YiZhou is a Chinese multimedia artist and entrepreneur. At the age of eight she moved to Rome and later graduated from the London School of Economics. Upon leaving university she embarked on a career in Paris as an artist.
Zhou has created 3D short art films shown at her solo exhibitions by Venice biennale and has also shown work at the Sundance film festival, and the Cannes film festival. She has also created commissions for high fashion brands. I had the pleasure to interview her to learn more about her thoughts on cryptocurrencies and the upcoming blockchain revolution.
Brian: You have such a rich career, working in different industries and doing great in all of them. How did you manage to go from art to technology?
I started my career as an artist, and then have founded my company YiZhou Studio, an entertainment and lifestyle production company. Recently, I relocated to the US, started an LA branch of my company, and developed partnerships with such top business leaders as Tommaso Chiabra. Lately, I have been turning my career towards more entrepreneurial endeavors, as encouraged by my dad to do so, to try to combine creativity with my business mind. I recently started my own investment company Into the Sun Holding that intends to invest into entertainment and lifestyle portfolios. I have also created my own lifestyle brand, Global Intuition, a new concept born in China and made between Los Angeles and China. I’m also preparing my Hollywood debut with my first movie “Stars and Scars.”
With the big diversity of ICOs and altcoins and your experience in tech and art, can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are looking at in the market right now?
Well, I honestly must say ArtWallet! As an artist myself, I am super excited about what blockchain technology can bring to the art world, and this is why I am on board as an advisor of ArtWallet. ArtWallet aims to unleash the full potential of the art market by introducing the future of transactions powered by the blockchain technology. It’s the fusion of two words “Art” and “Wallet” as we want to convey the idea of creating an investment portfolio of art masterpieces that will always be accessible and liquid — as if these works of art are in your wallet.
We intend to lower the entry price for such a high cost investment by converting each artwork into hundreds of shares, similar to that of a company which lists its shares on a recognized exchange such as NASDAQ. From an economic perspective, the current art market is far from efficient due to the lack of liquidity and price transparency. It’s still relatively complex to buy, sell and evaluate artworks and the transactional costs are very high.
From your entrepreneurial experience, what are the things that most excite you about ICOs? Is there anything that worries you about this new ecosystem?
The ICOs act as financial mechanisms that allow raising capital in a similar fashion to crowdfunding. An ICO is simply crowdfunding for blockchain-based startups. This system currently operates outside of the traditional financial system, so it is essential to be aware of that. The ICO builds a road that allows these businesses to gather money while bypassing rigorous, regulated funding channels and restrictions set upon the formal financial sector.
ICOs differ from crowdfunding, as the investors in the ICO are motivated by potential returns on investment, while the money raised in crowdfunding can be in the form of outright donations in the majority of cases.
A business plan is presented through a whitepaper which explains the details of investment requirement, the goals of the project and a timeline of what is expected to be achieved. If the amounts raised do not meet the minimum funding requirement set by the company, the funds are returned to the investors, and the ICO is considered to be unsuccessful. If the ICO meets the funding requirements, the money is used to launch the project. An ICO usually lasts from one week to one month.
ICOs are revolutionary and have many exciting aspects. What is most exciting to me is that it levels the playground for all investors. For the first time ever in the history of investing, everyone can have access to invest in promising early-stage companies and get the same deal.
Who are the people that you respect the most in the blockchain arena and why?
This is a no brainer to me — of course it is Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum, the second most valuable cryptocurrency network behind Bitcoin in terms of market capitalization). Vitalik Buterin invented the world’s hottest new cryptocurrency and inspired a movement, before the age of 20.
Ethereum, from a technical point of view, is far more advanced than Bitcoin. It enable developers to write smart contracts which automates value transactions.
What is one thing you feel either investors or blockchain startup founders usually miss and you feel is a must in a project?
I think there are definitely the risks involved on both sides.
For investors, there are risks that they will suffer significant losses of their investments or even worse. They could fall victims to pure frauds, due to the lack of regulation in this segment and considering it is happening online, the risks of fraud are very high. The US financial regulator, the SEC, has cautioned the investors that funds that are lost in an ICO may never be recovered.
For ICO founders, there are regulatory risks. If they don’t follow proper compliance, they may have to face legal consequences. You need to follow KYC (know-your-customer) and AML (anti-money-laundering) regulations and guidelines, and you need to pay special attention to countries where there are strict regulations on ICO, such as U.S. and China. Raising money through ICO from common public in these two countries is illegal. There are also many other issues to consider after finishing the ICO, such as taxes. An ICO is a global affair that your investors can come from all across the world, therefore it is best to engage an internationally represented law firm to safeguard your ICO from a legal standpoint.