A participant asked at this blockchain summit, “What will the future of banking be?”
One venture capitalist on the expert panel answered, “I don’t know if banks will exist in 10 years time. But it will definitely not be what it is today. And to be honest, I don’t even know if we will still call it a ‘bank’ in the future.”
The following are my top 3 diamonds taken away from Digital Asset Investment Summit here in Beijing, China.
1) The Revolution of Fintech
Besides banks and traditional financial institutions, fintech (financial technologies) such as P2P Lending and Equity Crowdfunding (ECF) will soon be transformed by Blockchain.
Disruption or revolution? You decide.
3) The Revolution of ICO
Over the past few years, the ICO world have been flooded with payment tokens and utility tokens.
Do take note.. Because there is now a new kid on the ‘crypto’ block.
Tokens backed by assets and profits of a firm. And at the same time, acting as a payment and utility token.
Step aside ICO. Be prepared for STO. Security Token Offering.
3) The Advancement of Crypto Investing
Investing in ICO also means investing into early stage startups. And that means, high risk!
Today, venture capitalists are looking for blockchain projects with real world application rather than just concepts of futuristic technologies.
Gone are the days when you can fund raise with merely a concept… Today if you want to do an ICO, be ready to showcase with your pilot test. Investors want to test your products. Not just listening to your presentation and watching a PowerPoint slide.
If you really think about it… Entrepreneurs are the engines of economic growth in society. For whatever products and services that you’re enjoying right now, it’s because there was an entrepreneur who brought fresh thinking to the marketplace and created a prosperous economy.
Many people whom I’ve spoken who works in a 9-5 job dreams of being an entrepreneur. However, it’s not very often you get to jump out of a stable income job into a territory where your income is being put at risk every single day.
And to make it worst.. Research has shown that 96 out of 100 businesses fail on the 10th year. 4% odds to succeed? What kinda terrible odds are those?
I started Owners Circle because I wanted to turn consumers into business owners while increasing the ‘4% odds’ to succeed. Our team started matching investors with entrepreneurs to create an ‘Owners Circle’. Now, the consumers turned co-owners can proudly share to their friends and become influencers of the business. I believe that with crowdfunding, we are moving into a period of human history whereby very large numbers of people can become owners of wealth through sharing a business like a restaurant or a hotel.
Yes! I was leveraging on the power of crowdfunding to change the face of business. Through the wisdom of the crowd, we were disrupting conventional financial models to create collaborative ventures to open up a whole new universe of investment opportunities.
Over the past few years, my team at Owners Circle and I had the privilege to incubate crowdfunded projects such as The Barn wine bar, Artisan Eco Hotel, and several more out there.
Already, Owners Circle was changing the face of finance. But in 2017, I was exposed to the world of ICO. When I studied in depth on the world of ‘Blockchain IPO’, it blew my mind. ICO not only can improve the efficacy and efficiency of raising money, it also lowers the cost for the issuer and it allows previously unimaginable groups of burgeoning investors to participate.
Now, imagine a world where opportunities can be shared more equally in the wealth created by the society? Where consumers are no longer just consuming. They can also be producers at the same time. Imagine a new category of people called the prosumers.
Initial Coin Offering
So, what is the Blockchain IPO aka ICO all about? Imagine companies can raise funds “on the blockchain” by issuing tokens, or crypto-tokens or cryptocurrencies in a decentralized platform.
Imagine not relying on your local bank account to invest.. Because you only need a mobile phone with Internet access with major cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum to participate.
Imagine the crypto-tokens received can not only be held as your digital asset that stores the value of your wealth, but also be used as a new payment rails to transact with counterparties.
This blockchain technology is creating a whole new set of business models previously unimaginable that empower individuals as economic agents.
Challenges of ICO
As ICO remains in an unregulated territory, it faces it own challenges as well. Most recently, Savedroid was reported going missing after raising USD$50 million.
It’s founder even posted on Twitter that he was sipping drinks at the beach. (https://www.financemagnates.com/cryptocurrency/news/german-ico-savedroid-pulls-exit-scam-raising-50-million/)
Of course, later it then posted another article saying that it was a stunt to show fragile the ICO world is like for investors. https://ico.savedroid.com/
In Malaysia, where I came from, ICO is often known as the tool used by Money Game to scam regular moms and pops.
The Future of Finance
I believe that it’s just a matter of time where governments and governance are putting their hands into blockchain. Blockchain technology is already revolutionizing the way we live.
Rather than predicting a blockchain future, I’m glad to see more and more governments are advocating it.
Personally I’m a big fan of blockchain because I believe that the economy works best when it works for everyone, and this new platform is an engine of inclusion. It drastically lowers the cost of transmitting funds, lowers the barrier of investing, and it supports entrepreneurship and participation in global trade. It catalyses distributed capitalism, not just a redistributed capitalism.
In my humble opinion, blockchain is the next best thing that has happened to modern humankind since the introduction of the Internet. Admittedly, a bold statement. Watch on and judge for yourself!
Thanks Focus Malaysia for featuring Owners Circle’s journey of disruption, transformation and innovation by creating a new hybrid of influencers and investors called Influence Investors.
The secret to transformation and innovation is to focus your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new!
It’s 4.10am here in Washington D.C. and I’m having a jetlag. It’s 5.10pm in Kuala Lumpur!
So I figured, since I couldn’t sleep, why not write a blogpost to share what I’ve learnt here in Washington so far.
What Am I Doing Here in Washington?
Thanks to the invitation by Xiaochen Zhang, the founder of Global Digital Economy Council, I flew here from South Korea 3 days ago to attend the DAIF (Digital Asset Investment Forum) here in Washington.
About Xiaochen Zhang
Xiaochen is a Chinese residing here in the United States. A brilliant man who leads the design and implementation of Fintech and blockchain solutions. He has adviced government agencies and multinational organizations on innovation, emerging technologies and investment in positions at the World Bank, United Nations, and other international partnership platforms.
I was here to attend his event titled ‘Digital Assets Investment Forum’, an event that connects digital assets experts, technology pioneers and cryptocurrency investors from all over the world.
These are my top 3 takeaways from this entire forum:
1) Conceptualization to Application
Like 1993 when the world was introduced to the word ‘Internet’, we are currently at the stage when the world is being introduced to the word ‘Blockchain’.
Today, blockchain is like that late 1900s of internet – lots of use case potential, but substantial effort is required to realize it’s fullest potential. Initially, I was highly skeptical because there have been too much of the hype around blockchain with so many crypto gurus and seminar being created over the past few months. However, the DAIF has showed me many strong evidence that blockchain technology could transform existing business models and invent new forms of business in a profound way.
Bitcoin and Ethereum was created to solve an inefficiency of the existing financial markets. Soon, we will see a token economy to solve the existing inefficiencies of the existing Blockchain markets.
2) Initial Coin Offerings
ICO is a method used by blockchain startups or cryptocurrency ventures to raise funds. Very similar to crowdfunding. Rather than fund raising in normal, fiat currencies, ICO’s crowdfunding is centered on cryptocurrencies. Therefore, this method allows startups to bypass the rigorous and regulated capital-raising process required by venture capitalists or banks. The crypto tokens issued after an ICO is supposedly functional units of currency that can be used as payments or a form of utility.
Year 2017 saw 885 ICOs and $6 billion of funding being raised. It has now surpassed and tripled the amount raised from mainstream VC funding!
At this point of time, the largest PEs and VCs in China, such as Fenbushi Capital and Jiuding Capital, are also getting into the game by setting up funds that exclusively invest in Blockchain-enabled companies.
3) Investment Opportunities in Blockchain
With echos of disruption already being heard across multiple industries in blockchain, I thought that it would be prudent to explore the blockchain investment opportunities by looking at what the PE and VC funds are exploring right now.
One panelist shared that there is tremendous opportunity for blockchain development in the financial industry. Now that banks have decided to stop fighting blockchain technology and start adopting it, the door is wide open for companies that can provide blockchain solutions to the financial institutions, both large and small.
As one of the hottest features of blockchain is its ability to facilitate smart contracts, another area where developers are reaping handsome rewards by introducing the concept of smart contracts into manufacturing and supply chain management. Supply chain management has proven to be a willing market for blockchain technology. We will also see smart contracts increasingly being a part of logistics platforms.
One particular panel who impressed me was Tong Gao, the founder of Token Club. This young entrepreneur founded the largest investors syndication community in China that connects all crypto investors (from newbies to professionals) to profit from the crypto space.
My Biggest Takeway
The DAIF was a great opportunity for me to understand how blockchain is disrupting industries across the board, who the players are, and how can an investor like myself get a piece of the market.
After the conference, our team got together and discussed about our different takeaways and learning from the conference. It’s no doubt that blockchain and cryptocurrency is poised for explosive growth, but great rewards only come to those who hustle, at the right place, and at the right time.
Jian Sun, the managing partner of Jiuding Capital and founder of JLab Blockchain Fund, shared that there is now an elite group of blockchain entrepreneurs and developers in China known as the “3AM Club”.
So why 3AM?
Because that’s what time most of them finish work every single day. At 3am, they will get together in a Wechat chatroom to discuss the latest development in blockchain, cryptocurrency and digital assets, before they go to sleep!
And guess what? They will be wide-awake working again at 6am!
When I first heard about it, I thought to myself, “That’s some insane level of hustling, isn’t it?”
This is the elite group of movers and shakers of the entire blockchain industry in China (and probably the world!)
My overall takeaway?
The hype in the media about bitcoin and cryptocurrency currently outpaces the development of blockchain. However, when I’m in such an environment of solid blockchain ecosystem, I’m excited about the evolution of blockchain and how it will transform the global world of business.
Every single year, I spend the night before my birthday celebrating and cheering the night away. However, this year, I’ve decided that I wanted to spend the night with no one else, but myself. And I asked myself 3 simple questions:
“Did I really live?”
“Did I really love?”
“Did I make a difference?”
It was a very different set of questions compared to the other years where I’ll reflect and review upon what went right and what could have been improved. The standard training and coaching questions.
Review of Year 2017
This year has been yet another turbulent year for me in my career and business. We have been fire fighting since January. Earlier this year, I stepped down my role as the CEO and started focusing on my role as a trainer and speaker. However, things weren’t moving as fast as we wished we could.
And, in July, a huge chaos took place in Owners Circle.
To cut the long story short, Owners Circle was burning cash faster than before. The company couldn’t sustain. The entire sales team decided to leave (and set up their own company). I made one of the toughest decisions of my entire career when I informed my business partner whom we have started and worked together for the past 7 years that our vision and values weren’t aligned and I am going to take over the role of the CEO of Owners Circle.
Upon taking over the leadership role in the month of July, I worked 15 to 20 hours day, non-stop for 30 days with the remaining of team members I had. We pivoted the direction of Owners Circle. Reshuffled the team. And rebuilt the company which was at the brink of shutting down.
In mid of August, I attended a seminar organized by EO and they invited a guest speaker. This guy is just a year older than me. But he is WAY MORE SUCCESSFUL!
Whether it’s business and career, health and fitness, family and friends. He had it all covered. And I was truly impressed. I’ve never seen a person who had such a balanced life!
What impressed me further during the talk was when he kept giving praises to God and gave all credits to his Higher Power.
Later on, I got his number and we got together for dinner. During that dinner meeting, I was truly impressed with his composure and clarity in everything he does in life.
During dinner, he continued praising his Higher Power and shared that whatever he has is the blessing from The Lord above.
That night, I couldn’t sleep. I started asking myself, “Isn’t it obvious the message that I’m getting here?”
That Sunday, I decided to go to church.
Honestly speaking, I was born in a Catholic family. However, since my University days, I’ve not been a very regular church-goer. I was basically a part-timer. I only visit church during Christmas. Or whenever my parents nag at me.
When I was in church that day, I felt my heart was very much at ease. It was a feeling of peace. A feeling that I’ve not had for a long time. A feeling that I very much yearned for.
From that day onwards, I made my time with God on Sundays the top of my priority. And I’ve not failed since then unless I had to be overseas giving talks or conducting workshops.
The month of September and October has been really challenging. My team worked really hard and yet we just didn’t seem to get the results we were hoping to see.
During one of the Sundays in the month of October, I broke down and I prayed really hard. I prayed, “Lord God, please fill within me the fullness of your spirit. Take everything away that may hinder my relationship with you.”
That day, something in me changed. I was in a mode of giving up. I decided to surrender. Not to surrender and give everything up in life. But I’ve decided that my arrogance was killing me. I continued praying, “You’ve given me so much gifts in life. Yet, I’ve failed to make the best use of them all. Lord, please make me your instrument. I’ll surrender it all to you to decide how should I move forward from now on.”
The Turning Point
It’s been only 2 weeks in the month of November. And guess what? Our sales for the past 2 weeks has surpassed the results of what our team have been working on for the 2 months. Yes! 2 weeks in November has surpassed results of September and October combined!
Besides that, we have been given opportunities that from December 2017 onwards, it will be a brand new ballgame for our team at Owners Circle and for myself as well!
2 years ago, when I celebrated my birthday in Verve Suites. That marks the end of my career in alternative investments. And today, as I’m preparing to head down for my birthday party with my team members and closed friends, we are heading towards a brand new beginning.
(I’m holding back on the good news for now because everything has been agreed verbally and we will be signing the papers in December 2017.)
Steve Jobs once said, “You cannot connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect the dots looking backwards.”
Looking back to all that has happened over the past 2 years, I must say that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go. Things go wrong so that you learn to appreciate them when they are right.
Sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can come together.
My Greatest Gift of Year 2017
Today, I ask myself these exact questions.
“Did I really live? Did I really love? Have I made a difference?“
As I look back, I guess the greatest gift I’ve had at the age of 32 was the gift of finding my new purpose in life.
The purpose of my time here on Earth has nothing to do with acquiring possessions, accomplishments or status. Those are secondary issues.
Life is all about love. With God and with other people. You can be successful in many areas of life. But if you fail to learn how to love God, love yourself and love others, you have missed the reason why on Earth you’re here for.
And to you who is reading this article. Regardless what religion or faith. I pray that you too walk in the grace of your Higher Power. Whatever trials and tribulations that’s placed in front of you, remember that everything happens for a reason. And have faith that your Higher Power is always there with you to pick you up, turn you around, restore you and make you whole.
You’ll be complete in boundless love when you walk in the never-ending Grace of your Higher Power.
My Wish for the Year
For my 32nd birthday, I wish for a life in his name. A life that truly matters. A life filled with love. And a life that allows me to be a difference maker. Through his power and his words.
“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” – Joseph Campbell
As an individual, I had to make a decision. Because if I have chosen to move alone, I’ll move faster. But if I’ve chosen to move as a team, I’ll move further.
Making the transformation from “ME” to “WE” is not an easy task. It not only requires a mental rethinking of your leadership, but it also necessitates changes in behaviour to focus on others rather than yourself.
Few years back, I started asking;
It was then when I started to commit to follow my heart and doing what I most love and what is most meaningful to me.
And today, I encourage you do ask the same questions and explore doing the same.
Because at the end of the day, its a miraculous life to be serving others and a mission greater than ourselves – a worthy cause, an organization important to you, your family, or a friend in need.
That’s the best way to know that your life truly matters.
Did you know that an average person spends 2 hours a day on social media?
Did you know that Facebook is 350 times more addictive than cigarettes?
Did you know that small and medium business owners have an added advantage over big corporations in social media?
I’m truly grateful to have 2 of my very good friends, Timothy Tiah and Bryan Loo, coming together to create a entrepreneurs education workshop titled ‘Kings of Social Media’ to educate entrepreneurs on how they can grow their business by attracting customers, talents and investors without investing heavy marketing budgets.
Who is Timothy Tiah and Bryan Loo?
Timothy is a successful entrepreneur who founded Nuffnang (the world’s leading blog advertising community) and Colony (the most beautiful co-working space in KL). He is also the husband to famous blogger fourfeetnine.com, father to two beautiful children.
Bryan is the CEO of LOOB Holding and Founder of Tealive Asia. He owns 9 F&B brands with close to 200 outlets across the country serving over 3 million customers a month.
Both Timothy Bryan were awarded the Ernst & Young Emerging Entrepreneurs of the Year (2015 & 2013 Respectively)
The 2 key diamonds I’ve taken away from this sessions are:
You got to know who you are and demonstrate that true persona of yours in social media. Know the mission that you’re standing up for. Have absolute clarity of your core values. Demonstrate them in your business and life and allow social media to amplify your persona.
Take Note: Don’t be a fake!
You may be able to fake it till you make it. But the problem is you can’t be a faker for a long time. It’s just a matter that you’ll be caught being a faker.
And the biggest warning is, don’t get caught being a fake. Because that’s what’s gonna make you popular for the wrong reason!
2. The Face Behind the Brand
Consumers today wants to know the face behind a brand. As a small medium business owner, you may not have the big marketing budget to advertise your brand but you have the unfair advantage to put your face as the founder behind your business. People wants to connect with you and they want to know how did they do what you did with your business.
As a business founder, you can use your Facebook and Instagram to create “THE MAKING” of your products so that audiences can connect with your brand. They want to be a part of your growth process. Through sharing of your progress on social media platforms, you’ll be able to create anticipation to create explosive demands for your products even before it’s being launched in the market.
Startups today have the ability to level the playing field to compete with the big boys. Thanks to social media!
Thanks to my team members and organizing team for working hard to create an amazing experience to all participants. You guys are the best!
What do successful ENTREPRENEURS and MONKS have in common?
I met Andrew Law, founder of Sweet Hut Desserts, through the introduction of Alan Lim. We hang out several times and we really got closer when we started discussing about the ‘Monk Effect’ that great entrepreneurs go through. Interestingly, both of us went through the ‘Monk Effect’ at almost the same periods of our lives.
So, what’s the ‘Monk Effect’ all about?
Monks create a situation intentionally when they give up all money and possessions. Some entrepreneurs end up in the same situation unintentionally.
The inconvenient truth is…. The strong characters of great entrepreneurs are made during the ‘Monk Moments’ when they seem to lose everything. And it’s during such moments where the ‘Monk Effect’ takes place. It’s a place of pure power. When you seem to have nothing to lose, you’re empowered with infinite potential.
Elon Musk lost $180 million was in debt in 2008. His proceed from Paypal were $180 million. He put $100 million in SpaceX, $70 million in Tesla and $10 million in Solar City. He had to borrow money for rent. Seven years later, he is worth $13 billion but he seems to be ready to risk it all again.
Steve Jobs lost his entire Apple fortune at 1994. He was totally depressed, went to India, discovered a new meaning to life. Built NeXT and Pixar. Sold NeXT to Apple, Pixar to Disney and passed away an icon and legend of the industry.
Walt Disney went against everyone’s advice, mortgaged away his entire fortune in the 1950s to build Disneyland. He once said, “I don’t make movies to make money. I make money to make movies.”
The Brand New You
It’s the moment when you don’t focus on what you’ve lost, but on everything you have to gain. That’s when everything turns around. And a new ‘You’ is born!
For all entrepreneurs who have experienced the ‘Monk Effect’, cheers to the new ‘You’!
“Finally… Winter is over!”
Those were my exact words on 30th August as I was heading for my first break in the month of August.
August (for me) has been filled with storms and turbulence. It’s probably the toughest month of the entire year!
Nevertheless, I’ve learnt lots of important lessons about leadership during this month itself.
As I’m having my solo travel here in Koh Samui, I took time to reflect and review on my learnings during my ‘winter’ month of August:
1. Drop all Ego and Be Truthful
Forget ego. It’s what got you into trouble in the first place. Be truthful and face the fact that you’re in ‘winter’.
Once you’re able to accept that you’re going through a downturn, embrace challenges. Go through them even if they hurt. Tell yourself, what doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger. There is always something to be learned from this experience. You may not fully understand it now, but you’ll later. It’s all part of life, and life is a process of learning.
You’ll only be able to learn when you drop all ego and embrace challenges. Every challenging experience develops the core of inner strength, which gets you through those storms and turbulences.
Much like iron is forged by heat, your most significant challenges and your most painful experiences present the greatest opportunities for your personal growth.
2. Take Charge and Grow!
Nobody wants to be around somebody going through a low period. But people wants to be in the underdog team that turnaround failures.
In times like that you’ve got to be able to draw from within. Everyone have gotta take charge. You, as the leader has gotta take control!
When it’s seems like everything is lost, it also means an opportunity to creatively explore how to develop a new generation of leaders.
If everyone in the team embraces such an experience to deal with the greatest adversities, that will shape the character of your team far more than any leadership training programs out there.
3. Focus on Your Purpose and Passion
Find something you’re passionate about, and inspire others to join the cause as you share why you started this journey in the first place. The like will always attract the like.
No one is born with a purpose given by God. It’s through difficult times and tragic moments that opens our heart to deeper meaning of life and get you thinking more profoundly about what you can contribute to others during your lifetime. Yes! It’s in times of winter when you discover your purpose.
Just as you conclude one portion of your journey, another opportunity emerges, so you can take what you learned from previous experiences and apply it to new situations. That’s how businesses evolve, isn’t it?
If you embrace your life story and learn it’s lessons, your leadership journey will always be energized with purpose and passion.
Lastly, I want to take this opportunity to thank all my friends and team members who provided the love and support I so desperately need. You know who you are. I’m forever grateful!