Up Close and Personal with Puneet Kumar: On the Future of Blockchain Based VC Funding

By Sumedha Bose

Jatin Madhra, representing BTC Wires, caught up with Puneet Kumar, the Vice President of Nexus Venture Partners, at the International Blockchain Congress 2018 in Hyderabad.

Puneet, a business graduate and a Reliance Dhirubhai Fellow, from the prestigious Stanford University, is always on the lookout for new and exciting projects to invest in. He is passionate about fields like SaaS platforms, Agri-tech, Gaming, and Fin-tech in India.

Mr. Kumar became a part of Nexus Ventures in 2017, and since then he has used his skill set in various domains like entrepreneurship, consulting and advising startups in education, entertainment, SaaS and consumer tech. Puneet also spent more than two years at McKinsey’s as an Engagement Manager. During his time there, he enabled companies to introduce new and disruptive technologies to markets in the US, Europe, and India.

 

So what brings you to International Blockchain Congress 2018, and how do you perceive the turnout here?

Well, I came here personally because I think blockchain is a trend that is here to stay and as an early stage investor, it is something that we have to be on top of because if we are not tracking the disruption, then we might get disrupted ourselves. I think this event has been great, I mean I have been to many other blockchain events, and I feel this is definitely a blockbuster event and it is excellent.

 

That sounds great! So I wanted to know what your thoughts are on blockchain and how do you feel it can contribute to the future?

I think the fundamental technology behind blockchain, I mean whether it is tamper proofing, whether it is decentralized network or whether it is tokenization; it is so powerful in itself that it will find a lot of applications in our day to day lives. Now whether will it happen tomorrow? I don’t think so. But will it happen ten years down the line? I think so.

 

So you are sure about the distant future right?

Yes, that’s what I feel today. It is all about evolution and learning but if today you ask me, I think it will have relevance in the next ten years.

 

Great. So when it comes to blockchain, it is difficult to take away the cryptocurrency factor from it and ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) today are the preferred method of raising funds. So for startups, how do you perceive it?

Honestly people say that ICOs are the preferred method of raising funds but I think of it in a different manner. If you go by the numbers, then sure ICOs have raised more money than the traditional VC (Venture Capital), but if you look around, a lot of the influential founders are raising money through VC. So ICOs are great, but today there is lot of froth in the market. I mean look at 98% of the ICO projects, those are junk and maybe 60-80% don’t even have the intent to develop something. So I think in today’s market it is probably an easy way out, and the next few years will see a clear separation between them. In the next few years, a lot of the projects will raise equity funding beforehand, to actually build something, before they go to the community to raise funds.

 

So does ICO funding methodology outdate traditional VC funding?

Not at all. Hopefully it will superpower and supercharge VC funding  So let’s say I invest in your company and instead of waiting for ten years, I get liquidity event in three years, because if you do an ICO and if I have some way to convert my equity into tokens, I think it might actually really help VCs, If you look at India, the biggest challenge any VCs or investors had is liquidity events and exits, and this might be a great way for them to exit.

 

So what is the plan forward for NEXUS Venture in the industry. Are you looking forward to building a portfolio on this?

I think we are sort of really founder driven and if we find really great teams in this space, who knows. I have been here for the last two days and we are keeping our eyes open. So hopefully we’ll find something great and invest in it.


Perfect. So where do you see India positioned with respect to global blockchain ecosystem?

Well, I think we are quite far behind. We don’t have the right talent right now. Hopefully, such events will catalyze and build talent because only if we have great teams, great things will come out. You can’t put blockchain in front of a bad team and expect magic to happen. Only people can make the magic happen.

Of course. Thank you so much.

Sumedha Bose

Sumedha uses words as her crutch to get by in life. She takes a keen interest in debating, dancing and destroying the patriarchy in her free time. She can be contacted at [email protected].

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