After noticing blockchain was largely being funded by idealistic or technically-oriented investors, Jochem Wieringa and Joost van der Plas saw an opportunity for serial entrepreneurs to disrupt the landscape. Since finalising the legal framework and welcoming their first cornerstone investors in 2017 as Cryptocrunch, they were joined by experienced investment banker and trader Balder Bomans, and together rebranded the blockchain/DLT investment firm as Maven 11 Capital. We sat down with Jochem in their Amsterdam offices to discuss the future of blockchain investment.
The brains behind the brand
Combining diverse backgrounds in systems engineering, corporate management, start-up management and investment banking, the partners have a “unique overview of markets ripe for blockchain disruption”. This is why, Jochem explains, they rebranded to pay homage to their expertise as mavens of their whole sector, rather than just as crypto-traders. Having also been in the profession of blockchain investment from when “it was still a red flag for banks, regulators and many investors”, their journey started in ’11. Since then they have formally incorporated their fund, registered with the AFM, and grown their team to include research analysts who each specialise in specific markets set for short to mid-term blockchain adoption.
The beauty of blockchain
Maven 11 focuses exclusively on blockchain/DLT related investments, and Jochem explains this is because “The blockchain market is structured so that it has the same potential upside or ceiling as traditional VC investments, but the downside is not as extreme.” Jochem describes that risk can be better managed as “Digital assets or tokens are readily tradeable even in the early stages of investment, allowing Maven 11 to rebalance or de-risk their portfolio before traditional equity investments, which are thus riskier.” Maven 11 takes advantage of this liquidity by “Continuously monitoring and actively managing risk in our portfolio based on market sentiment and project performance.”
When prompted about the secrets behind Maven 11’s strategy, Jochem attributes much credit to the underlying mantra of: “Capturing value on the blockchain level,” that is, investing in protocol and infrastructure, rather than an application which would be the custodian of the project’s entire success.
Maven 11 has the luxury of “a global network built over the years, which gives [them] access to early stage deals”. Maven 11 then sets about deep diving into a fundamental analysis on the individual project as well as the overarching market, delving into the “token economics for the specific token that represents value in the project”.
The flight of the future
Blockchain critics and even Jochem himself are quick to point out the sector is being “controlled by the bears”. Responding to why he was still so bullish on their investments in such a bear market, Jochem explains “The market dynamics have already changed several times in this young market, so we are used to reinventing ourselves and adopting new strategies. Previously, participating in select ICOs was very successful, but presently we are shifting more towards a VC role which is where the asymmetric returns can be found nowadays.”
With the downturn stifling many crypto-traders, Jochem is instead excited about the future, “The market is becoming fundamentally healthier with institutional investment replacing retail.” He accredits a few poignant reasons for this health: more experienced professional investors leave “bad projects unfunded and the good ones more realistically valued, leaving more upside”; professional investors are “in it for the long-run which leads to less volatile markets, rather than retail investors who expect to double their money in a month”; and regulation and infrastructure are starting to catch up with sector needs.
The bull amongst bears
To prove Maven 11’s enthusiasm about the future of blockchain investment, Jochem highlighted two companies they have secured an early stage stake in: NEX, who aim to become one of the first decentralised security token exchanges (more on their security token sentiment), and DUSK, a data transmission and transaction platform that combines privacy with regulatory compliance. Ultimately, Jochem believes “Now is a great time to enter or re-enter the market, and since the space is evolving so fast you need to be on top of everything. This is why our investors chose us as their investment vehicle instead of investing by themselves.”