Overview of Q1'20 Update: Jibrel’s priorities so far this year, along with steps taken (1) Building out the Jibrel platform. Despite the global economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jibrel continues to make as much progress with the Jibrel alternative investing platform as circumstances allow.
(2) Driving more value for the JNT community. We continue to focus on delivering more value to JNT holders. Regardless of coronavirus-related coordination challenges (mostly with external providers, e.g. law firms), we still plan to announce major news regarding JNT in Q2.
(3) Optimizing budget and efficiency. While the company’s financial situation is much stronger than is the case for many startups, the economic slow-down has reinforced our previously-mentioned focus on using company resources as judiciously and strategically as possible. We plan additional announcements on optimization throughout 2020.
1. Organizational Build-Out
Jibrel, the COVID-19 Pandemic, and A Challenging Economy
The entire Jibrel team hopes you and those close to you are staying safe and healthy during these difficult times!
The Market Overall: The coronavirus has obviously affected businesses across every industry and country imaginable. In times of fear and uncertainty, spending and investment habits change abruptly which means there will be winners and losers by the time this calms down. Processes only change in hard times. When the money is flowing and investor confidence is high, there are no motives or urgency to change/adjust the status quo.
It is important to remember that a lot of the tech used in today’s world was actually founded in 2008–2009, when the world faced the subprime mortgage crisis. Companies like Uber, Whatsapp, and more were founded during those difficult times. Now they are part of everyone’s daily life. More importantly, Bitcoin was created/launched in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis as well.
Similarly, this crisis will likely also result in the establishment of many new technology-based services/products that become the new norm. Anything that has to do with logistics/tech will surely benefit in the short-term, as people minimize social interactions. Consider online learning platforms, app-based food delivery, and online shopping. All of these types of companies stand to gain. Having said so, it is too early to predict what will emerge from this crisis. The argument for Bitcoin/crypto will become more relevant if we see a systemic failure in financial markets, as they provide an alternative or a new approach.
Riskier asset classes have taken the biggest hit, and the argument of Bitcoin acting as a safe-haven asset did not hold up in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent market pains. Crypto is not immune to risky-asset sell-offs. The lock-down will affect demand for all companies (some companies like Clorox will probably have a positive outcome) and will lead to many companies missing their Q1 2020 results. This obviously includes Jibrel.
Jibrel’s Current Position: There are two angles to consider in addressing Jibrel’s ability to survive the current crisis: business continuity, and financial health.
- From a business continuity point of view, as a tech-company, the Jibrel team is used to working remotely — across teams, within teams, and with vendors and partners — so work has not been heavily affected. However, the demand side is definitely affected at least for the short-term. For example, the number of angel investors that are going to be willing to invest in startups in the coming 1–3 months is definitely lower than what it was in December of 2019. The number of ETH wallet users is also on the decline. While the short-term outlook for business/customers is weak given the circumstances, this is an excellent opportunity to redesign processes within capital markets using our technology. As mentioned earlier, we are working on finding ways to improve the alignment of incentives between token holders and Jibrel, and are hoping to share additional information on this as soon as we are legally and logistically able to do so.
- In terms of company health, at Jibrel, we’ve been quite conservative in spending our resources and remain largely in a healthy position to continue finding ways to deliver Jibrel Community wants. In contrast, the financial impact on companies holding a lot of volatile investments (such as crypto, or, risky equities) has clearly been disastrous as it can impact these companies’ ability to operate, pay bills, etc. — especially if the firm is operating with tight working capital. While Jibrel has been able to avoid such pitfalls by taking a conservative financial approach, further action is needed to enhance long-term financial health. Over the coming 2 months, Jibrel will be restructuring even more costs and resources to align with our short-term and long-term goals (which will revolve around improving the alignment of company incentives with community incentives, and jointly creating a successful business).
The world economy always operates in boom/bust cycles, so it’s important to always plan for the worst and hope for the best.
A. People & Capabilities
Jibrel is Concentrating Staff in the UAE
As mentioned in this update as well as previous ones, our current goals are improving cost and personnel efficiency, driving more value for the JNT community, and building out the Jibrel alternative investing platform. Jibrel is concentrating all its staff in Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.
Improved efficiency: Closing and relocating other offices will allow for renewed focus on the productivity and success of the business development office in Dubai, which has been the company’s key adoption channel to date. Additionally, it will generate an annual company cost savings of approximately 40%. Reducing costs and dedicating our focus to our key monetization pathways in the Middle East will help put the company on a path to long-term profitability and success.
JNT community value: While we do have additional upcoming information that will more directly drive value for the JNT community, these office closures act in the best interest of the JNT community, since it enables us to more efficiently focus on achieving profitability and product-market fit while fulfilling the mandate of the Jibrel whitepaper.
Building the Jibrel platform: The Jibrel alternative investing platform’s acquisition model is much more suited to a business development team in the Middle East. For the Jibrel alternative investing platform, the primary target groups are high-growth startups as well as sophisticated angel investors and venture capitalists around the world — but, to start, especially in the Middle East, due to existing business connections and high growth potential.
B. Marketing, PR & Community Management
Platform Media Assets, & Upcoming Changes to JNT
Jibrel Platform: As with other parts of the business, the company’s main marketing priority has been the Jibrel alternative investing platform. Over this past quarter, the team has primarily been preparing owned media (video, creative, copy, prints, branding, social media, press kits, emails, and related). Additionally, they have been developing the platform’s media footprint, event presence, building awareness of the platform among potential investors, and assisting startups that are raising on the Jibrel platform with their own marketing needs. Helping the platform’s startups in this way makes sense for all concerned, as these startups seek to acquire additional customers and raise their own capital.
Community: As mentioned in the February update, we conducted a community survey in which we collected English, Korean, and Chinese responses from over a hundred JNT holders.
Overall, we are deeply grateful to our JNT community, many of whom have stayed with the project for the long haul, and have even come back to purchase more JNT — despite the ups and downs of the crypto market and project itself. We remain passionate about driving value to as many constituents as possible over the long term. From the free-form responses, the majority of people listed some version the following as their desired outcome for JNT:
- Turn JNT into equity in Jibrel
- Assets backed by JNT
- JNT as a method of payment inside Jibrel products
- Token-burning of JNT via profit sharing
Based on the community survey, as well as on extensive research, planning, and deliberation, the Jibrel founders are working on a significant change relating to JNT, which we hope to finalize legal and structural prerequisites for in Q2 of 2020 (i.e. within the next few months). We will announce the details of this change as soon as such requirements are finalized.
We plan to release additional info on changes to JNT by the end of Q2 2020 or earlier.
Events: Since the beginning of March, a number of events have been rescheduled or indefinitely postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe right now. Given these circumstances, we cannot provide any definitive information on any upcoming events. That said, the Jibrel team was able to participate in a number of impactful events earlier in the year.
- Blockchain for Everyone (January 25, Jordan): Jibrel’s Operations Associate, Ala Haddad, gave a talk titled “Blockchain for Everyone” at the Princess Sumaya University for Technology in Amman, Jordan. In this educational talk, Ala explained the value of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, gave a demo of the Jibrel Wallet, and helped attendees create their own wallets.
- TechWadi 2020 (February 6, USA): CEO Yazan Barghuthi, along with marketing team members David Doss and Daniel Elias, attended TechWadi 2020 in San Francisco, USA. Yazan gave a talk on the main stage (see above for video link), and the team ran a booth where we discussed the Jibrel alternative investing platforms with investors and startups from the USA and MENA regions.
- DealMakers 2020 (February 9, Saudi Arabia): Sewar Nowwar (Business Development Manager) and Ala Haddad (Operations Associate) attended Endeavor’s DealMakers 2020 conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
- STEP 2020 (February 11–12, UAE): STEP 2020 Dubai is one of the most important SME and startup events in the region. COO Talal Tabbaa, Business Development Manager Sewar Nowwar, and Operations Associate Ala Haddad all were in attendance.
- MBRIF Welcome Event (February 25, UAE): This Dubai-based event welcomed Jibrel alongside fellow members of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund Accelerator. Jibrel was given a unique chance to showcase our business to UAE ministers, local and global innovation leaders, and MBRIF’s strategic partners. Talal, Sewar, and Ala all attended.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all major planned events have been postponed by the respective organizers. We will update our community as more concrete scheduling updates become available.
Team Members in the Media:
- Talal with MBRIF: Co-Founder and COO Talal Tabbaa was featured in a video from MBRIF (Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund), where he discussed how MBRIF has been accelerating the Dubai team’s progress on the Jibrel alternative investing platform.
- Yazan and the Killer Crypto Use Case: Founder and CEO Yazan Barghuthi’s talk at TechWadi — Reimagining How Companies are Built, Funded, and Managed — is live on YouTube now, with captions in English, Chinese, Korean, and Arabic. (For those of our Chinese community not able to access YouTube, the Chinese subtitled version is also available on QQ.
- Jibrel Platform Press Mentions: The launch of the Jibrel alternative investing platform MVP has been picked up by an increasingly wide variety of sources, including Unlock Blockchain, Digital Journal, New Hampshire News, PressReleaseCC, MENAFN, Benzinga, and MarketWatch. Honorable mention has also come from MedicalTourism.com, which mentioned Jibrel’s alternative investing platform as part of its feature on the UAE’s expanding influence in the blockchain sphere.
2. Asset Tokenization
Jibrel’s Core Mandate
As mentioned in section 1 (Organizational Buildout), the global economic challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic have limited Jibrel’s ability to partner and to acquire customers. Onboarding angel investors and venture capital firms to the Jibrel platform has presented a particular challenge. (For an insightful look at how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted startup investing, read top this insightful article from top VC Zach Coelius). Nonetheless, the Jibrel business development team continues to pursue all roads available under the circumstances.
The Jibrel Platform
The business development team has been hard at work vetting and approving startup applications and securing investor funds for the respective equity offerings. In particular, the team has concentrated primarily on startup applications as a key focus area. We have been actively building our pipeline and screening applications. The main acquisition channels are: email campaigns, our own network, and industry referrals. The application form (a.k.a. Fundraising Suitability Assessment) was sent to every startup that signed up for early access (a total of 1,350 startups). From there, we received applications, screened them, and either passed, failed, or requested further information from the startups in question. Whereas the initial process relied on email, startups can now apply online. Further, this process will become more automated in upcoming releases.
Startups can apply for funding online to raise funding through the platform directly.
Investors can complete KYC application online to invest in high-growth startups.
Other Assets & Overall Ecosystem Development
Partnerships: Since equity tokenization is our primary tokenized security focus for the foreseeable future, we have suspended involvement in some of our partnerships and memberships (for example, the Gulf Bond and Sukuk organization). That said, we continue active relationships with a wide variety of organizations, including the Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ), the Mohammed bin Rashid Innovation Fund (MBRIF), Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), and many more. As our scope continues to expand, we look forward to adding on new organizational relationships and rekindling past ones as appropriate.
CBJ Pilot: We have completed the final stage of our pilot project, which is enabling and facilitating cross-border remittances that are fast, cheap, and regulated. Initially, users set up their profiles by completing KYC and linking their digital wallets address to their identity.
This allows the CBJ to be in full control of who is utilizing this solution. After that, user wallets were deposited with 100 Jibrel Jordanian Dinar (JJOD), which is a digital representation of the Jordanian Dinar, backed by physical Dinars in Jibrel’s bank accounts in the UAE and Jordan.
Users were then able to send transactions to each other freely, as transfers are cross-border, instantly settled and cheap. After getting familiarized with the wallet and the tool, users were able to withdraw JJOD into their bank accounts by using the Jibrel blockchain wallet.
To withdraw, users send their JJOD to a blockchain withdrawal address, which automatically matches the digital address of the participant and their bank account, and initiates a local bank transaction, which is settled on the same day.
In our pilot with the CBJ, we were able to prove that remittances can be simplified, expedited, regulated, controlled, and by utilizing a blockchain-based solution. In the pilot, all users are identified, all their cross-border transactions are monitored. Users are able to transfer money cheaply and instantly across borders by reducing the total number and value transferred.
We are currently exploring further initiatives with the Central Bank of Jordan.
3. Technical Development
Related to our internal organizational restructuring, our approach to technical development is also undergoing significant changes. Jibrel will slim down its team to focus on core products and services. In addition, Jibrel will leverage a small lean internal team, as well as engage external providers to ensure a more cost effective approach to development.
The tech team has been gradually releasing four different upgrades of the Jibrel MVP over the course of the last month, conducting a stress-test on systems prior to a larger user acquisition push. In addition to tokenized equity offerings for 6 different startups, the current version of the Jibrel alternative investing marketplace (0.4.0) allows for startup applications and investor registration/KYC. Overall, the frontend and design teams were focused on building out more and better pages and features for the site, to deliver a higher-value customer experience that will drive engagement and retention of startups and investors alike. These include updates to authentication and investing processes, credit card payment processing, as well as startup application and onboarding procedures.
Jibrel Wallets & Secondary Products
We will release a full and detailed post in the coming weeks, that will contain information on the performance of these products to date, as well as timelines, next steps and how to ensure your Jcash is exchanged and your wallet is migrated.
The restructured tech team’s focus this year will continue to be on leveraging existing tech and product development towards building out additional functionalities for products and services with monetization potential. Jibrel will also focus on polishing and refining solutions implemented in Pilot programs include translating the Central Bank of Jordan pilot into a B2B remittance solution. In addition, Jibrel will need to develop short-term utility apps to service the revised JNT roadmap. More information on this will be released over the course of Q2.