Crypto Remains One of The Most Advantageous Tools for Finding Investors, Says Anar Babaev of ICOBox
In this interview with ICOBox Managing Partner Anar Babaev, he talks about the departure of Nick Evdokimov from the company as well as the future of crypto market in 2019.
Q: Nick Evdokimov's departure came as a great surprise to the crypto community. What were his reasons for this move?
A: The reality is that Nick has not actually been involved in the company's operations or management since late 2017, when he turned toward other projects. And it is exactly because of how busy he was that he decided that it would be best to officially announce his leave to prevent potential rumors. Nick retains his stake in ICOBox, but he has not participated in the company's affairs for almost a year.
Q: What changes did Nick's withdrawal bring about?
A: To answer this question, we need to step back and look at the time the company was first established and at the personality of its founder Nick Evdokimov – he is a visionary, an idea generator, a serial entrepreneur not unlike Elon Musk or Travis Kalanick. To a great degree his life is dedicated to looking for, and finding new solutions for hot market issues. This brings him great satisfaction and, it must be said, he's very good at it. And he is well aware of that, so if you look at all of his projects, they are built on cooperation and synergy between people of different stripes, from very diverse walks of life.
But operational management has never been of much interest to him, it's not what makes him tick. That's why Nick's departure brought very few if any significant changes. Moreover, even without him, the company kept growing, reaching ever higher marks. Compared to 2017, the number of our clients grew four-fold – we are currently working with over 60 clients.
Among them are projects that we helped launch their ICOs, companies for whom we developed their tokenomics, and those for whom we wrote White Papers. Over the past year, our clients were able to collect $270 million, and this year this number will be 2.5 greater – and all of this despite the deep crisis in the crypto industry. These days the company runs as per usual and we are delivering on all our obligations to our clients.
Q: Nick Evdokimov's reputation is not the most undisputable on the market.
A: I have seen some of these accusations, so I know what you're talking about. I am not exactly qualified to give my opinion on Nick's work outside of ICOBox. The media coverage concerned his projects Decenturion and Cryptonomics Capital, which have never been associated with ICOBox either legally or practically, and ICOBox is neither their parent nor subsidiary or an affiliate. These are completely separate, independent companies with different founders, owners, and management. Indeed, at some point Cryptonomics Capital retained ICOBox as a contractor on several Cryptonomics-backed projects, but these were simple, routine market ties – no affiliation whatsoever.
I have absolutely nothing to say about any other of Nick's projects because I don't know anything about them, they have nothing to do with us. When it comes to ICOBox, we do everything we can to stay away from questionable projects – for instance, we refused to work with a number of projects that had to do with gambling, online casinos, and adult video production.
Q: Who is running ICOBox these days?
A: Daria Generalova and I are ICOBox co-founders and Managing Partners, and we have full parity in making key management decisions. Daria is in charge of international markets, and I handle Russia and other Russian-speaking countries. We live in completely different parts of the world, but that has never prevented us and our close-knit, reliable team from working 24/7, if necessary, to find new ways to develop the business.
Q: What's been cooking at ICOBox this year? The company has announced a change in its direction, but not everyone is clear of what that means and where you are heading now.
A: We very carefully track all the trends in the crypto market and are quick to respond to its shifts. Compared to the start of the year, crypto market lost 2/3 of its value, bitcoin rate dropped by over 70% (which caused all other cryptocurrencies to crash), and the number of ICOs also fell dramatically. This was the result of many factors, but the most important of them is the fact that the market is maturing. Small-time actors, many of whom didn't look too far past the money collection part, are being replaced by more serious players, including institutional investors. They are looking for completely different environment and clear rules of the game. They will simply not come to a massively volatile, legally ambiguous market.
Q: If the ICO market is virtually dead, what is the company planning to do?
A: We are poised to enter a newly evolving but highly promising market of security tokens, which comply with government regulations and open access to conventional capital. This is a much more familiar and better understood tool for professional market players.
So ICOBox will reorient and offer STO (Security Token Offering) services instead of ICO services. We will also offer an option to conduct the so-called Composite Token Offerings (CTO) – a business model combining both the utility and security tokens. And of course, if anyone wants to conduct an ICO, we will not turn them away.
Q: Does the change in direction involve staff reduction?
A: Unfortunately, we were forced to part company with some of our team. But we are already starting to look for new staff members, because the new market calls for new skills and areas of expertise.
Q: You do not deny that the digital asset market is in serious trouble. Do you not feel that next year this bubble will finally burst?
A: No, I see this as a standard seesaw movement. First there was a hype, now some crypto products are being consigned to the dustbin, and then the market will adjust, enter a new stage in its development, and will become more professional.
The crypto industry remains one of the most advantageous tools for finding investors, and it would be unwise to ignore it. To illustrate: Russia's Sberbank and international platform 500 Startups selected 30 projects to the first batch of their joint startup accelerator.
Each team will receive an investment of up to 10 million rubles and the opportunity to go to Silicon Valley – an attractive proposal, don't you think? Now, 10 million rubles is about $150K per project, which is not too bad for the first round, but not all projects can realistically be launched with so little.
And most ambitious and global projects require a completely different, much more radical approach. This is precisely where the opportunities afforded by the crypto industry come into play. This year alone, we have helped more than 60 companies collect almost $400 million. This is over $6 million or over 400 million rubles per project. You have to agree that this is on an entirely different plane! And this is exactly why I strongly believe that crypto is not going anywhere – on the contrary, it will continue to evolve and mature.