Whalelend - Rationality to the Cryptocurrency markets

Company: Whalelend

Started playing:  Q1/2018

Joined the band: Q1/2018


The Whalelend team has built a product that allows you to earn interest on your cryptocurrency holdings. If you have cryptos lying around somewhere, Whalelend is the easiest and most profitable way to make that capital work for you. Try it out at Whalelend.com. Icebreaker.vc lead the investment round in Whalelend in Q1 2018 together with Taaleri and Estlander & Partners.



Icebreaker (IB):

Hey, how is it going?

Yichen:

Actually, it’s going quite well! Our product has been up and running since late last year privately, and we launched our first service officially to public about one month ago, which have brought in a few large institutional customers as well.

IB:    

Sound good! Could you tell us a little bit more about your team?

Yichen:

My and the team’s philosophy regarding team building is that we want to keep the core team as competent and small as possible. The core team currently consist of me, the CEO, Chris, the CTO, and Phuc, the lead engineer. Of course we have a lot of supporting team members around the core team, which consists of, for example, lawyers, consultants, designers, content marketers, and copywriters.

IB:

And wasn’t it so that none of you in the core team knew each other from before, or you haven’t worked together previously? How has it been going with you?

Yichen:

That’s true. So far it has been going really really well. Chris and I came out of the same “system." My first job after the uni was at BCG, while Chris’s first job was at Morgan Stanley, both of which are quite demanding places. We’ve learned a lot from those experiences, and that’s why we share the same core values about professionalism and work ethics. The best thing is that we’re very different people and we’re at very different stages of life that somehow ended up complementing each other pretty well.

IB:

Cool! So you have quite impressive backgrounds, what was the thing that got you jumping from the corporate world to start an own company?

Yichen:

I think that my path is somewhat different than other peoples. There was never a decision of becoming an entrepreneur per se. Even before high school I always knew that at some point in my life I’m going to do something myself. There is a saying I came across when I was 10-years old, which I really liked, is that “Living means leaving traces.” So, one of my life goal is that when I die, I want economists to write my obituary, and economists only write obituaries for people who have made impact on the world. That rarely happens if you work for someone else.

My plan after high school was to go to work at reputable places to learn various sets of skills. I see my previous workplaces as a continuation of schooling which has prepared me for becoming an entrepreneur, which is the path I am pursuing right now.

IB:

Interesting! So you’ve founded companies before, what is the main thing that you’ve learned from the previous one/-s?

Yichen:

I think there are a couple of aspects. The first one is funding. Regarding funding, the biggest lesson is that never ever raise funding if you don’t have at least some sort of upper hand. Don’t seek funding from a position of weakness, and don’t seek funding from one external party only.

The second one is about operations. In small businesses, indecisiveness kills a lot of things, and I have never come across any decision of which the impact is so permanent that it’s irreversible; you make a mistake, you screw up, but you can always backtrack to try to fix it. Thus, most of the times you don’t have enough information to make a decision that you know is going to be right or wrong, so quite often it is really about fail fast and try again with something different.

Lastly about team building. When it comes to team building, remember to reward those who are passionate and adding a lot of value to the team, and be decisive about people who are not. Be firm and consistent when thinking about team building, and choose only the best ones.

IB:

How about then as an employee, what are the things you’ve learned from that?

Yichen:

So when I worked as a consultant at BCG, I learned the fundamentals of thinking analytically, the hard working ethics, and the ability to talk to senior people as a 22-year-old, which is by the way much harder than you think. At Microsoft, I learned how to grow a software business on a global scale, or in other words, how to think big. We used to work on huge projects, and if they didn’t reach a global level goal, we would just kill them. That really changes the perspective and taught me to see the world in a global context. At Nordea, I gathered some much needed knowledge around retail finance sector, which are vital for what I am doing now at WhaleLend.

IB:

Sounds interesting! If we then jump over to WhaleLend, what do you actually do?

Yichen:

To put it into very simplified terms, for our first product we invented a high-yield savings account for cryptocurrencies. As far as we know, we are the only company on earth to whom you can deposit your cryptocurrencies and earn daily interest and withdraw the funds whenever you feel like it. That’s basically it. The backend and the technical side is super complicated with a lot of different components, but if I’ve learned something from the working in the financial industry, it’s definitely that you need to keep things super simple. One of the drivers for us to do what we do is that no matter how financial illiterate you are, you know what a savings account is, which is also why I don’t have any problems of explaining the concept to people.

IB:

True! Where did the idea come from?

Yichen:

I’ve been following cryptocurrency since the very beginning, and because I’m somewhat of a rational person, sometimes even too rational, I couldn’t justify the valuation for some of things that is going on in this market. So, I was looking for ways of how I could bring some rationalities into this otherwise crazy industry. We have been seeing so much hype, where 20-year-olds are going all in and trying to get fast profits out of everything. That is not investment nor finance, that’s purely gambling.

I wanted to bring rationality into this space, and the only way to do so in a place that is full of hype, is to see through all the fuss and present cryptocurrency for what it is right now: an investment asset.

In our approach, we wanted to bring an alternative to either day trading that is just gambling and hodling, which yields no returns on your crypto assets by itself. So, I started to doing research but could not find any interesting alternative to either day trading or hodling. After a long while, I eventually discovered and validated the mechanism behind WhaleLend. And even until this day, there are not many cryptocurrency investment products of any sort, and the only thing that made sense to me was this what we are doing right now.

IB:

What are you working with at the moment?

Yichen:

Well, we launched the product at the beginning of June, and every week we have been adding new features, refinements, and stability improvements. We’re working with a couple of new features and additional platform integrations. Besides this, we also have started our referral program with which you will earn free money from every signup that comes through your referral link. In our program, you get 20% of your friend’s income at WhaleLend’s expense. In another words, if you deposit 1 BTC to WhaleLend to earn interest, and your get 5 other people to do the same via your referral link, you double your income. Lastly, we were never meant to be a one-trick pony. So several more exciting products are under works. Stay tuned.

IB:

Good stuff! What are your most significant challenges at the moment?

Yichen:

For us, the biggest challenge has always been finding more great people to join the team. Companies at different stages have different kind of problems, but for startups like us, hiring and recruiting are always the most significant challenges. So, if there is anyone out there who are interested in working at a cryptocurrency startup, give me a call! We are specifically looking for growth hacking type as well as a COO.

IB:

Perfect! To finish it, what kind of greetings would you like to send to other similar persons who are figuring out whether they should start an own business?

Yichen:

My key message to anyone who is thinking about starting his or her own company is that it doesn’t actually matter. What it means is that you’ll never be completely ready, you’ll never have all the information, you’ll never know if everything is going to work out, but what you do know is that if it doesn’t work out, you will figure it out somehow. Be fearless, if you want to start a company, just do it, because the consequences either way are okay. It doesn’t matter, just do it!

-The End-