When the founders of Lakeside Partners launched CV VC in 2018, they already had two decades of experience in the digital startup scene behind them. Mathias Ruch was a serial entrepreneur and angel investor, while Marco Bumbacher and Ralf Glabischnig founded inacta, a digital transformation consulting company with a focus on Blockchain technology.
The three founders stumbled upon Blockchain for the first time in 2015, when they were looking into the global crowdfunding market whilst developing a new early-stage investment model. Since this somewhat complex model was based on paper contracts and Excel spreadsheets, they were looking for software that could do the job more effectively and which was partly automated. Their encounter in early 2016 with an organization called The DAO (decentralised autonomous organization), an investor-directed venture capital fund, introduced them to the world of smart contracts and blockchain.
Based out of Zug, the beating heart of Crypto Valley, Lakeside Partners shortly afterwards started screening the ecosystem, its projects and its contributors. What the founders discovered was an existing, albeit small and fragile ecosystem. They would later claim that they had never seen such a burst of creativity and entrepreneurial energy in the startup space.
Six months later, Lakeside Partners shifted its focus from 0% to 100% Blockchain. During the coming 12 months, the company screened over 1000 projects, many of them conducting their ICOs thereafter, some up to 100 million tokens and more.
Having undergone this learning experience, the founders concluded that they needed to invest into the ecosystem. Lakeside Partners launched the Blockchain Competition and the Blockchain Summit – Crypto Valley as well as coworking-space called Crypto Valley Labs. When Lakeside Partners launched the startup contest in late 2016, it had to add a price tag to it, ending up with the figure of US$100,000. A prize on this scale made them the biggest blockchain startup competition in the world.
In the summer of 2017 Federal Councillor and Minister of Economics Johann Schneider-Ammann reached out to the Canton of Zug to discover first-hand why the Crypto Valley had become the world’s leading Blockchain hub and whether its success was backed by a repeatable formula. The canton’s executive council asked Lakeside Partners to organize a workshop for the Federal Councillor and his delegation.
The Blockchain Taskforce hands over its White Paper to Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann at the Blockchain Summit on 26 April 2018.
It took another three months until CEO Mathias Ruch was invited to a lunch meeting in Bern, where members of the Federal Government questioned him in detail about Crypto Valley’s formula for success. The lunch meeting was organized by Lorenz Furrer, Managing Partner of furrerhugi, Switzerland’s leading public affairs company. Together with Lorenz and under the patronage of Federal Councillors Johann Schneider-Ammann and Ueli Maurer (Department of Finance), Lakeside Partners launched the Swiss Blockchain Taskforce in December 2017 with 50 leading personalities from the worlds of business, science and politics.
The goal of the taskforce is to increase the attractiveness and competitiveness of Switzerland by providing a framework of legal certainty. In April 2018, the taskforce released its first whitepaper (see www.blockchaintaskforce.ch) with recommendations for future regulation.
When it comes to investing, Lakeside Partners took a different approach compared to many other early-adopting VCs around the globe. Instead of mere speculation, the founders are in it for long-term value creation. The partnership focused on incubation and employed a sector-by-sector smart capital investment approach, starting with insurance, where it incubated the decentralized insurance project Etherisc, followed by e-commerce (Qiibee, a blockchain based loyalty system), real estate, pharma and other sectors.
The smart capital investment approach included hands-on support by a diverse and interdisciplinary team, the services of which initially were exclusive to the incubated startups and eventually turned into a fully-fledged advisory unit, also catering to corporates and organization outside the Blockchain space.
The first step towards a comprehensive blockchain-specialized venture capital company was made with the launch of Crypto Valley Labs. The labs are designed to be more than just a co-working space for the blockchain community. Zug is a global Blockchain and Crypto ‘have-to-be-there’ hub with a natural deal flow of over 1000 projects per year. More than 50% of all relevant projects end up in Zug and on our desks.
With its outstanding Swiss and international network Lakeside Partners can leverage the pole position it has managed to establish over the past two years. This has resulted in a unique business model where CV VC is shaping the global blockchain and crypto landscape. Through the global rollout of the Crypto Valley Labs hubs, both the ecosystem activities and the incubation program will be deployed to other international locations over the coming years.