April 2020 – Being a founder and entrepreneur himself, Phong Dao knows the challenges of financing – and from his time at a major German bank, the structures of the financial industry. Together with his team, he wants to improve both with Agora Innovation. The second part of our interview is about his personal experiences and assessments.
Where does your passion for blockchain and digital assets come from? When did you start working on them?
Phong Dao (PD): I started dealing with the topic of crypto and blockchain in early 2016, during my time as a freelancer at Deutsche Bank. At that time I was in a project in the field of asset management, where I also met my other two co-founders. We quickly realized that the infrastructure at banks and in the financial industry is so outdated and complex that it is hardly possible to drive innovation. With the blockchain you suddenly have the opportunity to improve such old systems that have grown historically.
Your board consists of three persons. Can you tell us something about your two partners Evgeny Matershev and Robert Malec and how your responsibilities look like?
PD: Sure. As I said, I got to know the two guys in our mutual project, and through our work together we quickly realized that we could complement each other and work together well. Evgeny (Chief Product Officer) is responsible for the product, design and introduction of new technologies. Robert (Chief Technology Officer) is in charge of the entire IT. The three of us together have more than 40 years of experience in finance and IT projects.
Where do you see the development of Security Token Offerings in five or ten years?
PD: I see great potential for Security Token Offerings, especially in the capital market. The current infrastructure in this area is simply outdated. In the course of digitalization, new processes will be established, opportunities will arise, and old systems will be replaced. I therefore assume that Security Token Offerings will have established themselves as digital fundraising in five to ten years. I am not alone in this opinion: “In five to ten years, every share, every profit participation certificate and generally every security will be running on a block chain system,” says Philipp Sandner, Head of the Frankfurt School Block Chain Center ( FSBC).
And where will Agora Innovation stand then?
PD: Agora Innovation, with iVE.ONE, wants to be the leading platform in Europe and Asia at the time, which issuers use for the digital issue of securities on the block chain. And more importantly, we will be able to place every digital security of an issuer, as we have set ourselves the goal of having more than 100,000 active investors on the platform by 2030. And that worldwide!
Or we were taken over by an international bank ☺
What was your biggest entrepreneurial challenge?
PD: One of the last challenges was definitely Agora Innovation. In the first two years after founding, financing growth in Germany was a real challenge (we bootstrapped everything in the beginning as founders). Why? As a startup you want to scale and at a certain point you just need more capital to do that, especially in a market that is growing as fast as blockchain. Due to my responsibility in fundraising I had to balance very well between sales, marketing, business development, legal and investors relations. You quickly realize that fundraising is actually a full-time job in itself. Therefore, I am glad to have put together a team of 11 employees with whom we will make fundraising for other companies more modern and easier in the future.
Do you have a life motto? If so, which one?
PD: Yes, and it is quite simple: “sharing is caring”. I guess that comes from my Asian background, because food is always shared. And the motto can be used in many other areas as well.
You missed the first part of the interview with Phong Dao? Please find it here.