Kasem Challiou. As he states: a difficult name, but not easy to forget once you get it. And if you ask us – and probably many others – you won’t forget him once you’ve met him. Why? He’s got quite a track record, with over 20 years of experience in the digital transformation and commercial space, is an angel investor, and soon he will be taking over the tech world himself.
First a bit of background: after his study and becoming a computer science engineer, he covered various commercial positions. Currently, he is the co-founder and CEO of Moonlander – a startup that helps brands and advertisers gamify customer experiences through 3D generative AI technology. Previously he was responsible for setting up the worldwide partner program, boosting digital transformations, and developing and closing deals from scratch at various companies such as Siemens, Wolters Kluwer (eVision), and Stork. During this time, he also acted as an angel investor. This is – as you can guess – how he met our founders Herman and Maurice. There was an instant click between the three. This combined with his commercial and investment experience, made Kasem a perfect addition to Curiosity’s partner network, helping us build our investment fund, supporting us in finding the right startups to add to our portfolio, and giving these companies guidance.
The common denominator for success
During his investment career, Kasem invested in 15 startups, consciously choosing to participate in funding startups in various fields. His common denominator for his investments? A personal connection with and belief in the founding team and the globally scalable business model. Using his 18 years of experience in validating business ideas and going through the company life cycle multiple times, Kasem is not afraid to jump in when the founders only have an investment deck available. To create a 360 view of the opportunity that’s in front of him, he involves his network of experts in the related areas for extra verification. No extensive due diligence, just trust in the founder, his personal background and experience in a specific field, and the crowdsourced due diligence of his network. A risky strategy, but one that’s paid off nonetheless.
The next big thing in tech?
Generative AI. There's a revolution happening within the field of content, entertainment, and copywriting with the use of text-to-image engines. Easier said: technology where users speak into a neural network, which will use all images on the internet to return generated 2D images, that relate to the spoken words best. The more details you give the engine, the better the image will be. This field is developing as we speak with companies such as Stability.ai and Jasper.ai, big players in Generative AI, receiving large amounts of funding recently. Someone from Sony wrote a great article about Generative AI recently and even made a reference to Moonlander as a “notable startup” in this space. Save to say; this technology is going to impact all kinds of industries.
There's also a growing convergence happening between the physical and virtual world - starting with simple virtual meetings, evolving to advanced virtual concerts as close to the real deal as possible, and of course this is visible in the gaming industry. This convergence will be seen more and more in the upcoming years. As a result, the general way of working, consuming, and educating and entertainment that we know now, will not be the same.
Trading in work for AI-based technology
This change asks for profound and advanced gamification, and that's why the entertainment industry will be at the forefront of the future. And so will Kasem. About a year ago, he bumped into a team of brilliant game developers. As he states, Kasem has seen lots of crazy cool stuff during his career, but nothing like this. In his earlier experience, he transitioned from a project delivery cycle to a standardized product delivery cycle, delivering some of the biggest learnings in his career. Kasem saw that this startup was stuck in the same vicious project delivery cycle but managing to do what took his experience - trying to transition from a project-based company to a product-based one – from months, in just a couple of days. Hence, time to invest. Kasem decided to quit all his other activities to put his full focus on making this a success. Moonlander was born. A company that is riding on the next wave of innovation of generative AI but taking it one step further: turning text into 3D content for gaming and 3D virtual worlds. One of the first within the tech world, since the majority is currently 2D and not focused on gaming yet. Soon, Moonlander will provide the technology to trade in big teams of 20 people, for just one with the use of automated AI-based technology. Kasem is fully committed to providing the tools to democratize 3D game development and let everybody contribute to the third evolution of the internet, Web 3.0, in the most effective and easy way. Of course, he isn't doing it alone, which leads directly to another founder lesson: collect the right people around you. Success is always a result of a great vision and team effort. As we speak, the company is talking to major players in these industries, and it won’t be long before you’ll hear more.
After reading this article it should be clear why we made the effort to hook Kasem into our partner network. Not only can he help us to select the right founders to invest in, he can give our portfolio companies great guidance and coaching on scaling sales due to his years of build-up expertise in enterprise sales. He knows how to pick the right sales strategies to get them to grow their businesses. And that’s what we all want, isn’t it? Furthermore, he is also a SaaS and proptech expert. Oh, and before we forget, he’s going to be a dad by the end of November. So, when in need of advice to balance family and business? Soon, you can also knock on his door.