This age of technological development and rapid advancement we now find ourselves in has paved the way for truly inspiring leaders and visionaries to step forward and make a name for themselves. One such individual is Mihai Ivascu, serial social impact and technology entrepreneur and CEO of tech group M3 Holdings. CEO Monthly (CEOM) is proud to name Mr. Ivascu as our CEO of the Year 2020 for the United Kingdom, and we had the great pleasure of talking with him to learn more about his innovative work and exceptional leadership skills.
In today’s business world, it can take a true visionary to bring to life the concepts that people need the most. In the United Kingdom, that visionary is Mihai Ivascu. Through his role as CEO and Founder of tech group M3 Holdings, Mr. Ivascu has had a key role in developing software, platforms, and applications that display true innovation for many industries today. M3 Holdings is comprised of three rapidly developing companies: Moneymailme (a money transfer and chat app), M3 Payments (forex management and global payments platform), and Modex (a blockchain company and software-as-a-service technology provider). As an early-stage tech investor, Mr. Ivascu also holds positions in various tech start-ups and advisory boards. However, his focus remains squarely on Modex, the blockchain database company.
Running through the core of the M3 Holdings venture at the moment is Modex, the firm’s blockchain database technology. Modex BCDB is an embodiment of Mr. Ivascu’s desire to implement innovation that serves people; a truly cutting-edge product with several innovations. Modex has managed to make blockchain technology affordable and easy to get to every single company in the world, whilst offering data immutability, data integrity, and near real-time backup, which is the panache of blockchain in cyber security. Not only are Mr. Ivascu and Modex tackling the enterprise segment interested in blockchain services, but also the cybersecurity market, recognising that data is the future for businesses everywhere.
We, at CEO Monthly, were fortunate enough to speak with Mr. Ivascu, and gain insight into the past, present, and future of Modex and M3 Holdings, as well as into his own journey to become one of the most innovative and forward-thinking business leaders in the United Kingdom today.
CEOM: Talk me through your previous roles and how you came to achieve your position as CEO. How do you draw on past experiences in your current role?
MI: I am the founder of the company. What started as a small team based in the Bucharest office has now grown into a fully-fledged blockchain development company with over seventy employees and additional offices in London, Gibraltar, and Silicon Valley. The entrepreneurship mentor and the speaker experience I have gained over the years, as well as the executive training programs from Harvard, MIT, Stanford University, and Silicon Valley Innovation Center I took part in, have shaped by professional course and are helping me successfully lead the companies I’ve founded.
CEOM: What is your founding mission? What are your values? Have these changed at all since you were established?
MI: I’m a huge supporter of innovation, of pushing the boundaries even further and changing people’s lives for the better with the help of creative technology. I strongly believe that if you set your mind to achieve something and you push tirelessly to reach that goal, you will overcome all the obstacles and get there. Since day one, I’ve tried to bring about change for individuals, for the companies I’ve collaborated with, but also for the society we live in. My values haven’t changed.
CEOM: Tell me about your business and your ongoing strategy. What techniques do you employ to ensure that you achieve this?
MI: I have always been focused on tech applied in social impact projects that range from financial inclusion, charity, and shared value initiatives. For each of our products we have a clear and strategic roadmap for the future. Whenever challenges arise – some of them unforeseen, others predictable – we come up with the best solutions to overcome them, then we move forward driven by the same passion for innovation.
CEOM: What makes your firm successful? What is your unique selling point/ what distinguishes you from your competitors (if you have competitors in your industry)?
MI: Modex was launched as a Smart Contract Marketplace and app ecosystem that allows for easy, user-friendly access to smart contracts. Developers can leverage Modex to monetize their skills and offer Smart Contract solutions to end-customers and companies. Modex’s latest innovative product, BCDB (Blockchain Database) enables enterprises to deploy their first blockchain project in days instead of months at a price point that small and mid-level enterprises can afford. Everything we do is based on a clear vision, on a strategic roadmap, and on cutting-edge technologies.
CEOM: What is your approach when undertaking a new client or project? How do you ensure right from the start that the outcome meets the needs of everyone involved?
MI: Whenever we partner with a new client, I always try to understand, right from the start, their priorities and what they want to achieve. Then, my team and I are proposing them our best business solution to meet their needs and we make sure to deliver the right product, on time. It’s the only way both parties can profit from the partnership, the only way we can be successful.
CEOM: What are your future aspirations regarding your business? Do you have any future plans/projects you would like to share with us?
MI: We are preparing a huge expansion on the US market, and for that we have selected one of the best possible partners: C5 Accelerate. We already have
an office in Silicon Valley, and the next one on US territory will be in Washington D.C. I think it’s worth to mention that we are also preparing integration with big tech companies, and 2020 will bring some partnerships which will honour us, but will also oblige us to deliver. Moreover, the interest shown for the adoption of blockchain technology through BCDB has been good so far, so we had to reconsider the sales target and enlarge our developers, as well as our customer support and sales departments. By accomplishing all these, in 2020 we will get closer to our long-term objective: to become the first unicorn amongst blockchain tech companies on the market.
CEOM: What role does your staff play in the success of your firm?
MI: They are a driving force, professionals to the core – the best team that I could have gathered for these projects. We have offices in London and Bucharest (where the tech team is based), but also in Silicon Valley and soon in Washington DC, which requires a perfect coordination between various members of the team. It’s pretty much like ballet: hard work and concentration leading to wonderful results.
CEOM: How do you approach recruitment? Is this an area of interest moving forward?
MI: I am lucky to have an amazing team of developers and professionals from the banking and IT industry, as well as cyber security experts, and to work with some of the best partners in the industry. When I’ve launched our first project, Moneymailme, the team had 4-5 members and now we’ve grown to over 70 members at Modex only. I’m always looking forward to meeting talented people and if they prove to be a perfect fit to our team, I’m happy to welcome them on-board. If the synergies within the team are right, then great results will always arrive.
CEOM: Tell me about your leadership style. How do you ensure everyone in your organization understands your vision and works towards it?
MI: “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success. If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself”, said Henry Ford. In our organization, collaboration and teamwork are key words. I don’t see myself so much as a boss with many employees, but rather as an individual my team can always count on, just like I can also count on them when needed.
CEOM: What challenges and opportunities have you faced during your time here and how have they affected your role?
MI: While I wouldn’t want to comment on particular challenges, I can say there have been a few, but through determination and hard work, my team and I managed to leave them behind. On the other hand, I am grateful to have had some amazing opportunities which resulted in meeting amazing people, creating interesting events and setting up meaningful projects. Regardless of the challenge, thanks to them I’ve become a better, more experienced business executive.
CEOM: What are your thoughts on the state of your industry currently? Are there any particular issues/changes that are affecting it?
MI: Without doubt, the current coronavirus pandemic, which has taken over the world gradually since the beginning of 2020, is posing great challenges not only from the health point of view, but also from the business point of view. Many organizations are affected, from lots of industries, and they have to respond on the go to this threat. However, I remain optimistic and I believe that once this major crisis has been dealt with (hopefully sooner rather than later!), the blockchain and FinTech industries (and other industries, too) will emerge stronger and with a different, better view of their priorities.
Leadership often takes many forms but understanding one’s role in making a tangible impact on society is just as vital a part as any. Mr. Ivascu not only understands his role but fulfils it with corporate aplomb. His willingness and desire to see innovation after innovation realised for the greater good of the human race are exemplary, and his passion and drive to see it accomplished is nothing short of exceptional. Not only is Mr. Ivascu a very worthy winner of this year’s CEO of the Year award, but he is an outstanding example to all of us as to what we should strive for.
Contact: Mihai Ivascu