We sat down with Nisa Amoils to discuss a number of items within the technology and private wealth space. Nisa has been named one of Business Insider’s 30 Women in Venture Capital to Watch in 2018, and Top 100 women in Fintech in 2019 by LATTICE80. Nisa Amoils is a tech investor and has been a venture capitalist at Scout Ventures, an active Board Member and former entrepreneur. Her investment focus has largely been on frontier tech, i.e. AR/VR, robotics, drones, AI, autonomous mobility, cybersecurity, blockchain and other disruptive technologies (of which she frequently writes about for Forbes). Nisa is a regular contributor on the Business of Blockchain show.
Please introduce yourself, and describe your professional background.
I have been an early stage investor for family office and venture funds for the past decade. I am a securities lawyer and on the Boards of several institutions including Wharton Entrepreneurship and the Institute for Blockchain Innovation. I have a regular show on Nasdaq called the Business of Blockchain and write for Forbes and Blockchain Magazine. I am a regular on CNBC, MSNBC, Fox, Cheddar, Yahoo Finance and others. Prior to investing, I was an entrepreneur and spent many years in business development at companies like Time Warner and NBC Universal and worked with many startups. I have a business degree from the University of Michigan and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
Can you tell us what led you to write your book WTF Is happening: Women Tech Founders on the Rise?
I was speaking to a large Blockchain focused fund last year and asked a portfolio manager how many female founders were in their portfolio. He asked me if that existed. At that moment, I thought it was my moral imperative to show him what he was missing. Female founders still only receive 2% of venture funding while building companies at a higher rate and then outperforming. As an investor, this represents an alpha generating opportunity and I wanted more investors to be aware of it. Women need more capital to build businesses that build future technology.
Also, showing these 13 women is just a start for getting more women and girls to join. Most of the media coverage on female founders is around food, fashion, ecommerce, beauty founders -- not around these technologies because they are newer and not yet "unicorns". It is exactly because they are newer that there is opportunity for parity and breaking patterns from traditional tech and finance industries.
Tell us about your experience promoting women in investing? What are the challenges to increasing these numbers, and what are some solutions for the future?
I have found there to be more talk than allocating, more mentoring than sponsorship, more focus on the lack of women to invest in than the actual systemic and bias issues in the system. The bottom up solutions remain small and therefore do not move the needle on the 2% number. The solution must be macro market allocations from the top: pensions, endowments, sovereign wealth funds, foundations and other institutions. They need to be rewarded for incentives to take a risk on emerging managers and sectors.
What advice would you give to young women thinking about a career in investing?
Apply to the Girls Who Invest program. Don't give up. Ever.
Describe your thoughts on investment opportunities in technology, especially Blockchain, cryptocurrencies and ICO’s. Do you have any advice for family offices seeking to become better equipped to approach investment in these areas?
This technology is more revolutionary than the internet disruption of media and communication. It is inevitable because it is based on trust in math at a time when we have a crisis of trust with our governments and companies. It should be as frictionless to exchange value as it is to exchange messages.
I'm a securities lawyer - I never participated in ICO's and now they are over. STO's or security token offerings have been on the rise. Our fund invests in private equity Blockchain-enabled businesses. We are investing in infrastructure of the new financial system and global liquidity, as well as applications that are building on top of protocols. These will disrupt most sectors, from supply chain to gaming. We do not actively trade crypto, however, we believe in Bitcoin as a non-sovereign, decentralized, immutable and has been established as a store of value (digital gold) and may migrate further toward a medium of exchange.
What are some of your go-to resources to stay abreast of the latest news and investments in your industry?
I read daily newsletters and spend time on Twitter and Telegram.
What has been one book about business, finance or disruptive technology that you’ve read and that you consider a must-read?
Mastering Bitcoin by Andreas Antonopoulos
What are the top trends that you have seen emerging within the family office sector in 2019?
They realize that it is irresponsible not to allocate some amount to the Blockchain sector and normally are choosing a fund manager because it requires day to day understanding of the markets.