We continue the series of interviews with PumaPay Advisors and top management. Today we talk to Dovi Frances, a reputable financial entrepreneur and Silicon Valley visionary. Dovi is the founding partner of SGVC, a venture capital firm based in Los Angeles, California. With an impressive investment portfolio of FinTech companies and over $100 million invested over the past five years, Dovi is a director on the boards of multiple tech companies, as well as an Advisor to some of the industry's most disruptive projects, with PumaPay being one of them. We pried Dovi away from his busy schedule to discuss his career and views on the future of the blockchain, the recipe of a successful project, and the needs PumaPay strives to solve.
The list of your credentials is just too long to be squeezed in the intro! Could you list your projects for our readers?
For starters, I'm the founding partner of SGVC. I invested over $100 million in some of Silicon Valley’s technology companies, including SoFi, Addepar, Tipalti, TripActions, HomeLight, SunBit, and Next Insurance. Currently I serve as Director on the Boards of Tipalti, SunBit, HomeLight, and Covercy. I am an Advisor to Addepar, PumaPay, and a member of the Advisory Council of Leumi Bank U.S.
Your background is in the “traditional” business and finance industry where many have resisted the blockchain revolution. What made you believe (and invest!) in blockchain projects?
I think we're well past the stage of anyone resisting the blockchain revolution... However, to answer your question, financial technology has been in my focus following the 2008 financial crisis. In 2010 I was the President of a multi-billion-dollar AUM Family Office and, like many, was faced with multiple challenges - a new global regulatory regime, historically low interest rates, and declining levels of public trust. This coupled with the massive generational shift as millennials flooded the labor market, known to be the techy generation par excellence, led to the emergence of new and disruptive technologies in all areas of business, including the financial industry. Things were changing fast, and it was crazy to ignore this shift which basically, amongst many other facets of Financial Technology, also recently brought about the blockchain revolution.
How do you choose a project with potential? Seems like many projects are bad ideas, others are good ideas that will never happen. What’s your take?
At a first glance, there is no clear-cut rule in establishing whether a project is utterly bad or brilliant, and there's always a risk that it won't go in the seemingly probable direction. You need to do the research and carefully evaluate the risks. Most of the things to consider may seem obvious, and still, too many get them wrong: does the project address a genuine need that the market has or will have in the future? Is there a comprehensive plan that covers everything from technology and legal aspects to backup plan, risk management and investor protection? If the answer is 'no' - stay away.
Is this how you see PumaPay? Why did you decide to support us?
Yes. I decided to endorse this project after seeing dozens of ICOs that to me seemed more like a cynical attempt to raise capital “easily” than to really start a business that solves a big problem. PumaPay ticks all these boxes I mentioned above. Your project taps into the need many businesses are experiencing. So, there's a demand for this solution. Furthermore, there's a strong technical concept and a team who has what it takes to bring it into life. Most importantly, there is a plan as to what happens after the Crowdsale, a realistic roadmap and a long-term implementation strategy with REAL customers. This is one of the few ICOs out there that really focuses hard on implementing their protocol.
Do you believe in the PumaPay economy?
Yes – I would never put my name on a project if I didn’t believe in it. The strength of PumaPay is that it strives to build an economy and not just to launch a token. PMA existing in the infrastructure that transcends platforms, businesses and countries, lays the potential for the worldwide adoption of the token. As more and more businesses adopt PumaPay, the usability of the token is likely increase, and so will the demand for it. This is a working economic model.
How do you see the future of cryptocurrencies and crypto projects? Will they live up to their vision of eliminating the middlemen, including banks and governments?
Blockchain and crypto payments are truly one of those technologies that can change the world. It represents a serious paradigm shift, and it does look like it has the potential for a global decentralization and disintermediation. That was the feeling of 2008, when central authorities faced the trust crisis. The potential is there, and we are seeing multiple signs of the widespread adoption. But before we get to it, there will be multiple challenges and setbacks: from regulatory issues to fully redefining the role of middlemen and the vision of centralized vs decentralized economy. In a way, it's wrong to make a bold statement of 'Yes, it will happen', but there are all the signs it's possible. I also believe that we need to assure that the charlatans, the false prophets and all the other people who tout their newfound wealth or that are in it to make a quick buck are weeded out from the system. Only then strong projects like PumaPay can get the full attention they so deserve.
Do you think the Blockchain will be facing any major challenges? Where will this technology be in 5 years?
Of course, like with any new technology of global scope there will be challenges, setbacks and trust crises. I believe it's safe to say that in 5 years' time the use of blockchain technology will be very different from what we know today, and its role in our lives will change, too. The potential of this technology goes well above and beyond cryptocurrencies and ICOs – it seems like many people tend to forget that. That said, we live in exciting times, when things are changing fast – this is both the kick and the challenge for venture capitalists, professional investors and amateurs alike.
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