Model Generation: Interview with Galixo’s CEO Raphael Dana

Let’s face it, there are many Startups out there that are destined to fail. Even if they get past incubation and recieve the right mentoring, it is still possible to go off the rails. One contributing factor, is that of strategy, that is to say is it the right one? Is it disruptive enough? Weak management teams are not only weak on strategy, but are guilty of failing to do enough work to validate the ideas before and during development. This can carry through to poorly thought through go-to-market strategies. All of these factors are grim realities in the entrepeneurial arena, and the startups themselves know it, little wonder then spaces like level 39 are doing a brisk trade.

If you want to be the next big thing in FinTech there is no reason to be daunted, consider this, what if at the outset, you could work with a company  that designs disruptive business strategies for startups and enterprises in the tech, digital and mobile space? What if you had access to  a multi-disciplinary  team has strong experience and knowledge in four areas: Experience (DNA, branding, UX/design, marketing); Business (analytics, insight, models, monetization); Technology (trends, systems, processes, UI); and Action (planning, testing, implementation, operation review). Sounds intriguing?  I recently met the CEO of Galixo, Raphael Dana at Google Campus for one of their events, where I learned more about him, his business and the disruptive mindset. 

Q: Describe yourself in one sentence

RAPHAEL DANA: A serial entrepreneur from the tech/media space with strong understanding of the disruptive mindset and current global market opportunities.

Q: Could you tell us about yourself/background?

RAPHAEL DANA : I am an entrepreneur and I’ve always had this entrepreneurial spirit. I started my first company when I was 22 with NetArchitects, a pioneering web development company based in Geneva with 150 in-house consultants and some of the leading top 500 Fortune accounts as clients like HSBC, Nestlé, Logitech, Rolex and more. It has been a successful model of specialized added-value consulting services with high margins generating profits every year from 1996 with an organic growth until 2002 when it was sold to Altran Technologies (www.altran.com). After this, I initiated a series of projects and co-founded a niche media group focused on business & financial publishing (www.market.ch) and high net worth luxury publications (www.surlaterre.com) with a cosmopolitan concept and targeted distribution in over 20 cities in the world. I am passionate about media, technology and innovative business concepts and this led me to set foot in Asia and build Galixo with its ‘outside the box’ consultancy model and its GoGlobal approach. I love challenges. Convincing businesses to adopt a disruptive approach is not easy task but I am ready and excited to take on this challenge.

Q: What is Galixo?

RAPHAEL DANA: Galixo is new kind of consultancy boutique company designing disruptive business strategies for startups and enterprises in the tech, mobile and digital space. Galixo was born out of the belief that we are entering the digital business revolution and for businesses to stand out, survive and grow, they must have a disruptive mindset: they must dare to question their model from all angles, they must not be afraid to reengineer their business and adopt a lean approach; they must look differently at users, understand their motivations and integrate experience as an essential part of their business; they must look beyond their traditional markets and test their service / product in new ‘hot’ local markets globally. Disruptive is a ‘business state of mind’, it is a process to keep the edge in terms of creativity, innovation, and profitability; to think ahead of what future trends might be.

Q: What is a GoGlobal approach & why businesses need it?

RAPHAEL DANA: We believe that any business in the digital sector should have a GoGlobal vision from day one. We have enough evidence with all the research and insights available today to say that the market is largely outside the US and Europe by now. We see potential in over 20 major emerging markets presenting remarkable growth in the digital sector including China, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Russia, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Turkey, South Africa, Kenya, and the UAE. These markets are ready to absorb innovative technology platforms developed from around the globe. I would like to point out that global expansion these days also spreads from emerging markets to the rest of the world. This is strongly the case in Asia where many startups are looking to GoGlobal and are starting to target the US and European markets.

So if you plan on launching a new business or if you are considering boosting growth in your existing structure, then you must tackle different local markets globally. When looking at the global market, we see 7bn individuals each interacting differently with technology and media. In order to reach out to them, you need to understand user behaviors and their cultural specificities. Obviously each startup or enterprise going global should analyze which markets to target depending on local competitors and cultural affinities with the product and service offered. Our role is to guide our clients expanding in diverse local markets and design the right business strategies accordingly. We also connect them to our execution network in different parts to help them enter these markets more quickly.

Q: What is Model Generation?

RAPHAEL DANA: We believe strategic models go beyond common traditional business and financial models, taking model generation to the next level. When modeling for businesses we place users center-stage in the search for the right service, on the right technology to meet current and future market trends. We analyze the business from all our spheres of knowledge and rebuild a totally new model that is lean, scalable, viable, profitable and attractive. Our model generation process is a balance of rationality and creativity: on the one hand, it is purely logical, analytical, scientific and mathematical; and on the other it is deeply intuitive, cultural, and social. When we synthesize the two, we can design innovative models. Because of our reengineering spirit, all the models we create are designed to change, develop, and grow all over again. We don’t believe in static models, we believe in models that are shaped by users’ behavior, market trends, emerging technologies. So each business has a unique model that depends on many different components.

Q: How does one define a disruptive mindset?  

RAPHAEL DANA: A disruptive mindset is not a single of way of thinking & acting, it is an approach to business, technology, users that goes beyond traditional and mainstream practices. It means you are ready to adopt new ideas, to think ‘outside the box’, to dare to try different options. In our view, all ideas can be confronted, there is no limit and this is an essential part of our big ideation and brainstorming process. As far as disruptive business strategy is concerned, we believe it is crucial to consider all options as long it can resolve business objectives even if it goes against proven business rules.
For instance, one way is to craft new services that will delight customers ignoring barriers and legacy products from current players. Another approach is to draft the value chain and identify players with low value to be bypassed or replaced by a new service or company providing different steps of the value chain. We can also look at the current state of a lot of local independent businesses and rethink their options for growth and reach: i.e. bringing them together globally to compete with established companies (e.g. private room/flat owners against hotel chain with airbnb.com) or on the contrary, competing with local groups by offering the same kind of service worldwide from the same unique company (e.g. local taxi business competitor uber.com). There are many other examples out there in different industries.

Q: What differentiates Galixo from other consultancy firms? 

RAPHAEL DANA: Galixo is very unconventional, decentralized and virtual. Also, it is global, but in a different way than traditional consulting firms are. We’ve been built a rich network of experts based in different cities all over the world that are independent and totally rooted and immersed in their local ecosystem while strongly connected to the Galixo organic network.

Then if we come down to the consulting business itself, we offer a different model. Most consulting firms offer solutions based on existing process/experience and staff that try to reproduce or adapt best practices in a new environment. A Disruptive Business Strategy is completely based on the opposite, meaning that first we enter unknown business territory so that existing best practice might be the way of failure. Because in our approach, we need outside the box creativity, scalable model we can test real-time and low cost leverage action plan. To create those strategies, we need the best experimented people with multidisciplinary skills that can confront their views. Our teams are made of our internal strategists that use our methodology to ensure delivery mixed with the best multidisciplinary experts to challenge ideas and disruptive approach.

Q: What’s the FinTech startup scene like in Europe?

RAPHAEL DANA: The main issue in Europe is the lack of early adapters that are ready to embrace all those new services. The language, cultural and regulatory fragmentation is a main issue in gaining a critical mass in order to create & identify emerging market players – from Startups to Players. Right now, just the mobile payment/wallet ventures need a minimum of consolidation (mergers, partnership, licensing, etc.) otherwise it will end up with large numbers of startups failing or buyout for a low price due to financial struggle. On the other hand, the B2B market is more interesting in Europe because ecosystems are not mature yet and still miss the most important component namely ‘Tech Giants’ to buyout and accelerate those companies. Banks and Telcos have tried to build innovation in the last years but except technological services improvement, nobody is ready to disrupt itself to move on to the new peer-to-peer, sharing and organic market economy.

Q: Is the FinTech start-up scene risk averse?

RAPHAEL DANA: Let’s be honest, where is your money safe today? I believe that financial stability of financial institutions is uncertain right now. This is the largest market entry opportunity for all the FinTech Players. The European economy is struggling big time and we need innovation, change, entrepreneurship and disruption. It all relies on transparency and trust. I guess the risk-aversion is starting and educating the European consumer mindset on actual opportunities is crucial. In a quantitative approach, the actual risk lies with governments and banks, not with finTech startups. Governments claim consumer protection with regards to crowdfunding and mobile payment while government bonds default might be the riskier catastrophe option today.

Q: Do you find regulation gets in the way of growth and innovation?

RAPHAEL DANA: Unfortunately, strong lobbying of financial institutions try to keep consumer blind and naive by making them believe they are more secure in old institutions than in new FinTech B2P players. We know this is not the case in reality. At least with a startup your risk is rewarded, with potential high return and there is transparency since you know from start you’re at risk, on top of helping innovation, change, entrepreneurship and disruption. Governments and regulators don’t push for innovation and growth, they keep on maintaining citizens in lobbying and cartels that just destroy value so far.

Q: What advice would you offer to ‘any soon to be’ FinTech startup founders out there?

RAPHAEL DANA: I believe FinTech is directly related to trust. The old school financial industry in general has lost credibility from consumers (Madoff, Subprime, Lehmann brothers, Ciprus bank default, Eurozone fall, etc.) because big money don’t consider customer as their central concerns. They try to survive and don’t provide any financial stimulus compared to startups that focus on providing a different and positive experience with higher potential return. My advice would clearly be: provide real transparency, build guaranteed mechanisms, offer a unique experience, demonstrate how you bring about innovation, disruption and show consumers how you offer at lower cost direct investment in the real economy. All these elements matter to people today.

Q: What are you most excited about at the moment?

RAPHAEL DANA: The rise of tech entrepreneurs in Europe is impressive and the culture of Capital Risk becomes the only way to finance those companies today. Banks have lost their original objective, namely financing the real economy. Almost all the components to finally create a strong European ecosystem are here but we need vision and courage from the key players (telcos, banks, etc.). Large corporations are organized to lobby governments and institutions, the FinTech community should do the same from a disruptive and transparent way, namely by building their case and promoting it via different channels. This is what is truly exciting at the moment, a new world economic order emerging with new disruptive players shaking old foundations and values.

About:

Raphael Dana is an entrepreneur passionate about media, technology and innovative business ventures with a large international experience in consulting, publishing and business strategy. He is the founder of Galixo (www.galixo.com), a boutique consultancy designing disruptive business strategy for startups and enterprises in the tech, mobile and digital space.

He also co-founded NetArchitects, a pioneering web development company based in Geneva (sold to Altran Technologies www.altran.com) and a niche media group focused on business & financial publishing (www.market.ch) as well as high net worth luxury publications (www.surlaterre.com). Raphael is a global nomad based most of the time between London, Geneva, Singapore and San Francisco. You can connect with Raphael through Twitter and LinkedIn.

Twitter link: https://twitter.com/raphaeldana
LinkedIn link:  sg.linkedin.com/in/raphaeldana

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