Q&A: 7BC Venture Capital Founders

Andrew Romans and Hazem Danny Al Nakib are the co-founders of 7BC, a venture capital fund using he power of capital, network and technology to back teams disrupting industries and solving global problems toward a more connected, digitized and automated global economy.

7BC

7BC Co-Founder Hazem Danny Al Nakib is based in London.

Welcome to Mob76 Outlook, please tell our readers about 7BC

We were founded for a number of reasons. The first is that although digital transformation and the sharing economy has taken the world by storm over the past 20 years, it has been incredible at sharing, transferring and transmitting data and information, but not at transmitting and transferring value.

The second reason is that without targeted capital investments into innovations at a protocol level, standard, and infrastructure level that really aims at connecting systems, their resiliency, privacy, security, and capabilities and focusing far too much on applications, the entire objective of the model of what economies and industries will look like is ultimately lost.

The third is that we wanted to take a holistic approach across a broad and yet still focused mandate at a technological layer across AI, FinTech and software infrastructure – particularly within the financial sector where it has welcomed, in parts digital transformation, but is nascent when it comes to actual digitalisation where value itself has become digital.

Across all of this, it becomes clear that we are thinking about what global and local economies will turn into and our focus is on what underpins those futures that prioritise security, resilience and optimise efficiencies. We are interested in broader waves effective the use of data, implementations of digital identity, the creation of new asset classes, and the future models of connectivity.

7BC

7BC Co-Founder Andrew Romans is based in Silicon Valley.

Why is the fund called 7BC Venture Capital?

Our name 7BC Venture Capital signals our ability to assist and support our portfolio companies on all 7 continents of the world and experience a journey together with our network where after receiving our capital support they will travel the 7 seas and develop their business with our support on a global basis through expansion and growth.

The number seven suggests our international LP base and other business support networks and is also a lucky number which is important at early stage investing and entrepreneurship. BC stands for borderless continents and borderless capital while spanning many different technologies. We believe that AI, FinTech and software infrastructure will collectively usher in a new era for humankind. Our mission is to fund, develop and support the startups that create the foundation of this new era. The right teams, the right technology, the right capital, and the right business model.

Why are you focusing on AI, software infrastructure and FinTech?

There are disparate alternatives of what the future can look like. However, from a trend standpoint, we know that barriers to entry into the financial sector continue to lower as technology innovations come to the market. As such, the financial sector is becoming more integrated with other sectors and industries within the sharing economy, particularly around healthcare, travel, identity, hospitality and much more.

The second is that we view software infrastructure, and other forms of possibly decentralised technologies as the digital underpinning for applications that are built and that use other technologies such as AI, IoT and others to deliver products, services, and value.

There have been barriers to the successful deployment of many of these technologies and often it comes down to where the data is, how is it being collected, and is it being used well in a connected and secure environment, particularly when it is now more valuable than gold. And secondly, whether the digital representations of physical objects are easily stored, transferred, and transacted in a more transparent, disintermediated, and automatic way.

We find that changing the narrative and focusing on building blocks positions us well from a narrative standpoint to build a robust, disruptive and transformational portfolio of companies with both a unique advantage and a unique selling point and differentiator – Where our portfolio companies work together and are complimentary with each other as well. The future is one that will be even more connected, even more automated, and even more digital, that is all we can be certain of.

At what stage of startup investment do you invest?

The majority of our fund is dedicated to series A and growth stage rounds of early stage businesses at the post-product and post-revenue stage where rapid revenue growth, traction, and expansion are the key performance indicators of the business.

However, we do leave some room for a large number of small ticket capital investments at the seed or pre-series A rounds enabling us to double down in future rounds. Our global network of venture partners and ties to universities, incubators and local ambassadors allow us to support the rights teams early on.

Why is 7BC different to the other funds out there?

Every fund can say why they’re different. Most will say it’s their past performance and current network. We can ‘say’ that, but we can also ‘show’ you. We will continue to show you our network and continue to develop it.

In many cases the network is at our 7BC LP investor, team, VC co-investment / syndication and service provider layers, but our favourite is our own current and former portfolio CEOs and founders supporting our evolving global community, and that brings past performance to current and future financial performance. 

Any advice to startups when the pitch to you?

Really it always comes down to the basics. If the four biggest factors for success in real estate are location, location, location, the biggest factors for success in our lenses are team, team, team, market, technology, traction and who else is supporting this startup? 

Innovations come from having a new technology, at the right time, in the right place with a the right business model. That is what we’re looking for. Where is value not being captured, and where can value be better captured and best delivered?

But with all things, it is a story and depends on the facts of the case at hand – keep it simple, tell your story, have your reason and purpose that drives you and your team, and implement it then demonstrate in your pitch how you’ve been implementing it and what you plan on doing. 

Stick to facts and what is there specifically, what you have accomplished and what you will. As long as that can be shown tangibly and clearly, then you’ll attract the right capital, partners, and team members. Sometimes it is a numbers game, sometimes it’s a bit of your gut and vision, but above all it’s a mixture of demonstrating delivery, having laser sharp focus, being consistent, and being surrounded by the best team in an area of the market that you’ve identified is missing or lacking something. 

We know that our cash cheque is important, but if we can’t see how we can add value in other ways we don’t invest. This often comes down to our experience, advice and network. We believe that is how all early stage investing should be. Good startups will always attract plenty of funders in any boom or bust economy. The best funders need to demonstrate how they will add value and then deliver that value whilst constantly growing their reputation. It’s that simple. Add value or don’t invest. 

Remote Working: How to Be More Productive

Remote working should be be a doddle. Rodney Laws tells us how to make it even easier… and more efficient.

remote

Remote working means we often have to make do without our ‘home’ comforts we take for granted in the office. You’re working without your desktop PC with everything laid out just how you want it, or your desk organized to suit your daily routine. Instead, it’s just you and your laptop, and working on a smaller laptop is a less than perfect situation. 

Workplaces are changing and working from home is a much more common prospect. There are plenty of ways you can work remotely on your laptop and keep your productivity levels high though, here are just a few. 

Use an external mouse and keyboard

Ditching your laptop’s frustrating built-in keyboard and track-pad mouse for an external pairing is a huge quality of life improvement all remote workers can appreciate. The track-pad and keyboard on laptops are generally of lesser quality, especially on compact models. They can’t offer the same level of dexterity, hampering your working experience and forcing you to make compromises. These features may be useful when you’re literally using the laptop on your lap, but they feel unnatural and difficult when working at a desk. 

Invest in a good quality mouse and larger keyboard, they’re much more convenient options for getting substantial work done. Your typing speed will improve and your frustration levels will drop. A key part of successfully working remotely is replicating your most productive working condition, this classic pairing is essential to achieving that. 

Use a second screen

You never know just how important a second screen is until you get one. Just like a mouse and external keyboard, this is a quality of life improver you can’t afford to skip out on. 

Laptop screens are conventionally small and less likely to display all of the information a remote worker needs to see at once. Whatever your profession, chance are you need to keep track of a couple things at once, whether it’s research notes you’re writing from or multiple stats for a report. Jumping between windows and tabs just isn’t conducive to this kind of work. With a second screen, you can just simply turn your head. You’ll notice an immediate change in your productivity levels and find yourself with some extra time left over for other projects. 

If you’re a bit of a technophobe, this StarTech guide teaches you the difference between port styles so you can get your laptop hooked up to a display device without connection headaches. 

Adjust lighting

Just because you’re not working on your usual computer set up doesn’t mean your eyes should suffer. Eye-strain is a common ailment for office workers who spend a lot of time in front of a screen, and how well lit your screen is has a huge effect on that. If you’re working on a screen that’s too bright or too dim you could be hampering your productivity and doing permanent damage to your eyes. 

Before you start working for the day, make sure your screen brightness is adjusted to suit the lighting in the room. You should always aim to work in a well-lit room with plenty of natural light. Compensating for a dark room by turning the brightness up to its maximum will do more harm than good and slow you down in the long run. If you’re worried your battery will suffer from keeping the brightness turned up, make sure you’re working somewhere where you can keep your laptop charging permanently. 

Update all your software

Nothing will bring your productivity coming to a screeching halt faster than a slow laptop burdened with outdated software. To make sure you get as much done away from the office as you would do in it, spend some time the night before making sure all the software on the laptop is up to date and functioning properly. 

At some point, we’ve all told a software update ‘not now’, usually for a couple of months in a row. This is the time to accept that update though and make sure your laptop is in the best condition possible. It’ll save you slapping the poor thing out of frustration next time it freezes during a download. 

Block remote working distractions

Just because you’re working at home or in the hotel doesn’t mean you should be browsing Facebook every 15 minutes. Breaks are important, but distractions aren’t the same as breaks. You’re supposed to look away from the screen!

Set limitations for yourself, or, if you can’t control yourself it might be time to look into apps that block distraction websites, such as the ones listed here. There’s no reason for productivity to drop just because you’re out the office and no one is looking over your shoulder. You’re only giving yourself more work to do later anyway. 

Take a break 

Not the most groundbreaking advice, but it’s just as important to take breaks frequent breaks when working at home as it is in the office. The more breaks you take the less likely to get distracted you become. 

Take some time away from the screen and stand up to stretch your muscles. Take advantage of the fact you’re working remotely with a laptop and move around a bit. You aren’t confined to your desk and can work wherever you want, so work in bed, work in the coffee shop or do a couple of hours outside if you need to. Find what suits you and vary it up. 

Remote work can be exciting, but it comes with its own challenges to remain productive. These features should make it as easy as possible to work to your high standards on your laptop. 

Finalists announced for the AIBC Awards on blockchain island

Grammy-winning artist Akon and AKOIN co-founders Lynn Liss and Jon Karas will present the Social Impact Award at AIBC next month

AIBC

AIBC Summit has announced the finalists for the Malta AIBC Awards taking place 7th November 2019, at the InterContinental Hotel, St Julian’s Malta.

On the first day of the summit, the AIBC Awards ceremony will honour the best of the best in the worlds of AI, blockchain, tokenisation, robotics, IoT, and more. The awards evening includes a gala charity dinner at the InterContinental ballroom. This fund-raiser is organised by SiGMA Group and all proceeds will go towards The SiGMA Foundation.

Thousands of nominations were received for consideration and 30 experts from the blockchain, AI and deep tech space have chosen three finalists in each category. The winners of each award will be decided by a panel of 7 judges of influence within the industry.

Finally, it has now been confirmed that Grammy-winning artist Akon will also be judging the Social Impact Award along with AKOIN co-founders Lynn Liss and Jon Karas.

The finalists are as follows:

PAYMENT SERVICE PROVIDER OF THE YEAR 2019
Finalists: Wirex/Salamantex/Trustly

DAO BUILDING OF THE YEAR 2019 (sponsored by AmaZix)
Finalists: Dash/MakerDAO/DAOcasino

IOT IMPLEMENTATION OF THE YEAR 2019 (sponsored by Momentum Protocol)
Finalists: The Things Network/Deloitte/Yptokey

SOCIAL IMPACT AWARD 2019 (sponsored by Lucky.io)
Finalists: Fintech4Good/Ethichub /Give Foundation

BEST AI APPLICATION OF THE YEAR 2019 (sponsored by TakaMaka)
Finalists: SingularityNET/Spacept/Unbiased

MASS ADOPTION PROJECT OF THE YEAR 2019 (sponsored by AmonTech)
Finalists: Salamantex /Future1Exchange/HUPAYX

FINTECH STARTUP OF THE YEAR 2019 (sponsored by OVR)
Finalists: AeroBand/Cashaa/Pynk

ASSET TOKENIZATION OF THE YEAR 2019 (sponsored by AeroBand)
Finalists: TaoDust/BlackMantaCapital/STOBOX

BLOCKCHAIN & AI FOR ARTS AWARD 2019 (sponsored by Black Manta Capital)
Finalists: Solarex/Umnai/Domineum BlockChain Solution

DEFI AWARD 2019 (sponsored by 8 PAY)
Finalists: MakerDAO/Sologenic/Simply VC

Malta AI & Blockchain Summit is a bi-annual expo covering topics relating to the global sectors for blockchain, AI, Big Data, IoT, and Quantum technologies. The event includes conferences hosted by globally renowned speakers, workshops for industry learning and discussion, an exhibit space accommodating more than 400 brands and much more.

Akon brings his Afro-futuristic city to Malta

Grammy-winning artist is bringing his Akoin vision for Africa to November summit

Akon

Akon, hip-hop superstar and one of  Africa’s most renowned philanthropists, has accepted a speaker slot at the crypto and blockchain focussed show in November.

He will be speaking about his Akoin token and how he hopes the blockchain-based cryptocurrency can empower young entrepreneurs in Africa to strengthen the continent’s rising economies and support the development of sustainable communities.

Akon’s vision for Africa is already in position, with first steps taken in Senegal’s capital city Dakar, where Senegalese President Macky Sall has gifted him 2,000 acres to establish an Afro-futuristic city.

The whole idea with the city is to create a renewable city. Crypto is the money spent in the city; all digital. All renewable energy; no gas, no nothing. We’ll create platforms of all of today’s newest technologies embedded within the city itself.”

Through the artist’s Akoin Foundation, inspired entrepreneurs will develop future-forward businesses and promote innovation, economic stability, and growth across Africa, as well as in the wider world.

Through the Akoin ecosystem of crypto-based DApps and Apps, rising entrepreneurs can learn, earn, spend and save, as well as have more transparency and security within these daily economic building activities, including civil engagement.

“I think banking systems can definitely benefit from blockchain, but the voting system will probably be the number one system for the technology,” he says. “The good thing about blockchain is it leaves a footprint,” explains Akon. “You can’t do anything without it being open for everyone to see it – it opens the road to transparency.”

Eman Pulis, founder and CEO of Malta A.I. & Blockchain Summit, commented.

With a vision so clearly in line with the best hopes for the blockchain world, Akon is sure to be a huge draw for the conference audience at November’s Malta AIBC.  We’re excited to work with him in using blockchain to make the world a better place for everyone.”

The Malta A.I. & Blockchain Summit takes place November 4-8th, 2019.