Marco Coffen, a Dubai-based investor, tech strategist, and real estate developer, is not one to let the grass grow under his feet.
“I don’t like to sit still at all,” the native Australian said.
Heavily involved in the cryptocurrency sector for the last five years, he is now in the process of developing versatile cryptocurrency platforms that enable users to complete initial coin offerings (ICOs), algorithm trades and peer-to-peer payments. Such platforms, he said, “don’t restrain people.”
He has called bitcoin “the gold of our time,” and views it as a “complicatedly simple” crypto that paved the way for decentralized finance (DeFi), a form of finance that relies not on a central authority (like a bank) but rather blockchains and smart contracts. It is considered especially crucial to the world’s two billion unbanked people, and looms as fertile ground for investors as well.
He is also attuned to other technological developments, fully aware that digital transformation is an ongoing reality, and critical to the growth of enterprises in every sector. Coffen has particular interest in artificial intelligence, given its outsized impact in such fields as computing, transportation, and even pharmaceuticals.
His business interests further extend to electric vehicles and household waste management, in anticipation of a dramatic shift toward green energy.
Coffen approaches each and every one of his business endeavors believing that no matter the endeavor, most companies are similar in structure and thus face many of the same challenges. As a result he learns as much as possible about a project, while at the same time forming teams that feature specialists capable of helping him achieve the desired result.
As he grew up outside Sydney, he was influenced greatly by not only his father, a carpenter, but also his mother, a healthcare administrator. His interest was invariably piqued when he saw a construction project taking shape on a site where his dad worked, but he also drew on his mom’s business acumen. As a result he gravitated to property development, and continues to work toward a degree in property economics.
Upon moving to the UAE he immersed himself in tech, security, and IT companies, while maintaining an interest in architecture and design. He considered the move to IT particularly timely, given the manner in which the world is evolving and the growing digital needs of so many organizations.
Coffen’s interests range from cooking to CrossFit — cooking because he understands, as his parents did, that meals enable families (not to mention potential business partners) to gather together and CrossFit because he believes it is always best to challenge oneself in the extreme. To that end he has also incorporated boxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu into his fitness routine.
He lives with his wife Stephanie and four children — two sons and two daughters — in Dubai.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
From a young age I’ve always wanted to be my own person and I am always thinking of ways to improve services and businesses that I see. It’s a habit of mine and I think from an early age wanting to be in business was my goal.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day starts early with the kids and coffee! I help them get ready for school and then head off to the gym. I’m at work by 9 a.m., and my mornings usually consist of meetings and emails until lunch. Then it’s more meetings and planning in the afternoon, and back home for training or family time. I find my days are more productive if I plan today for tomorrow and list out my schedule and goals the day before.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I like to visualize what I want to succeed in. I also brainstorm with friends and scour the internet, then put my ideas on paper. Once I start getting traction for an idea I usually put together an experienced team that can help identify if it’s something worth pursuing.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Digital transformation! Never before have we been connected as much as we are. Never before has an everyday person been able to invest in the form they can now. Entrepreneurs are changing the world, whether they are in the tech space (green technology being just one example) or healthcare. What’s exciting is right now with cryptocurrency we are able to join in and invest them at early stages such as initial coin offerings.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I think it’s my drive, I don’t like to sit still at all. If I finish something I’m starting something new. As an example, I’m currently planning some very interesting platforms that allow people to complete a number of actions relating to crypto, from ico’s to algorithm trading to peer-to-peer payment systems. The overall goal is, I guess, to create platforms that are decentralized and that don’t restrain people in different jurisdictions from investing in what they believe in.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Focus, look for trends, and study more but at the same time enjoy the good times while not overdoing it. Also, listen more and value your words as they are precious and valuable — i.e., watch the words you say, as they define you.
Also, invest in bitcoin!
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
We could be living in a video-game simulation
(Hope it’s not true!)
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Read and follow the news and take in as much data in your fields as you can.
Subscribe to as many newsletters as you can, take bits and pieces from anything your eyes, ears, or senses touch.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Systematizing processes and departments of business, and organizing and creating guidelines for your teams are keys to being able to do a lot and scale.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Settling for a hire that can hold a project up or take it backward. Now I hire slow and fire fast.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Anything on social media. Anyone can become a star these days and sell something to so many people. Invest in creating a profile that can be expanded upon.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I spent $100 on an online edX course. I received a certificate from a very good university for a very basic course, which can be displayed on my CV.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Instant messengers and conference collaboration software save time and keep us all connected. Businesses can’t survive without these software products these days.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Think and Grow Rich,” by Napoleon Hill.
Sets your mind to succeed. Full stop.
What is your favorite quote?
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
— Benjamin Franklin.
- Digital transformation has enabled investment like never before.
Entrepreneurs are changing the world, especially in such sectors as healthcare and green technology.
- Decentralized finance is the wave of the present, as well as the near future.
- Ideation flows from research, brainstorming, and putting things down on paper.
- Never stop learning, no matter the source.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.