Technopreneur who made more money from two years of investing in blockchain than past 30 years combined finds his place in Singapore and Thailand
Author: Wang Yanhua
A seasoned technopreneur for 30 years, Jürgen Schaar, 55, has founded and led various ventures in the technology sector, including IBM’s MobileFirst and Intrix AG.
Two years ago, he discovered the world of blockchain and postponed his retirement. He founded Blockchainfirst, a Singapore, Thailand, and Germany based company which provides blockchain solutions.
He told Block Asia, “I was obsessed as I understood the impact blockchain will make and I want to be part of it. I see all the startups appearing in the scene, and I know that I just can’t miss out on it.”
“I’m still young, after all. I’m not going to retire now,” he added with a wink in his eyes.
So he eagerly leapt into the blockchain scene and left Germany for Asia. He has already learnt the lesson of, “You miss one hundred per cent of the shots you don’t take,” decades back.
Just 30 years ago, Schaar was a software engineer charting out the beginnings of his career in the small Germany town of Freising. He was content with where he was at.
“I could never imagine that I can ever live in foreign country,” he said.
When he was sent on a business trip to the US, it changed his life.
Out of coincidence, a woman from Silicon Valley overheard him and his colleague speaking German and invited them to work as engineers for her company. But he turned her down as he was “simply too shy and did not dare to speak English”.
Afterwards, he stayed awake at night thinking about how his life would have changed if he had had the courage to take up her offer and start a new life in Silicon Valley. That was the moment he decided that he was going to step out of his shell.
He said, “There’s no reason to be shy. I just needed to be open-minded and discover the world. Since then I travelled a lot, lost my shyness, and started to have no problem with speaking English. From that point onwards I felt happier than ever before.”
THE ASIAN ADVANTAGE
“In Germany, almost no one has heard about blockchain. There’s a small blockchain community in Berlin, but that’s about it. If you want to hire a developer in Germany, it is difficult,” Schaar said.
Upon discovering in Asia a bustling blockchain hub electric with activity, he decided to stay. He found Asia an overall more conducive environment for innovation, compared to the stodgy atmosphere in Germany which lacks the same hustle.
He told Block Asia that Blockchainfirst hires lots of developers from Singapore and Chiang Mai, Thailand, “Chiang Mai has so many great freelancers and software developers, and amazing co-working spaces. In Singapore it is so easy to find the right people too. Many more have heard about blockchain technology and a lot of people are already very skilled in it. This is not the case in Germany.”
He is also a big fan of the business regulatory environment in Singapore. He said, “In Germany you have to pay tax from the very first moment. But in Singapore if your company is making below 10 million in revenue you don’t have to pay tax. So within the first few years you don’t have to worry about any tax, which is important.
“And it took me only 24 hours to set up my company in Singapore.”
Life would have looked very different for Schaar if he had not joined the blockchain scene two years ago.
He told Block Asia about the idyllic retirement life that he could have had in Chiang Mai, “My plan was to go to Chiang Mai and write a book. I had been an entrepreneur for so long and had a lot of experiences. I wanted to write about all of them.
“But then again, I might get bored very fast.”
He has no regrets. He told Block Asia, “I bought Bitcoin when it was $200. I have made more money in the last two years than the previous 30 years combined. But we are really only at the beginning. The sooner you get into this, the better. It is the future.”
So the restless entrepreneur is staying on and reveling in the flurry of activity taking place in blockchain.
He said, “All my friends think I am crazy for doing this. But if you only live in Germany, you miss so much. I want to stay here and do what I want to do.”