The terms blockchain, cryptocurrency and initial coin offerings have taken centre-stage in many-a-conversation over the course of the last year or so. It is of common consensus that the Bitcoin saga and its meteoric rise was the catalyst for investors – both institutional and otherwise – as well as entrepreneurs to focus on ICOs as a preferred method for raising funds. For many, it’s gone far beyond ingenious decentralised technology that promises to disrupt the modern world.
We sat down with Iris Xu, Chief Executive Officer of SPECTRUM’s very own member JENGA Solutions, a consultancy that has already successfully empowered a client list of over four hundred blockchain-based start-ups to accelerate their growth. Here’s a bit on what the company does and her views on where the industry is heading to in 2018 and beyond:
What does JENGA do and how did the company start?
I would say that we launched proper in February last year. We started off as a consulting company facilitating overseas expansion for technology companies in China wanting to move overseas and providing entry strategies for Chinese internet businesses in Singapore.
We soon noticed an evident gap in the market with a number of enquiries we were receiving from blockchain companies wanting to make the move.
Our business functions as a partner for blockchain companies that require the necessary Business Development, Marketing and Communication, Global Structuring, Accounting, and Compliance services associated with the industry.
We also help companies to transition comfortably into the local market. Language is only one of the barriers for many of them. Singapore is a very different country from China and you need to know the playing field you are moving to and that’s where we come in.
I have to say that we are not an ICO consulting company, but a long term operational partner for blockchain project development. We are not only sharing knowledge and expertise to guide our clients’ business initiatives, but also providing industry resources and tailor made solutions to fit into their project development processes and operations.
Why are so many blockchain businesses moving to Singapore?
The regulatory standpoint in China is not going to change. The Chinese understand and respect the potential of blockchain technology but they will always keep a close eye on companies that are raising funds through this medium. Singapore, on the other hand, has taken a much more open standpoint on the whole matter.
There are not many negatives here. Businesses benefit from the favourable tax structure and political stability. The government here is extremely pro-business and I would say that Singapore has the tech infrastructure that many of these companies need to advance. There is also the added advantage of geographical proximity. It’s much easier for the Chinese to run their businesses out of an Asian city with similar cultural practices and environment.
What is JENGA K and how did it start?
JENGA K is essentially one of our six main arms that make up the business. The business unit was formed in the same vein that JENGA was. We were receiving increasing queries from Korea after their government took a hard stance on ICOs. Our partner Tammy Ahn, a mentor and advisor for finance and technology startups, knows the landscape well and helps to connect us with companies in Korea looking to launch or even expand into Singapore.
Would you say that SPECTRUM has fulfilled its business proposition in creating new opportunities for its members?
Definitely. The whole business club is a vibrant community of tech driven businesses that work together in some way or other.
Take JENGA K for example, Tammy was introduced to me by Golden Equator Consulting’s Managing Partner Adam Flinter and it was a connection that has proven to be invaluable. We connected immediately, both of us being career mums drawing considerably success from the employment of business expansion strategies.
With our expertise and her connections as well as knowledge of Korean business practices, we have managed to expand our company rapidly into an entirely new market. Tammy shed some light as to how Korean businesses function. For example, they place more emphasis on marketing that is visually driven while Chinese businesses are more focused on investor networks.
Do you think it’s harder to launch a successful ICO in 2018 compared to 2017?
In the ICO- world we don’t really work on annual projections. It’s such a fast-paced industry that it’s better to measure advancements on a quarterly basis. Even better monthly.
The answer will lie heavily on governmental standpoints and how the volatile market evolves so to comment on the topic would be speculation at best. What I can say is that the industry should see some form of stability in time to come. We hopefully won’t see the huge swings in values that we have experienced. Also, it’s no longer about coming out with a glistening whitepaper and disseminating it to a pre-sale audience like before. You need to have a unique value proposition that uses blockchain technology to solve a real-world problem. It’s also important for the team to have a proven track-record.
What advise would you give a company wanting to ICO in 2018?
This may surprise you, but if they have never ran a business before then it may not be the best entry into the entrepreneurship sphere. If funding is what you are after, there are more conventional ways to get it. It’s not all about leveraging a bullish crypto market. That being said, ICOs are part of a thrilling journey for startups with a solid use-case for their tokens.
And there we have it, Iris Xu’s take on the crypto market and a bit about what JENGA does to ensure that their clients have the edge to achieve their objectives. Stay tuned for next months interview with another member of the SPECTRUM community that advances our tech ecosystem we call home.