SaaS Founder Interview with Arnab Naskar and Tobias Seidl, Co-Founders of STOKR

Tony Zayas 0:00
Hey everybody, welcome to the SaaS founders show. We’re back for another episode another exciting founder talk to, Andy Halko over here, my co host. How you doing today, Andy?

Andy Halko 0:17
Good. How are you doing, Tony?

Tony Zayas 0:19
Good. I’ve been looking forward to spring and it starts to show up and it goes away. So that’s kind of where we’re out here in Northeast Ohio right now. That’s our tower things.

Andy Halko 0:32
Oh, you know, just enjoying every day. I’ve got a little bit of the cold, but that’s okay. We’re still having fun. So

Tony Zayas 0:40
It’s gone around. We have an international guest here joining us from Berlin today. Arnab is the co founder, one of the co founders over at STOKR, and I’ll read the description here about STOKR, they’re the EU’s pioneering digital investment marketplace for alternative assets, where smart investors connect with and fund innovative businesses. STOKR’s the all in one solution for young and growing ventures looking to raise capital in the EU. With that, let me bring Arnab on. Hey Arnab, how you doing?

Arnab Naskar 1:16
Hey, Tony, I’m good. How are you doing?

Tony Zayas 1:18
Really good. Thank you. Appreciate you being here. I read the brief descriptor, but tell us about the business would love to hear more?

Arnab Naskar 1:28
Yes, so STOKR is actually a marketplace, we are operating mostly outside the US market at the moment. Unfortunately, what we’re doing is we’re helping companies and innovative business founders to access the capital market financing, which is very much controlled by some of the biggest players in the market in that sense. So what we’re trying to do is opening up opportunity for financing for small and medium sized companies, asset managers, boutique asset managers, or it can be also some gaming companies or those kinds of ventures. And they can use STOKR as a marketplace to raise capital. And what they’re doing is when they’re issuing you know, or raising capital on STOKR are the issuing their debt instrument or the equity instrument in the form of digital token on the blockchain, that means what they’re doing, let’s say you’re raising capital, you want to issue your debt instrument like a bond, or you want to issue an equity, you issue a digital securities or digital token on a blockchain, and you raise capital via that fully regulated under the European law.

Tony Zayas 2:31
Fascinating, and I think this is this whole conversation around, you know, fundraising, and, you know, raising capital for founders. It’s fantastic for our show here today. So super interested to dive into some of these topics. I know your co founder was supposed to be on. Sounds like he had family emergencies. I’m sorry to hear that. But we’ll have to catch him. On the next time. We have you guys on talk to you a little bit further. So we’d love to hear a little bit about the origin where did you guys come up with the concept, you know, for for this marketplace?

Arnab Naskar 3:05
I think like and one interesting part is you know, before I started the business journey, I am a real believer in Bitcoin and the fundamental pillars of what Bitcoin brings to the market and what Bitcoin showed that you can have a money without the state and you know, in today’s situation, I think when the Ukraine war is happening and the global financial situation is kind of looking for a reset button, I think Bitcoin Bitcoin became a very interesting you know, tool or monetary instrument to look into and the philosopy is actually a Bitcoin can fundamentally change the payment industry how we know today, can it also change the capital markets or the stock market as we know not today. And that actually motivated me to be us and two of our co founders to explore is how you know, we can issue stocks and bonds on the blockchain because if you can issue money or you know, kind of any other settlement currencies on the blockchain, can you also issue a capital market instrument and that triggered and that triggered for us to find out can we do it on a legal basis because, you know, securities that are very regulated market, it is one of the most the most regulated space in the financial markets. So, we have to balance you know, innovation with regulation, right, we cannot go crazy and issue something completely unregulated and then get smacked down from SEC kind of regulators. So, what we need to do is a balance between the regulation and the innovation and we tried to find out you know, what we can do and how we can do that and while checking that and while exploring this market, we realized, you know, the stock market, the current stock market, which you know, might be in NASDAQ or the New York Stock Exchange, others, these can be only access by a very handful of companies right. And these companies only access it once you know, all this VC investment money has been already made. The company has already reached a certain level and then only they can go to the public stock market and raise capital. So who knows, for small investors like us, it’s very hard sometimes to get access to those kinds of companies at a very early stage. Equity crowdfunding came with a very interesting concept that you can raise investment in very early days and be a part of the investor community with a smaller amount. But the challenges with equity crowdfunding happen is those stocks cannot be traded easily in any digital asset space. But what we saw in the cryptocurrencies boom that you can actually issue and trade crypto assets in lots of digital asset exchanges with very less middleman, because of technology can reduce a lot of middleman. So we took that element, and we put it into the traditional stock market. And we said, okay, the companies can issue a debt instrument or an equity instrument tokenize, that instrument in a digital format, and then they can go to a digital asset, exchange and trade. And this will actually enable a lot of opportunity for small and medium sized companies to access capital, which is not possible today. And when I started our business, like we started our journey back in 2018, we spoke to a number of founders, founders who are running a parking business to companies that are running, you know, gaming companies based in Shanghai. And we found out the solution that we are providing is of interest for companies in different segments. Mostly, I would say pre IPO pre growth or growth stage companies. And that made us much more motivated to say, okay, you know, there is a demand. And if we want to address the demand, we need to create a product, because we know that there is something that we can create. But for that we need to know, simplify the technology, simplify the regulation. And that’s how STOKR was born, actually.

Andy Halko 6:41
Now, what was your background in before you started? And, you know, were you on the technical side or more on the finance side?

Arnab Naskar 6:50
So my background is, I understand that, but I’m not a techie, I’m coming much more from the legal side. So I was involved in the legal part in the capital markets, transaction held companies, you know, in number of corporate finance, financing deals, and those kinds of things. So I understand the legal complexities and the legal processes behind any kind of financing. And also, I’ve seen and worked with a number of investors to understand you know, how the investment market works. I’m not a venture capitalist in that sense, but I understand the details or enterprises of a transaction. And technology wise, I would say, I can understand the tech, I can understand the high level philosophy of a tech, but I’m not a coder in that sense.

Andy Halko 7:30
Now, I always like to hear about for your customer, what’s a day in the life look like? You know, and that really helps I think our viewers understand exactly how they interact with you and, and what they get from it. So can you talk about, like, what the day in the life would look like for someone that would interact with STOKR?

Arnab Naskar 7:50
So most of the companies or the founders that usually reach out to us, they have a running business, so they have their own business, and they’re running in, they come to us to, you know, raise some capital as an alternative way alternate to go into a bank, or going to a VC or going to, you know, to some kind of other lenders, right, they come to STOKR, and it’s kind of an alternative investment platform for them. So these guys are primarily, you know, working on their existing business, they have kind of revenue, it can be pre revenue or post revenue, we usually like to have a little bit of a post revenue, because pre revenue is too risky to have it on a platform. And once the commerce what we give them, we give them a structure, a complete investment structure, including the instrument that they will issue it, we provide the tech, and we also provide all the back office support. That means the compliance support and the regulatory support, as well as any payment gateway support. So the only thing that the founder has to really do coming to us is really talking to the investors understanding is the financial instrument that the issuing on STOKR is of interest for them, and then talking to the investor and do kind of the marketing for the investment instrument. All of the stuff that is required for the issuances be the financial structure, be it you know, investment structuring or beat any regulatory or legal contractual creations or issuances of those digital securities is taken care by STOKR in that sense.

Tony Zayas 9:16
So, since STOKR’s truly a pioneer in this space, I would love to hear about some of the hurdles that you guys faced. Because there’s a lot of complexity here. Everything from technology involved, regulations, compliance, all that kind of stuff. What are some of the challenges that you guys, you know, faced early on and how did you get past that?

Arnab Naskar 9:42
I think one of the biggest challenge for us is this is still technologically driven product and it’s complex, technologically driven product. Blockchain products are still not so much easy to be used by a lot of people. So it’s still for a niche audience. In that sense. It is a niche audience in terms of the investors under investing on STOKR as well as for the companies that are raising money on STOKR, right. So that’s I think one of our biggest challenge is kind of the scalability for everyday people. I don’t think struggle is a platform where, you know, grandma can come and like the product and invest. It’s complex, you know, we, this is also philosophically what we believe, you know, if I try to make it simple interaction with Blockchain, I take out the fundamental philosophy of decentralization, or, you know, self sovereignty. Right, the moment I tried to bring this element of, you know, beautiful interface, very easy to use, I effectively controlling their private key of managing their wallet or managing the asset, and that really, you know, take us to the web 2.0 solution that we’re having. So what we’re trying to do is and web 3.0, right, the products the product, where you know, it’s not about username and password, but it also has a wallet connected to it, it has some private keys that you have to manage. So technically, you are managing your assets. Let me make it much more simple. Maybe for some of your audience. It may go, you know, kind of quiet in like interesting in your talk, right. Let me give you a prime example here. Last year, we saw this Gamestop saga that happened right, when the Gamestop, AMC and those stocks went off charts because of some Reddit comments and Reddit subreddits groups, right. And when those people were trying to train those dogs in the Robin Hood and others, and they’re trying to withdraw money at Robin Hood stopped it completely. And there were a lot of people, you know, afraid and they were crying. They said, Robin, I don’t know why you’re doing it. You’re a centralized gatekeeper. It’s my money, let me try it. What effectively happens is when you are as an investment, you hold stocks, and you think, Okay, I am an investor, I hold my apple stocks, you do not hold your apple stocks directly. You hold that Apple stocks through a broker, the broker holds to another broker or some other entities, and that entity may hold to another entities. So you may see there may be three, four middleman before the stocks are being hauled with some DTDC kind of CSD entities, right? What problem it creates is you don’t have an access to your own assets. If you’re an X investor in Apple, you don’t have a real, right in that sense, when you don’t have the ownership. That is a reason Gamestop withdrawal when you want to withdraw from Robin Hood, Robin Hood can deny, because the stocks are with Robin Hood, not with you. What we are proposing and that’s when the web three or the decentralized blockchain based technology can help is we give you the real asset ownership into your own blockchain wallet. So you don’t like Robin Hood, you withdraw in a wallet and go to another exchange the same way you can do with your Bitcoin, right? You don’t like let’s say Coinbase, you withdraw from that and you go to Kraken, or you go to FBX. And this gives asset ownership, the same philosophy you want to bring in the stock market is you need the asset ownership of your own securities. And this is I think, fundamentally what we’re trying to do. So this is actually one of our biggest challenge. That means when we are trying to enforce that, technologically, it’s not easy to understand for a lot of people. But we are also quite happy because we are seeing a very interesting user group in our on our platform, from Egypt, you know, 20 to 40, out of that kind of the generation that will actually be working in the next 20-30 years. And these guys will be actually getting deep into the blockchain and crypto assets much more over the period. So we are quite also happy to support that audiences. And we would like to also grow with that audience in the initial days, rather than making the product for everybody from the day one.

Andy Halko 13:35
So what was the beginning stages for you? Like? How did you actually formulate the product? And you know, what, what did it look like to truly create this startup?

Arnab Naskar 13:49
I think when we started the journey, but one interesting part, which you want to try to address is, you know, it’s a complex product in terms of tech. So how can we make the tech user for the user friendly in that sense, right? How user can go into the platform, understand what to do the next what to where to find the documents, what to read, and then become mindset. Because if you see most of the investment platforms, if you have signed some investment documents, there are 600 Pages document, you don’t know what you’re reading, right? And effectively doesn’t give you any information, right is all the risks warning. So we try to make a product that gives you an understanding of what you’re really investing in, and what are your real financial rights that you are getting. So this is was actually one of our key focus was to make the platform as transparent and as informative as possible. Both from a legal side both from a technological side, both from user interface side and the SEC. And the second part we wanted to make you know to make investments simple because simplicity is often overlooked. And this is what we try to always achieve because though it’s a complex tech, if we try to add can make it simple, more and more people will use because investment is fundamentally what we need to In today’s world where inflation is going off charts, right, you have to think of your own money, banks are not going to think about your wealth, right? They’re not going to give you an interest and your money doesn’t will not earn right now, if it’s put in the bank account, right. So everybody in the world need to understand investments and need to understand alternative assets and where they can invest and grow their return right, as similar hedge hedge fund will do all kinds of private asset manager will do. And to make it accessible for a lot of people. To do that, we have to make it simple. And this is, I think, the two main challenges the two main things we wanted to focus on when we started the company. The third point is legal and regulation, right? Product livestock are, cannot run or operate if it’s not in the regulated environment. So we tried to find a regulated environment in Europe, because Europe has a very interesting growing demographics, who also understand crypto and also who are interested in digital assets. And we also found a lot of professional investors outside Europe, non US, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and others. They’re also interested in those kinds of investments. So we try to understand what kind of regulation will be suitable for those kind of investors to come in. And there’s a reason also to choose Luxembourg, because Luxembourg has a very strong financial market globally. If you see the PayPal, Amazon, all of these countries, or all of these companies are operating in Europe, from Luxembourg, that gave a very strong jurisdiction for this kind of products to operate from there. So these are the main three points that we wanted to focus on when we started the journey for STOKR.

Tony Zayas 16:33
So on Arnab, I’d love to just shift gears just a little bit to hear a bow the founder dynamic, because I believe you I know that we were gonna have your one of your co founders on joining today. But I believe I thought I heard you saying that there’s others involved as well. So what is the dynamic work? Like? What are the roles that each of you play in the business?

Arnab Naskar 16:56
So when I started, like, I was the actually one who talked to most of the founders. So I tried to, you know, bring the people together and started this entire conversation of, you know, hey, let’s create something. And then I was quite fortunate also, for others to agree on this crazy idea which I pitched that time and said yes to it, right. And they had all of the like, all of them had the daily jobs. And they left that and we started this vision. And I think one interesting aspect is what we were focusing on the initial laser company was being formed. And, you know, the company has already for quite some years and Touchwood, we don’t have that much of founder disagreement, which a lot of companies usually face in the early days. And the reason I think one interesting things, which we really try to focus inside the company is a trust and element of accountability, right? We have, we try to avoid a CEO title, because the smaller companies have 20-30 people doesn’t necessarily need a CEO, but effectively kind of a lead for different pillars. So we have a business lead, we have a tech lead, we have a regulatory lead, and we have an economic and finance lead. So what we effectively do is each person has a very strong competence in their domain, like I am responsible for strategic and business development activities of STOKR, to be as my co founder who couldn’t join unfortunately, because of his family obligation today, he is responsible for product as well as the regulatory aspect of STOKR, we have my co founder to be a Luca screamer, he’s much more from the tech side, a techie guy into the tech space for quite some years, 15 years right now, and also a very strong blockchain developer, he’s focused on the tech and what provides us, you know, all this kind of competences is everybody knows what they’re doing it and everybody is accountable for any actions that they’re taking. And this really helps you the company to rely on each other’s decision. But definitely we discuss, we try to deliberate, we have our own opinions on standings, but we don’t try to overstep on each other. So what we try to do is, you know, everybody has their own competencies, let them take the lead, let them take the action, if they want opinion, we are happy to give them support or something like that, but ultimate call it to come from that leader, who is leading the department specifically.

Tony Zayas 19:10
And just given the, you know, this is an innovation, you know, based business that you guys have, how, how did you? How did the team of founders come together? Or how do you do this on an ongoing basis to plan out your strategy? And figure that out? And what is the roadmap look like? And how do you get from A to B? Like, how do you guys work together? What is that kind of working dynamic? So the, the lanes are clear that everyone’s you know, focused on their core competencies, but how do you guys focus on the strategy and envision of business?

Arnab Naskar 19:48
So initial days, Tony, and we both like, you know, it was very challenging for us, you know, we never worked before together if we were not the best friends, so we don’t know the dynamics and the emotions. We which everybody works. So it was a bit challenging. Adding to that the company a STOKR, like we from day one, we always were remote first, we were never sitting together, we were all working in their own offices. And that makes it you know, more challenging, you know, thanks to Slack and those kinds of digital tools we manage, but it was always a big pain point. later down the line, we discovered OKR objectives and key results, which is a fantastic tool a lot of companies are using in the tech space, which helps us to align, you know, kind of an annual goal, and then we divide in various cycles. And then what we do is we do monthly check ins, and then quarterly check ins are those kinds of things that really allows, you know, the collectively for the team to see, okay, what is the final aim of the company, how we can achieve that, what are the key results and how we can achieve and how we kind of accomplish those kinds of key results with a specific period. And that helped quite a lot. You know, I was bringing a lot of my founder friends in the industry, and many of them have got a lot of good results out of using OKR, and we thought, okay, why not give it a try. And to be honest, it really helped quite a lot, to really align what we are doing. And because at the end of the day, let’s say even an intern is joining STOKR and working on some specific marketing activities. Fundamentally, that person can also see what his or her activities are resulting to, and which field action and what is the progress accompanies developing because of that, this is very interesting information for them, because they also feel a part of the entire journey, because it’s an organization which cannot run without all the pillars and all the tentacles working in the same tuning, right. And this is why I think the using the tools like OKR, and others really helped in the company. And we are trying to, you know, incorporate much more in a granular level over the period, because we think it’s a very interesting tool to be used in any kind of ecosystem. But also, what we learned in a lot of companies, and when I was talking to some of the founders that mentioned is, you know, when you have six people, or 15 people or something OKR is not suitable, because it’s for a big organization like something like this. And I spoke to some people who have already used it for, I would say, five, 6, 10 years. And they mentioned earlier, you use such kind of tools. Even if you’re at five people, or six people or seven people, the earlier you use, the better it is because once your company is at 40-50, then if you try to incorporate this kind of elements into your business, there will be a revolution internally, because people are not used to it and those kinds of structures. So it’s very hard to incorporate. So I would advise in this case, anybody looking into the space, anybody starting a business is incorporate such kind of tools as early as possible into your business operation. Because once it is there, once it’s a part of your DNA, it was as a part of your culture. It’s easier to scale there.

Andy Halko 22:45
Yeah, I would totally agree with that. I think building some sort of system, whether it’s OKR, there’s EOS and other ones is just really important, because it keeps everybody accountable. One thing I’d be curious about, you mentioned about where your focus right now geographically, and so what was your original plan, and then what has has unfolded as you built the business?

Arnab Naskar 23:12
So for us, it was very important. You know, we started the company by bootstrapping, in the initial days. So we did not take an external funding immediately, we took it once we saw a clearer vision, what we want to achieve and those things. So for us, it was important, you know, to try and explore the product market fit at the least possible expense without raising too much money. And without spending too much money, just try to achieve the product market fit as early as possible. So we tried to see what our legal costs can be reduced, because most of our costs, we were assuming that point of time, was regulatory licenses and legal, not from a tech point of view that much but much more on the legal and regulatory. And that made our conscious choice that okay, we are sitting in the European market operating from Luxembourg, operating from Berlin, operating from Hamburg. So why not we focus on the European market to start with. And as we scale as our demand will increase as the products will be, you know, much more popular in the market. We explore different markets. That was kind of our strategy and this is a still a strategy inside the company.

Andy Halko 24:15
And did it unfold that way? Because it sounded like you had mentioned earlier that maybe wasn’t quite focused on the UE now. Eu now or so has it unfolded that way or has there been hiccups?

Arnab Naskar 24:29
So initially when we started in 2018 18, 19, I would say until 20, we were very much concentrated in the European market both for retail investors as well as for professional investors of qualified investors. Later on down the line in 2021, we opened for other markets for professional investors only like in Hong Kong like in Taiwan like a Singapore. They are we do not support retail investors. But definitely we can take professional investors. We’re also looking into the US market at the moment to see how we can expand into that market maybe with some strategy partnerships are made with some strategic acquisition. So this is kind of definitely one thing, which we’re looking into. And we are definitely unfolding with the same strategy. Also, I think one interesting thing, which we also learned over the period during the years is, when you’re expanding to a new market, it’s always important to have a strategic partner. And ideally, it is good to have that person in your cap table, or maybe very closely connected, because it’s not always easier for anybody to start from scratch immediately from the new market. And that makes it much more for smaller companies very hard to start in a new market. So why not partner with some existing player and see what is the demand for your product in that market, if there is a demand, if there is scale, then you think how you can scale in that market, or you can, you know, strategically acquire or do something better. But like, for me personally, also, and also the company, we really don’t want to, you know, spend full resources and enter into market and take the lessons later on, rather, you know, do a baby steps and enter the market very slowly, maybe that will also lose some of the revenues, I understand that. downside to that. But that actually also protects you from any, you know, kind of disaster in your organization. Because any expansion suddenly, and that contraction can create a lot of stress in your organization. And that can decrease the morale of all the people who are working. So that’s kind of the learning that we usually usually like, consider when we are trying to, you know, expand to a new market.

Andy Halko 26:27
So along those lines, one of the things we speak to founders on the show, and, you know, the question is always how do you find those initial customers, those initial, you know, folks that are going to join the marketplace? You know, what was your strategy to get the first X number of folks on and confident that this would be a good, good solution for them?

Arnab Naskar 26:49
So STOKR has been structured as a marketplace and marketplace is fundamentally very, very hard to pull it off, right? A lot of investors these days doesn’t want to touch a marketplace, because they think, okay, yeah, you have to first create a demand side, then you have to create a supply side. And that’s kind of a chicken and egg situation, who comes first. And whom you fund to focus on right? What strategy we took, we took much more from the demand side, where we said, Okay, if we have good quality companies and projects raising capital on stocker, and those companies are nowhere else investor has to come to participate in those offerings. And we did a very interesting product with one of our client who’s based in Canada as well as in US called Block stream. And we launched a product that is a bond is a debt instrument, which provides you access to the Bitcoin mining. Now, if you know Bitcoin, Bitcoin is created by my activity called mining and the Bitcoin mining can be very profitable, you know, it’s a one of the most profitable industry in the crypto space at the moment. But that industry is being accessible only by a handful of companies and a handful of investors. So we try to open the market for a lot of investors. And till date, that offering has raised over 40 million on STOKR, from an investor base of over 80 people. And whenever we launch an offering of five to 10 million of that bond or note on the platform, it gets finished or it gets subscribed within a matter of few hours, because there’s a huge demand of that product. So, we really try to focus on the product side what kind of offerings coming we do not allow everybody to come on the platform and offer so we keep a control on the quality and what the quality is there and the investor see how Okay, there is a good quality products that are raising the capital on STOKR that are raising that are willing to also give a good return, then the investors come in. So this is how we are managing the issue of this you know, dilemma of a marketplace, you know, who comes first?

Tony Zayas 28:46
It’s great. Arnab, I would love to hear your thoughts on other innovations that you foresee. Or maybe you’re actually are seeing early stage just roughly in the space, just in the blockchain and alternative asset space. Not only due to like technology maturation just but where we’re at in the world, things that are going on. It’s a super interesting space that I think a lot of people are interested in. Due to your work and involvement there would love to get you a little bit of your perspective of where you see things going.

Arnab Naskar 29:25
I think fundamentally, we are seeing an interesting global phenomena at the moment because of all this Russia and Ukraine conflict and this may change. Some people also say we are kind of closing the era of globalization and we are going back in the wheels I’m not sure how much we can say that but definitely there is a significant deviation from the principle of globalization you know one product for all the market, there may be product for specific geographies and this is will come and then I see the role of digital assets right role of digital assets like Bitcoin stable coins, like USD better. There’s also kind of, you know, other payment infrastructure based on blockchain. So, I think there are a lot of innovation, interesting innovation happening in the Bitcoin space itself. Because if you see the global tech stocks kind of went down, but bitcoin price did not go so much down, that means there is kind of a demand that is keeping the price up. And the price also went up very recently, right. So that’s an asset class, many of the developing countries may rely on to store their value of the wealth, because imagine, like I’m coming from India, inflation will soon hit double digit. In most of the countries like in Turkey and others, it’s already kind of, you know, 300 persons, something like that inflation happened in last two, three years right at to get away from the inflation or to save your money, or to save your savings, you need some assets that are easy to hold that and easy to transfer, if any political situation changes, and that are also liquid that you can trade immediately and convert the value. And I think Bitcoin has a very strong value proposition in that sense. So I think a lot of innovations will happen in the Bitcoin space, specifically. And this is, I think, a very fantastic space to look into it. The other things, which is also happening, the stable coin, that is the Tetteh, USDC. And if you see, you know, when this kind of war situation happening, even Ukrainians see a lot of Ukrainians are coming to Berlin now, because of the war there. And they are carrying their money not only in, you know, bank account in euros, something like that, on USD, they carrying their blockchain wallets with stable coins in it, because it’s easy to carry, right. And it’s also they can come here and then pay it. And this is very interesting thing, you know how technology can enable them because they don’t have to rely on a bank account. They don’t have to rely on centralized middleman, they have the full ownership of the money where they’re coming out. It’s a very interesting perspective. So I think a lot of innovations will happen in that space. We’re also seeing a lot of discussions regarding web three. Regarding the metaverse concept, you see, Facebook tried to already steal the concept of meta, change the name, but I’m a little bit skeptical, you know, social media company coming into the metaverse, but I’m much more seeing the gaming companies, you know, this half live this, you know, all this kind of gaming metaverses that is already the people are using, they can actually come and they can be very interesting space for people to hang out people to you know, showcase their products kind of virtual life people can live in. So that’s an interesting space I’m very interested in also am looking at much more interested in the space segment, the suborbital satellites, and those kinds of things, because more and more this war, and I would say international conflicts will increase, people may rely on kind of satellite services people can rely on, you know, alternate communication solution and that industry can’t provide. So these are three things which I can see very interesting to watch out in the next couple of years in the investment space, and this is very interesting where STOKR become relevant is the vision for us is more and more, you know, people are looking for an alternative asset, not only to save or preserve their wealth, but also to grow their wealth. And then I think the asset classes like you know, music royalties can be very interesting. Let’s say for example, today in, in Ukraine, people may still, you know, listen to a song from Bob Dylan, if the internet is working, they can go to Spotify and listen, right? So that song will still make a revenue. So those kinds of assets are non correlated assets. And that can provide a good return and good value for money. Also, this kind of, you know, equity of a gaming company, this kind of small and medium sized companies, we have a very interesting bakery, French bakery in Dubai, that is raising money on STOKR. So it’s kind of interesting businesses, which are kind of mom and pop, they will not be a unicorn, but they will definitely be a zebra in their own market. So these kinds of products can also provide an interesting return. So I see there is also kind of a trend for this kind of alternative investment markets to also really grow in the coming years.

Tony Zayas 33:50
So you touched on them a little bit, but where do you see Stoker’s growing in the next? You know, three years? What’s the vision? What is the game plan? And what are you guys looking to do?

Arnab Naskar 34:05
So for stock one, I think one interesting aspect is we were initially focusing on last couple of years to issue innovative assets that are providing very good amount of return to the investors. And now what we’re trying to do is connecting with as many secondary markets or digital asset exchanges, where people can trade those assets and get liquidity. So in the next couple of years, our focus will be provide the liquidity for the existing issued assets. And this will bring the actually the entire willing to live because if more and more assets are willing to come, they need a marketplace to be traded and get liquidity. And this is what we’re trying to build. So I would say next two, three years once we set up this interesting market for the primary issuances, and the liquid secondary market, I would expect more and more companies will be using that and we will have more and more volumes. So in the next two or three years. Our aim is to at least reach two to 3 billion assets under management, at least the volume that we’re processing, because more and more volume processed by STOKR means more and more companies are willing to raise money and more and more investors and also getting return. So that’s kind of our kind of focus at the moment

Andy Halko 35:13
So going back a second to what you were talking about with some of these technologies, I’m kind of curious for our other founders that are starting new businesses that may be in the SaaS and technical space. But maybe they don’t know about, you know, as much with Bitcoin and NFT’s and web 3.0. What do you think they should be paying attention to? You know, and how do you think they potentially should look at, you know, what they should be integrating with or exploring into, if they’re not into the space?

Arnab Naskar 35:47
I think if you’re definitely into web 2.0, let’s say a SaaS, founder or anything that is regarding anything, internet, you know, you cannot close your eyes on the blockchain space, because how people are signing in and logging in, will change. Now you can sign in with your Google account, let’s say right, but in future, and today, it serves a lot of platforms, you can log in with your blockchain wallet, that essentially your own identity in that sense, right. So there needs to be some strategy, how you’re integrating, because that’s an audience that will grow, that will get mature that already has generated a lot of capital, you know, that kind of very interesting target audience. So there needs to be a strategy, how you can also connect and create a bridge to that audience. So I would say this, this shouldn’t be a part of a strategy because everything in digital format will be some way or the other tokenized in some format. And this will provide you an opportunity that once you have the integrations and understanding and the roadmap already in your product, you can actually integrate with the right players and the right products, and then target the right audiences, which is kind of niche for that specific industry. So this shouldn’t be definitely a part of strategy. If you’re launching or if you’re already having a running product and a successful product in the web 2.0 SaaS space.

Andy Halko 37:02
Yeah, I find that really interesting with the authentication piece, because that’s something I wasn’t aware of. And I think that opens up a lot of opportunities for these web 2.0 companies, to at least start maybe dabbling in this space. I guess the one thing I would be curious about is there are so many different platforms and solutions, you know, do you see consolidation coming? Or is it just going to get more, you know, diverse and distributed?

Arnab Naskar 37:30
I think it will change, I would just also add to what I mentioned, and the you know, the marketing also, I think will change quite a lot how we market currently the products because imagine when you see somebody’s wallet, like my Etherium wallet are my crypto wallet or something. And everything which I do is publicly visible. So you can really create a profile is what I like what I don’t like. So you can make a very targeted marketing, which is not possible in the web. 2.0. Right. It’s a very interesting tool. A lot of SaaS founders, a lot of you know, business founders in digital space doesn’t talk about, but it has a huge potential that we will see in the coming days. Regarding what was your product? Like? Like what like, what is the question on that point? Can you repeat Andy the question? Sorry, I lost the track.

Andy Halko 38:11
It’s more that it feels like the blockchain space, you know, NFT there’s so many different platforms coming up and different coins. And it just feels so I mean, I think for someone that’s not in it every day, it feels like there’s just so many different directions to look. And I’m just kind of curious to the point that we web 2.0 person should be paying attention to it. You know, one, where should I look? Since it is so much do you see potential consolidation of that? Or do you think it’s going to continue to get more dispersed?

Arnab Naskar 38:47
I don’t think we have reached the time like or the right timeframe for the consolidation the market is still exponentially growing and this will grow because more and more you know interesting ideas, interesting products are being experimented on. Yeah, there may be you know, consolidation in the NFT space, but consolidation of the web 3.0 will take some time, maybe the consolidation of the exchanges will take some time. So I will not say we have reached the era of consolidation yet. Regarding why the founders need to look into it. It depends on the business model which they are operating right. There is no single space where, you know, they can look into, let’s say, for example, if you’re a gaming founder, I would say definitely look into web Metaverse idea or NFT ideas, right? If you’re into the SaaS platform, maybe this login credentials, how you can enable that how you can get that audience. If you’re into the business of let’s say, just a normal simple software’s or something. Can you provide kind of NFT’s for engagement of your user base engagement of you know, office employee or something. So it very much depends on what business you’re in. But whichever business vertical you’re in, there is always a touch point. So it’s important to understand which touch point is relevant for you.

Andy Halko 39:59
It’s fantastic.

Tony Zayas 40:02
Arnab, before we move kind of into our last couple of questions here, where can our viewers and listeners go to learn more about STOKR maybe find out and connect with you?

Arnab Naskar 40:16
So you can reach out to STOKR.io, S T O K R.io, maybe it will be visible somewhere on your platform. Or maybe on the YouTube videos, if it’s there, you can put in the description, you can reach out to there, see the platform, if you have any questions, write us an email at Hello AGL at STOKR.io We usually respond very fast if you are following also us on social media, like telegram like on you know, Twitter or on Instagram. We’re also responding quite fast. So please feel free to ping us if you have any questions or you want to work with us. Or maybe you know, any that you want to explore any collaboration, we’re happy to always discuss.

Tony Zayas 40:53
Awesome, that’s fantastic.

Andy Halko 40:55
Great. So I’m always curious from our founders, if you were able to go into the past, before you started the business and have coffee with yourself, what’s the one piece of advice that you would give?

Arnab Naskar 41:11
So one piece of advice if I have to change something, right?

Andy Halko 41:15
Yeah, or, you know, you’re just going back and you’re talking to yourself before you started, like what’s the one nugget of wisdom that you would provide to your past self.

Arnab Naskar 41:24
I think one interesting thing, which I want to really tell my you know, future selves, or whatever you call it is the past selve something is, it’s good to be slow it good to be, you know, take time and relax and understand, really understand that pain point and product and then nudge the product properly. because entrepreneurship is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. And to be in the marathon, you need to really be patient, because I think what pays off at the end of the day is how patient you are, and how come and, you know, conservative, like how we structured you are and this comes in the terms of patients how patient you are in the market. And this I see is quite interesting practice, you know, this lot of founders have an under look or often, you know, Mister look at that, often they don’t consider is entrepreneurship takes a lot of patience, a lot of you know, time, you know, time is a very key aspect here, right? So it’s not something wrong if you’re taking six years, seven years time to create a proper business model. But you have to be very much in a patient that a lot of times, you know, in the early days, you want to make something in two years or three years. And then you burn out all your money all your you know, spirit, kind of all your employees resources. And sometimes you may not be in the right time and the right market. Maybe your market is coming for few years. Have you ever been in the market for a few more years? You could have make it a lot of people, you know, misjudged that part. So this I would say definitely one is wisdom, I would have given to myself, and this was I think one of the biggest challenges also this market is growing. This market is definitely growing at not, you know, the fastest speed as we like, but it’s growing. If I see from zoom in situation, like sometimes we have to do a zoom out, right? We always try to see in 12 months, eight months, nine months, but see from zoom our situation, what we have done in five years, six years down the line that shows a fantastic result. So this is I think one interesting learning I also had in the recent days. And yeah, I would have loved to toll like dealt with this before when I started my journey.

Tony Zayas 43:27
That’s fantastic. Well, awesome. Thank you so much. This has been really interesting. You guys are doing some fantastic work and we’re rapidly changing space, a lot of innovation and things you’re bringing to light. So we really appreciate that. Keep up the good work. Thanks again for your time here today for our audience. Thanks, everyone for tuning in and join us again next time. We’ll see you then. Take care, everybody.

Arnab Naskar 43:54
Thank you, Tony. Thanks, Andy. Pleasure.

Andy Halko 43:55
Thank you.

Arnab Naskar 43:56
See you everybody.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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