Sheesha Finance

Team and Advisors

Team Introduction
Our team has decades of collective experience investing successfully in blockchain technology startups. Sheesha Finance Founder, Saeed Al Darmaki, started his career at the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority in October 2009 as an Operations Specialist. Then, from May 2013, he became a Fixed Income & Treasury Specialist.
In January 2017, Saeed co-founded Alphabit, an actively-managed cryptocurrency and digital asset investment fund. Following Alphabit’s success, from June 2018, Saeed focussed exclusively on the crypto/blockchain industry.
As Alphabit’s Managing Director, Saeed’s market knowledge enables him to provide guidance and mentorship to founders on all facets of blockchain finance and business development.
As Chairman at eGovern, a UAE-based company, Saeed has worked with governments and corporations to assist them in identifying, designing and implementing blockchain solutions that meet their pressing challenges and digital transformation needs.
In 2021, Saeed took up the role of Managing Director for the MENA region with Casper Labs, with a mandate to provide enterprise-grade blockchain solutions that keep up with growing demand.
The Sheesha Finance advisory board includes:
  • founding partner of Galaxy Digital and CEO of, David Namdar
  • CEO at StakeHound, Albert Castellana
  • serial investor and industry pioneer, Hartej Sawney
  • crypto investor and CEO of Transform Group, Michael Terpin
  • founder of Arabs in Blockchain, Eman Harawy
  • founder and CEO of Beyond Enterprises, Brad Yasar, and
  • many others
Saeed Hareb Al Darmaki
Saeed is Managing Director of Alphabit Digital Currency Fund, Chairman of eGovern blockchain consultancy company and Managing Director — MENA for CasperLabs. He was also previously Managing Director at Binary Financial. He sits on boards of entities such as DEX, RealEx, MENA Fintech Association, BeMobi, Jahani & Associates, LEAD Ventures, Royale Finance, Artha, PAID Network and Kenzi Wealth.
These roles have given him tremendous insight into the crypto/blockchain space and enabled him to develop a key network of contacts which has helped him grow his knowledge of the market exponentially. Saeed started his career at ADIA in October 2009 as an Operations specialist then from May 2013 became a Fixed Income & Treasury specialist. In June 2018 he decided to leave ADIA to focus on the crypto/blockchain industry.
Benjamin Leff
Benjamin is the Chief Operating Officer at Sheesha Finance with over 10 years of experience leading large-scale marketing efforts and business development programs across multi-year roadmaps. Ben has worked Liquid Exchange as a Global Ambassador and Kraken Exchange as a Business Development Manager. Ben has advised three DeFi projects in Asia helping with community and investor relations to business strategy and development. Most recently, he was Director of Communications for the Own Your Data Foundation before moving to Sheesha Finance.
David Namdar
David is the CEO of and a General Partner at Coral Capital. He is an experienced investor and entrepreneur and was a founding partner of Galaxy Digital and SolidX Partners, digital asset-focused financial services firms. He has over 15 years of international business and financial market experience and has been involved in strategy, business development, and advisory of dozens of companies, and investment in 100s of companies and decentralized currencies. He has investment expertise in decentralized currencies, venture capital, private and public equities, derivatives and foreign currencies on a global basis. In addition, he has significant expertise across digital assets, blockchain technology, and FinTech among other emerging and breakthrough technologies. He previously was with Millennium Management and UBS Hong Kong. David has a bachelor’s degree in finance and international business from the USC Marshall School of Business and also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.
Albert Castellana
Albert Castellana is a serial entrepreneur with a background in Computer Science that has been in the cryptocurrency space since 2013.
Since then, Albert has been an advocate and participated in multiple high-profile crypto projects as well as advised institutions such as the Catalan Government on how to use blockchain technology and how to treat digital assets.
Albert is the co-founder and CEO at StakeHound, the first institutional-grade liquid staking solution that aims to create a bridge between any staking protocols and DeFi.
He is also a board member at Olyseum, a social media monetization platform for celebrities, and the Catalan Blockchain Center, a subsidiary of the Catalan Chamber of Commerce.
Albert co-founded the Foundation, BadgerDAO and Whalecrate; lead product at RadixDLT and advised multiple ICO projects.
Michael Terpin
Michael Terpin is founder and CEO of Transform Group, the leading advisory and PR firm for the blockchain industry, with more than 300 clients in the sector since 2013, including Abra, Augur, Bancor, Ethereum, Golem, ICX, Kraken, Maidsafe, Neo, OKEx, Radix, Ripple, Qtum, Telos and Tether. Terpin also owns a blockchain accelerator in Hamilton, Bermuda, Transform Studios, Ltd., and is a managing director in Transform Ventures, which invests and advises companies in the DeFi and NFT sector, and a partner in DeFi Studio, a venture foundry. He has also advised leading companies in the DeFi and NFT sectors, including Bridge Mutual, Butterfly Protocol, KingSwap, Launchpool, RAIR, Royale Finance, Upland, WAX, and Yield.App.
Terpin is also co-founder and chairman of Aspire, a leading digital asset creation platform, which has grown in under six months to a $50 million market cap across its platform tokens ASP and GASP. Aspire allows for quick, inexpensive creation of full token ecosystems, including unlimited NFTs, with unparalleled speed, security, and negligible gas fees.
Terpin co-founded BitAngels, the world’s first angel network for digital currency startups, in May 2013, which has expanded to 15 city chapters. He is also a general partner in Tradery Capital, an algorithmic trading fund for digital assets, and an LP and senior advisor to Alphabit Fund, a leading international digital currency fund.
Additionally, Terpin is chairman and co-founder of Content Syndicate, a collection of vertical market newswires, including Blockchain Wire. Previously, Terpin founded Marketwire (now Globe Newswire), one of the world’s largest company newswires, which was acquired in 2006, later sold to NASDAQ for $200 million, and ultimately to Intrado Digital Media, a division of Apollo Global Management (NYSE: APO). He also co-founded Direct IPO, one of the earliest equity crowdfunding companies, in 1996.
Terpin’s first PR firm, The Terpin Group, represented many of the early Internet leaders, including America Online, Earthlink,, and The Motley Fool. The Terpin Group was sold in 2000 to Financial Dynamics, now part of FTI Consulting (NYSE: FCN). Terpin holds an MFA from SUNY at Buffalo and a dual BA in journalism and English from Syracuse University, where he serves on the board of advisors at the top-ranked Newhouse School of Public Communications. Terpin lives with his wife, Maxine, and two dogs in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he received the first Act 22 tax decree granted to a blockchain industry investor. He also co-founded the Caribbean Blockchain Association with industry leaders Gabriel Abed and Roger Ver.
Hartej Sawhney
Hartej is a crypto investor, advisor, and operator, with a strong knowledge of blockchain engineering, blockchain security, decentralized finance (DeFi), and NFTs.
As an industry pioneer, Sawhney has played a key role in elevating standards in the digital asset ecosystem and introducing products and services that set the industry benchmark for security, transparency, and compliance. His efforts have been recognized as paving the way for the ongoing institutionalization of the industry.
Brad Yaser
Brad Yasar is an entrepreneur, investor, mentor, and advisor who has started and bootstrapped several companies from inception to maturity over the past 30 years. Brad is currently the Founder and CEO of Beyond Enterprises, offering strategic and technical leadership, advisory, and support capabilities to projects in all blockchain implementation and development stages.
Brad is also the co-founder of Blockchain Investors Consortium (BIC) with over 5 Billion dollars allocated to blockchain and cryptocurrency projects. Brad has also participated in dozens of successful crowd sales, which have raised billions from 100,000s of investors since 2016.
Passionate about where the worlds of technology and marketing collide, Brad is frequently invited to speak at events related to entrepreneurship, angel investing, and business strategy.
Ben Clarke
Ben has a background in Finance and over 20 years of Real Estate investing experience before entering the digital world. He first discovered Bitcoin in 2013, co-founder of BlockMatrix Capital, an investment firm deploying capital in over 20 blockchain-related projects between 2016–2019. Ben founded A195 Capital a private capital firm focused on blockchain-related technology with a focus to expand a global portfolio. He has advised several early-stage projects and currently advises Casper Labs. Prior notable investments include Polkadot, ICON, WAN Chain, EOS, Chainlink, OMG, Quant Network, Trust Token, Kyber Network, Arweave, and UniLend.
Nabeel Qadri
Mr. Nabeel Qadri is the Managing Partner of Protocol Ventures and Protocol Ventures Quant, two digital asset hedge funds based in San Francisco, CA totaling ~$100M in AUM.
Before Protocol, Mr. Qadri was a Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) investment banker at Evercore Partners in New York, NY, where he advised on $20 billion+ in completed transactions.
Nabeel received his Bachelor of Business Administration from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan (top five nationally ranked programs) where he graduated top 1% of his class.
Dominic Longman
An internationally experienced financial services leader with an accomplished track record in both start-up and institutional entities, who has, for the past 6 years, been investigating the geo-political implications of blockchain technology on the financial infrastructure. Having co-founded Trustology (a digital asset custodian) whilst at Consensys, having been CEO of Koine (Middle East) and with 20 years of financial services experience, Dom brings insight from both the traditional and new worlds of finance.
James Bowater
City AM’s Crypto Insider
Founder & Editor-at-large of Crypto AM
Crypto AM launched nearly three years ago within London’s renowned financial newspaper City AM.
The plan was to help showcase new frontier technologies like AI, blockchain, cryptocurrencies, distributed ledger technology and tokenisation to the traditional finance readership. Over time, this platform has broadened to include decentralised finance (DeFi), digital assets and the internet of things (IoT).
James and City AM have expanded the offering as to move content online while printing presses respond to Covid-19 restrictions. With the growth of audience and content, Crypto AM is expanding the team including Darren Parkin as day to day Editor, launching Crypto AM Quarterly (magazine) and the Crypto AM Power Lists of the industry’s leading figures.
Crypto AM is far more than just a newspaper section or website. James has travelled the world meeting the industry at large and has built a global following and community with the WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal platforms as well as a large number of events pre-Covid including the highly regarded inaugural Crypto AM Awards 2020, attended by the Lord Mayor of the City of London. The Crypto AM DeFi & Digital Inclusion Summit and Crypto AM City of London Roundtable together with the Awards 2021 are scheduled for September 2021
James Duchenne
James has a passion is to build and commercialize modern businesses. This has defined my professional path over the past decade and will shape my foreseeable future. After over a decade of building businesses in Australia, the USA, Asia, Africa, James now runs his family investment company. They focus on seed-stage venture capital investments and wealth management (hedge fund). James loves the bond he has created with his team from around the world, those running our VC platform service, our software engineers, administrators to our trading specialists.
James was an early adopter of bitcoin (2013), previously represented a governmental body to the US for venture funds, and sits on various advisory boards. The legacy he lives for is to add more value to society than he takes in return, to be driven by gratitude, and to live a happy life.
Jean-Paul Tarud-Kuborn
Chairman of Deca4 Blockchain Advisory and GACB
Former Ambassador of Chile to the United Arab Emirates, GCC and Pakistan. Former Dean of the UAE Diplomatic Corps.
Born in Dubai on December 5th, 1976, he has accumulated over 26 years living in the UAE.
Aside from an extensive diplomatic career where the UAE President, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, conferred him with the Zayed Order of Independence (First Class), the highest medal given to a foreigner in the UAE, for his contribution to the Nation, Ambassador Tarud-Kuborn’s background is in fact Finance and FinTech. He was involved in several IPOs in the Silicon Valley during the advent of the Internet in the late 90s, then in the development in Real Estate FinTech applications in early 2000s, and after retiring from Diplomacy in 2018, he rejoined the FinTech world with the creation of Deca4, one of the very first companies in the world to focus on Security Token Offerings, Asset Tokenization and compliant DeFi. He is currently also on various advisory boards of government entities and academia.
• MBA from the Paris Business School (ESCP), France
• Post-Graduate Diploma in International Business from the University of Canberra, Australia
• B. Comm. In Management, major in Political Sciences from the University of Canberra, Australia
Spanish (fluent), English (fluent), French (fluent), Italian (fluent), Portuguese (intermediate), Romanian (Intermediate), Arabic (basic)
Mohammed Mahfoudh
Mohammed is an entrepreneur/angel investor with extensive work experience in the startup ecosystem. Mohammed has started this journey from college where he set up his first startup during his studies in Austin, TX, with an exit to IBM. After that, he joined a government in UAE, and the corporate world in UAE and other countries, working in organizations such as PWC and SAP. He then went again to set up the first cloud-based real estate software in UAE in 2000 and continued in the journey of startups since then, with few breaks in between taking managerial roles in some companies. Mohammed has worked in technology, real estate, healthcare, aviation, and manufacturing, mostly from an IT/Technology perspective but also in managerial roles.
He is currently the founder and CEO of Deca4 Advisory, a consultancy firm providing services to companies around the world to help them in raising funds using blockchain and tokenization.
Vineet Budki
Vineet is a Tech Entrepreneur building a presence in the Blockchain & Crypto Space through Advisory & Investments in technologies that are changing the Financial, Data, Gaming & NFT spaces.
Currently, he is Partner at Phoenix VC which has invested in game-changing Blockchain projects like Casper, Nodle, Paid Network, Lauunchpool, Bondly, Poolz, and 30+ other projects. In his past life, he has run 3 successful startups across multiple geographies like China, UAE, Singapore & India.
Sasha Antropov
Sasha Antropov is an experienced business development professional previously holding a C-level role in an IT & deep tech company where he helped grow to 60+. Having an entrepreneurial mindset he joined an early-stage deep tech startup as a Partner and helped bring the right team members on board and advised on the fundraising activities.
He first entered crypto in early 2016 and since then has been an advisor to a number of blockchain projects with a primary focus on helping them with strategic relationships and partnerships. Currently, he is a partner and co-founder at Chain Adoption, an active advisor of Casper Labs and AML Bot.
Mardo Soo
Mardo is a visionary and entrepreneur, with extensive experience in growth hacking, he likes to scale things up. He founded and runs the leading blockchain licensing firm Consulting24 in Estonia. Consulting24 is the fastest-growing consultancy company in Estonia by volume and has obtained over 300 crypto licenses.
He is also an active investor in early-stage DeFi projects being built on Binance Chain, likes of $JUL and $Bscx.
Jamil B. Marmarchi
Jamil brings a unique mix of investment banking, asset management and hands-on operating experience. He began his training at Merrill Lynch International Bank in London in 1993. As a fully registered FSA and Series 7&3 Financial Advisor and having worked both in equity and fixed income sales and strategy, Jamil was selected as one of the founding members of the Merrill Lynch Investment Advisory Group (IAG) in 1996. The Group managed middle market clients (quasi institutional) with over US$5 billion under management and Jamil was responsible for the Fixed Income and Private Equity strategy for the portfolio. In 1998 Jamil was appointed head of the Group reporting directly to the regional manager and supported the roll-out of the IAG across Merrill’s offices in New York, Dubai and Singapore. In 2000, Jamil managed his own independent client’s portfolio and became the youngest banker at the time to make Merrill Lynch’s prestigious Chairman’s Club advising on over US$ 1.5 billion in assets. Having allocated capital to the entire spectrum of investment products and services, Jamil began taking a special interest in venture capital and private equity — alternatives.
In 2003 after leaving Merrill Lynch, he independently managed and advised a successful monetization of US$ 1.5 billion of US real estate assets for a Middle Eastern client, while establishing a new telecom venture. Kulacom Broadband Investment Company was founded and Jamil operating out of Dubai, UAE attracted a leading telecom management and operating team and secured private funding from the MENA region as well as a JV partnership with one of the world’s leading broadband operators, SK Telecom out of Seoul, S. Korea. In 2009, both the Jordanian Telecom Authority and Korea’s Telecom Commission recognized Kulacom’s network in Amman Jordan as the world’s leading fully independent wireless broadband network.
Together with SK Telecom, Kulacom established a full-fledged engineering office in Bahrain to support its regional expansion. Kulacom rolled out networks in Amman, Istanbul and Athens. This was a true VC success story in a highly regulated market in the region.
After selling his position to the majority shareholders of Kulacom, Jamil established IMA Venture an investment management and advisory business, advising investment offices globally on venture-backed technology investing for both strategic and absolute return strategies. This has led to Jamil also working with multiple Venture Capital firms and technology companies on their growth strategies. He has built partnerships with a vast network of VCs, Executives and Entrepreneurs that provide real-time information, research analysis and investment in sector, stage and geography agnostic opportunities. Jamil has also successfully introduced technology companies into different markets and supported them with strategy, partnership and funding. To date, IMA has advised on over $2B worth of transactions and is actively working with Governments and institutions on their digital asset and tokenization strategy.
Jamil is a registered investment advisor with the FCA in the UK.
Christopher Arnold
Managing Director, Morgan Creek Capital
Chris brings a rare combination of experience and insight to his firm, associates, and close colleagues involved in blockchain, cryptocurrency and related projects. With twenty-five years of experience in the financial industry including seven years in research, data, and analytics, Chris has experienced first-hand the power that technological innovation can bring to finance. He shares the vision that DLT, cryptocurrency, and DeFi will replace legacy financial processes, while also understanding the infrastructure, regulatory and cultural hurdles that will need to be effectively navigated.
Chris started his career in the mid-80s’ at Xerox Corporation and then at Sharp Electronics, in both sales and marketing management roles. He went on to build a mid-sized office products company in New England, which he sold to a multinational corporation in the mid-90s’. He then shifted his focus to financial data and analytics, joining Thomson Reuters, now Rifinitiv, where he managed the global major accounts team representing the firm’s largest clients including global banks, asset managers and hedge funds.
Starting in the mid-2000s, Chris jumped to the “buy-side” working for firms including AB (Alliance Bernstein), Bank of NY Mellon and Windham Capital Management. For the past ten years, Chris’s focus has been on alternative investments, including distressed equity and debt, quant-equity, private and venture equity and hedge funds. During this time Chris has developed a deep ecosystem of institutional clients, family offices and wealth managers. Currently at Morgan Creek Capital, Chris helped spearhead the marketing effort promoting blockchain and crypto investments beginning in 2018. After raising over $135 million in digital assets venture investments, Chris and the Morgan Creek team are preparing to launch a third fund, while working directly with various individual projects.
Chris now spends time between Boston and New York with his wife of thirty-two years and their dog Rudy, after raising three children on the coastline of Massachusetts. He is an avid skier, motorcycle enthusiast, reader of science fiction and music aficionado.
Manmeet Singh
Manmeet runs Blockseed Ventures which invests in firms that build on blockchain technologies to transform traditional industries. His investments include crypto-mining, blockchain infrastructure, fintech, supply-chain, mobility and healthcare solutions amongst others. He was previously the CFO & CIO of Emurgo (the commercial and venture arm of Cardano). Manmeet concurrently holds positions as Vice-Chairperson of the Cardano Foundation, Founding Member of Blockchain for Europe, Advisory Board Member at Bloq as well as EIR at several of the accelerators run by SOSV-The Accelerator VC.
Eman Herawy
Eman Herawy is a Devcon scholar Alumni at Ethereum Foundation and was selected as one of the top ten scholars Devcon scholar program in Osaka 2019. Herawy is a blockchain mentor and reviewer at Udacity, a blockchain full stack developer, Ambassador for ConsenSys Quorum and Status Network, and holds a professional master’s degree in cloud computing networks from Cairo university.
Additionally, She is deeply involved in the blockchain community, and in late 2020, she has founded (العرب × بلوكتشين Arabs in blockchain). It is an open community to empower the Arab world in blockchain through organizing events, mentorship programs and increasing the Arabic content in blockchain.
We are excited to be working with Smart Chain for project development!
Waqas Nakhwa
Waqas is the Founder and CEO of Smart Chain. He is a first-generation entrepreneur and a speaker on Blockchain. With over 18 years of experience in various industries, he has been extremely instrumental in the success and growth of Smart Chain in the last 3 years. His business acumen to adopt blockchain and create industry use cases has led to working closely with government and corporates and continuously researching on emerging technology adoption. Under his guidance and mentorship is the entire development and maintenance of Sheesha Finance.
Sushma Varadaiah
Sushma has 6+ years of experience in Architecting / Developing / Deploying Blockchain and Web Applications. Sushma is a certified Blockchain Developer with a Post Graduate Certification and she recently pursued her Post Graduation Degree Certification in Cloud Platforms and DevOps Practices. She is a Seasoned Blockchain Full Stack Developer with experience in leading a team of Blockchain Full Stack Developers. Currently, she is part of Smart Chain as Lead Blockchain Full Stack Engineer. She is responsible for leading the team of smart contract developers working on Sheesha Finance.
Akash Kapadiya
Akash is a senior UX and Ui Developer with over 9 years of experience. The power of combining code and visual art has always been his passion. Formidable design experience with over 50 web and mobile applications designed. Understand the real creativity of design elements. Always seeking to use proven skills in UI prototyping to enhance user experience. Anything related to design and User Experience on Sheesha Finance is executed by Akash.
Shobit Puri
Shobit is a Front End Web Developer, having 2+ years of web development and design experience. He is passionate about Blockchain and worked on many blockchain projects with Smart Chain. He has done projects for various clients under domains like local tech companies, restaurants, local stores, and schools. Shobit works on Have worked on designing and developing the front end of Sheesha Finance.
Last modified 1yr ago