“I think at no point in human history have people in their 20s had such an opportunity to invest in such high-growth assets.”
This quote – from Kingsley Advani, a 26-year-old crypto millionaire – illustrates an interesting narrative that has developed in the fast-paced world of crypto tech. There are dozens of young people under the age of 30 that have realized the massive potential of blockchain technology and have invested, only to see their gambles pay off in a big way. The unique profit growth of these projects has allowed young people with relatively small amounts of capital to create legitimate wealth in a way that has rarely been seen before. So, exactly how many crypto millionaires are there? That is difficult to answer, but here are a few examples of early adopters of blockchain and crypto that were able to make their millions.
Kingsley Advani: An Early Adopter Of Crypto
Kingsley Advani is a perfect example. This 26-year-old, who studied Data Mining at Stanford, received a Bachelor’s of Finance Exchange & Alternative Investment from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Bachelor’s of Finance and Economics from the University of Melbourne, saw the potential of the blockchain tech and risked it all – quite literally – on a gamble. It has paid off.
Advani was first introduced to cryptocurrencies in 2012 by a friend and, despite the limited use of Bitcoin at the time (Silk Road, and Dark Web transactions), he saw that there was so much more this technology was capable of. He began digging into whitepapers, and doing research on the technology that laid the foundation for the blockchain. He had found something worth throwing himself into. While working as a data scientist at a small software firm, he began saving money with the goal of investing in crypto. “Every month I got a paycheck and I put it straight in.”
Putting Everything In Crypto
Then, in 2017, he took the plunge: he sold all of his possessions – most importantly his laptop and headphones – emptied his bank accounts and put it all in crypto. His initial investment was roughly $34,000. His investments in Bitcoin, and other small crypto startups from tech-heavy schools like Stanford, MIT, and Cornell, were timed well. Six months later and his Bitcoin holding alone saw 1461% profit. His $34,000 was worth over $1 million USD.
Now, he spends most of his time between New York City, London and San Francisco acting as an advisor and investment angel for crypto startups that he feels have potential. He doesn’t drink or party and has found meditation a useful tool in bringing more focus to his life. Advani also does not let the foibles of the market upset him. He spends his time researching the technology that he believes will bring the next innovation, not worrying about the day-to-day price of crypto. Despite good fortune in his investments, he believes that crypto technologies serve a higher purpose than getting rich quick. “It’s like a rebellion to traditional finance.”
He also has words of caution to those that see his example and wish to turn their life savings into a seven-figure crypto portfolio. Advani stresses the importance of due diligence when researching investment opportunities. Investors must know and understand the technology underlying these projects, as well as how the new project fits into the marketplace as a whole. In other words: start reading whitepapers and “only put in what you are willing to lose.”
Olaf Carlson-Wee: Seeing The Potential Of Bitcoin
Another interesting character is Olaf Carlson-Wee. Born in Minnesota, Carlson-Wee has also amassed a fortune in cryptocurrencies through clever investment and early adoption. In fact, he saw the coming surge of cryptocurrency earlier than most: he wrote his senior thesis on Bitcoin in 2011/2012 when there was almost zero academic research on the subject. “I felt like I was reading the whitepaper of the internet,” Carlson-Wee says referring to the significance he understood when reading Satoshi’s whitepaper. Even when BTC plummeted from $17 to $2 and his professors mocked him for his thesis “now that Bitcoin is dead”, he never lost faith.
After graduation, Carlson-Wee’s thesis eventually caught the attention of those in the cryptosphere and he was hired on at a burgeoning crypto exchange called Coinbase. Carlson-Wee was one of their first employees and worked out a deal to be paid entirely in BTC, which, at the time, was a rather novel idea. He worked as the Head of Risk and Product Manager as well as running customer support single-handedly until the exchange had over 250,000 users. “This was not your casual person working at a phone center. A lot of the problems were really technical and there was a lot of money on the line.”
Living Only With Crypto
His work at Coinbase gave him invaluable insight into the crypto market as well as allowing him the opportunity to undertake an interesting lifestyle experiment: for over 3 years Carlson-Wee was paid in nothing but BTC and spent nothing but BTC. It forced him to make some day-to-day adjustments – paying rent and going out to dinner with friends became a practice in barter and exchange – but he valued the freedom from the US dollar and proving to others that a shift to digital currency was possible. As time went on, certain hacks made his lifestyle easier (more businesses accept BTC as well as Shift debit cards availability) but he still enjoyed the feeling of using a “more democratic version of money”, as well as expressing his faith in the currency and technology behind it.
Carlson-Wee has finally left Coinbase to forge ahead on his own. His current endeavor is a crypto hedge fund, Polychain Capital, which invests exclusively in digital assets. He has already gained backing from venture capital giants Andressen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures. With few other hedge funds operating strictly in the cryptosphere, and Carlson-Wee’s eye for finding innovators and diligent work ethic, Polychain Capital is certainly worth watching.
Erik Finman: Believing In BTC
Erik Finman is an interesting character in the crypto world. At 21, he is one of the younger self-made millionaires in the world. Born in Idaho, Finman came from a household that valued education: his mother and father met while studying electrical engineering and physics at Stanford, and his mom went on to work with NASA in the 1980s.
Erik, however, didn’t enjoy his early school experiences and was looking for a way out. After going to an ‘Occupy’ protest with his brother, Finman was turned on the idea of cryptocurrencies and immediately became interested. He made a bet with his parents: if he became a millionaire by the time he turned 18, he wouldn’t have to attend college. They laughingly agreed. He later invested a $1000 gift from his grandmother in BTC when the price was around $12 and struck it big. He was worth over $1 million by his 18th birthday.
What Does A Crypto Millionaire Do With Their Money?
Finman went on to use some of his BTC profits to create a P2P tutor network called Botangle, utilizing the blockchain. Botangle pairs students with tutors using video chats. In 2015, Finman made possibly his best business move: he sold the Botangle technology. He was offered either 300 BTC or $100,000 cash. He chose the Bitcoin, which at the time seemed a risky proposition; BTC had dropped and was only worth around $200 apiece. The gamble has paid off and Finman has continued to work and trade in the cryptosphere.
Despite his obnoxious social media presence, he has lofty intentions. Referring to his Instagram profile, which features him literally rolling in piles of hundred bills and flaunting guns and gold, Finman notes: “I think being a provocateur is a fun way to get people to pay attention to my ideas. You see the reaction to it, people go crazy. But that helps draw attention to the actual world-changing projects that I want to do.”
Like his mother, Finman is interested in space travel, and is currently working on a time capsule to be sent to space for the 40th anniversary of the Voyager mission – the famous probe with the “Golden Record” containing snippets of music, art, and science and intended to be a calling card for humanity. But he is still just out of his teens. The capsule will contain music videos from popular culture and a signed Taylor Swift album. Finman also helped to build a functioning robotic suit modeled after Dr. Octopus from the Spider-Man comics. The robotic armature was designed to help with his mentors’ child’s mobility issues and was a one-off project.
It seems that Finman’s true calling goes back to his less than ideal educational experience. His next big venture is to build a physical school and attempt to disrupt traditional education models. However, he is tight-lipped on the subject and has few details to offer. Finman has a long life ahead of him and a bright future in the crypto world.
Ian Balina: The Crypto Entrepreneur
This next crypto millionaire proves that it’s not only about Lambos and yachts. Ian Balina was born in Uganda and immigrated to the United States with his family when he was 8 years old. His grandparents grew up in Uganda under British rule and received a British education. They understood the power of education and took it upon themselves to spread knowledge: they taught people in their village that would not have had the opportunity otherwise. Ian Balina acknowledges the power education has and the role it has played in his family’s history. “Education, you could say, is in my blood.”
Balina’s mother, a professor, continued to stress the importance of schooling on young Ian, but his passion had pulled him towards tech from an early age. He earned a merit scholarship, worked hard in school and eventually graduated with a degree in computer engineering. His hard work and persistence landed him a job at IBM, but the spirit of entrepreneurship had taken hold.
When he wasn’t busy working his day job, Balina developed his own side projects. He wrote a freelance guide, worked as a consultant through earn.com and invested in cryptocurrencies. He also developed 100x Advisors, a group of crypto specialists and tech innovators that embarked on a global tour in the hopes of finding and promoting the next generation of visionaries in the cryptosphere. Their tour took them from Amsterdam to Seoul to Uganda. Their goal was to get feet on the ground and identify the next leaders in the industry.
One of the most interesting facets of Balina’s work is its emphasis on community growth and creating opportunities for young people that may not have access to this technology. Balina recently embarked on a speaking tour through Africa and the Middle East where he outlined his path to success: strategies that worked for him, things to be avoided and that the key to success is being informed and staying determined.
Balina is not afraid to put his money where his mouth is either. For every fee he receives for consultation work he donates a portion to the non-profit Black Girls Code. He emphasizes the power of crypto as a means to create life-changing wealth. “This is real. This is tangible. This is not some dream.”
He believes that crypto has the power to bring disenfranchised groups to the table and efforts like this give them the tools to do so. Black Girls Code provides training and leadership for African American girls between the ages of 7 and 17 in computer science fields with an emphasis on self-empowerment. Balina’s humble beginnings and desire to show a path to wealth and change for others sets him apart from many of the other young crypto millionaires.
How Many Millionaires Is Crypto Making?
When examining some of these young crypto millionaires, it is easy to get lost in the cars, money and lavish lifestyles that are often put on display. It is important to keep in mind, however, that these young people are the ones pushing the technology and defining the industry. Cryptocurrencies have created a unique environment for young people to generate wealth like never before and these will not be the last groups that will use crypto to build their fortunes. While no one may ever know how many crypto millionaires there are, what can be seen by these examples is a trend of seeing opportunity in cryptocurrencies.
Ready To Find A Hidden Gem?
100x Advisors. (2019). Retrieved from: https://100xadvisors.com/
Antonio, J. (2018, February 6). Meet Kingsley Advani, The Man Who Turned $34,000 into More Than $1,000,000 in Six Months, Thanks to Cryptocurrencies. Retrieved from: https://zycrypto.com/meet-kingsley-advani-the-man-who-turned-34000-into-more-than-1000000-in-six-months-thanks-to-cryptocurrencies/
Black Girls Code. (2018). Retrieved from: http://www.blackgirlscode.com/
Finman, E. (2018, May 4). REAL LIFE DR OCTOPUS!!!. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p480XESWVVo
French, J. (2018, November 28). This 30 Year Old Crypto Millionaire is Teaching Marginalized Groups About Tech. Retrieved from: https://blocktelegraph.io/ian-balina-uganda/
Mahdwai, A. (2018, June 13). Meet Erik Finman, the Teenage Bitcoin Millionaire. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jun/13/meet-erik-finman-the-teenage-bitcoin-millionaire
Rizzo, P. (2016, July 28). Coinbase’s First Employee is Leaving to Start His Own Hedge Fund. Retrieved from: https://www.coindesk.com/coinbase-first-employee-hedge-fund
Robinson, M. (2018, February 4). This 24-Year-Old Quit His Job After Making a Fortune in Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies—Here‘s How He Did It. Retrieved from: https://www.businessinsider.in/This-24-year-old-quit-his-job-after-making-a-fortune-in-bitcoin-and-other-cryptocurrencies-heres-how-he-did-it/articleshow/62780323.cms
Shin, L. (2016, January 7). This Man Has Been Living on Bitcoin for 3 Years. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2016/01/07/this-man-has-been-living-on-bitcoin-for-3-years/#66f14626973e
Shin, L. (2017, March 7). Why This Hedge Fund CEO Once ‘Put Most of My Meager Life into Bitcoin’. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2017/03/07/why-this-hedge-fund-ceo-once-put-most-of-my-meager-life-savings-into-bitcoin/#392e48f94e15