The EWOR team had the pleasure of sitting down with Alexander Valtingojer to speak about his journey as a young entrepreneur. Alex spoke to us about his first ventures and the things he would have done differently if he could start again.
Alexander is the Co-Founder and CEO of Coinpanion, a crypto asset manager for digital assets, such as cryptocurrencies and NFTs. As a digital assets platform, Coinpanion allows you to invest in cryptocurrencies in pre-configured thematic portfolios. “We are more or less offering ETFs for cryptocurrencies,” he explained.
This article dives into the mindset of a young entrepreneur and compiles some of Alexander’s best insights from his career so far. Read on to find out what he has to say!
The Entrepreneurial Beginnings
Coinpanion isn’t Alexander Valtingojer’s first venture. His first entrepreneurial activities started when he was still in elementary school. He asked his parents to take him to flea markets, where he devised strategies to sell his toys and buy others, making a profit along the way. “I liked the analytical aspect of it, I was good at numbers,” he explained. As an entrepreneur, his father always encouraged Alexander to explore this passion.
In high school, when he was about 15, he started a new side hustle: buying game keys for platforms like Steam and selling them to people. Alexander researched different forms and websites, often in other foreign languages, finding the best way to buy good game keys for cheap to resell them in different regions.
This venture is also how he became acquainted with Bitcoin – a lot of people used it as a payment method in the gaming space back then. Although he didn’t understand the economics behind it, he accepted it as a means of payment. Alexander remembers thinking, “There’s this magic internet money, and nobody wants it”. From there, he became frustrated at how hard it was to convert his coins into cash or spend them. Naturally, he developed a Bitcoin marketplace as a way to spend his earnings, which he operated until his first year at university.
Building and Adapting Coinpanion
Back in 2017, Alexander got more interested in cryptocurrencies and started to learn about alternatives to Bitcoin such as Ethereum and its smart contract technology. “That was the point where I saw that this was actually the technology of the future. There is a true value behind these assets since they can make many processes a lot more efficient.”, he said.
As well as crypto, Alexander got interested in capital markets and looked for ways to diversify his assets. That said, he was still interested in cryptocurrencies and wanted to keep investing. However, the obscurity and fast-moving nature of the market made that difficult. The development of new projects, new problems, new solutions, and new user cases are incredibly hard to keep up with. Currently, investing in crypto and virtual assets is technical, time-consuming and complicated.
Coinpanion stems from these pain points. Alexander thought, “How could I make an innovative asset class super accessible for the passive investor who just wants to participate but does not take the time to research single assets?”. He and his Co-Founders made a questionnaire for prospective investors to fill out and receive advice about what to invest in. Things got serious in 2020 when Coinpanion officially reached one million under asset management.
Alexander and his team found that the system worked better if the customers made decisions about their investments, but Coinpanion provided the means to invest. Coinpanion became a Robo-advisor, an ETF-like platform with different portfolios and categories for investors to browse. “The industry is moving from someone making all decisions for you, and from single-class investments – which is a bit like gambling -to enhanced investing, where you’re making your own decisions about what you want to invest in,” Alexander told us.
As well as changing trajectory slightly, Coinpanion moved away from just offering crypto investing to including all digital assets, making innovations available to any investor. With the platform, anyone could become an early adopter.
The Qualities Required to Succeed as a Young Entrepreneur
When asked what his strengths were as a young entrepreneur, Alexander was quick off the mark. “I’m able to learn a lot of things quickly, and execute what is necessary,” he said. His strength comes from being a good generalist – not excellent at something in particular, but able to do a lot of things well.
This is crucial as an entrepreneur, he told us. At the beginning of your venture, you might be by yourself or in a very small team; as such, you will have to do a lot of things yourself. Alexander, for example, started off writing the T&Cs for contracts himself to save on costs, despite not being a lawyer.
He also listed having a technical background as a strength to build his ventures. Understanding the tech works is a big advantage, as is knowing how to use apps and how to program. Even without a technical degree, Alexander said, knowing how to research things online is an underrated skill for an entrepreneur. Knowing where to find answers is vital if you’re launching a venture.
Alexander’s Advice for Young Entrepreneurs
We asked Alexander what his advice was for budding entrepreneurs. He barely hesitated before telling us, “Just start”. There’s no point in waiting for the perfect idea or the best team. “Initially, you’re going to make so many mistakes, it’s unlikely your first idea will work out,” Alexander told us. That may sound like a dissuasion – but far from it. You learn so much by trying to make things work. The learning is so valuable, you should just get started.
“Focus on one thing at a time”, was another tip given by Alexander. It’s really hard to say no to opportunities, especially if you’re passionate about a lot of ideas. Alexander found this out the hard way; he now believes it is near-impossible to do more than one thing at once very well. “I don’t believe in one, perfect idea that works. You have to start with an OK idea in a great market, and pivot around it until it works,” he said.
Finally, he added: “Make yourself visible. Putting yourself out there and getting your name known is vital in business. It’s one of the best ways to attract customers, employees, and advisors”. According to Alexander, this visibility could start with finding a mentor. While he did not do so himself, he reckons that considerably slowed his progress down. A lot of things he figured out himself, he could have figured out much faster with the help of an experienced entrepreneur as a mentor.