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An Interview with the Founding Partners of Miami’s Rokk3r Labs and Rokk3r Fuel

Founding Partners of Rokk3r Fuel

Rokk3r Fuel is a dedicated investment group connected to Rokk3R Labs, a Miami-based venture builder. See what the Founding Partners have to say and their remarkable achievements in the Venture capital market.

From Left to Right:

Jeff Ransdell, Rokk3r Fuel’s Founding Partner & Managing Director

Jonas Tempel, Rokk3r Fuel’s Founding Partner

Nabyl Charania, Co-Founder and CEO of Rokk3r Labs

Germán Montoya, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy & Creative Officer of Rokk3r Labs

  1.  What is Rokk3r Labs? How does it relate to Rokk3r Fuel?

German Montoya: Rokk3r Labs is a company builder – we connect with today’s leading entrepreneurs and work with them at every stage to launch industry and world-changing companies. We also work with organizations (small and large) helping them define and implement innovation to remain relevant in today’s digital world. Whether you’re a startup or a corporation, we partner at any stage of the process to help create the idea, develop the right strategy to make it successful, launch it to the market quickly, scale it and provide the right investment at every stage of the process. Industry terminology would refer to Rokk3r Labs as a ‘venture builder’. However, what we’ve created at Rokk3r Labs is a true ‘idea-to-exit’ ecosystem that captures every aspect of the company building process – we’re truly the best place in the world, to launch companies that change the world. Our higher, aspirational purpose is to harness the global collective genius to co-build companies that change the world. Rokk3r Fuel is a lever within the Rokk3r Labs ecosystem to empower that specific higher, aspirational purpose. Rokk3r Fuel is Rokk3r Labs’ first major fund. It is a global $150M fund that will invest capital into early stage ideas that go through the Rokk3r Labs platform. Rokk3r Fuel will also invest in exponential companies at large, and make selective investments in growth and exit rounds. Rokk3r Fuel’s founding partners Jeff Ransdell and Jonas Tempel are recognized industry leaders that share the Rokk3r Labs leadership’s vision of abundance, asymmetrical risk, exponential opportunity and risk reduction through controlled company building dynamics.

  1.  How did Rokk3r Labs start and where did the idea come from?

German Montoya: Rokk3r Labs started as a meeting of the minds between a handful of entrepreneurs in late 2011, early 2012. There was a shared realization and understanding that technology was driving an exponential change in both the way industries were operating and in daily life, at the global level. This meant that a new infrastructure was needed to identify, launch and fund ideas that would thrive in a world of tech-driven abundance. Rokk3r Labs, the world’s first “cobuilding” platform for entrepreneurs, corporations and investors to create exponential startups, was born from this need at the infrastructure level of global entrepreneurship. More than simply “a vision to change the world” we instead determined a higher, aspirational purpose, which was to harness the global collective genius to cobuild companies that change the world. The focus became leveraging exponential technologies (e.g., the blockchain, artificial intelligence, and 3D printing) and implementing new-age methods of raising capital for our ecosystem. Approximately five years later, the initial idea of creating a new infrastructure for digital age entrepreneurship has now become a true ‘idea-to-exit ecosystem’ consisting of a global portfolio of over 40 exponential startups, our first global $150M fund (Rokk3r Fuel), our first educational platform to make company building globally accessible (10XU), a stable of world-leading innovation partners and advisors, and an inspired and growing global support of our paradigm.

  1.  What is your current business model?

German Montoya: Our current business model consists of equity deals with early stage startups and becoming part of their team through the Rokk3r Labs “cobuild approach”. This helps us mitigate risk, to move away from the industry normalized “spray and pray” approach, which our paradigm was created to evolve.

  1.  Since 2012, Rokk3r Labs has co-built over 40 companies and has helped companies such as UNIKO to find success. What has been the key to Rokk3r Labs’ success?

German Montoya: At a purely functional level, constantly improving the cobuild approach has allowed us to iterate a higher quality of sourcing, vetting, launching and funding of the best ideas, entrepreneurs, teams and partners. More importantly, being able to unite our team and various partners around Rokk3r Labs’ higher, aspirational purpose (harness the global collective genius to cobuild companies that change the world), has been instrumental in our success. Coalescing around the mindset that global connectedness is rising rapidly and bringing 5 billion new minds to the global economy in less than a decade; that convergence and accessibility of powerful technologies like artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and machine learning is increasing; and that the world is moving from a generally accepted global model of scarcity to that of abundance as a result of technology. All of this allows a superior functional capability at Rokk3r Labs on the global level to be driven by a mindset that is in-sync with the rate and scope of change that technology is impressing on every single industry and in every single human being’s life.

  1.  Who are your biggest competitors?

German Montoya: The idea of competitors reflects a more traditional business and commerce. As a global venture builder that embodies an idea-to-exist ecosystem and dynamic infrastructure, all other players simply become part of the entrepreneurship universe. Competition has become collaboration. This is the new world that we have both helped birth and which has helped to create Rokk3r Labs. Accelerators and incubators play a specific role in this universe attracting certain entrepreneurs and pushing them back out into the world. Venture capital firms play a particular role for certain ideas that meet specific criteria. Universities and colleges build a certain level of knowledge and networks that churn out entrepreneurs. Corporate innovation labs power thinking and ideas. Each of these players are merely forces within an overall universe. With the Rokk3r Labs idea-to-exit ecosystem we become another component in this overall universe that works with all other forces in the universe to drive global entrepreneurship.

  1.  Rokk3r Labs has recently launched Rokk3r Fuel, a venture capital fund. Briefly describe Rokk3r Fuel and share your inspiration for launching it?

Jonas Tempel: With the momentum of Rokk3r Labs, it became clear that there was a need to introduce a capital partner to help support the company building process. Our mission is global and we see Miami as an emerging start-up market connecting the United States and other global cities. Rokk3r Fuel is Rokk3r Labs’ first major fund. It is a global $150M fund that will invest capital into early stage ideas that go through the Rokk3r Labs platform. Rokk3r Fuel will also invest in exponential companies at large, and make selective investments in growth and exit rounds. From an inspiration standpoint, we can take a step back to see the bigger picture, where Rokk3r Fuel has been developed as a lever within the Rokk3r Labs ecosystem to empower Rokk3r Labs’ massive transformative purpose: harness the global collective genius to cobuild companies that change the world. The consensus is that the next great company is as likely to emerge from a place in the world not commonly associated with innovation, as it is from somewhere in North America.

  1.  Rokk3r Fuel is led by founding partners Jeff Ransdell and Jonas Tempel. What experience and expertise are both of you (Mr. Ransdell and Mr. Tempel) bringing to the investment fund?

Jonas Tempel: I’ve spent my professional career starting and building global brands as either the CEO or a creative strategist. My background lends itself toward the entrepreneurial journey where leaders must push through adversity without compromising the outcome. Lending that experience to other founders is valuable and helps establish Rokk3r Fuel as not only a capital partner but also a trusted partner in the journey from idea to exit.

Jeff Ransdell: After 20 years of focus on professional investing, I realized that the traditional financial products and services were abundant.  I wanted to bring my years of experience, knowledge and access to a niche asset class which is not abundant and where I can bring value to those who are wanting to invest in it.

  1. What kinds of companies and entrepreneurs is Rokk3r Fuel looking to support?

Jonas Tempel: As a general rule, we are hyper focused on founders that embrace the ideals of exponential company building. We want to invest as early as possible with founders who are engaged with Rokk3r Labs or have validated company building experience. It’s our belief that Rokk3r Labs will supply us with a steady stream of investable ideas but of course we will look beyond our walls and into the global ecosystem of start-up culture to bring scale to our investment momentum.

Jeff Ransdell: At our core, we are technologists. As a result, we are hyper focused on founders and creators who are embracing exponential technologies which will fundamentally change, in positive ways, the industries which they are entering. We want to invest as early as possible with founders who are engaged with Rokk3r Labs or have validated company building experience.

  1.  What makes Rokk3r Fuel different from other investment groups that support innovators in getting access to the capital they need to grow?

Jonas Tempel:  Like any investment team, the philosophy of deploying capital is not dependent on any one factor but rather a collective group of data that satisfy our risk mitigation strategy. In plain terms, this means that we want to get engaged early and grow alongside the founders helping accelerate where possible. The partnership with venture builder Rokk3r Labs provides an additional differentiator. Each investment group has a particular process to support innovators. Being closely intertwined with Rokk3r Labs’ proven company building process means laser-guided focus on timeliness of investment, and heightened two-way transparency along with massive increased efficiencies across management and execution of funding. The Rokk3r Fuel investment thesis is another differentiator. This thesis is steeped in an understanding of the digital age; one where in a few years 3 billion new consumers, investors and entrepreneurs will be coming online, and as many as 50 billion internet-connected devices will be creating an evolved global economic nervous system. Embodying this thesis ensures that innovators are being supported within a future-forward capital framework, which becomes pivotal to accessing and capital at the right moment.

  1.  What are the challenges that Rokk3r Fuel currently faces?

Jonas Tempel: Like any start-up, we are in the process of building our firm. Currently we are raising capital, engaging founders and building our presence as a source of capital. Big-picture, what we’ve accomplished with Rokk3r Fuel, to become a major lever in Rokk3r Labs’ global idea-to-exit infrastructure, is extremely noteworthy. It has meant going against conventional funding-model paradigmatic thinking. As a founding team, we saw the gaps in the existing global model that have been limiting entrepreneurship and investment. So we dovetailed our learnings to create something completely different from industry norms. This means beyond basic growing pains, educating the industry becomes a primary challenge. Working with our partners, we’re excited to embrace this challenge and leverage our collective experiences and networks to face it.

  1.  Why was Rokk3r Fuel launched in Miami instead of other cities in Florida?

Jonas Tempel: Serendipity and science have been known to positively change the world in many instances! We can’t ignore that in the case of Rokk3r Fuel. With Rokk3r Labs having its roots in Miami, collaborating with them from there, at the root level, allows us to create the proper launching infrastructure to the rest of the world. Miami also has been growing its reputation for global commerce, higher education through their globally recognized postsecondary institutions and research facilities, and a booming arts and culture scene that is lauded in every corner of the globe. Being at this epicenter allows us to create additional synergies with many different components of entrepreneurship and commerce.

Jeff Ransdell: We believe Miami is one of the greatest global cities in the world. People from all over the world come here to live and thrive. We are headquartered in the Wynwood arts district. It is a perfect alignment of energy, global talent and creativity.

  1.  Most national reports have cited the slim options for local funding as a key factor holding Miami’s industry back. Briefly, tell us what has been happening in the venture capital industry throughout the state of Florida.

Jonas Tempel: Primarily, venture investing in Florida has been focused outside of technology start-ups. We see Miami as key to our success and unlocking the vacuum of funding in South Florida.

Jeff Ransdell: Investor behavior is largely driven by exposure. Venture capital is talked about and it is read about in newspapers but it has not been live and present as of yet. We plan to change that and with that exposure will come more and more funding.

  1.  What advice can you give entrepreneurs who want to venture into the venture capital sector in the future?

Jonas Tempel: As a rule, venture capital is used as a means to an end. The money can be used to do great things within your company and you get access to our network which can help solve the challenges of scaling a company.

  1.  Is there any other important message you would like to pass across to readers?

Jonas Tempel: You hear the phrase ‘tech is changing the world’ so often that as a promise it has truly lost its meaning. Our advice to readers is not to lose the message in all the marketing fluff you read and instead truly focus on the scale of this change at a global level. Beyond industries, just look inward into your lives to see how much technology has changed the way you may be living your everyday lives. This massive change that tech is driving across industry and daily life is opening a massive area of opportunity in entrepreneurship. Increased global connectivity and access to accelerating technologies means that anyone, anywhere at any time can create or help create a world-changing company. It’s this optimism for the future that drives our mission and empowers our team to identify, build and invest in these truly transformative times.

For more information, visit Rokk3r fuel website here

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