Team Spotlight: Alain Falys, Venture Partner at Fabric Ventures
At Fabric Ventures, our team all bring diverse experiences to the fund, in order to ensure the best working environment for founders and investors alike. Bringing an in-depth critical awareness of being a Fin-Tech entrepreneur and investor is today’s team member, Alain Falys, our Venture Partner.
Alain is an ‘entrepreneur at heart’. His work as a technology entrepreneur and investor has meant that he has led the way at the forefront of the development of the Open Economy. His more recent role as co-founder and CEO of Yoyo Wallet signifies his leading influence and expertise in the Fin-tech space, which complemented his time as co-founder of e-voicing platform OB10, his first startup. His work has sought to overhaul the payment space, by using every transaction to establish a digital dialogue between merchants and their customers, establishing greater loyalty and personalising the buying experience. As a Partner in seed investment platform Firestartr — the precursor to Fabric Ventures — Alain knows the importance of founders having the right kind of investor, understanding their personal journeys and being aware of the hallmarks of a productive investor-founder relationship.
His entrepreneurial experience has also given him a resilience and a capacity to innovate to keep up with the demands of the market. Having worked in finance, then moving into investment and also working in his own startups, Alain has been forced to adapt to sudden changes in the market, with great success. His impressive resilience has enabled him to remain ahead of the curve consistently, to continue to experiment, and enjoy great success in the many avenues he has taken.
Not only a serial tech entrepreneur and investor, Alain is also a strategic advisor to a number of European Fin-Techs — including Pelican.ai (UK), Yello and Spot9 — and is a member of the NatWest Group Technology Advisory Board. He has brought great success to firms he has previously worked with and has raised over £35 million in seed to series B capital from Tier 1 VC’s in the last 10 years. With his work taking him all over the world, Alain’s portfolio is testament to his wide spanning interests and expertise, including Railsbank, Wagestream, Polkadot, SoRare, Axie Infinity, Ocean, The Graph, 1Inch & Orchid.
With a unique understanding of the merging between both the Fintech and Crypto world and the demands of being a Founder and Investor, Alain has an impressive insight ready to share with Founders, and an empathy to the different problems that Founders face as they develop their product and business.
With your long experience of working in investment, what are some of the lessons you have learnt?
I am an entrepreneur at heart. I’ve learnt that to be on the investment side, it can actually be very hard for an entrepreneur; it’s impossible to learn the trade in only one or two years, you learn the trade through a volume game, by being a good or a decent investor, making lots of investments, and invariably you make mistakes. Fortunately, in our case, we’ve made some mistakes, but overall we’ve actually been successful as a portfolio. As an entrepreneur you can’t assume that you can become a good investor, because it’s actually a very different trade — so, that was lesson number one. Lesson number two is that it’s very easy to fall in love with a start-up, just because the founding team has a special thing about them. You are attracted by the charisma of the founder, and you think that when he doesn’t manage to get this thing off the ground, he will get something off the ground; but that’s not making the right investment approaches — you need that, but you also need the other components. So, I think the second lesson for me was that you have to be reasonably comfortable with a number of factors, not just the founder. You need to think ‘I also trust that this market he’s addressing is actually big enough’, ‘I can trust that this founder can actually attract and manage the right talent, as opposed to being too overwhelmed’, ‘I can trust that the product is actually good enough for the market’. A vital lesson for me was to learn to appreciate the different components that constitute an investment.
What do you want to see Fabric Ventures achieve?
Well, first of all, Fabric Ventures is one of the very few funds that is dedicated to supporting founders of effectively a new economy. You have funds that are dedicated to make the most of the crypto hype. There are funds that are dedicated to technology in general and every now and then they invest in decentralised technologies. Fabric Ventures is different as it is actually dedicated to tracking the standards that are the mission. The mission is an important one, because it will actually improve quite a few things that are broken in and around the internet, and will have a great impact in society. So, I think that Fabric Ventures is actually on the journey here, which is not a short-term journey, because you don’t reinvent and rebuild some of the broken parts of the internet economy in one year, five years or even a decade. This is a time where there is much more maturity around crypto and blockchain and the new decentralised technologies. What I mean by maturity is that, it’s a less opportunistic environment and there’s some real technology being built that will affect the future of anything from social media, health and obviously finance. The technology being built is much more mature, so this is the right time for dedicated funds to be on the scene.