Interview with Kyros Ventures Co-Founder and CEO Axie is still the most respected Web3 builder in Vietnam.

As the gateway for international encrypted projects to enter the Vietnamese market, Kyros Ventures, derived from Coin68, has unique advantages.

Interviewer: bayemon.eth

Guest: Zane, Co-founder and CEO of Kyros Ventures

Kyros Ventures was established in 2020. It is a venture capital company located in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It is also an investment branch of the well-known Vietnamese crypto media, Coin68. Kyros Ventures is dedicated to incubating and investing in emerging technologies, games, and crypto projects. With its extensive network of partners and communities, it aims to enhance the visibility of projects in Vietnam. Their goal is to become one of the leading investors in Vietnam and the entire South Asian region, and to drive the development of the entire industry through investment and ecosystem establishment.

Compared to investments purely for profit, Kyros Ventures seems to emphasize “education”, aiming to internalize the news of the entire Web3 world into content that is more suitable for the Vietnamese style, and expand the community of crypto participants in Vietnam, forming a Web3 ecosystem unique to Vietnam.

According to RootData, as a pioneer rooted in Vietnam, continuously incubating and exploring early-stage projects, Kyros Ventures has invested over 160 million US dollars in seed and private rounds, including well-known projects such as Axie and Ancient8.

Kyros Ventures investment landscape, data: RootData

As the gateway for international encrypted projects to enter the Vietnamese market, Kyros Ventures, born from crypto media and thriving in venture capital, has unique advantages. With a passion for gaming projects, what considerations are behind their investment strategies in DeFi and infrastructure? How is the Vietnamese crypto market, which is mainly focused on gaming guilds and GameFi ecosystems, coping with the current bear market? ChainCatcher has invited Zane (Thuat Nguyen), Co-founder and CEO of Kyros Ventures, to discuss these aspects.

Zane (Thuat Nguyen)

As one of the investors in Axie, Zane mentioned that local chain games and gaming guilds in Vietnam are trying to transform to cope with the bear market. Although Axie is not as popular as in previous years, it is still the most respected Web3 builder in Vietnam and is striving to transform itself from a game into a complete ecosystem.

1. ChainCatcher: Please briefly review the original intention of Kyros Ventures. Does Kyros have any unique advantages as a media company whose core team comes from Coin68?

Zane: Before the ICO in 2017, we were a media company. At that time, the purpose of establishing the media was to educate and promote the concepts related to this emerging industry in Vietnam, a country with a low level of familiarity with blockchain. According to research data, about 30% to 40% of people in Vietnam hold digital currencies, although the ownership rate is not high, it has progressed rapidly. Our initial mission was “education”, which was the starting point for everything. The founding team consists of three friends, and in 2020, we established Coin68.

Perhaps because the industry itself is still immature, coupled with the bear market of the entire digital currency market in 2018, our team has been floating in the market. But fortunately, before the start of DeFi-Summer in 2020, we established the investment department of Coin68, which is now Kyros Ventures.

The main goal of Kyros Ventures is to use Coin68 to focus on early-stage investment projects and introduce them to the Vietnamese market, develop their communities and users in Vietnam, and some of these projects have also formed their own Vietnamese teams with our support. We are now partners of many project parties in the Vietnamese market and the South Asian market. So far, Kyros Ventures has invested in more than 100 projects.

The projects we are currently investing in are mainly focused on the gaming, DeFi, and infrastructure sectors. 80% of them are international projects, and when the project parties enter the Vietnamese market, they choose us as the most trusted local partner. We will build bridges between many Vietnamese local companies and them, promote their participation in business development activities organized by local enterprises, and Kyros will also plan some themed events for them.

We will hold a grand event in Vietnam called “Blossom Week”. The event will gather some well-known projects from the United States, and it is expected to have 3,000 participants.

2. ChainCatcher: Vietnam is one of the fastest growing cryptocurrency markets now, and Kyros Ventures is also the gateway for many international projects to enter the Vietnamese market. What kind of impact and changes does Kyros hope to achieve through project investments?

Zane: Kyros is a venture capital company, so first of all, we will try to diversify the investment portfolio as much as possible. We hope to seize market opportunities and become a star of South Asian venture capital based on the free cyberspace.

At the same time, I believe that the main goal of current venture capital is not only to invest in projects and make profits from them, but also to build the entire ecosystem in Vietnam to make it stronger. Especially in terms of the team, we have developed from an initial team of three to more than 90 people now, and more and more people want to join Kyros. Kyros team members have also started their own projects and become founders. Many project parties we cooperate with later, the founder team has worked at Kyros and has been inspired by the culture and style of the Kyros team to start their own businesses. This is the thing that makes me the most proud so far, and I will continue to work hard because this is the long-term goal I set when building Kyros and Coin68.

3. ChainCatcher: Kyros Ventures is committed to incubating early-stage projects. When evaluating potential investment opportunities, what factors and key indicators are given more importance?

Zane: I cannot confidently say that our team has the best investment ideas, as everyone has their own preferences.

First, we usually prefer early-stage projects, and because we also do localization, we will also look at whether their budget can cover the plan to enter the Vietnamese market as well as what we can do for them in Vietnam. In addition to the model of the project itself, we also care about the team and the Vietnamese market, as well as what we can do for these projects in Vietnam. This is one of the differences between us and other companies.

Secondly, the market changes so fast that each narrative or project may disappear quickly in a short period of time. Therefore, we pay attention to the founders and project teams, evaluating whether they have enough adaptability to cope with market fluctuations. This market is constantly innovating, and there is always something new emerging in the field. Therefore, in order to succeed, teams need to make quick decisions and be able to adapt to the market, so this is always something we focus on in evaluating teams. We support founders with a “glue background” because they always strive for the project and have extensive knowledge and abilities in multiple fields, enabling them to adapt to market changes.

4. ChainCatcher: Kyros Ventures has approximately 44% of its investment portfolio dedicated to gaming projects. Why is the gaming industry particularly favored? Is this strategy closely related to the local Web3 ecosystem in Vietnam?

Zane: Yes, the gaming industry is an important part of our investment portfolio, but it is not intentional. We have never tried to overly concentrate on one industry, I think it is just an investment preference that has formed unintentionally in our investment process.

Firstly, most of our investments in the gaming sector have been successful, which motivates us to conduct further research in the gaming field. Our team is skilled in gaming and familiar with the gaming industry, so it gradually becomes an industry we like and have enough experience to collaborate with gaming founders.

Secondly, from a user perspective, we believe gaming is an easier way for users to enter the crypto field. It may take many years for users to understand crypto through other means, but through gaming, they can have a fresh experience within a few months. Although the underlying technology of blockchain is used in blockchain games, users do not need specific knowledge to engage with the games. When they earn profits from games, they will actively learn how to use wallets. This is a very natural entry process for users, which is why I say gaming is an easier way for users to enter the crypto world.

We have indeed seen many new users in Vietnam who, before understanding decentralized finance (DeFi), first learn about some Play-to-Earn games and understand cryptocurrency through them. This is their way of getting involved in Web3 and entering the gaming industry. Therefore, in 2021 and 2022, we made a lot of investments in the gaming field.

5. ChainCatcher: Kyros Ventures also invested in Axie. How do you view Axie’s performance in recent years and the changes it has brought to Vietnamese and South Asian youth?

Zane: I think every developer in the Web3 gaming field should respect Axie because they are the leaders of this whole trend. Even in the next two years, when people have different opinions about games or Web3 games, they should still have respect for Axie.

We are still very optimistic about Axie’s model because Axie has done an excellent job in user guidance. I’m not saying that the Play-to-Earn model is sustainable, it is just a user guidance strategy, a marketing strategy. The project itself actually has its own lifecycle. From a higher level perspective, Axie has done an excellent job in spreading Web3 knowledge. Its influence in the Philippines is greater than in Vietnam. Many users even knew about Axie and had a certain level of understanding before having a bank account.

In Vietnam, we have also incubated some game communities and game infrastructures, and Axie plays an important role in them. In this community, there are many touching stories. I know a girl who loves playing Axie, she plays the game with her mother and participates in many Axie events. Some of my relatives, who haven’t even graduated from high school, have learned how to use a wallet, how to send and receive tokens through Axie. They started to understand concepts like blockchain and decentralization through the game. Their interaction with MetaMask and Web3 wallets exceeds their interaction with their own bank accounts.

Therefore, I think Axie has started a “movement”. It has caused a sensation in the entire field and has become the focus of 2021. Now, the Axie team is still expanding. They are not just a game development team, but a complete game ecosystem. They are even involved in some infrastructure projects, constantly expanding their influence and ecosystem. I am also pleased about this. In Vietnam, Axie is still the most respected Web3 builder.

6. ChainCatcher: Vietnam’s game guilds are also well-developed, but with the market gradually declining, GameFi projects have also been affected and their popularity has declined. What strategies may familiar game guilds like Ancient8 adopt to cope with the crisis during the bear market?

Zane: Everyone knows that every game starts with a scholarship model, but the scholarship model is difficult to maintain stability, especially during a market downturn. Users will continue to churn, and scholarships will eventually disappear. I think scholarships may still exist, but only on a competitive level, no longer as a Play-to-Earn income for the masses.

It is worth noting that most projects are now striving to adapt to the changes in the entire Web3 world. They have to change their models and start building autonomously. For example, Axie has already shifted its focus from being a platform to being a complete game system, aiming to provide infrastructure and services for game studios and independent developers, attempting to bridge the gap between Web2 game players and Web 3 games, and teaching Web2 players new ownership concepts. This mission used to be achieved through the scholarship model. Now, it is achieved through software development and participation platforms. Every project is constantly changing and adapting to its surroundings. I believe that at least no project has given up, and they should perform well in the next bull market.

7. ChainCatcher: What is Ancient8’s current revenue model?

Zane: Ancient8 is currently developing software and providing infrastructure software. They are offering different entry tools for games to prevent user churn. Recently, they launched the SLianGuaice3 platform, which provides Web3 game loyalty rewards and interaction. This platform is designed to allow users to discover different game projects and engage and learn in their Web3 gaming journey. This is Ancient8’s first project, and they are trying to leverage their advantage in Vietnam to establish more interaction between games.

Ancient8 has the best distribution channels and content creators in Vietnam and even Southeast Asia. Vietnam, as an emerging market, has unique advantages. They have the most suitable user base for GameFi projects and the best source of motivation compared to similar projects. The game industry is indeed slightly sluggish in a bear market. Although there are still many games in development, after one or two years of accumulation, only a few can be successfully released. Ancient8’s model has actually changed as a result. The team needs to constantly adjust themselves to adapt to the development trends of the entire industry, build the right products, provide the right tools for game developers, and enable players to benefit in the Web3 space.

8. ChainCatcher: What kind of environment has Vietnam provided for the birth and growth of phenomenon games like Axie?

Zane: This question is difficult to answer. I believe Vietnam is not the largest market for GameFi, but rather an emerging market. For this type of market, the effect of Web3 game projects is the best. Because for emerging markets, game guilds have communities, content, and ways to make it easier for gamers to access Web3.

I believe guilds have found the “most developed roots” here, meaning they play a role in providing liquidity, which will become liquidity providers in terms of education and the entire gaming space.

9. ChainCatcher: Apart from investing in GameFi projects, does Kyros Ventures also pay attention to DeFi and infrastructure? Is there deeper thinking behind this layout?

Zane: The DeFi sector is developing rapidly, and we do not have specific internal metrics to evaluate DeFi projects. In my opinion, the most important thing is whether their solutions are scarce and can fill existing gaps in the entire field. In other words, whether there are functions that have yet to be realized in certain areas.

The role that a project plays in the entire ecosystem is an important consideration for our investment, and we also consider market timing. Some projects may have innovative models, but it may still be too early for investment.

Currently, we are looking forward to seeing some projects with better onboarding processes and simpler user interfaces, as well as DeFi or infrastructure projects that make it easy for new users to understand and use. However, the fact is that learning to use DeFi is not easy, and widespread adoption of DeFi takes longer compared to the gaming industry. Therefore, we hope to see some DeFi or infrastructure products that target mainstream users or projects that aim to attract non-cryptocurrency users.

10. ChainCatcher: The Vietnamese government is actively working to establish a new legal framework to regulate business activities related to digital currencies. What steps will Kyros Ventures take to address regulatory risks?

Zane: Currently in Vietnam, cryptocurrency and blockchain technology are still in the early stages of legal development. However, the government encourages startups to utilize blockchain technology to build products and apply it to more transparent, efficient, and valuable models in order to improve productivity and efficiency.

Although Vietnam’s legal framework may still need improvement compared to other countries in terms of legal management, Vietnam remains open to innovation and the proactive construction of things that have community and social value.

We are always committed to bringing benefits to the entire Vietnamese community. Therefore, we hope to receive government support in the future. But regardless of whether or not we receive government support, we will continue to do the right thing for the community.

11. ChainCatcher: In terms of future expectations, will Kyros Ventures change its overall investment direction in the next cycle? Are there any new areas or projects that are optimistic?

Zane: This year, Kyros Ventures will establish its own media department and provide marketing solutions to support some projects entering the Vietnamese market.

In addition, we also have a venture capital department dedicated to discovering early-stage projects with potential teams. This year, we also plan to launch a research laboratory under Kyros, aiming to explore and develop innovative products to try different topics in the Web3 field. The project is currently under development and has not been officially launched yet.

We have been building our network and ecosystem. We believe that our most valuable asset is our team. As long as we have an excellent team, Kyros will be able to continuously shape and develop, and always adapt to market changes.

12. ChainCatcher: Under the influence of different local regulations, policies, and cultures, each country will form its own unique Web3 ecosystem. Please briefly describe the general situation of the Vietnamese cryptocurrency market and users.

Zane: I believe Vietnamese users are opportunistic to a certain extent. They focus more on trading and investing rather than long-term holding. Vietnamese users tend to try new projects and opportunities. They not only hold mainstream cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, but also have a high level of participation in the DeFi field.

The opportunistic and action-oriented characteristics of Vietnamese cryptocurrency users are sufficient to form better network effects. Once the proportion of Vietnamese people who understand cryptocurrencies increases, the dissemination of related knowledge will become easier. If someone’s circle of friends includes one or two knowledgeable friends who are willing to answer questions about cryptocurrencies, their world will undergo tremendous changes because of the existence of these one or two people. Similarly, if an entire country becomes interested in and gradually understands a certain concept or technology, it will inevitably lead the development of the entire industry.

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