TraderCobb Interviews Juwan Lee Founder and CEO of Nexchange @ Consensus Blockchain Week – NY
If you haven’t heard of Juwan Lee, he is a name you will remember after listening to this podcast. He’s a Silicon Valley VC and Blockchain ICO Advisor with a ton of wisdom for the trading game.
G’Day guys, welcome to the Trader Cobb Crypto show today another amazing guest here, Juwan Lee, the founder and CEO of Nexchange. I’ve had a quick chat with right here. And there’s a huge amount of this guy’s doing within the space with his amazing team.
I can’t do the introduction, any justice whatsoever. Juwan thank you so much for being on the show. Appreciate your time. Could you just tell the listeners and viewers a little bit about yourself and what Nexchange is all about.
Sure, a little bit about myself. I’ve been in financial services as a money manager for 30 years. So I spent 13 years in the Silicon Valley. I funded companies like Netscape and Yahoo. Wow.
Yeah, so the early days and then also been in various different forms of managing money from VC, prop trading, hedge funds to running… My last position before doing a start up is Iran Shanghai’s largest asset management company. Yeah, so Nexchange is actually an interesting platform because it wasn’t actually envisioned from day one, it evolved.
Okay. So we are a innovation platform. We’re focused on FinTech and Sure tech, AI, Blockchain, health tech and smart cities. Why those areas we found those, they’re not verticals are actually specialties. They have they lend itself to be very growth oriented, but at the same time, covering them separately and very deep, gives a synergy of all of them together.
And what we do with this is that, you know, we have created a online to offline ecosystem. And that varies from events to having our own social network to having our own content platform. And then we do three things around that we either market invest or create products. Cool.
Well, I find it fascinating. Speaking to some of you. Obviously you’ve been around for a very long time not saying you’re old.
No, I’m not old. I’m young. you started your Yeah,
you’ve been across the wide spectrum that is financial services, but also in the tech world as well. I mean managing desks all the way across to investing in tech companies or startups being involved in Yahoo. It’s a huge, wide array of experience. Now, I want to know what brought you into the blockchain space.
Why the fascination here for the time being? Because I know it’s not just what you do. But obviously, it’s a very disruptive technology. Is this the reason why you are here? Or is that a further reaching ramifications for blockchain that maybe we all haven’t grasp yet, and you can see.
Well, I like to be very simple in my thought process. We’re looking at transformative technology. Whenever you look at anything that you know, whenever you look at companies that succeed, the most important thing is that, you know, is timing. Yeah.
So you can be the best management team and started in Blockchain 10 years ago, you would have failed. So we are looking for industries that are trending that are growing that are gaining acceptance. We bit we believe that blockchain is very transformative, because it’s not just the crypto enthusiasts anymore, but it’s now reaching beyond that.
Yeah. Okay. Now, with your projects at the moment, you’ve got offices all around the world at this stage. Is there any specific area you’re targeting? I know you talked about, I think you said healthcare, various other areas.
Is there an area right now that you’re seeing as the with the most potential or maybe it’s an area that hasn’t been utilized best in the space just yet you’re targeting that? Yeah, sure. So I mean, let’s talk, you know, specifically on blockchain, yeah, blockchain has applications in so many areas.
I would say the easiest way to think about it is just how do you get rid of the middleman. So, so that’s the easiest way, but that that point, I would say, involves, you know, looking at like an industry where there’s a lot of cost structures, and so many parties involved just to get something done.
So for us, we’re looking at a number of things. Like for example, we believe like the logistics industry. Doesn’t sound exciting, not sexy, but boy, it has so many middlemen in it. So many hands that touch it, so many multiple platforms, so many delays that could potentially happen, but most importantly fraud.
Yeah, so that’s when I were you know, I would say examples where we see a lot of benefits of blockchain. Another example is that we are we want to focus on real execution. Obviously, financial services was where predominantly all the blockchain execution is happening today.
I don’t know that most people know this, but in 2018 91% of the banks are planned to invest in blockchain. That’s huge. That is huge. Yeah, so this is a very big number. Why is that so vague is because they all feel that it is a part of where, you know, they want to be a part of technology.
But remember, they’re hypersensitive to being exposed to this technology that’s public. So most of what’s happening there is private Blockchain. Yeah. Consortium blockchain or Blockchain or just created for the bank themselves. Yeah.
So there are different ways to look at Blockchain. Blockchain may be to the general public one big word, but it’s split into so many sections. Yeah, well, look, one of the things that I find fascinating is a lot of the traditional market bankers are moving into the space, great example recently in Australia, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which is our largest bank.
It’s the big, big, big bank in Australia and their CFO has recently left the bank. The only CFO for one year with the CommonWealth Bank as far as CFO roles go, it doesn’t get bigger than that in Australia and being a CFO of the largest bank in our country. He’s moved across to a Hong Kong based company Block, block group or something like that.
I ca+n’t remember exactly. But he’s left there. And it’s a very big news in Australia right now. Coming back to the space. It’s evolution, what’s happening and we’re coming back to the banks. Are you seeing and obviously you must know a lot of people in the high place.
You’ve been around for a long time you’ve been in this world for a long time. Are you starting to see the shift? Maybe not so not so publicly but quietly moving into some of these blockchain companies because they are well funded. They are the next frontier and they’re very exciting places to be in working right now.
Well, I would even step back one step back, which is, if you look at what happened with FinTech, FinTech, again, most of the implementation of blockchain is happening in financial services. Yeah. So FinTech is very relevant when you talk about blockchain.
We saw veterans leave their positions in large banks, hedge funds, and you know, just very, you know, Wall Street type jobs. Yep. And move into being an entrepreneur. Now that has translated to what I say is the fastest growing area within the entrepreneurship I think is is Blockchain. Yeah.
So I see this as a big trend. And when you see high profile people moving from something traditional to like blockchain, what it does it makes it acceptable. Yeah. It creates a standard, and also is quite exciting for millennials to look at that and say, Look, they’re coming to us. It’s not… Yeah,
We got it right before they did. Yeah. And there’s definitely a lot of people that are sort of flying that banner at the moment. We are adapting and changing very, very quickly. We do talk about the issues that are arising within the space.
There’s all everyone’s always got something to say about issues that may hold us back. Now one of them recently that has been hitting a lot of press about a month or so ago was that Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining is going to wreck the world because of the amount of energy that takes to keep the network going and to keep it all working.
Now, my suggestion or my my comment on that it’s been well, you put the best brains in the world, and the most innovative space in the world to actually, for the most part, this this generation, this, this group of people, this industry has its heart in the right place.
It’s not just pure capitalist greed. There is a way that we can shape what’s going on for our future and a lot of people getting a hold that. Younger generations and older generation to take control.
Now, does that hinder our space as far as being a little bit? I don’t know, thinking less about capitalizing everything and more about your changing the world? Or is it really, really important we work hand in hand to create a better ecosystem and a better planet for us to work with?
Sure. So what you’re saying is greed versus good. Correct? Is it going to hinder us basically focusing too much on good? I think you have to have definitely a profitable model. I’ve been always told by people who are very successful philanthropists, it’s very hard to be a major philanthropist, when you haven’t actually figured out your own philanthropy or your own financial situation.
Right. So I think the best way to describe it is is that you have to create a healthy financial capitalistic model that allows for an industry to grow in a healthy fashion that it will exist far into the future. But at the same time, giving back a certain percentage or certain part so that it actually shapes many of the larger population to embrace the technology.
I would say that this is very important because really, you don’t want crypto to be just the 0.1%. You want it to be the 10% the 20%. For that to happen you have to have a cause just more than the greed. It has to beat the good. Yeah.
I think that’s a really good way of thinking. There’s gone are the days where it’s all about stamping on people and crushing them and moving over. I think it’s a much nicer way of doing things. It makes life a lot easier.
People want to have a good lifestyle these days. It’s not just about money for the most part. Well, at least I hope it’s not. And you talked about before that right now in the space of blockchain and cryptocurrency. That’s where we’re actually seeing use cases right now. Yes.
Obviously, we can transact we can still buy things with Bitcoin and various other tokens now. What are you seeing is being the next sort of industry that’s actually going to have the rubber hitting the road so to speak, what we can actually use it?
Well, right now, it’s largely being used in financial services. So today, blockchain is very different from one year from now blockchain. Because a lot of the funding that’s taking place today is for applications and industries outside of financial services. So today, we’re seeing in financial services, applications and trade, finance, you know, financial inclusion payments, you know, decentralize exchanges.
These are just kind of things that roll off my tongue of things that I see applications happening today in financial services. But tomorrow, I see so many interesting applications, the music industry. Yeah. The medical records industry. Yes that’s big too.
I would say the other industry that I see a tremendous amount of impact is even in the, you know, the leisure food industry. So these are not things that we would have kind of apply blockchain to in the more infant stages. But what we’re seeing also is this kind of virtual world combining with the real world. Yeah.
It was very hard to imagine that there was even a link between the two right? Now we’re seeing that it is completely tied together. And it’s hard to imagine that it isn’t. But in the very beginning when we only saw it in cryptocurrency was hard to imagine it was anything beyond just money and exchanging, you know, payments.
But now it’s really very you can touch it, feel it, when you can touch it, feel it, the broader population will get involved. Well, it’s very much like the internet when it first started, it was basically a directory service and people would I know most people were saying, one day you’ll be able to order your groceries and they’ll rock up though they’ll be delivered to your door.
You said they got mind-blowing. Come on, let’s, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. And now, one question I do have a lot of investors listen and watch the program and be would be absolutely fascinated as I would be drawn to understand.
Do you have any key principles that you look for when you’re looking to invest in any type of company? Are there is there top three things that must have? Or is there a pretty wide ranging scope when you’re looking at a project to actually fund or invest in?
Oh, absolutely. We look at three things. The top three things is that it has to be the timing. The trend. We believe that the wind should be behind you. The second is the management team, execution history. Have they done something remotely similar? Do they have the right team in place?
And finally, it’s about what we would call the actual product. Yeah. Because the product will evolve and change I can say that even about Nexchange. My vision of Nexchange is so different when I first started and what today is but I had surrounded myself with the right people. Yes.
We made decisions we pivoted along the path. So I would say the idea less important, the trend the most important, but the people right there in the middle are the glue that brings it together. Talking about execution there right?
Right ideas, right timing right execution. Because you can have the best idea in the world and the best team in the world but if the team can’t actually execute. If they just thinkers in a thinking space and they can’t actually execute that vision that they thought up then it’s just a story book right?
Well, I would even say it more simple. Idea one point execution 99. Yeah, I agree with that entirely. Yeah, absolutely. So mate, is there anything else that we want to cover in this? I mean, I’m really fascinated by what you do.
If you’ve been 30 years in the space, I asked every single guest, every single guest, you’ve been through the internet, you’ve created part of what’s still around the infrastructure that is still this is the biggest companies in in the world of Dot-com.
Are we in 1993, or we’re year 2000? Where are we, in the blockchain space if we compare it to the internet? Well, that’s an interesting question. I’ll put it into two things. In terms of the actual technology, we’re probably in ’95. ’95. In terms of the hype, we’re much more closer to 2000, probably ’98. Yeah okay.
So what happens generally, I always try to say this in a way that most technology, how they evolve. You have the hype curve, and then you have the reality curve. And the hype curve is right now, very high. Generally what happens is the hype curve comes down, the reality of the technology continues to move up.
And meet at some point in there, you intersect the two. Yep. But the technology have way more to develop. We’re in the first innings or the first quarter. But we have a little bit more hype than we should. But you know, and the reality of all of it is that, you know, this still has more room to grow in terms of hype and reality.
But definitely, there’s a lot of hype around it. So we’re sticking at ’95 or are we taking the other scale of the hot we bring it up a year? Where do you see? Well, that’s a good question. I would say you average somewhere between ’95 and 2000.
So that’s 1997 and a half. So we are sitting in 1997 July? Yes. Excellent. So who else or how else we find more information for the viewers and the listeners, about yourself and your project?
Well, you know, basically go on nexchange.com and it has everything that we do and I’m so thankful for you having me on the show. Beautiful New York, beautiful Rockefeller Center. That’s an amazing day and an amazing place. You’ve been an amazing guest. Thank you very much. I really apprecite your time Juwan. Thank you very much. Enjoy the program guys. Bye for now.