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Etiënne vantKruys – Cointelegraph Magazine



Rising up in poverty in Suriname, Etiënne vantKruys was advised by his instructor he’d by no means succeed — however it solely made him extra decided to not comply with within the footsteps of his mother and father. Thanks, partly, to crypto, he’s now dwelling the dream.

Regardless of his high-flying crypto VC life-style in the present day, vantKruys retains at the least one foot on the bottom by remembering his hungry previous. He grew up grime poor in Suriname, the place his father was a drug addict who was typically in jail.

“I was always hungry — like, dude, always hungry. Always like, ‘Fuck, I need to eat.’ Always, always, always — it sticks with you. I don’t care if I’m in Singapore at a famous crypto conference at a high-flying restaurant, I would still order food from right to left. I would start with the price, like, ‘What can I get?’ You’re aware.”

Again in 2017, anybody may simply get in on extremely public ICOs elevating $30 million to $50 million with a white paper stuffed with desires simply because it had the phrase “blockchain” in it. Issues are totally different in the present day, with enterprise capitalists having to community and clamor to get a small placement of $250,000. Cap tables that monitor investor allocations replenish quick, and traders are fortunate to get a pitch earlier than needing to resolve.

“In this cycle, with the speed of things, you don’t have time to consider,” notes vantKruys, who heads New York-based digital asset fund TRGC. Typically the one traders who’ve the privilege of doing full, correct due diligence are the “alpha dogs” like Coinbase Ventures and Binance, for whom he says room will probably be made even after a spherical has closed.

The brief stick

As vantKruys, 45, stepped out of his Uber upon arriving in San Francisco from Amsterdam for Blockchain Week in 2018, he noticed a sight that introduced him again to his childhood. The huge homeless inhabitants, typically affected by psychological well being points, reminded him not solely of his father however of the life for which he too was regarded as destined. The truth on the road of town of know-how startups was little totally different than these of his native Suriname, a former Dutch colony in South America the place the common revenue is below $400 per 30 days.

VantKruys had a tough childhood and bounced round foster properties earlier than ending up at a residential establishment for 80 different deprived youngsters. He was born to teenage mother and father, and when not in jail, his father may very well be discovered “walking around the city in his underwear, dirty and unshaven — lost on heroin.” If his begin in life had been a poker hand, it seemed very similar to a 2-7 offsuit — the worst potential mixture.

On his first day of elementary faculty, his classroom instructor advised him and 5 different friends from the power that “People don’t escape their circumstances.”

“You guys have a 99% likelihood of repeating your parents’ lives,” the instructor lectured them in entrance of the entire class. VantKruys requested if that meant that he nonetheless had a 1% likelihood of creating it. Some college students started to giggle. “In Suriname tradition, that’s a no-no. You by no means contradict or say something sensible to lecturers. I obtained smacked as hell, like, ‘Know your place,’” he recalls. At eight years old, he knew there was a very hard journey ahead.

But vantKruys had a plan. He believed in that 1% chance, even if no one would allow him to dream of it. “I thought of it like a boxing match in my head. I’ve obtained to beat 99 Mike Tysons to get the place I wish to, for that one shot,” he remembers. He labored laborious, typically getting one of the best grades.

Homelessness was simply one of many “Mike Tysons” he needed to defeat. After highschool, he managed to get into Utrecht College within the Netherlands to check pharmacy. He wished to turn out to be a health care provider, and his uncle coated his airfare. Nevertheless, with out cash, he needed to make do with sleeping within the central railway station, the place he saved his issues in a locker, and washing up at a neighborhood gymnasium earlier than heading to his morning lessons.

“This is just another Mike Tyson fight,” he thought to himself as he lived life in survival mode, satisfied that sooner or later there can be a remaining battle, and that he would make it.



VantKruys’ uncle lived close by, and in 1998, his uncle launched him to inventory buying and selling. The idea of shopping for parts of an organization was completely international, however he was enthralled. He went to one among his professors for recommendation, who advised that “If you’re really interested in the funding of the biotech markets, you should look into the hedge funds on Wall Street.” VantKruys was off to the races.

By utilizing his information of pharmacy to match scientific trial information with public statements put out by firms, vantKruys managed to search out an edge that “made a bit of money.” He dropped out of college in order that he may focus full time on buying and selling, creating a method round short-selling biotech shares that appeared to overpromise with out laborious proof.

“I treat everything as a short — everything is bullshit until proven otherwise.”

Enter Bitcoin

When the monetary disaster hit in 2008–2009, vantKruys recollects taking place the rabbit gap of limitless questions: “What the fuck? What the hell is value? What is money? What is banking? What is finance?” the part-time inventory dealer remembers considering as he investigated “all these conspiracy theories surrounding money.”

When vantKruys examine Bitcoin on a discussion board round 2013, calling “bullshit” was his first intuition. Nevertheless, many in his circle quickly began speaking about it, even at his party in November 2013. “One of my colleagues came to the party and had everyone install the wallet. Bitcoin, at that time, was like $300,” he recollects.

By 2015, he was satisfied that cryptocurrency was the long run. He even left behind basketball, a ardour that he had cultivated as a coach for the higher a part of a decade. “I have that ‘all in’ mentality,” he says, explaining that he wanted laser focus and resilience.

He started transferring cryptocurrency round in 2016 whereas collaborating in varied early ICOs, resembling Lisk and Stratis. “They raised so many Bitcoins,” he reminisces. “They weren’t all raising Ethereum yet, so these were mostly Bitcoin raises.”



Crypto-trading transactions noticed his financial institution flag his account as suspicious, and he was grilled on the exercise. VantKruys then launched the banker to crypto: “Hey, listen, there’s something special here. Open up your laptop. That is CoinMarketCap — that’s my new home.”

The banker had some recommendation: Incorporate, as that’s how he may take away some legal responsibility and make issues simpler for everybody. That’s how TRGC, vantKruys’ funding agency, was born the next yr.

Right this moment, the New York-based agency resembles a conventional funding fund with its commonplace “two-and-twenty” price construction, implying a 2% annual administration price and a 20% lower of earnings. Because of this with the $20 million {dollars} in capital that vantKruys suggests is presently in play, the agency is incomes $400,000 per yr in administration charges to “keep the lights on,” even in a bear market when efficiency could be adverse. In a bull market with a 100% annual acquire (sure, that is each too excessive and too low, don’t @ me), the agency would look to pocket a cool $4 million from presumably completely happy purchasers.




“90% were referrals,” vantKruys says relating to the sources of his early funding alternatives, with referrers cut up between different VCs, builders and some devoted scouts. In response to vantKruys, networking is the important thing to success as a crypto VC. He depends on ABN — “always be networking” — touring to blockchain conferences in about 25 international locations, meandering by means of the gang whereas becoming a member of conversations.

“The market insights you will get from these conferences is insane.”

Brian Kerr, CEO and co-founder of Kava, says vantKruys is a well-known and extremely lively investor within the area: “At the start of every good crypto deal, you will likely find Etienne. He is one of the most active investors in the space and is solely focused on elevating up and coming projects to the world stage.”

Easy methods to choose a token

On the subject of deciding on an funding, vantKruys depends on a four-pillar mannequin: founder, product, token economic system and the power to achieve customers.

The primary pillar is the founder with a “maniac drive” who will defeat their very own lineup of Mike Tysons and stick with the challenge “even in the most horrible bear market, find that product-market fit and scale.” “I must say, it’s the hardest part,” he says. “You’re trying to find out if the CEO has that character trait to stick to a trench war and come out on top.”

The product itself is the second pillar, with vantKruys in search of tasks with the aim and ambition of attending to the highest 100 in market capitalization. That’s not simply carried out, as “Even cracking the top 200 is like winning an Olympic gold medal right now.” Moving into the highest 200 in the present day would require a $250 million market capitalization, whereas the highest 100 now requires greater than $1 billion. Every step alongside the best way, even the one thousandth spot — which is valued effectively above $10 million — is simply one other Mike Tyson the maniac founder must defeat.

The third pillar is tokenomics, additionally referred to as token metrics. VantKruys views tokens as “a representation of everyone’s interest” within the challenge, from VCs, founders and builders to customers and merchants. He needs to know the place tokens are going, and who advantages from them. “You’re in search of particular stuff, like ‘Does this make sense?’ ‘Where is the accrual of value? Is it skewed toward the team? Is it skewed toward the community?’” he says.

This issue of tokenomics, he explains, is behind the recent trend of “fair launches,” which do not offer private allocations to investors or developers. VantKruys suggests that Bitcoin is the best example of this, with others like DOGE, SUSHI, YFI and more also fitting the bill. These fair-launch coins have recently outperformed in the market.



Despite the rise in fair-launch projects that effectively cut out VCs like vantKruys, he is confident that the VC industry will survive as long as people want to take risks on projects that are not yet able to get funds elsewhere. “I think the venture capital model is still going to be there, and it’s going to remain so long as individuals take dangers early on,” he concludes.

Fourthly, there’s the query of promoting. Regardless of how good a challenge is, there will probably be neither customers nor traders if there is no such thing as a narrative in regards to the use case by which to get heard. For Bitcoin again within the day, immutable peer-to-peer money was the attention-grabbing headline, whereas Litecoin promised sooner transactions, and Monero provided true anonymity. There ought to be a ripe, prepared group of “fanatical early adopters,” he says.

“Can we evangelize the product to the world? Can we get people to join this product, this revolution, this solution? How do we bring this product to people that need it? They might not even know they need it yet!”

On the finish of the evaluation, there are two remaining questions that vantKruys asks himself earlier than investing. The primary is “Would I hold this token during a bear market?” and the second is a straightforward “Is this a good investment?”

With the latter, he’s referring to the massive image of whether or not the funding “checks all the boxes” and if there’s actual substance beneath the “beautiful makeup” that may embody a lovely pitch deck and glossy web site.

“Even after those standard due diligence questions, you got to ask yourself again: ‘Is it still a good investment?’ Because like I said, I treat everything as short — let it prove itself.”


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