Author: Wang Yanhua
Lawyer turned serial entrepreneur Malcolm Tan first forayed into blockchain and cryptocurrency when he started Gravitas Holdings in September last year.
In less than a year’s time, Gravitas has grown from a ICO consulting practice to a full service provider for ICOs.
“We do everything,” Tan told Block Asia
It indeed brands itself as a “one-stop-shop for ICOs.” Its website boasts, “Everything you need to get your I.C.O. started the right way; legal, strategic, marketing, tech and back-office service.”
“As we gained experience and partners, we evolved along the way to become a full service provider for ICOs. We provide services that most ICOs don’t even think of,” he said.
Tan told Block Asia that the strategy underlying Gravitas’ aggressive growth is forming partnerships, “My business philosophy from the start has always been to do partnerships. Through partnerships we can grow much faster than organic growth.”
He said, “For example, if I started with 5 men and I wanted to grow to 100 men organically, it’s very hard. First of all I need to earn enough money to feed 100 people. Secondly I need to hire 100 people and make sure they don’t leave. Staff turnover in crypto is tremendously high as well.
“It’s much easier if I spend time looking for partners who already have their own stable outfits. To grow a company from 5 men to 100 men using a partnership model, I just have to look for 20 other bosses who have 5 men each. I don’t need to manage their payrolls, I just need to talk to the bosses.
“Today we have around 10 people in our headquarters in Singapore. We have partners from all over the world: Melbourne, Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, Taipei, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Malta, Dubai, Geneva. That’s how we expand so quickly.”
He added that the quick expansion is also made possible as Gravitas is in the blockchain and cryptocurrency scene, “The interesting thing about the world of blockchain and cryptocurrency is that everyone is friendly, open, and willing to share.”
Building a crypto bank
Tan told Block Asia that Gravitas is currently working on building a cryptocurrency bank, called Crowdbank.
Given that many cryptocurrencies exist to bypass banks and act as an alternative system to banks, the concept of a bank for cryptocurrencies is intriguing, since banks represent centralisation.
He said, “If A is the centralised world and Z is the decentralised world, you can’t get from A to Z in one step. There are many middle steps, and having a crypto bank will help us get closer to Z.
“A bank is definitely necessary in an ecosystem. The current banks don’t accept cryptocurrencies. In order for the whole ecosystem to grow, we need something for everybody to use. Crowdbank can provide important services such as crypto loans, issue crypto debit cards, and have back-end integration with traditional banks.”
But even Tan has to admit that setting up a cryptocurrency bank is challenging. “There are hardly any crypto banks. The other crypto banks have either failed or are already failing,” he said.
He added, “We are launching Crowdbank right now, it’s having private sales. Currently it’s unregulated, but the various components will be registered. We are now negotiating with banks and also acquiring a couple of Swiss banks so we can use their licenses.”
Being part of the first wave
Tan comes from a legal background, and he has been running businesses for 10 years before joining blockchain. He started by writing the book: How to ICO/ITO in Singapore: A regulatory and compliance viewpoint on initial coin offering and initial token offering in Singapore.
He said, “I see blockchain as Internet 2.0. I didn’t have the chance to take part in the Internet wave because I was schooling when it happened. But now, there is a big opportunity to be in the first wave.
“When I first started I didn’t know anything about blockchain, and I wanted to learn fast. Unfortunately there isn’t much information on it. I got some researchers to do some research for me, and then I wrote a book about how to do ICOs.”
Tan finds the speed at which everything takes place in this up-and-coming industry interesting, “I’ve never had a faster and easier sales process.”
Everyday, he receives 10 to 20 requests to read white papers. He told Block Asia that he turns away people all the time if he does not see a future in them. “People read my book, heard about me, or got a referral. They contact me and I send them some information, and the next day they give me a deposit,” he said.
When asked about how Gravitas practises due diligence, he said, “I have to talk to the founders and take a look at the office. Once we had 10 ICOs from Russia, so we went to Moscow to meet them.”
Even though Gravitas has just been established for a year, Tan has set his sights for it to grow big.
“It’s not possible to jump from centralised to decentralised within a day, so we’re here to bridge the gap,” he said.