Blockster: So, let’s start. Tell us something about yourself so that our audience can know about what you do in the cryptocurrency and blockchain niche.
Sheraz Ahmed: Thank you for having me. I am the Managing Partner at STORM Partners, a 360° Solution Provider that offers a wide range of services to startups, scaleups and enterprises in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. I am also the Head of Business Development at Crypto Valley Association, where I am responsible for client relationship management, business development and coordination. I also work on other industry and organisation-based projects and strategic initiatives. My vision as a leader is to get our partners to a point where they will become global leaders in the cryptocurrency and blockchain spaces.
Blockster: How did you begin your journey in this niche?
Sheraz Ahmed: Well, I have always been enthusiastic about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. This space is quite agile and dynamic, and time can go very fast. When I was starting, I was more focused on trading, managing assets, and doing as much research as possible to know more about the blockchain space. I was later appealed by asset tokenization as a use case for blockchain technology. I became the Head of Marketing at a startup in Crypto Valley dealing in asset tokenization. However, at the time, the regulatory framework was tough, so I diversified into consultancy and advisory.
Blockster: Tell us about your experience working at the Crypto Valley Association.
Sheraz Ahmed: My journey at Crypto Valley Association has been a remarkable one. I joined Crypto Valley Association as the Head of Business Development on a volunteer basis. This turned out to be an amazing experience because it enabled me to find my footing within this space. Not only did I boost my reputation, but I also connected with many companies in this space and worked with people from different organisations. With this anchoring, I created STORM Partners and developed it to what it is today.
Blockster: That’s amazing! So what do you do at STORM Partners?
Sheraz Ahmed: Well, we provide different services to help companies operating within this niche achieve growth. Our marketing, legal, finance, and digital transformation departments offer our partners an all-around kind of support. We have the capacity to help not only startups but also businesses that want to scale up their operations or enterprises who are venturing into this sector. We focus more on startups because it is a new space with a lot of fresh energy and fresh ideas. We have 15 full-time members and a council of over 50 experts in this niche.
Blockster: You have mentioned that you work with startups at STORM Partners. Could you tell us how startups benefit from your services?
Sheraz Ahmed: Startups benefit the most from our wide array of offerings. If a startup wants to venture into this space, they need many things because they are just starting. For instance, company incorporation is something they must do. If they are developing a token, they need to ascertain its legality and whether it meets the standards of being a security token, utility token, or payment token, depending on the intended goal. There is also the marketing side of it, and them being a startup, marketing strategies would go a long way in helping them achieve the desired levels of growth. These are the kinds of services that STORM Partners provides to startup firms in this niche.
Blockster: How about scaleups businesses and enterprises? How do they benefit?
Sheraz Ahmed: Scaleups have already made a name for themselves in the crypto and blockchain space. When they come to us, we provide additional help, for instance, when they need a third-party service provider to identify and mitigate certain risks or when they need extra help on a particular project they are handling. As for conglomerates, STORM Partners helps them in their efforts to dive deeper into the crypto and blockchain ecosystem, for example, when they need expert strategies in integrating blockchain into their operations.
Blockster: What are some of the notable players in the cryptocurrency space you have worked with at STORM Partners?
Sheraz Ahmed: One of the most interesting startups we have worked with at STORM Partners is Jur. Jur is a legal-tech startup, and this niche is not common in the crypto arena. The regulatory side of crypto is not so appealing, which is why everyone else has gone to finance, tokenization, and other areas. However, the team at Jur has impressed me because of their solid vision. They have a plan for the next four to ten years. The startup has also attracted experts, advisors, and very recently, they received funding from the Tim Draper Venture Capital firm. We have also worked with notable scale-ups such as Aave and Swissborg.
Blockster: How would you define the current state of the crypto market?
Sheraz Ahmed: The crypto market has opened up over the years, especially in 2021. This has even encouraged us to embrace a mode of operation that is more proactive rather than reactive. We now have regulators being interested in the crypto space. At the same time, technology has advanced to create more opportunities for both small-scale and large-scale traders. There is so much that the crypto space is enjoying now in terms of growth and adoption, which could be why there are so many tokens in the market today. I hope that the trend will continue to be positive because it will boost the chances of the sector gaining global adoption.
Blockster: Please share with us your thoughts about startups in the present-day crypto arena?
Sheraz Ahmed: Professionally, I’d say that there are two kinds of startups: the ones committed to building themselves and growing and the ones that are opportunists taking advantage of the industry’s rapid growth. For the second type, they are always trying to make money. The industry has exhibited much indecency caused by new market entrants, as seen in the rising number of scams. However, there are serious startups that are trying to redefine themselves every day, and this will make the entire industry mature eventually. For startups to survive in this sector, they need to filter out the noise and distinguish themselves from other new players.
Blockster: What advice would you give to a startup today?
Sheraz Ahmed: Good question! The first piece of advice I would give is that the most important thing is to understand your needs as a company. You must establish whether your project needs a token or whether it only needs blockchain technology. Failure to consider the project’s needs will render it irrelevant to your target market or bring you many problems in the future. Make sure that when you decide to venture into this space, you have a solid foundation and surround yourself with people who have the same vision as you, if not a better one. Focus on one goal to ensure the noise in the crypto space does not sway you.
Blockster: Excellent, let’s close on that note. This has been a very insightful session, and I believe our readers will benefit from this interview. Thank you for your time, and we will be following up to see how STORM Partners will be fairing moving forward.