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Insight is a Resource: Why Sean Brown Likes Investing in Experts




Early-stage investing can be, for lack of a better word, tricky. As founder and CEO of investment firm GO VC and a serial business-starter himself, Sean Brown has been on both sides of the boardroom table during pitch meetings. And he’s built a 15-year investment career by seeing through the tricks and buzzy pitches. We connected with Sean Brown to find out what startup owners raising capital should know about the process from an investor’s perspective.

1. What are the main criteria for you to consider when investing in an early-stage company?

Investors need to balance a long-term vision of an idea or business’s potential with the short-term needs and risks that could prevent success. Sean Brown has found that two criteria have led to the most effective investments for GO VC. “First, my team and I need to be able to connect with the founders. If we don’t feel a certain level of synergy early on, it probably isn’t going to work later either,” Brown said. “And although every startup pitches some kind of solution, we prefer projects that create value by helping people, because those ideas tend to resonate more.”

2. What’s the biggest mistake you made and the most important lesson you learned since you started investing? 

Obviously, no investor hits a home run on every startup. But sometimes ventures that don’t pan out are more valuable in the long run because of the lessons they teach. This, Brown says, was an important lesson in itself. “In some of my early investments, the companies I worked with bit off more than they could chew, and I didn’t recognize that early enough,” Brown said. “One of the keys for GO VC has been supporting and staying involved with our startup partners, because applied expertise is a critical resource just like capital.”

3. What types of startups do you prefer to invest in?

Sean Brown and GO VC’s early investments were in the tech startup space, funding marketing, software, and other online-based companies. But that was due in part to Brown’s own experience in those fields, and the firm’s scope expanded organically as new opportunities appeared in other markets. “We prefer small, agile companies, and founders that are devoted and passionate about their projects,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t describe GO VC as a tech investor, especially now — we’ve evolved, and we’re working with businesses in a lot of different verticals.”

4. In your view, what value can startup accelerators add, and why?

Accelerators and business incubators can provide capital and development support for startups that are struggling to grow on their own. But the greatest benefit of those organizations is usually more personal, Brown said. “Accelerators are valuable, and for more than just funding,” Brown said. “We have our own incubation program at GO VC, and the most effective results from that have come from connecting people and building relationships. Other accelerators would probably say the same.”

5. What should startups think about before contacting a VC? What kind of questions impress you?

Entrepreneurs and new business owners who decide to raise capital may initially find themselves in unfamiliar territory. Common knowledge suggests presenting a transparent financial picture and realistic projections for growth. Brown recommends these steps too, but also points out that proving your industry expertise is an underrated aspect of getting an investor’s attention. “It’s always more satisfying to talk to people who know what they’re talking about, right? And not just in pitch meetings,” Brown said. “If someone can explain why a product or idea will succeed and not just how it works, it’s much more impressive, and the potential for growth is exponentially higher.

The idea of Bigtime Daily landed this engineer cum journalist from a multi-national company to the digital avenue. Matthew brought life to this idea and rendered all that was necessary to create an interactive and attractive platform for the readers. Apart from managing the platform, he also contributes his expertise in business niche.

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Business Strategies of Michael Gastauer




Michael Gastauer, a German billionaire and entrepreneur, has led Black Banx to remarkable heights with his innovative strategies in the digital banking sector. As the founder and CEO, his vision has transformed Black Banx into a significant player in the global financial industry, serving millions and revolutionizing banking practices. 

Gastauer’s approach has been distinctly customer-centric, focusing on solving real-world problems through accessible financial services. This strategy has not only captured a vast market share but also established Black Banx as a model of innovative fintech success.

Innovate Early and Often, Invest Strategically

Gastauer’s journey began with a robust foundation in the fintech sector, where he initially created and later sold a payment services company for US$480 million. 

This significant capital boost allowed him to invest in his next venture: Black Banx. Launched in 2014, Black Banx differentiated itself by offering real-time account opening and cross-border payment solutions to a global audience, addressing major inefficiencies in traditional banking. 

Gastauer’s foresight in identifying and investing in these key areas early on allowed Black Banx to scale quickly and efficiently. His strategy was clear: leverage high initial investment to accelerate growth and secure a substantial market presence before competitors could catch up.

Within a year of its inception, Black Banx expanded rapidly, reaching over 1 million customers. This was just the beginning, as the platform soon integrated cryptocurrency options, enhancing its appeal and utility for a broader client base. By the end of 2018, Black Banx was valued at US$9.8 billion, a testament to its rapid growth and the successful implementation of its business model. 

Gastauer’s bold move to integrate cryptocurrencies early in the game positioned Black Banx as a pioneering force in fintech, well ahead of traditional banks.

Pinpoint Problems and/or Challenges

One of the core components of Gastauer’s strategy was to tackle financial exclusion head-on. Black Banx made significant strides in offering banking solutions to the unbanked and underbanked, particularly in regions with limited access to traditional banking services. 

By leveraging technology and strategic partnerships with mobile network operators, Black Banx has been able to extend its reach and offer innovative banking solutions to millions worldwide. This strategic alignment with mobile operators has been crucial, as it taps into an existing infrastructure to reach remote areas, significantly lowering the cost of expansion.

The platform’s ability to facilitate quick, cost-effective international money transfers has been a game-changer, particularly in markets like the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. This not only supports individuals and businesses in these regions but also contributes to the overall growth and stability of the global economy. 

Gastauer’s focus on simplifying and reducing the cost of these transactions demonstrates a deep understanding of the core needs of his customers, thereby enhancing customer loyalty and trust in the brand.

Take a Tech-Driven Approach

Under Gastauer’s leadership, Black Banx has remained at the forefront of technological integration within the banking sector. The adoption of blockchain, AI, and data analytics has enabled the platform to offer personalized financial services, enhancing customer experience and satisfaction. 

This technology-driven approach ensures that Black Banx stays ahead of industry trends and continues to offer relevant and secure banking options. Gastauer’s commitment to integrating advanced technology not only streamlines operations but also provides a scalable model that supports continuous growth and adaptation in a rapidly evolving market.

Leave No Market Unturned

Gastauer’s vision for Black Banx was never limited to a single region. By 2023, the company had expanded its services to include 28 FIAT and two cryptocurrencies, with a robust presence in over 180 countries. This global approach has not only diversified the company’s customer base but also minimized regional economic risks, allowing Black Banx to thrive in a competitive and fast-changing financial landscape. 

The strategic decision to operate across diverse markets also mitigates the risk of localized economic downturns affecting the overall health of the company.

Set Milestones

The year 2023 was a landmark year for Black Banx, as it reached 39 million customers and reported revenues of US$2.3 billion. The company’s ability to maintain a high rate of customer acquisition and satisfaction speaks volumes about its effective strategies and customer-focused approach. 

The first quarter of 2024 continued this trend, with Black Banx announcing a pre-tax profit of US$639 million and revenues of US$2.1 billion, driven by strategic implementations like fixed monthly account maintenance fees. Gastauer’s strategy to introduce fixed fees was a calculated risk that paid off, providing stable revenue streams and further solidifying Black Banx’s financial foundation.

Michael Gastauer’s strategic foresight and relentless innovation have propelled Black Banx to new heights, making it a leader in the digital banking sector. His commitment to financial inclusion, coupled with an aggressive expansion strategy and technological integration, has not only shaped the future of Black Banx but has also set a new standard in the industry. 

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