d10e The leading conference on decentralization

by Alex Lightman. February 5, 2018

John Maxwell is the most prominent author on leadership. Maxwell claims that the highest standard of leadership, reached by only 1% of leaders is Level 5 leadership. Level 1 is based on your position. Level 2 is acceptance by followers. Level 4 is a leader who creates not just followers, but other leaders. Level 5 leaders are those who develop leaders who, in turn, develop leaders.

When I think of this with respect to the Blockchain ecosystem, I think of two partners the d10e conferences, Brock Pierce and Mike Costache. Pierce has made investments in over 150 companies and is the chairman of Bitcoin Foundation.

I have known Mike Costache since 2001, when I hired him and his firm to assist with investment banking. Today as I was completing this article I coincidentally received a message from him in which he recounted the details. He has a great memory and even greater loyalty, in my experience.

I think the success of any field depends on the quality of leadership development, and that ICO Crowd readers would enjoy and benefit from a glimpse of a Blockchain industry organizer who keeps innovating in ways that allow new leaders to be seen, win prizes, get funding, and make friendships at cities all over the world.

Here are Mike Costache’s answers to my questions.

  • Q. How many d10e events have you organized?

    A. 12 since 2014 of which six were in 2017.

  • Q. What are the next ones?

    A. d10e Calendar:
    Dec 9-12: d10e Ljubljana (13th edition)
    Dec 14-17: d10e Bucharest (14th edition; 2nd in Bucharest)
    Jan 23-26: d10e Davos (15th edition; 2nd edition in Davos) during WEF
    Jan 27-30: d10e Cayman Islands (16th edition)
    Feb 9-13: d10e Whistler/Vancouver (17th edition)
    Feb 15-19: d10e Silicon Valley (18th edition)
    March 3-6: d10e Seoul (19th edition)
    March 17-20: d10e Panama City (20th edition)
    March 24-27: d10e Tokyo (21st edition)
    April 7-10: d10e Astana (22nd edition)
    April 19-22: d10e Cape Town (23rd edition)
    May 12-15: d10e Malta (24th edition)
    May 26-29: d10e Tel Aviv (25th edition; 2nd in Tel Aviv)
    June 9-12: d10e Toronto (26th edition)
    June 23-26: d10e Bodrum (27th edition)

  • Q. How many ICO/TGE pitches have you heard at these events?

    A. We usually receive 100 applications per event. We accepted 26 in Kyiv, 18 in Gibraltar, 23 in Davos and we’ll have about 20 at each of the last two editions for 2017 In Ljubljana and Bucharest.
    These were the official pitches but everyone who buys a ticket comes to pitch me and everyone else they can. I get 100 requests per day via LinkedIn to hear someone’s pitch.

  • Q. How long is a typical pitch?

    A. 5 minutes pitch + 5 minutes for Q&A but the presenter is allowed to take the entire 10 minutes to pitch. 80% do.

  • Q. Why do people come to pitch?

    A. Because everyone is doing it.
    No, just kidding. Well, people come to pitch at conferences to find investors, but before that materializes, pitching is a great way to fine tune one’s business model from all the feedback received and there are often all sorts of business development opportunities that surface from folks with complementary business models.
    They get exposure on the website of the event producer for indexing in search engines.
    Pitching is essential to satisfy the standard question asked by investors doing due diligence: “Which events have you pitched at?”
    People who pitch can possibly win a title. Winning First Place always brings good PR value and injects energy into the team.
    Pitchers can possibly win 1/3 of the investment pool prize provided by members of the Blockchain Investors Consortium (BIC) at each of our events since September, our 9th edition since 2014.
    Pitchers can hopefully befriend and win the hearts (and wallets) of the judges and other investors at the conference and down the road secure an even bigger investment from them Pitchers get real feedback from real investors whom they may otherwise never reach

  • Q. How much money have you given to the winners of ICO pitch contests? Is that the most of any conference organizers?
    A. 100 BTC in Kyiv (Sept 19) – 58 BTC out of that is my money $100,000 in Gibraltar (Oct 31) $250,000 in Davos (Nov 14)

    We have a guaranteed $100,000 investment pool prize for each of the next 16 editions from December until June 2018. But as each edition approaches, more and more of the 110 members of BIC decide to participate as judges and thus chip in 5-10 BTC each.

    The reason that we did the first prize in BTC and the next two in USD is because I tried to see how the media and potential presenters react when I promote the final figure of the investment prize in BTC or in USD. A/B testing is a best practice.Actually, for the Gibraltar edition, I didn’t have time to chase after investors like I did for the Kyiv edition, so I advertised no cash prize and still had 100 apply just like when I advertised 100 BTC.

    At the Saturday night dinner (in Gibraltar on Oct 28) for BIC’s members, I met the newest member, a 44-year old Canadian who had a few nice exits from previous businesses and is now a philanthropic donor and super angel investor. When I told him that I was so busy over the past two weeks since the Kyiv edition and didn’t get a change to ask members of BIC to chip in again for the prize money pool, he offered to put up $100,000 and take the tokens in the top 3 winners at the pitch competition, which was coming up in two days.

    Now, what is interesting is that if you take 100 BTC + the $100,000 in BTC on the day it was sent to me and you take the $250,000 when it was sent to me and the $100,000 for each of the next two editions as we close 2017, well… you actually get $1.5 million at today’s BTC value.

    So, from this point of view, d10e is no longer just a conference for finding out the latest about blockchain and ICOs, but a facilitator of investments and a PR machine for the top three winners of each edition who now advertise that they have these well-known crypto funds and individuals as part of their shorttail backers. This is a great stamp of approval and validation in the eyes of crypto retail investors.

  • Q. What does it feel like to give that money to the people who pitch? What sorts of things do they say to you?

    A. Firstly, we are not giving the money just because they pitched and received one of the top 3 scores. The presenter provides tokens at pre-ICO terms to our investors who are judging with their own money once or twice per month at our d10e events.
    As of February, it will be two per month. I envision the cryptocurrency market capitalization to surpass $1 Trillion in the next 6-12 months and I envision one edition of d103 per week for the second part of next year. So, we will close the year with 8 editions (14 over the past 3 years). Next year I predict 25-35 editions.
    And yes, we are hiring additional staff and preparing for such craziness where Brock Pierce and I will be giving our welcoming speeches via holograms.

  • Q. What does winning a pitch contest do for the winners?

    A. Winners receive huge PR and the ability to say that they secured an investor from these well-known crypto funds. And the money is well-received as well, of course. BlockV, for example, had 224 media mentions with a potential viewership of 85 million eye balls as a result of the press release announcing that they won. Out of $22 million they raised over their 90-day campaign (pre-ICO and ICO), close to $2 million was raised as a result of this PR. Now, that’s powerful.

  • Q. How much money has been raised by people who pitched at your events?

    A. Over $750 million

  • Q. What do the best pitches have in common? Steve Covey wrote a book entitled the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If you replace “people” in that title with “ICO pitchers”, what would those seven habits be?
    1. Great CEO and team
    2. Solving a big societal problem
    3. Being original
    4. Having first-mover advantage
    5. Having the right advisors
    6. Having enough personal capital or angel money raised to get the engines revving (it always takes money to raise money)
    7. Timing is everything
  • Q. Who should do an ICO?

    A. Anyone who wants the ride of their lives while raising capital through the most innovate financial instrument ever invented.

  • Q. Who should not do an ICO?

    A. ICOs are not for the light hearted

  • Q. May I reprint your KrowdMentor checklist? If so, can you tell us about it? It’s very generous of you and your colleagues to make this available. Why are you so generous?

    A. Sharing is caring. Period and without joking.
    Yes, of course you may reprint it. I have already made it public on my social media profiles. I am generous because I went to a Pepperdine University where we have a beautiful quote from the Bible (disclaimer: I respect all religions but don’t practice any beside my own, which can be summarized in one word found in the dictionary: Karma) on the wall of the cafeteria high up in the mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean:”Freely you received…freely give!”
    Also, I am the president of Karma, a 12-year old business which did $32 million in sales from 400 events (tickets and sponsorship) and from the annual dues ($3,000) from approved members. We built a community of folks in 9 chapters around the world (planning to reach 50 chapters with at least 100 members each over the next few years). So, when you are part of a for-profit company, called Karma, you better live by the name of your firm.

  • Q. You are doing your own TGE for Karma. What can you tell us about it? How is it going? What are you going to do with the proceeds?

    A. We originally planned a $5 million pre-ICO over a 10-day period and although the entire amount was committed in writing within this short period of time, three major things happen which made our team decide to postpone the $20 million ICO, which we had planned for 10 days only:Karma’s 300 members from 30+ counties needed more time to learn about ICOs, tokens and the whole blockchain space prior to understanding what they are investing in.
    The handful of investors who were the biggest part of the $5 million were 100% planning to dump their discounted tokens as soon as the ICO was over and we had liquidity on various exchanges. BTH increased so much lately that many investors chose to sit on the fence and enjoy the appreciation of their coin rather than risk it in new ICOs.

  • Q. What is TaaS? How’s it going? Anything unusual that TaaS does?

    A. Token-as-a-Service (TaaS) is the first tokenized closed-end dedicated to investing in digital assets. TaaS is domiciled in Singapore while the operational office is in Kyiv, Ukraine where 24 of the hardest people in crypto create value each day by: – Daily trading the top 50 cryptocurrencies – Investing in the most promising ICOs ($4 million into 20 so far) – Incubating ventures which bring efficiency to the crypto trading space TaaS sold 8,146,000 tokens between March 27 and April 27, 2017 to 3,942 contributors and took on $7,569,373. Tokens started at $0.80 on the first day of the ICO and went up to $1 by the 30th day.
    The first fully-operational quarter (May 1 – Aug 1) finished with earnings of 4,723,111 UST(D)and paid 50% to its token holders, which comes out to 0.28 UST(D) per token. This equated to a 61% ROA. The team took in 25% of the earnings while 25% were added back into the fund so that it grows in perpetuity.
    The second fully-operational quarter (Aug 1 – Nov 1) finished with earnings of 5,470,78 UST(D) and paid out 50% to its token holders, which comes out to 0.33 UST(D) per token or 73% ROA. This provides a cumulative ROI of 133% for those who contributed to TaaS ICO.

  • Q. Beside co-founding your investment banking & advisory firm (KrowdMentor) alongside your college friend, Brad Yasar, and co-owning / co-chairing d10e alongside Brock Pierce, what other organizations did you found to help the blockchain space prevail?

    A. Blockchain Investors Consortium (BIC) – launched officially on Sept 16 at the 9th edition of d10e which was hosted in Kyiv Blockchain Exchanges Consortium (BXC) – to be officially launched on Dec 14 at the 14th edition of d10e hosted in Bucharest Blockchain Events Consortium (BEC) – launched officially at the 13th edition of d10e in Ljubljana Blockchain Advisors Consortium (BAC) – to be launched officially on Jan 23 at the 15th edition of d10e in Davos during the World Economic Forum.

  • Q. What is the Blockchain Investors Consortium?

    A. It is a private network of the top crypto hedge fund managers and individual investors in blockchain. We meet twice per month at the various d10e conferences where we have a private dinner the night before the event starts. Minimum requirements to join are $3 million in digital assets for structured funds and $1 million or more for individuals.

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