, so he created Oddup to address this problem by giving investors more transparency and objective insights to make the most informed investment decision.  James holds both a Bachelor of Commerce in Business Intelligence and a Bachelor of Law in Intellectual Property from La Trobe University.
  • Distilling Venture Capital podcast

    Episode 020 - 10Web; Tigran Nazaryan, CEO

    33:23

    Introduction Welcome to Distilling Venture Capital.  I am your host, Bill Griesinger Distilling VC is a visionary podcast that provides an insightful and informed view of the key trends affecting the VC and tech startup world.  My mission is to cut through and go beyond the hype that tends to dominate the tech landscape.  And provide you with information you can use.   Episode Introduction: Welcome back everyone.  Today, we have a really interesting program for you b/c I have the pleasure of welcoming to the show Tigran Nazaryan, who is the CEO of 10Web, a   Tigran, thank you for making the time to be with me today on the podcast. I am super excited about today’s conversation after learning about the company b/c 10Web has created a really interesting business model and is changing the game around the area of Web design and hosting, and is doing that through automation of an old but very reliable tool and ecosystem many of us are familiar with have used, WordPress.   10Web has a very interesting history and story and what I believe is a huge addressable market.  Tigran, I thought it would be useful for you to provide us first, with some of your background, and then we can get into the interesting story around the origins of 10Web as a company Five years before founding the company in 2017, a small team of engineers were building WordPress plugins.  This helped you identify the biggest problems in web development, leading to the formation of 10Web.  With vision to create a platform for hosting for professionals and agencies.   We built an advanced, modern type of hosting technology.   Allows automatic creation of WordPress websites and powered by AI algorithms and neural networks.   We also created our own tools for optimizing websites We are getting a lot of momentum, growing really fast… Hear is a quote from a press release after your raised your Seed round last month where you stated, "Tens of millions of WordPress websites are built every year, and an average website launch takes 5 weeks!  We wanted to bring automation to WordPress development to facilitate and speed up this process," can you expand on this? Why did you choose WordPress automation as opposed to, say, building your own website builder tools? Tigran:  Old school platform, but WordPress powers 45% of all websites built.  It is really flexible and workable.  Yet, we found the experience of creating WP websites was really painful.  Flow is time-consuming and requires some deep knowledge where many web developers don’t go that deep. Our vision was to solve these problems for web developers.  Huge potential for automation because WordPress  Here is a quote from your investor at AI Fund;  “10Web has built an innovative, no-code solution utilizing artificial intelligence to automate website porting and creation.” (Perry Wu, General Partner, AI Fund) We spend greater than 2 years with a team of machine learning engineers to create the solution.  Not a simple undertaking. You use Google Cloud as infrastructure, why?   Tigran:  We use Google Cloud for hosting.  Clients’ websites are stored.  We also use AWS, MS Azure.   There is no fundamental difference between these 3 solutions, only difference is in details. Talk about achieving 90+ Google Page speed score. Tigran:  Page Speed score is a metric defined by Google.  Important metric.   Affects conversion, effectiveness of ads, for all web pages of the site.  Technically very challenging.  Not a single plug-in or solution.  Also, WP websites are not all the same.  Helps professionals streamline website development. We offer a full, complete, turn-key solution for agencies Discuss target market and go-to-market strategy.  Tigran:   Our current focus is on develpers, agencies and free-lancers You recently closed a $2MM Seed Round.  Where are you in terms of traction in the marketplace? Tigran:  Priority is to grow.  We have thousands of customers today. How are you rolling out in terms of launch strategy for customer acquisition? Tigran:  We don’t have any specific geographical limitations.  It’s popular with web builders globally and WP is translated into hundreds of languages.  We focus on US and western Europe right now. Can you discuss the subscription-based revenue model? How do you view the competitive landscape given your value proposition of top class hosting and automation of WordPress? Tigran:  Many provide hosting and site building tools.  Competition not only within WP community but also between WP and other platforms Your competitive advantage is in the pricing and the automation, right? Tigran:   Yes, and none of the others provide a specific, customized solution to cover agency site development needs with simplicity through automation. Want to shift back to the technology.  We hear a lot about artificial intelligence (AI)…    Do you think AI will replace traditional web development or is it supplemental technology? Discuss additional capital needs and process… Capital efficient business model;  recurring revenue, high gross margins with major expenses being development and people… Tigran:  AI Fund and Sierra are Seed investors so we will consider other investors, as well Closing Remarks Tigran, what is a good way for those seeking additional information about 10Web and its products to get in touch?  Obviously, there is the 10Web website:  www.10web.io Invite agencies to sign-up 10Web, we will invite you to our Slack platform for more detailed, closer conversations. Linkedin Thank you for joining me for this edition of DVC.  I hope you found our discussion today with Tigran Nazaryan and 10Web interesting and it gave you things to think about regarding how you go about building and creating high-quality websites in the future.  I look forward to joining you on my next edition of DVC,  Thank You…
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    Episode 019 - EQUIAM; John Zic, Partner and Founding Member

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    Introduction Welcome to Distilling Venture Capital.  I am your host, Bill Griesinger Distilling VC is a visionary podcast that provides an insightful and informed view of the key trends affecting the VC and tech startup world.  My mission is to cut through and go beyond the hype that tends to dominate the tech landscape.  And provide you with information you can use.   Episode Introduction: Welcome back everyone.  Today, we have a really fantastic program b/c I have the pleasure of welcoming to the show John Zic who is a Partner and Founding Member of EQUIAM, a San Francisco based firm that provides access to VC investments in a  John, thank you for making the time to be with me today on the podcast. I am really excited about today’s conversation about EQUIAM for a couple of reasons:  One, because it represents a true, analytics and data-based approach to investing in a basket of VC-backed private tech companies, and we’ll get into that; Also, b/c as a venture lender, the team I worked with spent many hours , days and years developing a risk assessment and risk rating model for the VC-backed companies we were providing debt commitments to. John, to begin the conversation, I thought it would be useful for you to provide us some of your background and then discuss how EQUIAM came to be… Talk about the early stages of creating this company because it’s not a new endeavor or venture, relatively speaking. Talk about the two Funds under management;  Recently closed (June 2021) the Private Alpha Fund of $50M – and you have the Private Tech 30 Fund that closed Feb. 2019;  Describe these funds and investment thesis behind them Why 30 to 35 companies in a Fund? Talk about the proprietary data-driven approach that EQUIAM has developed; not only for picking the companies in the funds, but also the ongoing evaluation and monitoring processes to make adjustments, including potentially removing an investment from the basket of stocks? Known as the Equiam Systematic Ranking (ESR), which applies a suite of proprietary algorithms to distill approximately 10,000 private companies and 10 million data points into a ranked list of approximately 30 investment targets. You’re CEO, Ziad Makkawi, believes the VC industry “should embrace the kind of AI tools it invests in.”   Expand on that… How are you able to get access to preferred shares?  What if you want to reduce no. of shares held in a co. in the Fund – how do you sell them? Use of secondary market platforms like Forge, allows EQUIAM to readily participate in private offerings of technology companies; access has not really been a problem overall… Forge used to be Equidate.  Forge is actually a minority shareholder-owner of EQUIAM, LLC According Makawi, CEO and Founder of EQUIAM, The business operates on the assumption that there is enough data out there on firms that can be analyzed and used to manage a portfolio of VC investments quantitatively. In the past, most people didn’t have access to the data or hadn’t put in the effort to find it.   We have taken a data-driven, risk-based approach to mitigate the froth that we see in the market right now;   e.g. Over-valued unicorns… Introduces a more tech-driven way of investing in VC deals.   Are you still accepting new investments in the Private Alpha Fund? How does the process work?  Accredited investors, minimum investment, etc? Potential to begin offering smaller investment sizes to non-accredited? Closing Remarks John, what is a good way for those seeking additional information about EQUIAM or perhaps have an interest in making an investment, get in touch?  EQUIAM website:  www.equiam.com Thank you for joining me for this edition of DVC.  I hope you found our discussion today with John Zic and EQUIAM interesting and it gave you things to think about regarding your ability to invest in a fund of private tech companies.  I look forward to joining you on my next edition of DVC,  Thank You…
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    Episode 018 - Brian Requarth: CEO and Co-Founder, Viva Real in Brasil: Author of, “Viva The Entrepreneur”

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    Introduction Welcome to Distilling Venture Capital.  I am your host, Bill Griesinger Distilling VC is a visionary podcast that provides an insightful and informed view of the key trends affecting the VC and tech startup world.  My mission is to cut through and go beyond the hype that tends to dominate the tech landscape.  And provide you with information you can use. Episode Introduction: Welcome back everyone.  Today, we have a really fantastic program b/c I have the awesome pleasure of welcoming to the show Brian Requarth – who is an entrepreneur and true veteran of creating and scaling a technology businesses in Brazil and LatAm.  Brian is the co-founder and former CEO of Viva Real, the leading real estate, property technology business in Brazil.  He raised over $74MM in venture capital for Viva Real.   He merged the company with ZAP Imóveis (owned by Grupo Globo) and became the Chairman of Grupo ZAP.  He later sold the business for $550MM He now invests in the most promising tech companies in Brazil and Latin America as an angel investor.  More importantly, he is dedicated to empowering the next era of entrepreneurs in the region.  Brian, welcome and thanking you for making the time to share your incredible story and journey on the program… This motivation to help entrepreneurs in the region is done in part, through his new company, Latitud which aims to democratize access to everything an entrepreneur needs to succeed in building a successful business in LatAm. And also through your new book, Viva The Entrepreneur – where Brian seeks to help demystify the obstacles you’ll face, teach what you won’t learn in business school, and offer you inspiration and encouragement on your journey. Viva The Entrepreneur is book where Brian shares lessons learned while building his company. He shows how to manage your own psychology and your operations, be it working with co-founders, building a culture, or managing a board of directors.  Brian also reveals the secrets of scaling a business and best practices for raising venture capital in Latin America. You will develop an understanding of the most critical parts of an investor term sheet, and gain perspective into the inner workings of the venture capital game. 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Initially, a growing community of founders;  organized cohort-based programs.  Eventually we’ll build a community of investors and talent.   Brian funded the costs of the foundation himself.  Aggregate talent and capital to founders and investors. “I didn’t have it”  - this type of support.  It’s why I wrote the book and formed Latitud. In this interview, you’ll find out why Brian is “bullish on the next decade” in Brasil and LatAm because there are so many customer experience challenges and problems to be solved. What sectors are hot?   Brian says, “pick a sector,” really!  There are so many that are consumer-facing industries where the customer experience and customer satisfaction metrics are simply terrible.  They “scream opportunity” Every sector is filled with massive opportunities. LatAm is twice the GDP of India and has received about half the venture investment. There is now a robust Angel investing community in Brasil, seeding the next generation of companies.  NuBank will eventually go public and the wealth from that will create the next generation of Angel investors.  They are seeing the deals before institutional capital and we have that communicy We have a Fellowship for entrepreneurs and Founders.  We’ll be launching and Investor Fellowship.  Including group of Angels, then opportunity for VCs looking to dive into the region.  We have a network and hub for all of that through Latitud. Start your journey with Latitud.  “We have great momentum.” Can be as early as “ideation.”   “We are actually the on-ramp to the VC ecosystem” for investing in the region. See Latitud Go.  Full-stack where you go to find talent, capital, community. 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    Episode 017 - JP Baric, CEO, Aurum Capital Ventures Cryptocurrency Mining & Energy Technology

    43:36

    Introduction Welcome to Distilling Venture Capital.  I am your host, Bill Griesinger Distilling VC is a visionary podcast that provides an insightful and informed view of the key trends affecting the VC and tech startup world.  My mission is to cut through and go beyond the hype that tends to dominate the tech landscape.  And provide you with information you can use. Episode Introduction: Hello again everyone.  Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming back to the program one of my favorite guests, JP Baric, CEO and Founder at Aurum Capital Ventures, because he is my go-to source & expert in explaining and making sense of all things crypto;  BTC, crypto-mining, crypto-energy… JP thank you for coming back to join me on the show.    And to reiterate so that folks know, Aurum Capital Ventures is technology/energy company engaged in multiple aspects of the crypto-mining business. And we’re going to highlight a new Fund you’ve launched for providing exposure to crypto assets, called Lucid River Partners BTC’s Very Volatile Week: I would like to anchor the conversation initially with:   All that’s been going on in the news over BTC volatility and in crypto-asset category over the last week to 10 days; Recent price crash and negative commentary around crypto mining activity in general; Including effects of China’s announcements on banning mining, Elon Musk “poking the bear” on ESG concerns, and Jim Cramer, who gets it completely wrong, suggesting it points to the need for regulation of crypto b/c of “systemic” risk…blah, blah, blah JP, I know you’ll make sense of this for us and put it into understandable English!  What do you make of all this?  What are your initial thoughts, your take? Mike Novogratz CEO of Galaxy Digital chimed in with a short video providing some perspective and reassurance – I thought some of his comments were insightful: Mike Novogratz:  “The underlying progress that is happening in the BTC ecosystem, the ETH ecosystem and crypto in general is full speed ahead.   “This is not trading Tulips – this is trading a technology that is going to revolutionize how we transmit value to each other…” JP, what do you think?  Is Novogratz right about this? [Galaxy Digital/Galaxy Fund Mgt. - a full-service institutional player, with asset management, capital markets, and investment banking.]     Galaxy is well positioned to compete with Coinbase and Gemini around institutional funds, as well as with Fidelity on third party wealth management, as well as Grayscale on asset management. This entire business exists because of Mike Novogratz’ bet on crypto assets. Is Crypto-mining Eco-unfriendly? JP, I also wanted to spend some time discussing the energy use side of crypto-mining because, again, there is so much faulty information disseminated by folks in tech media and financial press that is just simply erroneous.   Many articles recently published are suggesting crypto-mining is not environmentally feasible due to the amount of energy used…and that this is unsustainable And China is often claimed to be a geographic center of concentration for BTC mining.  However, several bloggers and others point out this is not true at all… See Dec. 29, 2020 Forbes Article by Roger Huang, The ‘Chinese Mining Centralization’ Of Bitcoin And Ethereum Link:   https://www.forbes.com/sites/rogerhuang/2021/12/29/the-chinese-mining-centralization-of-bitcoin-and-ethereum/?sh=25b14792f669 Take-aways from Article:   The first thing to understand about this erroneous argument is: Mining pools command loyalty not based on geographic traits or even political ones, but rather, reward types, fees, and how the pool deals with bitcoin transaction fees. Mining pools might have a geographic base, but miners that pledge their hardware and their hash rate might and can switch their loyalty depending on a host of factors.   Important to look at the hash rate of a mining pool not as one monolithic bloc that can be controlled and manipulated at will, but rather as a marketplace or as an aggregator that commands a fickle amount of loyalty.  At any given time, if the rewards and technical conditions of mining pools change, there can be a shift towards mining pools based in Europe or North America — or anywhere else in the world. In addition, Miners are very long BTC;  they wouldn’t act contrary to their financial interest to damage the ecosystem. Mining pools based in China also run contrary to State policy; The People’s Republic of China has a skeptical view towards bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies Finally, Miners are also not the only institutions that matter in the balance of proof-of-work blockchains;  Nodes are run around the world.  The coders/developers that build up the framework of cryptocurrencies are distributed around the world,  With US-based institutions such as cryptocurrency exchanges and non-for-profits like the Human Rights Foundation providing funding “Ethereum Merger” announcement;  that Proof-of-Work will merge to become Proof-of-Stake, and that the benefits are energy conservation on the blockchain to confirm transactions…What do you make of this announcement?  From our October 2020 Conversation – you went into some detail regarding Energy Utilization & Economics of Crypto-Mining: JP provides a deep-dive into the interrelated metrics and dynamics of Energy and Crypto-mining.  Here is what you will learn: Crypto-currency Mining involves sourcing and utilizing the most advanced equipment, for sure, which you guys provide, but also one of the key components that has a huge impact on the cost and viability of crypto-mining itself – is the cost and amount of energy consumed – and, therefore, the energy component and its costs have a huge impact on the industry and its success. Metrics/Discussion: Terahash Rate – core measure of energy usage in crypto-mining Can predict and model the Terahash rate for mining equipment.  USD per terahash – how much we make on a USD basis - the speed of how fast a mining machine runs.   Price per terahash dropped to 7.5 cents – when BTC crashed (March 2020).  Was 13 cents per terahash prior.   Amount of new machines on the network has grown – at 8 cents per TH – betting that price of BTC will continue to rise… Miners all over the world are thus, searching for most cost-effective energy costs.   Cost/Mwh Rates in crypto-mining Old machines vs. New machines and economics Revisit the halving event from May 12, 2020 – when reward for mining was, by design, the reward went from 12.5 BTC to 6.25 BTC – Impact? Inflation Rate of BTC (1.8% infl. Rate) compared to USD inflation…digital currency has a lower effective inflation rate than the fiat currency! BTC price may be volatile but depends on what you compare it to New equip. is coming online line as fast as the manufactures can produce them.  Most are made in Taiwan and China Coming into facilities that have power in the 4cent to 5 cent range Mining Machines: The S-9s are the older;  Newer are the Ant Miner S19 Pros are  Let’s talk about your new Fund – Lucid River Partners;  What was the idea behind creating it? What will be its mandate/mission? How do folks find out more? Closing Remarks Contact Information for Aurum Capital Ventures Those seeking additional information and wishing to learn more about Aurum Capital Ventures: JP’s Twitter Account – @JPBaric Email:  [email protected] The New Fund - Lucid River Partners:  www.lucidriverpartners.com/learn Thank you for joining me for this edition of DVC.  I hope you found our discussion today with JP Baric and Aurum Capital Ventures interesting and useful.   Stay tuned for my next Episode, where I will have a very special guest and accomplished expert on building successful tech companies in LatAm.  Brian Requarth, who created the leading Real Estate Technology Co. in Brazil, Viva Real, will join me.  He’s also an author -   Thank you again and I look forward to joining you for my next Episode of Distilling VC.
  • Distilling Venture Capital podcast

    Episode 016 - FOCUS-ON-FINTECH Series André Bastos, Co-Founder, Open-Co São Paulo, Brasil

    35:33

    Welcome to Distilling Venture Capital.  I am your host, Bill Griesinger Distilling VC is a visionary podcast that provides an insightful and informed view of the key trends affecting the VC and tech startup world, including Fintech.  My mission is to cut through and go beyond the hype that tends to dominate the tech and VC landscape.  And provide you with information you can use. Episode Introduction: Today’s Episode is another in my Focus-on-Fintech Series where I provide you with a close-up look into the top companies in the Fintech sector that are bringing new innovations to the financial services market globally; In Today’s Episode, I once again highlight the hot FINTECH market in Brasil. I have the pleasure of welcoming back to the show, André Bastos, who is a Co-Founder and the Chief People and Strategy Officer at Open-Co, the largest Consumer Credit Fintech in Brazil. André, thank you for coming back to the show… André, the last time you and spoke it was October 2020 and the company was called REBEL.  After a merger of Geru and REBEL, which was announced just last month, you are now Open-Co.  But the REBEL and Geru brands remain under that umbrella… Tell us a little bit about this merger and what it means for scaling your consumer lending services business in Brasil; What is Open-Co? Geru and Rebel are both in the business of extending unsecured consumer credit, but your models are somewhat different, can you explain? A short time after announcing the formation of Open-Co, you all had another major announcement on the fund-raising side of the business; That being the closing of a $270MM credit facility, led by Goldman Sachs - very impressive  This announcement is on top of a Series C equity round with IFC and Goldman as leads, correct? Highlight your proprietary Credit Scoring Technology – Importance this played in building credibility with Lenders/Investors prior to your recent credit facility. I would love to dig into your recent post on Linkedin about the “Tony Awards and Open Co.”  I thought it was very creative, had great take-aways.  Can we talk about your thoughts, ideas and motivation for putting it together? It’s a great piece b/c it’s about lessons and what we learn from our personal experiences and how we can utilize those lessons to build our own leadership, mentoring skills, stimulate innovative ideas to improve the lives of others…and grow personally… You discuss your personal experiences in attempting to secure financing for your first home in Chicago; You even weave some Chicago history in from the Great Fire, to the 1892 World’s Fair, the rich history and importance of the Theatre in Chicago, focusing on Victory Gardens…and more; But mostly it was about learning from our experiences…and applying those learnings to improving our effectiveness and growing in the workplace The home page of your website begins with this statement; “The credit market in Brazil is one of the most dysfunctional and exclusionary in the world.  High default rates encourage traditional financial institutions to charge even higher interest rates, further driving defaults.”       And finishes the home page with this statement; “Open Co believes that the key to building groundbreaking credit products lies not only in technology, but mainly in building a relationship of trust with customers.   The time for expensive debts, bureaucracy and closed doors is over.    The future is now Open.” Historical Perspective Re Technology:  What a difference a few years makes!  I found this in my archive of articles from Dec. 2015 in TechCrunch regarding Whatsapp;   A judge in Brazil wants to shut down WhatsApp and Brazil’s Congress wants to shut down the social web next; WhatsApp was shut down for 48 hours mainly because the popular messaging platform had not cooperated in turning over user data and information in an investigation; WhatsApp is the single most used app in Brazil with around over 100 million users; Incredible to think this was happening just a few years ago in Brazil… Growth Plans for 2021-2022 – And Other… Closing Remarks:André, thank you very much for joining me today… Contact Information – Open Co André, how can those seeking additional information and wishing to learn more about Open Co contact you or the firm?  Website:  www.open-co.com.br Linkedin:  André Bastos Thank you for joining me for this Episode of DVC.  I hope you found the conversation with André Bastos and Open-Co interesting and it gave you some things to think about regarding developments in Fintech services in Brasil.  I look forward to joining on my next Episode of DVC.
  • Distilling Venture Capital podcast

    Episode 015 - Redpoint e.Ventures, São Paulo, Brasil Anderson Thees, Managing Partner

    47:41

    Introduction Welcome to Distilling Venture Capital.  I am your host, Bill Griesinger; Distilling VC is a visionary podcast that provides an insightful and informed view of the key trends affecting the VC and tech startup world.  My mission is to cut through and go beyond the hype that tends to dominate the tech and VC landscape.  And provide you with information you can use.   Episode Introduction: Welcome back everyone.  We have what I believe is a very interesting program for you today b/c I have the pleasure of speaking with a true veteran of the Brazilian technology investment landscape, Anderson Thees, who is a Managing Partner at Redpoint e.Ventures based in São Paulo, Brasil.  Anderson, thank you very much for making the time to join me today.   So, I labeled you a veteran in tech investing in Brasil because you’ve been at it for about a decade or so with Redpoint.  I think it would be useful to begin by telling the listeners about your background and experience and then how Redpoint eVentures came about. In today’s episode, Anderson will cover,  Talk about Redpoint eVentures’ development in Brasil; You have a Dedicated Fund in Brasil;  How does this help you and how does the affiliation with Sil. Valley network add value? Ability to bring not only funding, but Silicon Valley access and global best practices to local entrepreneurs. When was Fund launched and size of Fund? We were the first fund to raise more than $100M.  Fund we raised in 2012 was targeted at a $130M Cap.   We were over-subscribed at more than $150M but we needed to stay with the $130M cap. Huge first fund – much bigger than we expected The fund is fully deployed now; Macro economy tanked and the tech and e-commerce ecosystem  We have now three unicorns with another coming…  We raised another fund of $175M in 2018 which we are investing out of today. Investment themes – what types of technologies & deals do you look for? We think of our pipeline of investments in two ways; Proactive deal flow, our investment thesis;  Second is incoming deals that come to us But always tech-driven theme plus market must be big or will become big fast Series A and B we do, Series A is our core.   Most important criterion is the founding team, especially the earlier we invest… How you approach deal flow and qualifying target companies;   Verticals, fintech, education, retail, SW B2B;   We do have concentrations in Fintech and SaaS B2B;  but this is mainly driven because of demand not due to our selection process Other: Regarding investment themes, I’d like to get your take on Insurtech and the opportunities you see there; you recently had a conversation with CQCS on this topic; Anderson discusses Insure-tech;  Insurance is actually larger than banking in terms of industry size and moving toward its own bucket in fintech; Cost of storing data, reduction of fraud, use of AI;  all affect the channels and deployment as well as how the very core product is developed and priced We discuss Rebel, now Open-Co’s closing of a $270M credit round led by Goldman Sachs What’s next for scaling fintech?  Your sense of advancements in access to financial services, the regulatory environment and macro trends?  Discuss partnership with Itau and creation of CUBO (Cube);  How did it come about and what is it? Does Itau co-invest in any deals with you? How does this partnership help you in Brasil? Closing Remarks: Anderson, thank you very much for joining me today on the program…It would be great to do a follow-up some time to get an update… Thank you for joining me for this edition of DVC.  I hope you found today’s discussion with Anderson Thees and Redpoint eVentures interesting and it gave you new insights into the Brazilian tech investing landscape. Anderson, what is a good way for those who are interested in learning more about Redpoint eVentures contact you or the Company? Contact Information Website:  rpev.com.br  Stay tuned for my next Episode of DVC…thank you.
  • Distilling Venture Capital podcast

    Episode 014 SPECIAL EDITION – Investing in Human Capital

    45:22

    DISTILLING VENTURE CAPITAL Episode 014 SPECIAL EDITION – Investing in Human CapitalProjeto Sol, São Paulo, Brasil Sister Angela Mary, Co-Founder, Director Recording Date: February 24, 2021 Introduction Welcome to Distilling Venture Capital.  I am your host, Bill Griesinger; Distilling VC is a visionary podcast that provides an insightful and informed view of the key trends affecting the VC and tech startup world.   Episode Introduction: Welcome back everyone.   So, as many of you know, this podcast covers multiple aspects of key technology trends, including Fintech, and venture capital and I even talk about over-valued Unicorns at times. Today, however, we are going to change things up a bit – b/c I want to talk about a different type of Capital that’s just as important or likely more important than the financial capital we often discuss…  Today, I want to talk about Human Capital – what do I mean by that?   As many of you know, There is an entire area, Social Impact Investing, that has been a rapidly growing trend for maybe the last 5-7 years, or more.  Impact investments are made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.  But today, We’ll discuss Human Capital through telling the incredible story of a very special place, known as Projeto Sol, or Project Sun or Sun Project, if you prefer.  It is located in an area of São Paulo, Brazil known as Cidade (City) Dutra in Favela Vinte.  And let me just start by saying, It has literally transformed the lives of thousands of individuals and an entire community.   It is a beacon of hope in an otherwise hopeless place…We’ll get into that. Projeto Sol has served the Brazilian community of Cidade Dutra for four decades. In 1978 Sister Angela Mary and Louis Carlos dos Santos converted a wood shack into a social centre for youth, known today as Projeto Sol – a pivotal organisation that has transformed a community long marked by drug trafficking, gang wars and police violence. Sister Angela hoped that through education, she can offer them a life beyond the confines of poverty and exclusion. Beyond education, Sister Angela has also helped residents legalise the ownership of their property while reforming & building 95 houses. So, We can say Projeto Sol is truly a family owned and operated business – but it’s in the business of changing lives and instilling basic human dignity Projeto Sol serves 250 children daily within its walls, from 5 – 17 years of age, providing two meals per day – a full breakfast and lunch.  It provides all the materials and facilities for classes in art, dance, theatre and sports.   And, it instills a discipline and attitude of self-worth and self-responsibility through education.  That’s a mere, brief summary of the Social Impact that Projeto Sol has had on the community To help me tell this amazing & powerful story of positive Social Impact I have the pleasure of introducing one of the most incredible people I know, Sister Angela Mary…who is from the Sisters of the Holy Cross, South Bend, Indiana Sister Angela, thank you very much for being here today (We’re together in SP, Brasil) to share with us the amazing journey that Projeto Sol represents Sister Angela Mary: Formative years – major life influencers for you then your arrival in Brazil and founding of Projeto Sol Sister Angela’s Story… Projeto Sol Website:  projetosol.org.br How to Participate and Support: If you are in the US/Canada; Go to  www.cscsisters.org Simple Instructions for Supporting Projeto Sol at the cscsiters.org website: On the top right of the Home Page, click on:   Support Us  → Then click, Donate Now → Scroll down, select your $ amount.  You can even make it a monthly recurring gift.  I did! Then scroll to the box, My Gift is for and select; Brazil Mission from the drop down menu.   Finally, there is a box; To provide more detail about the intent of your donation…, and simply type in, Projeto Sol That’s it.  If you are interested in and motivated by a TRULY significant Return on Investment in positive Social Impact, supporting Projeto Sol via the cscsisters.org website is an excellent way to show support. You can also send an Email to Sister Angela:  [email protected] Closing Remarks: Thank you for joining me for this Episode of DVC, we discuss Human Capital.  Stay tuned for my next Episode of DVC…thank you.
  • Distilling Venture Capital podcast

    Episode 013 - Sturgeon Capital, London; Kiyan Zandiyeh, Chief Investment Officer

    26:35

    Introduction Welcome to Distilling Venture Capital.  I am your host, Bill Griesinger; Distilling VC is a visionary podcast that provides an insightful and informed view of the key trends affecting the VC and tech startup world.  My mission is to cut through and go beyond the hype that tends to dominate the tech and VC landscape.  And provide you with information you can use.   Episode Introduction: Welcome back everyone.  We have what I believe is a very interesting program for you today.  Today, I have the privilege of speaking with Kiyan Zandiyeh, Chief Investment Officer of Sturgeon Capital, a London-based [boutique] investment firm with a very unique investment strategy and thesis.   Sturgeon was established specifically to tap into Central Asia. Kiyan, thank you very much for joining me today… Let’s begin by providing some background on yourself and then an overview of Sturgeon Capital, when and why it was founded, etc. History of Sturgeon, why founded with this vision for frontier markets in Central Asia?  What is a “frontier market” according to Sturgeon?  Your website indicates “we reject traditional definitions of ‘frontier markets’ – expand on this…  Your website indicates Central Asia is a “vast area of enormous potential and extreme complexity…   I like the ‘enormous potential’ aspect – who wouldn’t.  The ‘extreme complexity’ characteristic might give many investors pause…Can you explain this further? In this Episode, Kiyan discusses the following: Describe Funds 1 & 2 Purpose/strategy of each, when launched;  $ size of each, no. of investments to-date, no. of investments total to be made from each Fund; target technologies and target size of investment per co. on average; Do you typically lead, co-invest, or indifferent? Fund 2 – describe its focus on Uzbekistan… Other countries in the region where Sturgeon is invested? Do you leave a reserve or have an allocation from each Fund for follow-on investment to support portfolio companies through additional rounds? Sturgeon leaves about 10% reserves for follow-on investments Spend some time on how you source deals, what you are looking for in an investment in a co. for in this geographic region (game-changing tech, solving major pain points, etc.) We like market-place bus. models, e-commerce and SaaS  Can capture customer base, then capture other services… Had to solve for:  Logistics, payment solutions ( Effectively starting e-commerce businesses building from the ground up But the opportunity is huge with attractive returns, 4X-5X+ Even though we focus on “frontier” markets and regions, what we are presenting is a business bet not a country bet… Public-private partnerships you have developed and how that works… There isn’t a well-established venture investing ecosystem in these countries By product of our investing in the region, though, creates jobs, especially among youth -  So, we are adding lots of value in infrastructure, in case of e-commerce you’re helping the national logistics company become more efficient. In some cases, govt. co-invests with us, reduces impediments to establishing new businesses, etc. Where does Sturgeon’s capital come from mainly?  Family offices, geographic diversity? Are you currently accepting new investments into Fund 2?  First close in June 2020 Fund 2 will be capped at $25MM; 2/3 of the way there now. Before we launch any fund we spend 6-12 months building a pipeline, doing diligence and de-risking; then we know how much we need to raise.  Rather than raising a pool of money and then hunting for deals. Closing Remarks: Kiyan, thank you very much for joining me today on the program…It would be great to do a follow-up some time to get an update… Thank you for joining me for this edition of DVC.  I hope you found today’s discussion with Kiyan Zandiyeh and Sturgeon Capital interesting.  If you’re looking for strong risk-adjusted returns and concerned about an overheated public equity markets (you should be) and private tech markets (where you can invest in Unicorns??) and would like to understand more about investing and gaining exposure to Central Asia, Sturgeon Capital is the go-to Fund with the expertise… Kiyan, how can those that are interested in learning more contact you or the Company? Contact Information Website:  sturgeoncapital.com Company Email:  for information/inquiries Stay tuned for my next Episode of DVC…thank you.
  • Distilling Venture Capital podcast

    Episode 012 - Alberto Gaidys, Chief Investment Officer & Founding Partner of Wright Capital Wealth Management & Pioneer in Brazilian Fintech; São Paulo, Brasil

    54:10

    Episode Overview: My guest today, Alberto Gaidys is a Brazil Fintech Pioneer.  He was involved in creating some of the first Fintech companies in Brazil, even before it was called “fintech.”  Settle in for a highly informative and detailed look at Brazilian Financial markets and Brazilian Fintech. Alberto takes you on a remarkably interesting journey through the creation of the first fintech companies in Brazil in which he was directly responsible with building. Some of the companies you will hear about include:  Grana AQUI, Brazilian Mortgages, BankFacil, and Creditas, among others. In this Episode, Alberto provides an in-depth, well-informed analyses of credit and capital markets in Brazil along with incredibly interesting first-hand accounts of the beginnings of Fintech in Brazil. Introduction Welcome to Distilling Venture Capital.  I am your host, Bill Griesinger; Distilling VC is a visionary podcast that provides an insightful and informed view of the key trends affecting the VC and tech startup world.  My mission is to cut through and go beyond the hype that tends to dominate the tech and VC landscape.  And provide you with information you can use.  Welcome back everyone.  It is great to be back with you in 2021 providing you with the quality content you´ve come to expect and rely on at DVC. Today’s Episode is another in my Focus-on-Fintech Series where I provide you with a close-up look into the top companies in the Financial Technology sector that are bringing new innovations to financial services markets globally;   I am super excited about today´s show because, while it is in the Fintech theme common to this podcast, it will have a bit of twist.  We will focus on Brasil Fintech and dig into characteristics of Brasil Capital, Credit and Financial markets as it relates to Fintech in Brasil. My excitement is because my guest today is not only very knowledgeable regarding Fintech in Brasil, and brings a unique perspective on the role of capital markets in scaling Brasil Fintech;  but he happens to be one of the leading experts on Brazil´s Capital Markets, Credit Markets and the Brazilian financial system. It is my pleasure to welcome to the program Alberto Gaidys.  Alberto, thank you very much for making the time to join me today… I was going to detail some of your impressive credentials, but I think it´s better for me to allow you to tell us a about your background and expertise and then we can move into our topic. So, Brasil is reported to have over 400 Fintech companies in operation.   One of the most recognized names on the list is Nubank, which just raised another $400MM round in its Series G and has raised more than $1.8B since 2013.  It claims to be the largest digital bank in the world, starting with a simple no-fee credit card offering.   It has grown its customer base from 12 million to 34 million, freeing millions in one of the most concentrated banking environments in the world.  The new funding will be used to expand in Colombia and Mexico. Alberto, you are an advisor on another successful Brazilian Fintech co., Creditas, a secured lender to consumers. Creditas has an interesting back-story as it relates to its stages of development as a Fintech in Brasil…can you tell us how this company evolved to its current model and your role…? The Grana AQUI story:  (Acquired by Creditas) “Too early in the game when cap. markets buzz was not as strong…” Banco Central even looked at this co. with suspicion of its P2P lending model…expand on this… Your perspective and thesis related to all of this Fintech activity and assessment of the Fintech landscape in Brasil: Focus on disintermediation – a key objective of Fintech – related to evolution of capital markets to support it… You have previously stated that without this evolution of capital markets instruments, “there would be no Fintechs out there…”  can you expand on this?  Isn’t it also true w/o the development of these Fintech apps., regulators would not have moved to address rules and regulations allowing cap. markets to evolve? There is also the narrative that the high adoption of digital technologies by Brazilians (72% of population has a smartphone), and the huge entrepreneurial economy has led to a wave of Fintech innovation?? Closing Remarks: Alberto, thank you very much for joining me today on the program… It would be great to do a follow-up conversation if you are open to that – I would enjoy getting your input and perspective regarding continued of capital markets in Brasil and what it means for Brasil Fintech… Thank you for joining me for this edition of DVC.  I hope you found today’s discussion with Alberto Gaidys interesting and it provided you with things to think about regarding Brasil Fintech and capital markets.  Or, perhaps you are an investor fund looking to enter the Brasil market… Stay tuned for my next Episode of DVC where I will highlight a London-based investment fund with a very unique geographical approach to deal flow and investments. Thank you for joining me today.

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