In an interview with Irina Heaver, Hubertus Thonhauser Founding Partner of Enabling Future and Partner of Ghaf Capital talks about Dubai, investing in the Middle East and the future of GameFi and Web 3.0
Tell me about Ghaf Capital. You’re quite a new kid on the block and already made so many investments over the last year. Tell me about Ghaf Capital, who are your partners and why now?
Ghaf Capital actually is the first UAE based and homegrown venture capital firm. We’re not a fund. We are actually four family office investment professionals that work together and it’s mainly local families. Well-known entrepreneurs with great networks. I joined them last year just to add a more international flavor to the team.
Our focus is really Web 3.0 so we invested in that infrastructure. We invest in the building blocks that create the next generation of the internet going from games to NFTs to DeFi infrastructure but also to exchanges where we recently invested in the first African crypto exchange, CoinMARA. Basically it’s completely across the board. The goal is really to provide to the entrepreneurs. We invest in added value and on-ramp into the UAE or broader Middle Eastern ecosystem.
So why is it important for projects to have their on-ramp to the Middle East?
The Middle East is a very important market in terms of demographics. It has very young clientele. The average age is much lower than in many other parts of the world. The adoption of mobile technologies and crypto in particular is higher than in other parts of the world and at a faster rate.
So it’s important to provide entrepreneurs access to these regions but it’s not only that, it’s also the setting up of companies. We are very well connected to the infrastructure of the UAE and we can provide the companies with this assistance. On top of that, obviously we have connections not only in the Middle East but also beyond in terms of marketing and contact to exchanges.
There’s a lot of excitement about Gameify. Do you see that as a valuable segment to invest in or do you think it’s just hype and it will all go away?
If you think about it, what we are seeing here with web three is the evolution of the internet. So we have actually the next layer of the internet where creators, builders, and users, basically all part of the infrastructure. Play-to-earn is a great example for that.
I remember when one of my first startups was in the classic free-to-play game space in the year 2000. Everybody was screaming in the old industry, “what is this free to play?”, “How can this be a viable business?” Now it has become mainstream.
They are pretty annoyed about that because they don’t want to give away some of their part of the pie. So I think it has a lot of legs because it involves the users as much as the creators and infrastructure providers.
Are there games out there that you want to give a shout out to, that you invested in, that have a great UI UX and also a great game to play because it’s also good to have a game where people can earn?
Absolutely. We invested in a number of NFT based play-to-earn games in our portfolio. But one project that I particularly liked because of its long-term vision is Cross The Ages.
The reason why I invested in this company was particularly because of the team. They have assembled a group of fantastic artists. I think it’s roughly 70 people in the artist space, who worked for brands like Harry Potter, Marvel, League of Legends, Game of Thrones, and so on. So really people who know this industry deep inside are part of the core team.
The vision of Cross The Ages is to create seven novels written around seven books, basically that are going to be gameified. It’s a long-term project. It’s not just a quick coin flip it’s something that’s supposed to become the future type of game for the metaverse. It’s evolving and it bridges the gap between crypto, between collectors and between the gaming industry.
So it’s beautiful and has some elements of DeFi, but also some elements of collectibles and NFTs. So it’s exciting to see that, but the main reason why I invested in that is really the team and the long term vision.
Join us in Belgrade, Serbia from the 22-25th August:
With the peninsula being known for its natural beauty, rich cultural landscape and fantastic delicacies, the Balkans are renowned for having some of the most quintessentially Mediterranean vistas and experiences. From the Adriatic coastline of Split to the fairytale-esque castle of Lake Bled, the region has a lot to offer the world. This being said, something that fewer may know is the fact that the nations of the Balkans are incubating a nascent but powerfully growing technical expertise when it comes to frontier technology such as Blockchain, GameFi, AI and more. Therefore the region may not only be a rich adventure into the past but my also serve as a window into the very near future.
Join us in Belgrade for the best the industry has to offer and for a window into the future of Deep Tech. To learn more about sponsorship and speaking opportunities or to inquire about attending the event, please contact Sophie at [email protected]