Stakester Q&A – Tom Fairey, CEO and Founder

stakester

Welcome to Mob76 Outlook, Tom, an audience of gamer-savvy people: tell us about Stakester

Hello Monty! Here’s the elevator pitch: we’re an app that enables you to win money and prizes playing skill based mobile and console games. We’re launching a VIP pass NFT project that will allow our users to play for more money, win better prizes and upgrade their entire app experience.

Holders of the top tier NFTs get a revenue share of qualifying competitions played on the app – so effectively, you can invest in the business by buying one.

“Gaming” meets “gaming” so not really a gambling company?

Not at all: gambling is when you risk money on chance outcomes that you can’t control. We don’t believe in that – we put you in control of your own destiny. We take games that are already exciting and fun to play, and we add an extra dimension.

On Stakester, players get rewarded win or lose – so we reward the process of improvement as well as the results.Plus, when they do win they get receipts so they can brag about how good they are.

Excuse my lack of knowledge, but would Fan Duel have been an inspiration?

The lack of knowledge is all mine! I honestly have no idea what that is. But, I’ll tell you why I founded the company: I’m a very competitive person, and I believe that if you’re good at something then you should be rewarded for your effort.

My mum always used to tell me, “You’re not a bad loser, but you’re a terrible winner.” I think I set Stakester up for the terrible winners out there: it’s all about the bragging rights.

The idea must have come about with mates at the pub?

It’s the ultimate way to settle a debate: who’s better at X? The only way to find out is to put something on the line. But, the thing is: once you’ve proved you’re the best, you don’t want to take your friend’s money again and again.

You want to branch out by testing your skills against better opposition. If it’s a good, fair fight then you can make new friends – and some very satisfying enemies – that way.

The company was set up during the pandemic, right?

Just before, but we exploded once everyone was stuck at home. Obviously, you’d rather that success came with a different backdrop, but we clearly offered something for people when all of society’s normal competitive outlets were closed or cancelled. Plus, people were playing games a lot more – so I think people were looking to add a new dimension to the games they love. And there we were.

How quick was customer acquisition?

Very. There’s a clear demand for this – lots of people find us on their own. We also create a lot of content across YouTube and our blog, and it’s crazy how many people discover us that way.

Since we launched the mobile games side of the product, that has helped us reach a whole new audience too – literally everyone plays mobile games. We’re at 100k MAU now and our pace of growth is increasing every week, it’s such an exciting time.

And the funding history and valuation?

We’ve raised $6 million so far – and given the market we’re in and growth we’re getting a lot of attention. The business is currently valued at $100 million and we’re heading into another round this summer. And yeah, that number’s going to get a lot bigger.

Which markets do you operate in?

There are only a few places where we can’t operate because skill-based competition isn’t allowed. We’re in 47 states in the US, Canada, everywhere in Europe bar France and Italy.

We’re up and running in Singapore and we’re on the way to being operational in the Middle East. It’s a huge advantage that we have over our competitors: we can expand quickly and easily because we aren’t a gambling company.

Your plans for 2022? More expansion and world domination?

Absolutely. First, the VIP Cheat Codes NFT launch: we want to make a name for Stakester in the NFT space and we’re excited to roll out the in-app benefits that come with it. Then we’re releasing some pretty major updates for the app on the console side of the business.

And we’ve got some major European football clubs (one of which may be the Champions of England) bringing their mobile games onto Stakester.

Any plans for backgammon, I’ve been waiting years for a decent online platform?

I wish I had another answer for you, but unfortunately not. The issue with games like online backgammon or chess is the prevalence of cheating. We operate a zero-tolerance cheating policy and we vet every game before it appears on the platform to ensure that we can police the rules effectively. When you play board games online, there is a staggering amount of cheating – so we’re leaving those alone for now.

Thanks for your time, Tom, best of luck with it all

Thank you! I’ll let you know when we create our own backgammon game.

 

Ransu Salovaara, CEO, Likvidi – Q&A

ransu

Likvidi, the Finnish word for liquidity, is creating a new market that connects green finance with blockchain, a sector that, surprisingly, has received little publicity compared to other projects and earlier first generation ICOs.

In this Q&A he explains the huge opportunities for this meeting of money and technology and is convincing in his argument that Likvidi is about to transform the sector.

Q: Welcome to the Mob76 Outlook audience, Ransu, tell us what you’re trying to do for the planet 

Ransu: As we all know, climate change is a huge challenge for humankind. But what you maybe do not know is that the financial markets will play a major role in fixing this. 

Professional investors around the world will do two switches: 1. divest from the nasty stuff such as fossil fuels, unsustainable agriculture and internal compulsion engine based transportation 2. Have new investment thesis and/or mandates where sustainability is one of the key principles on investment decisions.  

In the sector of green finance, one of the main questions will be whether these investments really are green or are they just so called ‘greenwashing;? 

Here comes a real, future-proof user case for blockchain. We can use blockchain to store and track sustainability and financial data and this way create immutable track records for green instruments such as carbon credits and green bonds, which are the two fastest-growing sectors in green finance. 

This transparency is a crucial part of increasing investors’ trust in green investments and actually saving the world instead of just talking about it. 

Tell us more about the history of green finance 

Ransu: Green finance has been around for about 15 years, but the sector really got going about six years ago with the Paris Agreement. As almost 200 countries agreed on drastic measures towards sustainability, the market for green bonds and carbon credits got its first shake-up. 

Fake carbon credit and wishy-washy green bonds had to be replaced with something more solid. While the market indeed improved with more serious players coming in, better audits and reports, the past six years have still been a coming-of-age period for green finance. Now the market is ready for reen Finance 2.0. 

Green Finance 2.0 is all about going mainstream as a combination of increased investor demand (both retail and institutional), fintech/blockchain, improved regulatory frameworks and the market learning from the past mistakes.  

So what do you actually do?

Ransu: We do two things: 

  1. We work with farmers, landowner and managers around the world to turn their carbon capturing efforts into tokenized high-quality carbon credits that have all the crucial data attached to them offering the best possible transparency, auditing and tradability. These life-improving Carbon Credits (LiCC) will be soon available for individual and for companies who are looking to offset their carbon footprint.

  2. We also help utility size solar parks and wind farms to raise capital so that there will be more renewable energy available for everyone. The energy market will be more decentralized as cities, communities and even houses will have their own renewable energy sources and parties will trade electricity very efficiently 24/7. The green bonds that we issue will have all the sustainability data on blockchain and as they are digital assets, they are ready for DeFi as the market evolves. 

So are you a tech company?

Ransu: Yes, we are a green finance fintech company. Over the past year or so we have built an investment platform on Ethereum that is a unique combination of traditional finance market features and digital assets/securities management.

So, let’s talk more about carbon credits. What are they and what is innovative with your approach?

Ransu: A carbon credit represents the right to emit a measured amount of greenhouse gases (GHG). Carbon credits work as a certification that business or individual owning them is counterbalancing the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) aka carbon footprint.

What we are offering is a tokenized version of an actual carbon-reducing credit. This means that we have worked with our network of partners such asforest owners and farmers who capture an increasing amount of carbon and turn those actually life-importing carbon credits to tokens. 

Why tokenization is important:     

Ransu: Carbon credit market has been somewhat shady in the past. It’s been hard to figure out if the credits are real and also there has been double spending issues. 

With the help of blockchain we can increase transparency and make sure the retired (offsetted) carbon credits can’t be resold anymore but they are “burned” as the cryptomarket likes to call it. 

Also, as the carbon credit market is growing it’s important that they are easily tradable that is what tokenization will do that.   

How about the energy markets? 

Ransu: One of the most important things that we can do for climate change is to move away from fossils. The future of the energy market is pretty much the same as the future of the financial markets: decentralisation

As we move to renewable energy,he energy market will be more based on smart grids and therefore be more accessible for the small players. Every electric car can play a part on smart grids.

For us, the first product is the Green Bond Launchpad. This all-in-one platform enables renewable energy projects and companies to raise money via green bonds faster and more cost efficiently. We can be up to 90% cheaper than the old way of issuing these debt instruments. We work with top notch third-party verifiers and administrators to make sure the green aspects are real. 

This year the global green bond market is up 39% and the estimate is that the total issuance will be about $375 billion US (Moody’s projection).    

What about DeFi?

Ransu: DeFi is very exciting for us as we are creating carbon credits and green bonds that are tokenized and transparent and therefore ready for the DeFi market. 

What needs to happen next is that the DeFi market expands to the real-world assets. MakerDAO has now had couple proposals on this as a USA based solar park funding and now the Sociate General’s $20M MakerDAO loan with bond tokens as collateral.   

https://www.coindesk.com/business/2021/09/30/societe-generale-applies-for-20m-makerdao-loan-using-bond-token-collateral/    

My guess is that we are about 1 year away from working with leading DeFi platforms to finance renewable projects that can pay 5-10% interest for green sector investors and have assets and power purchase agreements as collateral.  

Thank you, for sharing your vision with our audience. We look forward to seeing how your progress

Ransu: 
It was my pleasure, happy to add value

Senius Q&A: The Future Of Crypto And Privacy DeFi


Welcome to Mob76 and our readers… please tell us about the new venture, Senius and how you’re working with the Sienna Network?

Senius is a core contributor to the Sienna Network, a privacy-first decentralized finance (DeFi) platform built on top of Secret Network, which enables various financial instruments, such as private trading, lending and borrowing.

We’re launching the first products in April and we are currently raising a private sale that has seen terrific interest and we are excited that our vision has been matched by investors of all sizes.

Most of our readers will be familiar with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but what issue are you trying to solve?

Existing DeFi protocols are fundamentally flawed because transactions are not private and future trades can be seen by everyone prior to execution. 

Any transaction can be pre-empted by simply introducing a transaction and paying a higher transaction fee. This is known as front-running and is illegal in the regulated financial system for good reasons. This exploitation has been in its prominence ever since DeFi surfaced and our privacy protocol will prevent that.

Lack of privacy means institutional money will not come into DeFi without a privacy-first solution. These huge institutions don’t want their activities, trading positions and liquidity provision publicly known as it compromises competitiveness.

What are these DeFi products that you speak of?

We are introducing a new interconnected DeFi protocol; a completely private lending, borrowing and, trading experience with great scalability and low transaction fees, and with a bridge for ERC-20 tokens to ensure compatibility with the Ethereum ecosystem,

This makes digital money markets efficient and fungible for everyone, and open for institutional investors. Sienna is aiming to quickly expand to other large blockchain ecosystems as well.

Any reason for naming the company after an Italian city?

Absolutely. Our company was named after the Italian city Siena (Sienna in English), which played a historical role in banking and cryptography almost a millennium ago.

In the 12th Century and as early as 1135, Sienna was an important trade city. To support the trade and economic growth of Sienna, the Bishop of Sienna started to offer loans against collateral and interest to Sienna citizens and the many people who traveled to the city to buy goods and sell their products.

At the same time, the world’s original bankers, the Knights Templar, began a network of money transfer locations so people could deposit money in the Veneto region and travel to Sienna and the port of Venice without the risk of being robbed.

Upon arrival at either destination, merchants could withdraw their money from a Templar location by handing in an encrypted document; a unique kind of encryption that allowed people to travel with a document that could only be decrypted by the Templars. It was one of the world’s first adoptions of finance and cryptography.

What are your ambitions for the company in 2021?

Sienna Network is aiming to become the de facto standard for privacy-first DeFi across multiple blockchains, targeting Ethereum initially, the biggest DeFi ecosystem, followed by other blockchains such as Polkadot, blockchains built with Cosmos (IBC) and many other chains in the near future.

The platform is controlled by SIENNA, the governance token, which is earned by using the Sienna platform via liquidity mining and other initiatives over time, creating a fair distribution for a perfect decentralized future, where SIENNA token holders decide over the entire platform. 

Where can our readers find out more about Sienna?

Yes, we are on all major networks:

🖥 Website
💬 Discord
💬 Telegram
🐦 Twitter 
👥 Reddit 
🗄 LinkedIn 
📰 Blog 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with our readers… good luck with the launch in April

No problem, thanks for inviting me. I look forward to connecting with your readers on the networks above.

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Accountancy Cloud Q&A: Wesley Rashid, CEO and Co-Founder

FinTech is changing the face of money, but it’s not all about apps, it’s also about some of the oldest financial instruments of the world. Meet Wesley Rashid who is disrupting accountancy.
accountancy

Please tell our readers what The Accountancy Cloud is

We help businesses turn chaos into financial clarity. We offer a robotic accounting service that uses our intuitive API, can connect to financial services clients are already using to offer daily bookkeeping, custom dashboards and unlimited reporting, removing the barriers to financial clarity.

We pair them up with an Accountancy Cloud expert so they get a trusted partner, at every stage of their growth to help them with future planning.

Do you regard yourself as a FinTech company?

The Accountancy Cloud is a tech company solving the problem of accounting, which needs to be solved with next-gen technology.

What problems are you solving for your industry?

Accounting was invented back in medieval venice when Excel and beans were used to count numbers and paperwork was used to record financial transactions. It hasn’t changed all that much today.

We are bringing accounting back into the 21st Century, and into the Cloud then adding gasoline into the Cloud with a box of matches, all so we can create a best in class-super f’charged service that is 7x faster than conventional tools.

What do you think of Tech Nation’s Upscale Program you were previously part of?

Excellent program, there’s nothing quite like it. The quality of the founders and peer to peer learning aspects of the program were really helpful.

Could you tell us about your funding history?

We were/are on the Barclays Techstars accelerator so although Techstars and Barclays are on our cap table, we’ve essentially bootstrapped ourselves to £1 ARR to date.

Are you current looking at raising more money?

Yes we are! Contact me 🙂

You have offices in London and New York, more expansion soon?

Our focus in the next year is on the UK market as we are strongly positioned with a huge commercial opportunity ahead.  Then we’ll see.

What’s next for The Accountancy Cloud?

Fundraising and then growth!

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.