On Nov.7th, InnoKOL had a fascinating conversation with Mr. Tobias Bauer , the Principal at Blockchain Founders Fund, talking about his unique work experience and profound insights on blockchain.
Jokia: How would you describe yourself in three words? What’s your motto?
Curious, ambitious, villageboy
Work serious but do not take yourself so serious.
Jokia: Can you please share more about your educational and professional background? And we’d love to hear what brought you to blockchain.
I grew up in a small village called Oberammegau in Germany and always have been trying to travel and expand my horizon. I started of with a legal and business degree in Germany, Austria and China. After this I worked in Investment banking and then I joined the investment team of Chinaccelerator, one of the global elite accelerator programs operated by the venture fund SOSV with $907M+ AUM in China.
Furthermore, I worked for the German Government in Thailand where I co-organized the NSTF, a career fair with 1.1M visitors, in order to enable students to build their professional career. In the past, I lived in 9 different countries across 15 cities and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, English and German.
I also hold a MSc. in Management + CEMS Master’s in International Management with Distinction from National University of Singapore and Tsinghua University (清华大学).
I started in crypto from a personal perspective but made investments in the SOSV investment team for example the first investor in Bitmex.
In 2018 I met Aly and Mansoor from Blockchain Founders Fund and we started to invest in web3 companies. Now we have 100+ companies in the portfolio.
Jokia: From your perspective, what’s unique and game-changing about blockchain technology? How do you foresee the trends of blockchain technology for the next five years?
The most exciting aspect about blockchain is the fact that we can streamline processes by excluding middle man from the chain. Furthermore, the secure and tamperproof nature of it brings a lot of use cases to many problems. For example, we invest in a company called Beatdapp which uses blockchain to audit streaming services which is a $4B issue in the industry - this solves a major problem which other technologies can’t solve.
Note: Not every company needs to be blockchain - we need to be certain about the use cases!
Blockchain is a new and primitive technology that is decentralized. It provides trust, efficiency, and transparency. The trend in the next 5 years is that blockchain technologies will be used for a variety of things, including identity authentication, financial transactions, supply chains etc. once the technology becomes more mature. Infrastructure to enable smooth and secure operations in the space are being much more relevant if we onboard the masses - secure custody options, tax and accounting solutions for crypto, better UI/UX. More friendly developer tools.
Jokia: As a Startup Mentor for 500 Startups, APX, PlugAndPlay, NUMA New York, Alchemist Accelerator, and a Venture Partner of Republic, could you share 2-3 cases impressed you most?
Republic - I am very excited to democratize startup investing to the public - not only accredited investors should be able to access this investment class. We need to be more open and let people participate.
Numa - we had a company out of a small market New Zealand and we were able to support them pivoting to the US market. This is not solved by just hiring a US based team but rather by driving the vision and strategy of the company. Many companies underestimate the market entry and fail. This cannot be a side project it needs to be a key strategy point with a clear value proposition and market analysis of why this market is relevant. Clear guidance is most relevant. We at BFF believe in the same. We work for our companies and support them in our best interest!
I am a big believer in supporting companies in underrepresented regions e.g., MENA or SEA. We need more capital and that’s why I also work with PNP.
Jokia: How different is crypto portfolio building compared to traditional investor portfolios, and what about the management of these portfolios?
Cryptocurrency portfolios have many differences compared to traditional investor portfolios. The main difference is that on cryptocurrencies, there are a lot of new platforms, exchanges and technologies that need to be considered and understood.
For example, the valuation of a cryptocurrency is defined by its utility value, which differs from traditional investments. Furthermore, due to the complex nature of crypto and blockchain assets, the difficulty of trading them is often very high and this makes portfolio management more challenging than traditional investments.
However, I am a big believer that also web3 funds can learn more from web2 funds. A web3 company still needs to have a proper business plan and revenue generating services. Only a token or web3 angle cannot replace this is the long term. We are investing in businesses which are using a technology to solve problems, not only community size and tokenomics are relevant. They are just parts of the equation.
Jokia: What can traditional investors add to crypto market, and how do they benefit from something like The Token Fund?
Traditional investors add stability and legitimacy to crypto markets. They are able to bring capital and expertise, helping blockchain projects complete faster and better than they would otherwise be able to.
Traditional investors benefit from the Token Fund because it allows them to participate in the market without having to understand all the technical details of how their investments work and enables democratized investing.
Furthermore, the model similar to the token fund enables access - right now only funds and HNWI are able to participate in pre-sales and equity rounds etc. this should change and have to change. We need access and support from the masses early on not just post IPO.
Jokia: In what ways can The Token Fund help investors? How prepared is Blockchain Founders Fund to play a leading role?
We have been building our ecosystem for 4 years. Our team has built a vast network of 330+ experts to support our startups which includes individuals from many of the world's largest firms including Amazon, GM, IBM, ING, Saudi Aramco, GitLab, Lenovo, S&P, McKinsey & Co., Accenture, LINE, United Nations and more. Furthermore, we have closed over 140+ partnerships with all leading tech companies in the world to give access.
We understand that if we can grow the pie overall, we are all better off.
We work very close with our companies and have weekly calls with all of them and have a full team (Venture program team) which supports them on a daily basis. We see ourselves as founders and not as investors. We want their trust and treat them like family. Furthermore, all of our LPs can co-invest with us at zero cost and we provide the access - we are a catalyst for deals.
Jokia: What are the challenges ahead for the Metaverse?
The Metaverse is poised to become a fundamental part of our lives, but it's not quite there yet. It’s a concept not everyone can understand fully yet. At the moment, technology surrounding the metaverse is still primitive. Challenges include: security and privacy issues, technical limitations, lack of standards for payments or other transactions in these environments, systems that are not well suited to handling large volumes of transactions or transactions at different speeds and more. Even basic infrastructure is quite lacking.
The rise of the metaverse is also tied to hardware in order to make the experience fully immersive. Both together will pave the way and bring more user adoption. Even currently the unicorns in the space such as Decentraland and Sandbox do not have many active users (DAU). The landscape in the bull market was successful but this does not build a strong active user base.
Jokia: Some of the figures in your resume are particularly prominent. You worked for the German Government in Thailand where he co-organized the NSTF, a career fair with 1.1M visitors. What inspired that move and how did you make that happen?
For me it was always exciting to explore different areas of innovation. In my opinion innovation is a join aspect and not just only driven by VC and startups. Governments paly a leading role in providing guidance and support. I was excited to have an impact in an emerging market such as Thailand. THE NASTF is to connect students and kids to companies and explain concepts like plastic recycling, renewable energy to the masses.
We need to educate from early on! The work with the government also was eye opening in understand challenges and processes with the public sector. This is now particularly interesting when we invest in gov-tech startups.
It was a fantastic time and I was excited to support so many students.
Jokia: We’ve noticed that you are one of the famous speakers in global Blockchain conferences, what’s your benchmark to select the top-tier industrial conferences?
In most cases, I select events and conferences that are focused on Web3, blockchain, crypto and emerging technologies. However, depending on the quality of audience and talk topics, I am open to doing conferences outside these scopes. As you know, I always strive to share my knowledge in the industry wherever I can.
Furthermore, it is important to me that the conferences are supporting founders in a meaningful way - they should assemble sustainable investors, strong founders, great ecosystem partners.
The size of the conferences does not matter to much as we want to support also emerging conferences in emerging markets. We need to see integrity and good will for the ecosystem not money driven events.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER:
Mr.Tobias Bauer 托比亚斯 is the Principal at Blockchain Founders Fund which invests in and venture builds top-tier startups. He is a Startup Mentor for 500 Startups, APX, PlugAndPlay, NUMA New York, Alchemist Accelerator, and a Venture Partner of Republic.
He worked in the investment team of Chinaccelerator, one of the global elite accelerator programs operated by the venture fund SOSV with $907M+ AUM in China.
Furthermore, he worked for the German Government in Thailand where he co-organized the NSTF, a career fair with 1.1M visitors, in order to enable students to build their professional career. In the past, he has lived in 9 different countries across 15 cities and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, English and German.
Tobias holds a MSc. in Management + CEMS Master’s in International Management with Distinction from National University of Singapore and Tsinghua University (清华大学) and a Bachelor’s in Management and Law with Distinction from Management Center Innsbruck and Southwestern University of Finance and Economics.
ABOUT THE HOST:
Ms. Jokia Yin is the Founder of Innoverview and InnoKOL, the Vice Chairman of HK International Blockchain Finance Association as well as the Head of Media at United States of America-China Chamber of Commerce. Jokia has over 10 years of marketing and management experience, much of which has been in the Asia Pacific Region within events and PR industry. She has held key leadership roles executing market research and entry, developing sales channels and revenue generation, building marketing, finance and Operations related infrastructure for a more than 20 events related to retail, tourism, energy storage, blockchain, cosmetics domains.