Finna Protocol is a multi-utility ecosystem for stablecoins to bridge the gap between stable digital currencies and real-world transactions. In this interview, Adebayo Juwon, the co-founder of Finna Protocol, gives exclusive insight into how the Finna team has implemented Raise product and services for their equity management and corporate governance.
Please tell us who you are and what you do.
I’m Juwon Adebayo. I’ve been in the Fintech space, crypto especially, since 2016 and I also have more than five years working experience as a business and operations manager. My previous workplace was FTX. I pretty much managed the African Market- Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana. Then towards the end of the company, we expanded to Francophone countries. I was the only employee in Africa, so pretty much all the buzz heard about FTX in Africa, I was the guy behind it. And then after the bankruptcy filing, I took a few months break and partnered with my friend to start working on a product that a lot of people can relate with locally. Hence, we came up with the idea of Finna.
So how did you hear about Raise?
That will be my co-founder right. He came up with a list of companies and he was super excited about Raise in particular because we’ve been having calls with investors and we've been having back and forth really about equity so he suggested that Raise would do a very good job. I think he found Raise on Twitter.
Thank you. Tell me a little bit more about Finna protocol. What is the startup about?
The ecosystem is pretty much dominated by foreign companies; Chinese, American, European companies. Africans kind of find it very difficult to thrive. In Nigeria especially, we have little to no capital to flex our muscles when it comes to marketing and partnerships and things like that. So we thought, why don't we start something that we can relate with right? Pretty much what you see out there is like, trading, buying and selling and all that. For example, personally, I hate spending my stable coins, right? If I go to a bar, I'll finish eating before I go on Binance and sell coins to get Naira.
I was talking my friend, that's now my co-founder and he had the same issue. Sometimes you want to travel out, you have to sell your stable coins (USDC/USDT) to have proof of funds and then after three months, it has devalued. So we thought, okay, why don’t we just provide a solution where people can keep their stable coins somewhere and borrow Naira and once they are done with it, they can return it? Let's say you earn in stable coins (USDC/USDT) and you need Naira, but you don't want to convert, you can just keep it with Finna, we’ll lock it there and we’ll give you Naira, once you are done with it, you’ll return it and then we’ll unlock your stable coins. Pretty much simple. We did some feasibility studies and we found out that a lot of guys are gonna be interested although it appeared to be more of the B2B businesses, OTC traders & Foreigners who come into the country with hard currencies that were more interested, so we started working on the product.
We also have some other products that will be launching soon especially a brilliant product for remittances that we are currently working on...and that’s the summary about Finna.
That's quite interesting. Asides the usual cryptotrading, I don’t think i’ve heard anything similar to this. It’s quite unique.
After discovering Raise, what does your team use it for?
So as two tech bros who mostly played in the crypto space, we are familiar with the whole tokens to raise funds but with Finna, that's not the play here. We kinda found the whole concept and terminologies of equity kind of strange. So we thought, we needed some help so we reached out to a team that’s good at it, which is Raise.
Did you have any core challenges before eventually choosing Raise as the platform for your equity management?
First, valuation. How much were we valued at? We were self evaluated. And some investors, found it difficult to buy into it. And then talking about investment rounds, we planned to have an angel round but how much equity do we allocate to each round? If we are raising $500,000 for the first round, how much do we raise for the second round, what’s our valuation going to be etc. I mean you understand these things require calculations and definitely, I'm not good at maths (laughs) and my co-founder too. So reaching out to Raise helped us with a lot of insight on how to go about fundraising and equity allocations.
Has Raise been able to help you store, manage, monitor your data in a more efficient and convenience manner? Do you think that that has been achievable so far?
Yeah, yeah, it's a reality now. I mean we have templates now. It works like magic, I mean, just input the numbers and everything reflects, that's the magic. So we were lectured on how those things work and now we can play around the numbers ourselves without any issues.
Awesome. Aside the Raise product, did you also subscribe to any of our services?
Yeah, we did. Raise Equity Clinic was the first service we subscribed to actually then we thought-why not allow Raise to do our valuation as well?
What's the unique service feature or product function that you found particularly valuable for Finna protocol.
What we sought after was value, which was being presentable to our investors. And Raise helped with that. We are more confident now, which is something we got from the equity clinic session. We received a lot of insights. The other is the Valuation report which was very exciting.
Has Raise been helpful with compliance and regulatory requirements for your company?
Yeah, we are on the path of being totally compliant in Nigeria. We're already incorporated in Delaware. And as time goes on, we need to expand to other African countries and also get more licenses. And we already discussed with Raise so we will definitely reach out.
How would you rate Raise services so far, on a scale of 1 to 10?
In terms of my satisfaction I would say, I'll give it a 9. (laughs)
Wow, that's good.
Do you think that Raise has been able to help your company stay organized so far?
Yes, so funny enough, we had frameworks, we had our financial projections, everything but not properly put down. When we subscribed for the valuation package, we actually needed the put things in order, all in one place. Raise helps us put all these things together and now for the first time, we have a clear view of what we would expect for the next three, four years.
Do you have any advice or insight for other founders that are trying to manage equity properly, and how would you recommend Raise to them?
So, my advice would be don't assume that you know everything. Yeah, I was like, we can figure this, just watch a couple of YouTube videos (laughs) and then we'll meet investors and sometimes sound unprepared because these guys know more than us. So it’s better to always hire professional help except you already founded a couple of startups before. For first time founders, I’ll definitely recommend that you get help from Raise especially when it comes to equity and valuations.
Thank you so much. You've been very helpful so far.