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Zach Piester: There are many talented and motivated entrepreneurs in SE Asia that are doing amazing things


Zach Piester, a co-founder of Intrepid Ventures, works in the Central Asia and refers this part of the world to a center of the universe for him and his colleagues. During the interview with the media office of Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference Philippines, he described the region in terms of the growth of blockchain companies there and revealed why investments in cryptocurrencies and blockchain would be a prerogative of major investors soon.

Interviewer: Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference Philippines (BCP) – Speaker: Zach Piester (ZP)

Mr. Piester, as a leading venture investor, what do you think about cryptocurrency investments? How risky and profitable is this asset? 

ZP: Firstly, all that I share is just my personal experiences. I am not offering investment advice in any way. It is for information purposes only and is easily searchable on Google.

Need to separate “retail” investors, sophisticated investors and institutional investors (not that some retail investors are not sophisticated).

For the retail investor there is Extreme risk, volatility and the likelihood you’ll lose all of your investments. Although I won’t provide any investment advice, I would caution everyone considering investing in an ICO or other crypto project to fully understand what they’re investing in. The same fundamental/traditional research and diligence rules apply e.g. good team, good tech, results, accountabilities, growth history/patterns etc… Cryptos and ICO are not for the beginners and you’ll likely get scammed and/or lose money.

Sophisticated and institutional investors should proceed with due diligence relative to the new crypto economics. This includes team, tech, plan, history, backers etc…

BCP: What minimal sum should investors enter the market with?

ZP: Retail – the amount they can afford to lose because most likely they will lose it all.

Institutional – depends, we are seeing more and more institutional capital come into the ecosystem. The amounts are very small relative to their overall portfolios. This is beginning to change as the tech matures and the economics (in chain) become better suited to institutional investors. Many family offices, PE funds, Hedge funds and Venture funds are committing millions to tens of millions on specific projects. Overall, a very small amount, yet some are gaining huge returns. There are definitely new “investment” models starting to emerge that provide institutional investors some downside risk protection and strong upside potential.

BCP: Investors frequently say that they don’t want to interact with cryptocurrency because of having no clue about its origin and operation concept. Do you think it’s important for investors to have vast knowledge about cryptocurrencies and blockchain? What self-education sources would you recommend?   

ZP: Their loss. It’s a bit lazy to be honest. If you’re not willing to invest the intellectual capital to understand new concepts and crypto economic models you are not suited for this space. The question I would ask is are you doing your LP’s a disservice by not being informed. Yes, the space may not be right for their portfolio but at least educate yourself.

BCP: Blockchain mass media includes opinions that 90% of projects launching ICOs are scams. Based on your experience, do you think this figure is true?  

ZP: Through our ICO platform we receive on average 10-15 projects a day. More than half aren’t yet at a stage we believe they are ready to launch and raise capital. We like to see a serious commitment from the team which includes well-thought-out concepts (at minimum, would prefer a working prototype of the tech), strong understanding of the tech, the team is realistic and rational in how much they want/need to raise and most importantly have at least consulted with an attorney.

How many of these are ‘scams” or just bad projects…Most are just bad projects with an improper use of the blockchain, underdeveloped business and crypto economics, limited to no tech development and /or just money grabs…are these scams maybe.. There is a definite % of projects that are in fact scams…Several cryptocurrencies that are in the top 50 (by market cap) are widely viewed as scams yet their values increase. I believe this is the result of “newbies” coming into the space… the greater fools game is clearly evident in these projects.

However, there are some phenomenal projects coming through with world-class developers and teams that have or are developing major breakthrough protocol layer innovations. There are some very smart people in the space doing amazing things that will undoubtedly change the world. We’re super fortunate to be able to attract these types of visionaries and entrepreneurs to work with us.

BCP: Your company, Intrepid Ventures, cooperates with hundreds of startups in Southeast Asia (Singapore, Philippines etc.). Could you please describe the development of blockchain technologies in your region? Is it worse or better than in other regions?   

ZP: We’re a global small enterprise based out of Hong Kong. We have offices, team members, resources and projects across South East Asia, Europe and the Americas including Hong Kong, Singapore, Philippines, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Ukraine, New York, USA and South America. We see a ton of deal flow through our TokenDeck platform along with our 36 blockchain communities through BlockchainStartups.Global.

SE Asia is the center of the universe for us. There are many very talented, hungry and motivated entrepreneurs in the region that are doing amazing things.

I wouldn’t say one area or region is better than another. Each region has its own flavor of entrepreneurs and developers. We do see some trends including very strong technologists coming from Eastern Europe and our Lviv Ukraine office.  We see a lot of hustle and grit from some of the emerging markets in SE Asia especially in Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. We’re finding some great social enterprises coming through in Middle East and especially Africa.

Singapore has become a hub for ICOs and there are some great companies in SG.

BCP: Could you tell us how saturated is the Asian market of blockchain solutions? Is it difficult for a young company to succeed on it? 

ZP: We’ve barely gotten started and there’s enormous growth potential. We are seeing the copycats and clones starting to bubble up. A trend we’re definitely seeing around the world is that current startups that haven’t scaled or developed product market fit and now adding “blockchain” to their offering in the hopes of achieving success. Please stop adding blockchain to your food delivery app or other broken model…

No, it’s not difficult for a young company to succeed if you’re solving a problem worth solving, utilizing the technology in new and unique ways, building a product, application or solution that people must have… it’s all very simple in the end.

BCP: At Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference Philippines, you will discuss investments in ICO tokens. Are you going to reveal other ways of investing in blockchain? If you are, what will you talk about? 

ZP: I will not be providing investment advice. I will inform, educate and entertain the audience on blockchain, cryptocurrencies and ICOs.

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