Some people I know play fantasy football. They choose a team name, pick all their players, and then as the scores come in, they determine who’s getting points in the game based on their players’ real-world performances. At the end of the season, the winner gets to choose their favourite pub, and the loser buys everyone the first round. It’s a good tradition.
TradePlayz is a fantasy crypto trading platform. Like fantasy football leagues, you can sign up, buy make-believe cryptocurrency, and then watch your fantasy fortune grow or shrink depending on the real world markets. I’ve had a play myself and it’s an amazing tool to learn about how cryptocurrencies work and help you judge the market so you can invest for real.
Today I’m chatting to Alex Vinokurov (Founder) and Michael Todd (Corporate Business Development Director) about TradePlayz and the world of fantasy crypto.
Tell us about TradePlayz - what do you guys do?
Trade Playz is the world's premiere fantasy crypto trading platform. We put the power in our users’ hands to play the cryptocurrency market in a completely secure, low-risk environment. They simply call it how they see it, UP or DOWN, based on their research, then pay to play and the winners get rewarded. One platform to play them all.
It's an educational tool as much as a game. We're betting that our users take the confidence and education they've developed from using TradePlayz and use it to go out and hold positions in the real markets. Ethereum, BTC, TRON, Dogecoin, Litecoin, Ripple, Gram, whatever.
Where did the inspiration for TradePlayz come from?
Alex came to me almost 2 years ago with a concept for a similar idea and as someone with an investment background I saw the huge potential in it. It hits an untapped market that people have been trying to crack the code to; how to teach people investment in a fun way. We wanted to find a way to show someone that investing isn't alchemy or a casino; but research, timing and risk.
What TradePlayz is now is much more streamlined than the original concept, and that's great, because now we've narrowed it down to all of the best parts with our users in mind.
Apart from as an investment, who would receive the most value by investing in your ICO?
Anyone who has been waiting for a way to have some more fun with the market, and more importantly; anyone who wants to learn the ropes of the cryptoworld and begin to figure out the Rubik's Cube it is. I use the example of the Rubik's Cube, because the Rubik's Cube looks difficult, but once you understand the process of solving it, it becomes easier and easier and less of a mystery. By comparison, the cryptoworld is in the beginning stages of a gold rush globally and people want a piece of the action, but they aren't sure which token or coin they want to hold a position on and they aren't sure of how to gauge it.
We see the Rubik's Cube it presents and what we are offering is a perfect way to observe it and play with it in a low-risk environment.
How does TradePlayz differentiate itself from its competitors (if there are any)?
At this point we have no direct competitors. We do have one competitor, sort of, that we know of, but their product is different than ours as it isn't dedicated to the world of cryptocurrency like TradePlayz.
The important thing for us at TradePlayz isn't to be the only ones or the first ones in the market, even though we are the first in crypto. The important thing is to offer something unique that is the cut above. That's why we don't call ourselves the first fantasy crypto trading game, we call ourselves the premiere fantasy crypto trading game.
Even before we pivoted to solely cryptocurrency, we weren't the first people to come up with the idea. While our approach and business model are unique, the idea has been circulating for some time. The main problem for anyone with a similar idea / business model will be working with the governmental bodies that regulate finance. We're the first to find a completely legal approach to providing a fantasy trading and investment game.
How have you grown TradePlayz’ presence in the market?
We've attended a number of FinTech, Blockchain and Cryptocurrency events globally. Amsterdam, Silicon Valley, Moscow, Minsk – getting the word out there. We've experienced a lot of enthusiasm. We're currently in the middle of a huge push to build our presence and our community. An obstacle has been creating the market itself in some ways, because we're the first. The market for this didn't exist before us.
We have our own Telegram channel, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and I also publish on Medium. We're just starting our push into BitcoinTalk and other similar platforms / forums. Those communities are dedicated and really "kicking the tires" and doing serious quality control.
We have a total of four advisors at this time. We just brought on two great new advisors from Toronto who are really passionate about what TradePlayz is doing. They will be helping us push our community growth, among other things. The two other advisors that we've signed on previously are veteran crypto professionals with credentials and experience that speak volumes about TradePlayz; so much so that we’re in the process of having our Zed token approved by the Japanese government. So yeah, we're really pushing things along as much as we can globally and trying to make a name for ourselves.
How is your team structured? What benefits do you believe that brings?
We have a really well-rounded team that I think any tech startup or established tech company would be jealous of. I think the best comparison I could give is one of those Victorinox Swiss Army knives with the huge variety of functions.
If there's an issue, big or small, we combat it as a team and there is always a go-to guy that's Johnny-on-the-spot to solve it. It gives us all a real feeling of comradery too. No one is better than anyone else and there's a real team atmosphere. Whether it's cleaning out the French Press for another round of coffee or brainstorming the next big step.
In terms of benefits to this, I don't think it's quantifiable. It's tough to put a value on reliance and trust found in a team of sharp minds. I think the real benefit is that we know we're really accomplishing something, and also that we're growing as people and professionals.
What are the biggest challenges in the industry you have had to overcome?
Finding a legal capacity to co-exist with the different governmental financial agencies around the world that regulate the markets. There are a lot of vultures out there. A lot. Governmental agencies like the SEC are all knuckles when it comes to dealing with the vultures or anyone who is challenging the validity of the markets.
We've always been there to cooperate with all of them, but finding a middle ground was by far the biggest challenge because you can come up with what you might think is a brilliant product, but unless you can legally showcase and sell it, it's worthless.
How have you found starting a cryptocurrency and trying to take your company global?
Again, back to the vultures (laughs). A common and almost daily topic of conversation for us is what we refer to as the "95%", or the vast majority of products out there in the cryptoworld, which are scams. Who knows what the exact number is, but I think anyone who knows the space in even a rookie capacity can assess that there is a really high number of crooks.
With that being said, it's a two-edged sword for us. When we talk with investors of any degree, that are buying Zed (our TradePlayz utility token) in any quantity, we want them to be Doubting Thomas'. Those individuals are the toughest sells, but they make the absolute best clients.
So has it been difficult convincing investors we're the 5% of legit ICO's that deserve their investment? Yes. We expected that in the first place, but I can't think of a more lucrative investment in the world right now other than TradePlayz and people are starting to catch that on a global scale. It's palpable.
There is also one other very specific thing that puts us in the 5% category. We have an actual, functioning, working product! Most of the time when you invest in an ICO, you're buying into a prototype or something that hasn't even left the drawing board. Not with TradePlayz! You're investing in an app / platform that's already built and ready to go.
Speaking of which, our public beta test is opening up soon and there's a bounty program connected to it. So PLEASE give it a test run and get some free Zed! TradePlayz is going to be the Monopoly of the digital age, but the difference is you get rewarded with a token of actual value.
What’s next for TradePlayz? Do you have plans to grow, expand or diversify?
Right now, the focus is building the community and of course the upcoming public beta test / bounty program. It's a very proud moment for us. Getting the app in users hands, rewarding them and getting their feedback. It's like lighting the fuse on a rocket. Then a bit after we start the public beta we'll be kicking the ICO into gear. Based on the feedback we're getting from our advisors and consultants, we expect a really great ICO.
Our plans post-ICO are of course based on how much we raise. The immediate focus will be sourcing new talent for a few new openings on the TradePlayz team and opening our first office in Europe. We have not decided where yet, but right now the options are between Lisbon, Amsterdam and Barcelona. It's leaning slightly toward Amsterdam, because Amsterdam is Silicon Valley 2.0 and that sounds exactly like the environment we want to be a part of.
Technically speaking, a good amount of the funding will go into laying the tracks for the app / platform for years down the road. Eventually, we’ll have competition and we want to make sure that we are giving our users the absolute best. We don't want a stagnation period of any kind. Our tagline / slogan, is "raise the stakes!". We'd like to think of it as the "just do it!" of the cryptocurrency world, but it is a mindset for us. We want to be constantly pushing for the next level up.
We also plan on opening two more offices globally. One in Asia and another in the Americas. We have a few locations in mind. That's further along though.
Where would you ideally like to be in 5 years?
Ideally in 5 years.... 3-4 office locations globally, a larger – but equally committed and driven – team, millions of users who are not just trading and having a blast on TradePlayz, but taking that knowledge to the actual markets with confidence and enriching their lives by finding success in investment, and our Zed established alongside of the other cryptocurrencies in the top 10 traded.
The next set of questions are for Alex. If you had to give one piece of advice to an up and coming blockchain entrepreneur, what would it be?
Focus on the "why" factor. There might be others who will do something similar, but if you have a "why" factor, you'll be a top dog.
When I say "why factor", I am talking about when some asks, "why do you do this?" "why are you so passionate about this?" Many appreciate the contributions Elon Musk or Steve Jobs made, but a lot of people fail to remember that a lot of what they accomplished or have was done with uniqueness. The reason why they pursued what they did was because they did it uniquely and added their identity to it. It was already ingrained in them, they just used a product as an outward expression of their mentality. They knew the answer to the question, "why do I do what I do? Because......"
It's more important to be able to answer why you do what you do, than what you do.
What's one thing you believe your team does better than the rest?
We truly have a unique team. At the moment we’re only 11 people, but all of us are a part of one mechanism, one current, that keeps generating new ideas and never stops. This is exactly why our team will achieve success! I am profoundly convinced that the single most important aspect of any start-up is its team, and the product comes second.
What is the book (or books) you've given the most as a gift, and why? Or what are the one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
“Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki - it’s a very helpful book for people who strive to change their circumstances and become wiser with their finances.
3 of my favorite books are:
- “Delivering Happiness” by Tony Hsieh
- “Zero to One” by Pieter Thiel
- “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki
How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a "favorite failure" of yours?
First off, you have to understand that failure is a part of success. We learn from our mistakes and become stronger. If you don’t have any failures – it means that something is amiss :) Thomas Edison made a thousand mistakes – some of them almost fatal – before he invented the light-bulb.
My favorite failure is a lighthearted decision to purchase Bitcoins 5 years ago, followed by the same lighthearted decision to sell them, thanks to Warren Edward Buffett’s prognosis on Bitcoin, as he said it would drop in value during that year. Four years have passed since then, and you can see yourself the value Bitcoin has. The conclusion to this is very simple: 1) Do not invest in something that you do not understand. 2) The best investment you can make – is in yourself, self-education. Listen to yourself, and trust yourself, as even the gurus of the financial markets make mistakes.
P.S. On the plus side – I now understand the technology of Bitcoin :)
What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you've ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)
As I previously mentioned – the best investment is the one you make in yourself. After graduating from university I began studying financial markets, all while trying to get into various types of business. I went bankrupt and lost my money three times. And now I realize that it was an invaluable experience that you cannot receive in any university.
What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?
It might seem insane, but I enjoy swimming in ice-cold water :) It both strengthens your immune system and gives you a lot of positive energy.
In the last 5 years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has the most improved your life?
Exactly 5 years ago, I got married and my son was born. It goes without saying that once you start a family your values, worldviews, and habits change. You become more aware. It is the best thing that could have happened to me in the past 5 years.
What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the "real world"? What advice should they ignore?
Listen to your inner voice, work towards your goal, and never give up.
Ignore the people telling you: “you won’t make it”, “you’re not smart enough”, “be like everybody else”, “the most important thing is a stable job” etc.
Screw it, let’s do it ;)
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
I hear a lot of bad recommendations on a daily basis regarding cryptocurrencies. A lot of people believe that blockchain and cryptocurrencies are yet another “bubble”. Maybe the popularity will fade, but they are here to stay 100%.
In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realizations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?
I have one trick that always helps me – I ask myself these questions: Who am I? Where am I now? Where am I going? What am I missing? What distracts me? How would this help me, or hinder my attempts to achieve my goal? And suddenly the picture becomes clear, it becomes easier to say no to unnecessary activities, and spend your time and energy on more productive things.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? (If helpful: What questions do you ask yourself?)
Sport helps me a lot. I play hockey on a regular basis, and sometimes I go up to the mountains for snowboarding. It always reboots my brain and helps me regain focus. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an active type of sport, it might be jogging or extensive walks out in the fresh air. But it always helps. Life is movement…
Thanks, Alex and Michael. As the guys said, their app TradePlayz is about to go to a live public beta, so go along, try it out and earn some free Zed!
Find out more here: http://tradeplayz.com/