October 5, 2023

I was 21 years old, living in a semi-detached house where the mould would scale the walls faster than the sun would the sky. I was a student at university.

The summer I returned home, I decided to start a crypto fund with my friend Blake, who I had met while working a part-time barista job years earlier. Crest was born in the small and pretty remote village where we both grew up. It was a homegrown hedge fund.

And if you don't know what a hedge fund is, or does, well I'm still not really qualified to tell you that.

All I know is, in the space of three years me and my now business partner Blake grew our seedling fund to a community of seventy investors, whilst managing over a million dollars. No VCs, angels, or even satanic rituals.

Our very first investors were Barry and Vanessa. Blake met them while attending a local meet-up for crypto enthusiasts. The conversations I had and sometimes, endured, ranged from speculating about an entirely new and open financial system, led by bitcoin, to hating almost everything about banks, bankers and how opposed the government was to stuffing cash under your mattress.

But the experience heightened my conviction. I realised, that although I didn't know anywhere near as much about crypto as other people in the room, I did know one thing; every one of them believed bitcoin was going to eventually rival the Federal Reserve banking system.

We were all either going to be locked up, or millionaires.

My fairly unconventional career as a fund manager began in a not so unconventional place. I was an intern at Saatchi & Saatchi, London's once most beloved advertising agency. I was there four out of the six arranged months, during which I soaked up what makes a good idea, and what's more important than a good idea; in this case, it's convincing clients to use one.

I also made a couple of friends, who I could even call investors by the time I left.

There's one large problem with a large creative agency; that it's usually a contradiction in terms. Luckily, at this time, Crest was transitioning from a back-up plan to a fully-fledged escape route.

We were managing a hundred thousand dollars when I made the decision to leave Saatchi, as well as university. I remember never being so sure on a decision in all my life. I also wasn't addicted to caffeine at this point either, so maybe you could put the mental clarity down to that.

We had tried raising money in two ways. One being infinitely more successful than the other. The first idea came from the realisation that although our little town didn't have much to offer in terms of job opportunity, it did offer a high yielding property market.

This meant that a portion of the less than elderly populous, which was a minority, were well-educated boomers who owned, that's right, bricks and mortar.

At the time, we thought they would make for ideal investors in the fund...

A mistake. Conservative property investors – clue is in the name – were extremely conscious of risk. It was a hard sell, to put it lightly.

We actually went to local meet-ups, where property investors would go to meet likeminded, well, property investors. Or sell their strategies to punters. In essence, we were making life hard for ourselves, and we were attempting to sell people a crypto fund we were running from a shed in my parents back garden.

But it got us talking to people, and that's how we found the way that did end up working.

Instead of trying to actively sell the product, we just started talking about it instead, to anyone who wanted to listen for more than thirty seconds.

The more people who listened with interest, the more we thought what we had was interesting, and the more people we told. And as our confidence in the product grew, so did our ambitions of who we wanted to talk to next.

Conversations that began around an extended family dinner, and constituted myself reassuring my now ex-girlfriend's uncle on bitcoin's volatility, eventually became situated on the 12th floor of a towering office building where a billion dollar hedge fund preferred to hide out.

It's true that although we drank Americano's from lavish iPad controlled coffee machines, and attended invite-only family office get-togethers – uninvited, around ninety-percent of the conversations we had went absolutely nowhere.

But that didn't matter to us, because we were looking to submerge ourselves ten thousand metres deep, hoping it would lead us to being crowned civilians of Atlantis.

Most of these institutions scoured the depths whilst only displaying a fin. The parallel was, we were incredibly forthcoming, because we weren't afraid. I think being on the fringe of technological progress does that – it eradicates fear, and births momentum.

We saw nothing after us.