Making the future a reality
By Sharmila Ganapathy-Wallace July 12, 2017
- Aims to be a one-stop shop for projects seeking funding and helpers
- Targeting a global launch in Q1 of 2018.
JACK Ser and Kenneth Tan were struck by an ‘aha moment’ in late 2016 over coffee with a friend who was heavily involved in cryptocurrency crowdfunding.
“Back then, ‘cryptocurrency crowdfunding’ was a big word that although meant a lot, was a bit fuzzy to us. However, we were intrigued by the potential of cryptocurrency crowdfunding as a new funding model that could empower project creators to get funding for their ideas from a global audience and bypass traditional fund-raising avenues plagued with high transaction costs.
“We wanted to help make virtual currency crowdfunding more accessible to the masses, and at the same time create a product that could allow project creators to request for project help, funding and reward backers,” recalls Tan, who is chief operating officer and co-founder of Pinnacle One Consultancy. He started the web design and consultancy firm with fellow co-founder Jack Ser (also the chief executive officer of the firm) in 2014.
Their business amassed them a strong portfolio of clients; however they also noticed a common recurring problem with clients. “We often have clients with brilliant ideas coming to us to develop their product, but many of them are unable to bring the project to fruition due to insufficient financing or the lack of talented staff with the right skillsets to help them complete the project execution,” says Tan.
That coffee session, combined with the gap that they discovered, was the inspiration behind FundYourselfNow (FYN), a cryptocurrency crowdfunding platform that aims to reinvent the crowdfunding industry, using the latest innovations in blockchain technologies and virtual currencies.
“We believe that virtual currencies are here to stay and will disrupt the entire finance industry. We are starting to see the legislation and technologies being developed that are rapidly allowing for mass adoption of digital currencies.
“One local company, TenX, has already developed a Visa/Mastercard backed credit card that allows you to pay with Bitcoins or Ethereum. In Japan, Bitcoin is recognized as legal tender. Recently, the Singapore government just concluded Project Ubin, where they put SGD onto the blockchain,” Ser says.
Ser believes that we are “at the cusp of a digital revolution” and that FYN is well positioned to take advantage of this trend to be the global leader in crowdfunding, namely by providing a one-stop for projects seeking funding and talented helpers.
The duo faced many early challenges. “Lack of funding, people don't believe in you and cryptocurrency in general. It was only in 2017 that crypto crowdfunding really took off. There were many doubts from our family members who thought that cryptocurrency was a scam job and we also questioned whether it was the right path to take for us initially when crypto crowdfunding was relatively new,” Ser recalls.
What was their biggest surprise? “We were very surprised at how supportive the Ethereum community has been to us so far. The community is like a big family that welcomes new entrants into the space with open arms. We were very fortunate that they have been willing to help newcomers and provide guidance when asked.”
How the platform works
According to Ser, the FYN platform allows entrepreneurs to issue digital FYN tokens which can be bought by backers using virtual currencies such as Ethereum. The FYN tokens entitles project backers to rewards such as profit sharing, or non-monetary rewards such as exclusive access to use the entrepreneurs’ facilities, exclusive skins for games etc. With the token model, it's up to the entrepreneurs to come up with creative ways of rewarding their backers depending on their product.
“Our FYN platform also allows entrepreneurs/project creators to build up a global community of loyal backers who have a vested interest in making their idea a reality. They can get immediate and useful feedback from their fans of their product early, allowing them to avoid costly mistakes at a later stage,” Ser explains.
What about their revenue model? “Our platform charges a listing fee for each project. In additional we will also set up an investment fund to support projects on the FYN platform. Profits from the selling of the project tokens gained from the investment fund will also be used to sustain the platform.”
Tan points out that FYN doesn’t only allow idea creators/entrepreneurs to go the initial coin offering (ICO) route, they also allow fund-raising via traditional crowdfunding, which uses the donation model, albeit with cryptocurrencies instead of cash.
“We realise that not everyone needs US$100 million or US$10 million. Some people really only need the US$5000 or US$10,000 needed to get their project up and running. We’re actually targeting the audience from both spectrums. We want to bridge the gap between mainstream guys and the crypto guys.”
An alternative to VC funding
Commenting on how FYN is superior to venture capitalist (VC) funding, Ser says: “We wholeheartedly believe we offer improvements to VC funding in four ways. Firstly, we put control back in the hands of the entrepreneur by opening the route to equitable funding terms.
Secondly, FYN is a one-stop funding shop that shortens the pitching and funding process, making it more efficient. “No more endless meetings pitching your idea to dozens of VCs and working to their timeline.”
“Thirdly (and this becomes really valuable after the successful launch of the venture) the fact that we facilitate cryptocurrency crowdfunding per project offers all investors a way to trade the tokens on external cryptocurrency exchanges,” he explains
Finally, Ser notes that their set-up is powered by the wisdom of crowds. “An investor no longer has to rely on research reports issued by banks or opinion pieces written by bloggers. As they say, money talks. And on FYN every investor observes directly which projects his or her peers are investing in.”
Next page: A break from tradition