Gulf Business

Investing in innovation

Bill Qian, head of Binance Labs, tells Neesha Salian about the company's investment goals, how projects are incubated and why Web 3.0 is a key trend this year


Tell us about Binance Labs and your investment goals in this region.

As the venture capital and innovation incubator of Binance, Binance Labs aims to identify, invest, incubate and empower viable blockchain entreprene­urs, startups and communitie­s, and provide financing to industry projects that help grow the larger blockchain ecosystem. We are keen to support fast-executing teams who positively impact the crypto space. Binance Labs is an important member of the Binance ecosystem because it explores and invests in the most pioneering projects and founders, eventually bringing the innovation­s to the existing landscape. Currently, we are looking for investment­s in projects all around the world. For the MENA region, we are aiming to invest in at least 10 projects in the next nine months.

What are some of the key trends in crypto and blockchain that we should be paying attention to?

As many people are aware, DeFi (decentrali­sed finance) and NFTs (nonfungibl­e tokens) have been the big trends since last year. For this year, we believe that Web 3.0 could be the key trend. We are at the beginning of the Web 3.0 era, which combines the decentrali­sed, community-governed ethos of Web 1.0 with the advanced, modern functional­ity of Web 2.0. Web 3.0 is the internet owned by the builders and users, orchestrat­ed with tokens (so called crypto).

How is the company contributi­ng to the growth of the crypto and blockchain ecosystem?

Binance Labs has invested in more than 150 portfolio companies for the past four years and there are deals currently in considerat­ion. We are closing deals every week.

Out of the entire portfolio companies, around 25 of them turned into unicorns through the portfolio management of Binance Labs. These unicorns include Terra, Matic, Axie Infinity, The Sandbox, CertiK, Dune Analytics, My Neighbor Alice, League of Kingdoms, and 1inch, among others.

How do you choose which projects to invest in?

We consider many elements when investing. Primarily, we see if the projects that we consider for an investment can affect the adoption of users and the industry. This also shows how the projects can impact the world. Furthermor­e, we try to predict the reactions of users when they first encounter the services. Lastly, we try to see if this project can be sustainabl­e in the next 10 years and stand alone.

Any tips for startups looking to get onto your radar and be incubated? Tell us about your incubator programme.

Binance Labs runs an incubation programme on a regular basis, twice a year, including an offline ‘Demo Day’, which only happened online for the past two years due to the pandemic. We are now almost done with the due diligence of the applied projects for Season 4 of the incubation programme. Those who are interested in Binance Labs’ programme can apply for the upcoming season.

Those who get selected as part of the programme can leverage the Binance brand to build a network with investors and industry players.

Tell us about how the company’s goals tie in with the larger vision of Binance.

Backed by the global network and extensive Web 3.0 expertise of the world’s leading crypto exchange, Binance Labs has a vast and deep global presence in the crypto ecosystem. With the resources we have, we believe we can nurture and incubate projects that can potentiall­y bring the freedom of money for all.

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