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Meet A Brazilian Entrepreneur Democratizing Games And NFTs

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Daniel Santos is hatching a plan to bring games and NFTs to underprivileged communities. The Brazilian-born entrepreneur now based in Singapore has a vision for a new economic model enabling self-sustaining and evolving ‘digital societies’ to create value via minting, trading and exchanging digital assets. The concept centers around making games and tokenized winnings accessible to the unbanked through his platform, Gamepay. Gamepay provides the infrastructure, tools and community for developers to access untapped, low-income markets as well as gamers. The tools and infrastructure will be used to build metaverses, or virtual worlds focused on social connection, with opportunities to carry out tasks and activities, including games and in-game tokens that can be converted into Fiat (government issued paper currency) or used as crypto assets to pay for goods or services as it becomes more mainstream.

Amy Guttman: What is your first product and when is it coming to market?

Daniel Santos: Chickey Chik is the inaugural game on the platform and it will play a critical role in onboarding the next generation of gamers and game developers in this new paradigm. The platform is based on sound economic and financial models that have been validated over the past decade, in tokenized form. Chickey Chik will be available online on the web and mobile app (iOS and Android). Chickey Chik will also be available in seven languages (in addition to English) by mid-April 2022, covering the largest global populations of low-income demographics.

Guttman: What is the inspiration? Angry Birds?

Santos: The game IS inspired by Angry Birds and our passion to create games in tokenized form as a “gig” to anyone that wants to make money in the new tokenized gig economy; gaming being a vertical of that. 

We want to tap into the unbanked; the overlooked consumers in developing markets and not leave anyone behind; we want to make crypto assets accessible and affordable to the masses and not just the rich elite. We believe in empowering our players and helping them make money, especially those who would like to earn and play as a profession.  Most of all, we have a dream that battling and collecting cute Chickeys can change the world.

Guttman: Is Chickey Chik a game or an NFT?

Santos: Chickey Chik is a game inspired by the co-founder’s 9-year old child’s obsession with “Chick” cartoon & Pokemon-inspired universe. Anyone of any age can play Chickey Chik and earn money. Chickey Chik will adopt the Play-to-Earn (P2E) model where users can earn money by playing. The goal is to give players the opportunity to earn double the local minimum wage (e.g. in the Philippines ) through in-game rewards and winningss. Players utilize their Chickey Chiks to compete against other users, breed better and more rare Chickey Chiks, acquire flocks of Chickey Chiks, develop and nurture young Chickey Chiks, and build an Empire. 

Players can digitize and sell their Chickey Chiks and many other in-game assets in the form of NFTs. Community developers access the data generated by the game to develop the Chickey Chik ecosystem, which is a socially-driven community.

The future is where work and play become one. We believe in empowering our players and helping them make money, especially those who would like to earn and play as a profession. Most of all, we have a dream that battling and collecting cute Chickeys can change the world.

Guttman: What is your background?

Santos: I was raised in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), chasing chicks around; the ones in feathered form, as a way to become faster with my legs and be a better footballer; every Brazilian dreams to be a football player but sadly, I was really bad at football and chasing chicks didn’t help . 

When I was 14 years old, I moved to England for school and went into finance, having worked at tier one banks in London, Moscow and Asia. As an early adopter of bitcoin, I created a company called Blockchain Labs in 2016 in Singapore and have been in crypto ever since. In 2021, we formed Chickey Chicks, powered by Gamepay which is partially owned by Blockchain Labs.

Guttman: What’s a Brazilian doing in Singapore?

Santos: After spending five years in Moscow, I decided to move to the tropics. I want to be able to walk around in shorts and wear panama hats. I am a panama hat collector. I also believe that the future is in Asia and Singapore is the best base to access the Asian market and be the bridge between East and West.

Guttman: What are your biggest challenges at this stage?

Santos: biggest challenge is recruiting the right people as we scale. They need to fit into our culture, have the right work ethic, innovative mindset, attention to detail, communication and coding skills to keep up.

Guttman: What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

Santos: No one is an island, so find the right team to work with, be it at school, university or along the way in your career and start on small projects with them. Build trust, learn about one another and once you are confident about an idea, make sure you work with that team and focus on execution. 

It can take a lifetime to find the right core team to work with and it’s via small projects, trials and errors and solving difficult problems that you crystallize the relationships that will stand the test of time and ultimately create successful businesses. An imperfect action is better than no action at all, as long as you can perfect the action iteratively as a team.

Santos and his team will begin NFT sales of Chickey Chick in February. The game will be fully baked when it launches in mid-April.

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Rumors confirmed, Street Fighter 6 kicks off in June 2023

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Fighting Game fans are excited now that Capcom announced that Street Fighter 6 is coming to PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S and PC on June 2, 2023. The game was initially announced in February 2022, but that reveal did not include a specific release date beyond 2023.

The trailer at The Game Awards focused on new mini games and the international setting. In addition to the 18 previously announced fighter, the trailer also confirms that several new fighters — Dee Jay, Manon, Marisa and JP — that will join the game’s roster.

Notably, the June 2 release date for Street Fighter 6 may be a strategic choice for Capcom. June is the very beginning of Q3.

The last installment of the franchise — Street Fighter V — released nearly seven years ago so fans have been eager for another installment. A day before The Game Awards, the game’s June release date was leaked via the PlayStation Store.

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Akros Technologies, an AI-powered asset management platform, raises funding from Z Holdings • TechCrunch

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Artificial intelligence is taking over almost every industry. The investment and finance industry is no exception. In Deloitte’s 2019 report, the firm reveals that AI is transforming the financial ecosystem to reduce costs and make operations more efficient by providing automated insights and alternative data, analysis and risk management.

Technology such as AI has digitized the finance sector, ranging from payments and remittances to lending. However, asset management is still in the nascent stage of digitization, according to the chief strategy officer and co-founder of Akros Technologies, Jin Chung.

Akros Technologies wants to disrupt the current asset management industry via its AI-driven asset management software platform that mines market data for stocks. Akros just raised $2.3 million from Z Venture Capital, the corporate venture capital wholly owned by Z Holdings, which also owns the Japanese messaging app Line and internet portal Yahoo Japan.

Akros intends to strengthen strategic ties with Z Holdings via strategic investment, the startup said. The latest funding, which brings Akros’s total amount raised to $6.1 million since its 2021 inception, will help Akros to scale its software platform and asset management products and ramp up its users, including local and global financial institutions and fintech companies.

The outfit is already in discussions with potential partners to expand its AI-powered product called portfolio management as a service, or PMaaS, an all-in-one operating system for portfolio management. Chung explained to TechCrunch that PMaaS “enables B2B clients such as financial institutions, fintech startups and robot-advisors to launch their own exchange-traded funds (ETFs) without having to set up ETF teams and infrastructure.”

He added that it expects to secure more than five B2B clients in the first quarter of 2023.

The startup claims that its AI-powered portfolio management platform can reduce “the overall cost structure [of] the traditional fund development,” including management fees and unnecessary fees involved in the investment process, by more than 80%. The outfit aims to maximize the finance management performance of data-driven ETFs and offer a portfolio management solution via the PMaaS for Akros’s users to help them compete with global ETF institutions like Vanguard or JPMorgan.

In August, Contents Technologies launched Korean pop music, also known as K-pop, and Korea Entertainment ETF, on the NYSE Arca Exchange under the ticker KPOP, using Akros’s PMaaS solution to develop the ETFs. In addition, Akros listed an AI-driven target income ETF, called Akros Monthly Payout ETF (ticker: MPAY), on the NYSE in May with monthly distributions at an annualized target rate of 7%, according to the startup.

To build a slew of investment strategies that lower the cost of portfolio modeling and generate scores of investment portfolios, Akros applies a generative AI model based on a decision transformer, which predicts future actions through the sequencing model, Chung said, adding the company also employs GPT-3 natural language processing (NLP) to analyze unstructured language data.

Akros plans continuously to enhance its engineering technology by bolstering its business to disrupt the asset management market and attract new partners across the globe, including Japan, Singapore and the U.S., co-founder and chief executive officer Kyle Moon said in a statement.

Founded by CEO Moon, CSO Jin and chief marketing officer Justin Gim, Akros employs seven people.

Co-founders of Akros Technologies: (Left to right) Justin Gim, Kyle Moon and Jin Chung. Image Credits: Akros Technologies

Moon previously worked for Qraft Technologies as head of AI research and CSO and had experience listing four ETFs on NYSE. Before co-founding Akros, Gim had more than nine years of experience in the asset management industry; Chung did research work for Bayesian deep learning in autonomous driving cars at Oxford Robotics Institute.

In March, Akros raised $3.75 million in funding from PeopleFund, a South Korean peer-to-peer lending platform. The company declined to provide its valuation when asked.

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Sammy Hagar and Guy Fieri Reveal The Two Key Ingredients of Entrepreneurial Success

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There was John and Paul and then John and Oko. Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. Sure, we’ve had great pairings on the screen, in the recording studio, and on stage, but mixing sectors is taking on a whole new life and energy.

Rocker Sammy Hagar never plays second-fiddle to anyone unless you’re a bleach-blonde, larger-than-life flavor junkie who hunts down good times like it’s a profession. We’re, of course, talking about Guy Fieri.

Hagar and Fieri, both from small towns in California, share a love of entertainment and experience and are continuing to bring that to consumers with more offerings from the company Santo Spirits.

Entrepreneur spent time with the duo to dig deeper into the roots of their partnership and, more importantly, friendship.

Known affectionately as the “Godfather of Tequila,” Hagar has been on the spirits scene long before Ryan Reynolds, George Clooney, Conor McGregor, Bryan Cranston, or Charles Barkley cashed in on the distillery run that has made billions worldwide.

Hagar attributes much of his success in the spirit industry to the gritty and comforting roots of his rearing in the lettuce fields of Salinas, California. “We grew up poor, but we always had a garden. My grandma and my mom canned everything. We ate good tomatoes all year round,” he says. Hagar remembers the smell wafting yards away from his artisanal chef and grandfather’s trailer-turned Italian-bistro. “He made his own cheese, pasta and olive oil. He even made his own wine! I would walk towards his trailer, and it was like a deli — it smelled so damn good!”

Related: ‘No One Believed’ This Black Founder Was the Owner of a Liquor Brand in 2012. He Launched to Great Acclaim — Then Lost It All. Here’s How He Made a Multi-Million-Dollar Comeback.

The romanticism of his relationship with food and family emanates in his description and experience of flavors today. He didn’t plan on a spirits biz, but good taste pulled him in like many things in his life. Hagar leans into the quality of the food and spirit industry, maybe because he only first experienced a restaurant at the ripe age of 24.

Wine was Hagar’s first love, and through a few unexpected and global turns, he found himself in Jalisco, Mexico sipping tequila. What started with Cabo Wabo eventually expanded into new ventures. “Good tequila tastes like the earth with salt and citrus. Overtones, fruity, herbaceous, time and limit are all involved. Santo Tequila Blanco, you can drink it by itself. There are so many notes in it.”

“Fieri grows peaches all around the distillery, and you can taste and smell the peaches in there. It’s such a wonderful agave spirit. Out of a Blanco tequila, I can name 15 different things that I smell in ours because there’s nothing else in it. Others might smell like sugar or honey because they try to bring it up with agave syrups. A lot of tequila is not as pure as it should be anymore.”

Before tequila, Fieri was drinking the Kool-Aid

Years before Fieri was smashing flavor profiles on our screens, he was selling Kool-Aid in his neighborhood. Known for rolling his sleeves up, Fieri literally dipped his youthful arm into pitchers of the iconic 80’s beverage until his father noticed. “My dad kicked me out of the Kool-Aid business after he caught me with a purple arm. I’d lost my stirring stick, my dog took it, and my dad busted me. He said, ‘That’s it, you’re out.'”

The budding beverage king learned a valuable lesson as an up-and-coming entrepreneur. “I always had a couple of businesses going as a kid. I was a budding entrepreneur growing up in the angelic town of Ferndale, California. I always had businesses, and tourists were always coming through. I’d buy penny candy from the candy store and sell it for a nickel across the street with my own little booth made out of cardboard. People couldn’t believe this little kid was making money.” While his entrepreneurial Kool-Aid days are behind him, it wasn’t the only time Fieri would go on to make a profit selling beverages (albeit of the alcoholic variety).

Enter the dream team

When Hagar sold Cabo Wabo, Fieri was crushed — his restaurant self-reported selling more Cabo Wabo than any restaurant in the country.

They talked. Hagar was ready to chill and enjoy the well-earned sips that had solidified his place as an entrepreneur. Fieri wanted to partner up to build a spirits company with Hagar, who was reticent. Call me in a decade, and maybe I’ll be ready, Hagar replied.

Fieri was ready even if the decade bloated a couple of years before circling back with Hagar. This time it was Hagar doing the calling, and Santo Spirits was born.

Bandmates

For decades Hagar has approached life and business, aiming to be the best. “Quite honestly, when I joined Van Halen, I thought if I couldn’t sing better than the previous guy [David Lee Roth], I wouldn’t have joined the band.” By all accounts, Hagar has found a bandmate in Fieri that embodies a key element of success for entrepreneurs — complementary skills and a matched passion for winning.

Fieri provides advice for entrepreneurs in something he adlibs the 25/8 rule. “If you don’t have spark, you don’t have sh-t. But it takes hard work. It’s one of the things this country was founded on and the sacrifices our veterans made. Get the 40-hour workweek out of your mind. You’ve got to work 24/7, and in my book, it’s more like 25/8. But it’s important to remember that you also live 25/8. Don’t make work and life separate, make it the same thing, and put it all together.”

Hagar realized corporate success through gates of established fame and beliefs that allowed him to bring passion over profits to his pursuits outside of music. “I came through music and had more success, fame, and fortune than anyone could ever want in their lives. When I started doing business deals, it was strictly out of passion and creativity, with a strong connection to music.” It’s become personal for Hagar, who finds peace and reward in his Hagar Family Foundation, providing services for kids and families in need. Hagar remembers being poor and sees his job as assisting communities and giving back.

Hagar’s mother, if not for an unexpected supporter, was given typing classes that resulted in an office job and away from day-labor work in the fields. Hagar repeatedly shares, “What if? What if she wasn’t so lucky?”

Don’t make the mistake of thinking a little tequila can knock these two back. Hagar and Fieri have discovered the entrepreneurial recipe that celebrates friendship, revenue and a splash of legacy to personalize the business of experience.

Most entrepreneur “how to” books scoff at friends going into business together. I guess spirits and rock-n-roll are just a tad bit more exciting than widgets. Hagar and Fieri will be rocking the sipping industry while most of us are rocking our email and spreadsheets. Salud!

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