1. Please tell us a bit about yourself, both at work and leisure.
I am the Co-Founder & CFO at CCEX Cloud Commodities Exchange GmbH headquartered in Frankfurt am Main / Germany. CCEX is a truly global project with partners in US, Asia and Europe and the goal to establish a new Asset Class, namely Cloud Commodities. In other words, we are going to commoditize a portion (up to 10%) out of the Cloud Market (USD 170bn, growth rate: c. 19% p.a.)
I have a Financial Services background working in Treasury, Corporate & Investment Banking. I truly enjoy working with smart, ambitious and open-minded people. Additionally, I love sports e.g. tennis, kiting, skiing and I value meaningful exchange of ideas with exceptional people about philosophical coherences.
2. Which services do you sell and who are your competitors?
CCEX Cloud Commodities Exchange GmbH enables Cloud Computing Resources e.g. IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, etc. to be traded similar to traditional commodities such as crude oil, gas, electricity, etc. via already existing exchanges such as Singapore Exchange – SGX, New York Stock Exchange – NYSE, Deutsche Börse, etc.
CCEX will define Cloud Benchmarks, license Order Books and create Cloud Indices; Cloud Computing is a rapidly growing technology that has already become one of the most important commodities worldwide;
As far as we know, nobody else has brought together a team of professionals from various industries i.e. IT, Cloud, Trading, Corporate & Investment Banking and Law to create an Ecosystem of Cloud Providers, Cloud Consumers, Exchanges, Banks, Universities, Consulting Firms and Cloud Settlement Partners with the goal to align Cloud Standards that are being agreed on and supported by all market participants.
Cloud Standardization efforts have been performed by Deutsche Börse Cloud Exchange (DBCE) in the past and are performed by UCX.
3. How did you get your startup idea and how did you go about launching it?
Shawn Findlan | Co-Founder & CEO at CCEX, who used to work at Morgan Stanley | Global CTO and J.P. Morgan | CTO in Asia had the idea of a financial exchange market for grid & cloud computing in 2007.
Dr. Johannes Watzl | Co-Founder & CIO at CCEX, had the idea commoditization of Cloud Computing in 2008 and finalized his PhD thesis regarding “Cloud Benchmark Framework” in 2013 at LMU.
Shawn Findlan and Dr. Johannes Watzl were introduced to each other by Prof. Dieter Kranzlmüller, who is Professor of Computer Science at LMU and Member of the Board of Leibnitz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) and Advisory Board Member of CCEX since 2016.
Formal start of CCEX Cloud Commodities Exchange was initiated in 2016. Since then, various experts from different areas (Cloud, IT, Coprorate & Investment Banking, Trading and Law) were joining our Team and Advisory Board Members (currently 26 members in total).
4. How did you finance your startup, and what learnings would you like to share from the fund-raising journey?
The Co-Founders and the Team & Advisory Board Members have been financing all expenses (e.g. IP, Legal, other expenditures, etc.) themselves.
We have significantly grown our Stakeholder Network, have standardized the first Cloud Products and have performed the first OTC-Trades. We are now ready to reach the next step with strong Investment Partners understanding the value of Asset Classes, the value of Commodity Trading and the value of Indices.
We are currently talking to various exciting Family Offices, VCs and Banks regarding our Series A – Investment Round: EUR 10m (pre-money: EUR 90m | post-money: EUR 100m)
In our opinion, it is key to get together with the right partners only. These investment partners should truly understand the market you are acting in and should share the same values.
Money is useless, unless you invest it wisely. If you have the right partners sharing your vision and mindset, your company’s growth will accelerate significantly.
5. What areas within FinTech do you personally find most interesting and why?
FinTech is truly exciting with the potential to radically change the current banking system. Years ago, banks did not take FinTech seriously, now they are having difficulties to keep up with the speed of developments within the innovative FinTech space. Technologies like blockchain and AI will significantly reinforce this trend.
In my opinion, the banking landscape will dramatically change within the next 5 to 10 years. If you want to learn more, please get in touch with me.
6. What opportunities do you see for FinTech startups in Continental Europe, and how can we help?
All around the world great ideas are being created. The same holds true for Europe. The question is, whether Europe is the right place to grow your FinTech startup most effectively and with the necessary pace. Asia and US might be more favourable at the moment.
How to change the status quo:
Europe needs more investors and FinTech partners that are prepared to take risks. Innovation is a mix of opportunity, ambition and the right eco-system (politics, mindset of existing corporates, investors, etc.). If Europe really wants to make a difference, we literally have to invest in our children and talented young professionals. Additionally, education should be one of the key areas.
7. What tip would you like to give FinTech entrepreneurs?
If you want to establish a new business concept, it is vital to invest time and money for your strong Stakeholder Network.
First, you need to receive the feedback from top-notch players in your specific industry area. You do not want to convince them, ideally they understand and love your concept and want to join your eco-system.
Second, you are happy to have as many market industry experts as partners helping you with the market education process. They are also talking to your relevant Stakeholders explaining them the advantages of your business concept.
Third, it is very helpful to have a strong, experienced and well-connected Advisory Board that is willing to open doors for you to get in touch with your precious eco-system stakeholders. The more people that help you marketing your concept, the faster your business can grow.