Describe your business and your role within it
Venrai is a digital asset compliance and technology solutions company, offering a wealth of expertise to those operating in the blockchain space. By way of improving the security and reliability of digital assets, we contribute to the ever-improving perception of blockchain technologies. I am the Chief Executive Officer of Venrai, primarily responsible for defining business strategy, building brand awareness and identifying new business opportunities.
How did you get into this line of business?
Having been fortunate enough to invest in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies at an opportune time in 2017, I soon got drawn into the crypto scene, mainly through social media platforms such as Twitter, and participating in Meet-up events. After some further investigation, I soon identified a gap in the market for compliance advisory and smart contract security audits in the UK blockchain space.
How did you go about setting it up and getting established?
Time spent interning at Deutsche Bank whilst on the Mountbatten Program, was instrumental in building up my business acumen. When approaching sophisticated clients it is imperative that you speak the lingo and with confidence. Building on from this experience in New York, I have spent the past decade working in banking, where effective communication is key. No one person can build and run a meaningful company on their own, and so a lot of assistance has been brought in along the way, be it building a website, marketing through social media or developing more technical aspects, getting established has meant harnessing the skills and talents of those around me.
What else is in the pipeline?
I have recently been appointed a member, on behalf of an Italian banking group, of the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) Digital Assets Task Force. Part of this role involves proposing responses to regulatory consultations that will undoubtedly lead to future regulations over the crypto space. My first responses will soon be shared with both the European Commission and the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.
What has been the proudest moment in your working life thus far?
A moment that I’ll never forget was my first day of a Summer Internship at Lehman Brothers. The US bank was one of the most prestigious in the world and landing an internship there was a big deal. It all really sunk in when arising the escalators in Canary Wharf and through the glass ceiling seeing Lehman’s European headquarters slowly emerging and coming to the realization that I’d made my way into an iconic institution. Although the bank subsequently became better known for being the largest casualty of the 2008 financial crisis, that one moment will always remain with me.
What has been your biggest mistake/learning experience?
What has certainly proved to be a learning experience has been taking too long to rebrand. Venrai started off as “London Crypto Services”, which although fairly explanatory, is less strong from a brand perspective. The inevitable need to rebrand should have been executed quicker, but as with all aspects of starting a business, mistakes are part of the journey.
Who are your role models?
Elon Musk is a true visionary, and he is clearly fond of cryptocurrencies. One of a kind!
Any words of advice/wisdom would you impart to others thinking of setting up their own business?
If there is something inside, curious of what could be achieved by way of setting up a business, give it a lot of thought and weigh up the pros and cons. Start-ups are time and capital intensive, and the majority of them fail. If, after giving it sufficient thought, you are still keen on giving it a shot, be sure to enlist all the support you can get. Starting a business from scratch is tough, but there is always the light at the end of the tunnel, and some companies go on to change the world. Give it your all!