Transcription Episode 29

Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of Living on Blockchain. Today we are speaking to Alex. Alexander is the co-founder of Gains Associates.

So they are a very, very strong community of crypto traders and investors. Gains does a lot in terms of educating their community and making the right choices, doing the research for them. They are coming up with a bunch of wonderful products as well, which we do deep dive into in this conversation.

So yeah, without much further ado, let’s deep dive right in. Hi Alexander, how are you doing today? Thank you so much for being a part of this podcast. I’m doing great.

Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure. The pleasure is all mine.

So, you know, for our listeners, would you like to start by telling us a little about yourself and how you fell down the crypto rabbit hole? Sure, absolutely. So my name is Alex. I live in Paris, France.

I’ve been in crypto for four years and I’ve learned a lot. And how I got in crypto was just a friend who was in before me and he just told me he made an insane amount of money because it was in the 2017 bull run. And so I just had to check it out.

So that’s what I did. You know, I just started investing a few hundred dollars here and there with friends. And at the time, the market was very wild.

It was the ICO boom. So there were a lot of projects launching, good and bad. And so you had to do your research and also be a bit lucky because sometimes projects you wouldn’t expect did very well.

So it was a very interesting time for sure. Oh, all right. OK, so how did you come about, you know, being like a co-founder of GAINS? And would you like to tell us a little about what you are doing there? So it was just a natural evolution, to be honest.

Back in the very end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, there were pools that started forming and pools. The concept is very simple. You just gather many retailers and you put their funds together to invest as one.

And doing this, you have more negotiating power with projects and you get better terms for everyone that they wouldn’t be able to get on their own. So this is just a concept. And there were like probably hundreds of these pools.

It was crazy. And many of them were actually run by anonymous admins. And so it was kind of scary.

But people still trusted them because the upside was so huge. Right. You could like 10x was probably the average or something.

So even if you lose your money two times by people who ran away with it, like it’s OK if you make 10x on a few others, it just covers it. And so we did participate in a few of these pools with my friends and I when we just started to get our feet wet in crypto. But it was like an uneasy feeling.

We didn’t feel comfortable at all because it’s just everything in crypto moves and moved so fast. And sometimes we didn’t know who we were dealing with, who we trusted with our money. And so we thought, let’s create our own pool group, our own community.

We will handle the money this way. We will sleep better at night. And also by creating a community, we will interact more with people.

We’ll share our thoughts, ask questions, and we will learn together and we will make better investment decisions. And that’s just how it started. And to be honest, the beginnings were quite rough because it works based on trust and trust takes time to build.

There is an incompressible amount of time that you need to build trust. And so that’s just what we did. We showed up every day.

We showed our faces on video to prove. We were real people. And this way, people started trusting us slowly.

And then the rest is history, I guess. Lovely. That’s good to know.

You just said about how important it is to put a face to a name and to just gather that credibility. That is so important. And what you guys have is a really solid community.

You guys also have a token, right? So would you like to tell our listeners about your token a little bit? Yes, we only recently tokenized it. I think the token brings new incentives and aligns them. So I think it’s a win-win.

And so we’re a decentralized VC nowadays. To be honest, it’s just a fancy way of saying a pool. So we have exclusive opportunities to invest in private sales and seed rounds of ICOs.

So the price, of course, is much lower than what you would get in public sales. But also, there is a vesting. So it is for investors who are a bit more long-term minded.

But I think this is how you get the best returns. If you buy on the exchange when the token already has some hype, sure, you can do 5X, 10X. But if you’re really looking for the 100X, you most likely need to get in very early on.

And so the token is very simple. What we do, and it’s something, to be honest, that I’m really proud of and that I love, is just removing the buyers eventually to investing. Anyone can buy our token.

And you buy enough tokens, starting from 10,000 GAINS tokens up to 200,000. There are different tiers. And then you just get into a private group in which these deals are offered.

And the amazing thing in crypto is that you don’t really need to be especially rich to invest and get access to these opportunities. That, to be honest, I would say less than a few hundred people on Earth have access to per project. So this is a really exclusive club.

And in the traditional world, something kind of mind-boggling is that the concept of accredited investor, the premise is that it’s supposed to protect people who don’t know enough to making investments that would ruin them. But actually, it just prevents people who can be smart enough but not yet have the money to become rich. So you have to be rich in order to become more rich, which makes no sense.

Not even poor people, but just regular people who have a bit of money, they can’t get access to these opportunities. But in crypto, with us, they can. And so I think that’s something really amazing and really a parting shift.

And I just love it. Yeah, absolutely. You know what you said about how there is this notion, right? For anybody to start investing, you need to have a certain quantum of money.

And crypto kind of changes that and DeFi completely revolutionizes that. I love that we are building something so inclusive, which kind of doesn’t discriminate and doesn’t have all of these prerequisites that the traditional financial system does have when it comes to going or starting off on your wealth creation. Or for that matter, just wealth preservation journey.

So obviously, more communities like yours that are able to basically do research and help give the end users some perspective are absolutely wonderful. And more power to you guys for having achieved what you have because your community is really active and engaged and very strong. And it’s good that you feel so strongly about this, that there shouldn’t be any barriers to investing.

Yeah, absolutely. And to be honest, again, you would be surprised at some of the behavior that institutional funds in crypto have. Like sometimes they don’t do much research.

And a part of being a credited investor, there’s two parts, usually. You need the money, you need to show that you have assets and that if you lose some, it’s okay, you’re not going to be broke. And the second part is knowledge that you know the financial markets and especially your markets, and that you do research.

And crypto moves so fast that sometimes these guys, they don’t do research. Sometimes you would be shocked. When I make intros with a few people, well, sure, they get intros, so they trust me.

But still, sometimes they just say, hello, where do I send my money? And that is so crazy. And the retailers in our group, there is something that, again, I love. It’s decentralized due diligence.

In our groups, we’re about 600, 700 investors. And we do have a research team who is amazing. But one man only has 24 hours a day.

And when you have dozens of people, they will spot things you didn’t. And that’s very powerful. And sometimes we go back to the projects with new questions.

And that just helps us make better investment decisions as a whole. And that’s really great. Absolutely.

No, this is wonderful. And this is what will make the ecosystem more mature, making people more aware about how you need to do your due diligence or at least rely on credible sources to do them for you. It’s not just about making a quick buck, right? People put in so much time and energy before they make any investment.

It shouldn’t be any different for crypto. Yes, yes. Regarding shouldn’t be about a short term.

It’s very hard to change your mentality. And I get it. I’ve been there kind of.

Lots of people, for example, they don’t like vestings. So vestings, you know, it means, for example, you will receive your tokens, let’s say, you know, a 12 per month over a year. And that’s like not a heavy vesting.

And most people will not really like a project when there’s a vesting. But I’m the total opposite. If I like a project, I would love a very heavy vesting because we’re just humans.

When we see something goes 10X, 20X, we want to sell it. And actually, a vesting is a blessing in disguise preventing you from being a weak hand and taking profits too soon off the table. Don’t get me wrong.

It’s good to take profits. But the people that have made 100X and more buying Bitcoin in 2011 or something, most of the time, they saw you here. These guys, actually, they forgot about it.

If they had seen it and checked it every year, every month, and they saw it with a 50X, they would have most likely sold. So a vesting is kind of the same thing. Like you forget about it.

You can’t sell it. And then after a year or two years, maybe you have an amazing return. Absolutely.

Vesting as a concept also shows the commitment of the team, right? I think that they’re not just looking to make perhaps a quick buck. They have a long-term vision associated with the platform. Totally, totally.

And again, some of the projects that have done more than 100X, 200X, sometimes they traded below the private sale price at some point. And some people might lose faith. And crypto will do that to you.

In crypto, the trend is extremely strong. The timing is just paramount. And when there’s a really rough bear market, almost all projects will be hit.

And some people will be very sad. But if you’re savvy and you have some stable coins ready, you should be extremely, extremely happy. That’s just like Black Friday, Power10, everything on the huge discounts.

And so, for example, Quant Network was one of the best projects we had. It did more than 400X from our private sale price. And it’s now very, very comfortably sitting in the top 100.

We raised half a million for it back in 2018. And many of our members made insane, life-changing money on it. And some hailed.

And the ones who hailed are the ones who they just kind of forgot, took some time of crypto, and then came back and had an amazing surprise. And there’s many other projects that we did that were amazing. We also had the chance and the skill to make a connection with Avalanche, also like probably top 10 or something these days.

It had a great run recently. And many other projects like Reef, Persistence, MantraDAO, and many, many others. So we also have a track record that is public, that everyone can check.

And I think that helps with trusting us. Wow, yeah, that’s quite a journey. And, you know, what you’ve mentioned that, you know, all of these projects that have like a really sound vision, and they’re doing so well, it’s good that, you know, they’re part of your ambit as well.

So what’s the next milestone for you guys that, you know, you’re ready to hit? Good question. So we are on the skating face. We’re moving away from the wide crypto world to being a bit bigger and being regulated, having a platform that is very easy to use for people to contribute, claim their tokens, see their investments, because some of our members, they invest with us in 10, 20, 30 private sales.

And some of them have, you know, Google Sheets to track them all, but it’s not very convenient. And so for them, we will have everything on the website. They will be able to see with the calendar, all their token distributions, the terms.

So that will make their life much more easy on a daily basis. We also have plans for launchpads. So a launchpad is essentially the same thing we do, but for public sales.

And the allocations will be a bit smaller. And also the price is just a bit higher, but the vesting is less heavy. So there are some compromises.

It’s for different types of people usually, but it should be very interesting. Launchpads have done amazingly well. And of course we will have a twist.

There’s like 30, 50 launchpads in the industry right now, and we don’t just want to create another launchpad copy. So I’m not going to reveal right now what it is, but I think it’s very cool. It will have to do with learning, because I think that’s something very powerful that is very overlooked.

And that is right now with most launchpads, as I was saying, the public sales, they don’t have a lot of vesting and the allocations are small. And so it usually attracts flippers. And I think flippers are not really helpful for the industry or for anyone.

And I get it. Sometimes you do need to flip a bit, but if everyone’s a flipper, then nothing gets achieved. And so we will try to attract different kinds of people to build long-lasting projects.

Yeah, that sounds like a good plan. And you know what you talked about, like the portfolio tracker, right on the dashboard of your website. Now that is very exciting because that is something that is still, because we are so new that that is still something so obvious, but it’s just missing.

So that would be like a great product to use. And I would use it. And regarding the launchpad itself, I look forward to when you launch it and, you know, to see like the US view, the learning angle to it.

Abhay, when do you think these two products will be like in production? So the dashboard is going to be in October and the launchpad most likely in November. All right. Okay.

Lovely. And the dashboard would be just for your community or would it be like a product that would be open for all? It’s going to be to track the investments made with gains. So only people who invested with us.

All right. Okay. Okay.

So now, you know, two other things into the trends in this space. I would love to know what, what do you think, you know, considering you’re like an active investor and this is what you’re doing for a living. I would love to know your take on NFTs.

There’s so much buzz around them nowadays, and there are so many newer use cases that keep popping up every day. What is your take on NFTs? Sure. That’s a great and loaded question.

Right. I think NFTs are fun. I think NFTs have a future, but I think there’s, I think NFTs are much more easy to manipulate than crypto, which says a lot.

You can easily sell your NFT to yourself with another address. And sure, you will pay 2.5% fees on the open sea each time, but you can artificially inflate the value of it and create a track record of people buying it for a higher, higher price. And then ultimately try to use that track record to sell it to someone.

And boom, you just created money out of thin air, essentially. NFTs can be used to launder money, to have some tax write-ups, selling them at a loss. So there’s lots of things you can do with NFTs that aren’t really so good, in my opinion.

But I would say I’m very happy that NFTs, and also in the same regard, crypto gaming, GameFi, I think they’re kind of a Trojan horse to get more regular people to know about crypto. Because it’s just very easy for celebrities to get involved with NFTs, much more easy than the traditional, the heavy finance stuff of crypto with protocols and all that, that’s boring, that’s complicated. NFTs you can get, and you do get lots of celebrities.

I was just thrown off my chair a few days ago when Snoop Dogg said he had a very popular, anonymous NFT account on Twitter. And that shows that these celebrities, some are very smart businessmen, and they’ve been at it for months. And some are public, some not.

Logan Paul as well. So I think NFTs are very interesting. I think you should be aware of the inner workings of things and not take everything for granted.

When you see huge numbers, these NFTs were sold for millions, questions, these things. But I think they do have a future for sure. And I’m sure the use cases will evolve, and some that we can’t even think of today will emerge.

Yeah, that’s what I think as well. I think that you’re right about your apprehensions with the NFTs, and that is there. But as days pass, I do believe that more and more use cases are cropping up.

And I think that it’ll take some time before the space kind of matures. But in the coming year, I’m hoping that more really useful use cases basically show up rather than for the heck of it. And perhaps there can be a mechanism to regulate, might not be the right word, but maybe sort of just like for the end user to be able to see that, okay, these can be inflated.

And for them to be able to do their due diligence with more clarity. Because right now I think it’s just about everybody sort of jumping on the bandwagon. Yeah, that’s what happens.

I mean, in life, mostly in crypto, the network effects, they’re just exacerbated. So you have to be cognizant of that and be mindful and know what you’re getting into. And if you just go into something rapidly because you think it’s like an opportunity that is just there at that moment, and it’s very well might be true in crypto, you just have to accept that you can lose a lot of money.

And by the way, I bought a few NFTs and proud owner of a budgie penguin. Oh, nice. Very cool.

Okay. So now, you know, coming to some of the last few questions that I have, let’s do like a quick word association game. So I’m going to say a few words and you know, you just have to say the first thing that comes into your mind.

Ready? All right. Yes. Investments.

Oof. Risky. Money.

Great. Crypto. Crypto.

Future. DeFi. DeFi.

Complicated. Okay. Actually, it shouldn’t, but when you dig into it, there’s lots of stuff.

Yep. Yep. It is.

I keep saying that. I think that right now DeFi is at that cost where, you know, it is still very complicated for anybody and everybody to use. You need to know what you’re doing to actually get into DeFi and to be able to sort of make the best of this space.

It’s not something that, you know, we’ve cracked yet, but I do believe that, you know, with more maturity as the ecosystem grows, it’ll become more seamless. 100%. Yeah.

Okay. Now, you know, I had a few other words, but I kind of lost my train of thought there. So now would you like to tell me a little about the thought leaders that, you know, you kind of follow the best insight or like, you know, information that you kind of assimilate that are there on social media and you would recommend them to our listeners as well? I do follow a few guys on Twitter, a few people.

I think I follow Balaji, which was the ex-CTO of Coinbase. I also like a few guys on YouTube. I’ve been watching some Elio for the NFTs is a very active, of course, Elio trades.

And I just consume a lot of content. I try to watch the videos in two weeks because I don’t have much time. Which is kind of funny.

It’s the same thing. I thought I was the only one. Yeah.

Yeah. When I tell some people about it, they think I’m fucking crazy, but let me think who else. What about like some of the resource, like not thought leaders, perhaps some books that you would like to recommend or some YouTube channels or that you think are must follow or, you know, must read for somebody who’s trying to understand the space better.

That’s not really tied to the space, but a book that I read a few years ago and that I still remember vividly is negotiating as if your life depended on it. And it’s not that much about negotiation. It is, but it’s more about empathy and understanding what the other wants.

And more generally, this book was just a big mindfuck for me. And because it’s written by a guy who’s been head of the FBI for like 10, 20 years and he conducted lots of negotiations, high profile and it’s essentially, it was like very tense situations, like the kind of hostage. If you don’t send us a 1 million, you’re going to receive a part of the year from the guy we took.

Right. And when it starts like that, you say, wow, how is he going to turn it around? And by just talking to that person with some time at the end, it was crazy. The guy released the hostage and was essentially asking forgiveness.

It was like became his friends and they didn’t pay anything. And so I think that kind of, it just showed to me that everything is possible. And I think that’s crypto compared to the traditional world.

There are some secrets when I tell people about crypto, that kind of listening, but they don’t really get it because it’s just so far away from their worldview, what they think is possible. And that aspect, I think this is why this book came to mind. I would love for people to experience what crypto is.

And I really believe crypto could be like a force of positive change in the world. And it was still very early because we have amazing opportunities investing. I do my best to try to convince people, but sadly with most people, they will hear something.

They will say, okay, I’ll look into it. They won’t really take action and taking action is what you need. And it’s very simple, but most people don’t do it.

So that’s not really a book or anything, but I guess that’s just, there’s lots of amazing content out there. Oh, oh yeah. Okay.

Something I just remember a series of video that I loved and that are very, very well made it’s called the hidden secrets of money on YouTube. And it just goes and tells the history of money, you know, from shells and then to, to the gold standard and how it evolved. And this is something that is not really taught in schools.

And I think it is paramount to understand the fundamentals and what crypto brings. So this is what I would recommend. Okay.

So this is the series by Mike Maloney, I think. Exactly. Yes.

Yes. Okay. Yeah.

That is wonderful. I think I have also seen that. I don’t know if I’ve seen the whole thing because, but I also like came across it and I had seen parts of it and the book that you’ve mentioned, this is the one by Chris Moss.

I think never split the difference. That’s the book, right? Yes, yes, yes, yes. Okay.

Yeah. Those are both. Yeah.

The book is wonderful and yeah, these videos are definitely like really good as what you said, like, you know, schools don’t really teach us all this and they should, but somehow all of this important stuff is not a part of any curriculum, which is very sad, but then, you know, the onus then kind of falls on individuals to sort of go out and learn and keep an open. Yeah. It’s almost as if sometimes you’re wondering if it’s on purpose that this kind of information is in school, just to keep like some part of the population in some kind of slavery, you know? Yeah.

I feel that I do feel that I think it’s like, but it’s not that, you know, it’s just, it just doesn’t happen to be there. I feel that, you know, it’s not there because of this particular reason, because then people will become a lot more aware. Right.

And then they wouldn’t really fall in this traditional loop that people are supposed to follow in their life. Yes. Yes.

Okay. So it’s, this has been a really lovely chat. Now to coming to my last question, this is something I ask everybody, whoever comes on the podcast.

So if somebody is like, you know, peering in from the outside, so you will into the crypto space, what would be your suggestions to these people who are still looking in, but perhaps, you know, as you mentioned, they don’t really take action. So, and they are intimidated or whatever, or, or out of sheer laziness, that is like, depends on individual to individual, but what would be your suggestion to these people so that they can actively get into crypto or DeFi? I would say, I mean, you probably have someone, I hope in crypto in your circle of friends, try to speak with them. If you don’t, you’re going to find a lot of friends on the internet.

And again, you can start very small. You can start with a few hundred dollars, just buy some Bitcoin. If you want to me, Bitcoin is a bit boring.

You know, I think it’s quite big already. And I think by the way, that’s people tell me Bitcoin is risky. I think it’s not owning Bitcoin that is risky.

Not having a hedge in what can be the future of finance is actually just totally insane. So I would just tell them, try to understand what’s at stake. Try to understand what crypto is.

And you can start small. You don’t have to be afraid of it. And this is something you have to be comfortable about your investment size.

If you invest too much and you’re scared, you’re going to take profits off the table too soon. You’re going to feel uneasy and you should just build things up slowly. So do some research, talk to your friends, talk to people on the internet, start small and that’s it.

Yeah, those are good suggestions. You know, I always say that the best way to actually go about doing this is just getting your hands a little dirty, like start small, but start. And that is the important thing because once you start, then you, it’s pretty much, you know, a free fall from there.

And then, you know, you’ll be inundated with so many new ideas that you cannot help, but be fascinated and get more involved. Yes, agree. All right, Alexander, thank you so much for taking out the time to speak to me.

It was a lovely chat. Thank you so much. Any parting thoughts before we wrap this up? Well, thanks a lot.

It was a shared pleasure. Thanks for the great questions, the great conversation. I hope this can inspire people to take some action.

This would make my day if it does. And on our side, we’ve been in crypto for four years. We’re going to be there for the next four and maybe more.

We’re here for the long term to build. We have lots of projects and I’m just looking to what the future holds. Wow.

Lovely thoughts. Thank you so much again. Thanks.

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