Zoe Adamovicz is the CEO and co-founder of Germany-based Neufund. Neufund is a blockchain-based equity fundraising platform specializing in Legaltech and Regtech. She and co-founder Marcin Rudolf are building more than a platform. They are building an ecosystem of smart contracts and a community of companies and investors to connect through new approach of supporting a Blockchain platform in a process which isn’t an ICO, a token sale or crowdfunding, but something new.
The Neufund platform bridges the gap between investors and inventors, and at the same time aligns their interests in a whole new way. In today’s globalized and digital world, it isn’t always feasible to raise capital through classic channels like an IPO or a VC round, which takes months, requires an extensive network based on personal relationships, and puts founders through a long and tedious process. This creates a natural barrier for many aspiring founders who are, for example, geographically excluded from this circle. Neufund helps in such situations cutting the distance, enabling inventors to communicate with investors directly, yet not personally.
Neufund allows companies to conduct a primary offering of securities as legally binding smart contracts on the Ethereum Blockchain – “Equity Tokens”, which are technologically enhanced quasi-shares that give investors and issuers legal protection similar to classical forms of VC agreements.
Investors also receive NEU tokens and thereby become co-owners of the platform. This means that every upcoming ETO (equity token offering) is not only beneficial to the company conducting it, but also to the Neumark token holders. More on ETOs here.
Neufund is focused on mid-to-late-stage visionary companies, ideally not Blockchain, and 7 to 9 digit EUR rounds. Applications for the first batch of companies that will conduct ETOs on the platform this spring are already closed and will soon be announced.
As Adamovicz stated, they are “going to be a game changer”.
What experiences and learnings from your past were pivotal in making the decision to launch Neufund?
Zoe Adamovicz: “Our team comes from many different backgrounds, but we’re all bonded with a shared passion for entrepreneurship and a belief that blockchain is the game changer, positively disrupting how we do and deal with things.
Participating in the investment ecosystem from both the fundraising and investing sides, I’ve experienced how hard it can be to find proper partners and simply close the deal. Time-consuming meetings, costly legal support and frustrating failures are just a small part of a very hostile environment which often kills the spirit that initially drives the founders and investors.
At the same time, I’ve been watching the development of blockchain closely, and once the EVM, the Ethereum Virtual Machine, had been announced, I realized it’s a pivotal moment in the blockchain industry. The possibility of building an advanced blockchain system and a complex ecosystem of smart contracts, allowed us to build a stable and legally-binding environment for safe investments. Finally, with my excellent co-founder Marcin Rudolf we were able to solve the problems we’ve both been experiencing for years.”
Adamovicz believes that decentralization is the future and that it will create an economy where all of the rules are transparent and known to all participants upfront using smart contracts. Her goal is to make it technically and legally safe to fundraise via an ecosystem of smart contracts operating on the Ethereum blockchain.
This is a complex topic and business with multiple moving parts. Neufund has taken its business to a new level through the implementation of an ecosystem and additional projects and initiatives to support it.
Tell us about the ecosystem philosophy, the ICO Transparency Monitor, the Blockchain Policy Initiative Report, and the ESOP: Options On-Chain:
Zoe Adamovicz: “Once we decided to start Neufund, it was obvious to us that the only way to bring meaningful and sustainable solutions was by creating a proper environment first, where investors feel safe, if not safer, than in any other traditional exchange. That’s why we’ve created the ICO Transparency Monitor, which raises awareness about the need for transparency and collects the most important information about ICOs in one place with a build-in safety rating system.
The Blockchain Policy Initiative is our answer to all of the legal uncertainties surrounding blockchain. Working with the best lawyers, investors, companies and various government representatives across Germany we’ve managed to spark an ecosystem-wide conversation and propose policy measures securing the protection of all participants. The outcome, including hundreds of new voices in the conversation, surpassed our initial expectations and is further proof of how needed this discourse has been.
Last, but not least, there’s our ESOP project, which is probably the best representation of our approach and involvement with blockchain. With all of Neufund’s projects we want to solve real problems. ESOPs have been widely implemented over the past years within companies, but faced some serious challenges, as options quite often have been illiquid until a company’s exit. For many people, this was too much of a long-term commitment and the incentive wasn’t a strong enough motivation.
Our solution for this was the blockchain-based ESOP, that enables employees to liquidate their options and allows employers to adapt this mechanism more easily. It allows for converting a part of a company’s stock into a fully transparent employee stock option plan. The smart contract controlling the ESOP program is available to all companies interested in implementing it on our GitHub and is open source and for free.”
Is the Blockchain technology market different in Europe than in the US? Other countries? If so, how?
Zoe Adamovicz: “The blockchain market is global – geographical differences don’t apply here as much as in other industries. What’s different are regulations that often dictate what certain companies can, or cannot do with their products and solutions. This is why Neufund does not allow any investors or companies from, for example, the USA, where regulatory uncertainties make it hard to pursue any predictable and stable blockchain business models. We follow regulatory developments around the world very carefully. We’ve been impressed by the progress observed in Malta and Germany, where we’re very pleased to be in valuable dialogue with BaFin, the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority.”
What do you consider to be the greatest opportunity for blockchain and blockchain related companies in the next few years?
Zoe Adamovicz: “There are no opportunities for blockchain. Blockchain itself is the opportunity, and it is only up to us how are we going to use it. If we’d have to find a proper analogy in the past, it would be inventing electricity or the internet, which are both inventions that disrupted not one or two industries, but rather, the whole world.
Blockchain and the trustless economy are all about creating ecosystems without any central control. It will obviously have a significant impact on financial institutions, where blockchain has almost unlimited applications: banks, loans, insurances. The impact extends also to governments. For example: how do we confirm a person’s identity? Or in real estate: investment options could be made more accessible, potentially even cross-border. In the health care sector patients would have the ability to keep their personal health records in a safe and secure without having to be afraid of their data being sold to brokers.
Instead of opportunities, we should instead focus on challenges that we’re trying to overcome today. Blockchain at its core assumes transparency, inclusivity and sustainability. The inclusivity rule tells us that no participant should be left out. Transparency tells us that no operation can be conducted without the community’s knowledge. And sustainability tells us that disruption is good only when it does no harm.
Far too often blockchain has been used as a loophole for tax evasion or different kinds of system manipulations, raising burning questions like, “how do we develop the rules of the game for the future?” Neufund is trying to find answers with our Blockchain Policy Initiative, ESOP and the ICO Transparency Monitor. Making sure that the system is stable and safe is not just our opportunity, but also an obligation. And we take it seriously.”
How do you see tokenized equity integrating into the future of financing for startup and other fundraising needs?
Zoe Adamovicz: “It is a natural evolvement in the ecosystem of investments. We believe Neufund’s Platform solves the problem of inaccessibility to funds and their illiquidity – whether we’re talking about fundraising among VC companies, going public or angel investments. Our smart contracts help both companies and investors not only in the stage of seeking investments, but also later on, managing the investors’ relations or cap table management, with a clear definition of a party’s role in every situation.”
Adamovicz has co-created Neufund to be driven by passion, inclusivity, diversity and purpose. Her determination and clarity of vision is truly inspiring. Neufund believes in entrepreneurship and in building an inclusive economy. Their inspiring vision is to open innovation for good, providing creators with the platform on which they can fund their ventures by going directly to their supporters.
The blockchain community inherent in Neufund’s business has proven that the power of co-creating is real and is a good guarantee for inclusivity. Exchanging ideas and enabling open source access to products is beneficial for blockchain and is further developing the industry in a rapid and creative way. Neufund is proving that by working together, we create real game-changing solutions.
AdaPia d’Errico is a relentless entrepreneur and strategist with deep domain expertise in branding, positioning, crowdfunding and real estate investing. She is a prominent female fintech executive, having served as Chief Marketing Officer at Patch of Land and Chief Operating Officer at AlphaFlow. She previously co-founded two woman-owned businesses and through her new company Real Wealth Real Health she works with founders, executives and management teams to integrate female leadership skills that build inclusive, dynamic and high performing company cultures. Email AdaPia at AdaPia@FintechInsider.co or on Twitter.