Crypto startup Alpha Impact is poised for success amid a boom in investment and regulation within the industry, Globally

Alpha Impact is a social media network built to give a crypto trader with $25 the same tools as one with 25 BTC.

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Investment in cryptocurrency and blockchain startups is booming.

In Q1 2021, VC investment in this space hit a record US$3 billion across 239  deals, according to PitchBook data.

Along with this increasing investor appetite, crypto is fast on its way to  being recognised as an institutionalized asset class across the globe.

Just this month, Singapore took a big step towards institutionalising the  cryptocurrency market by granting operating licences to several crypto firms. These moves are bringing blockchain technology closer to the mainstream, as  well as cementing the city's status as one of Asia's leading crypto-financial  hubs.

How does one even get started with crypto?

When Alpha Impact co-founders Hayden Hughes and Austin Chaird first started  trading crypto in 2017, one thing that stuck out to them was how confusing it  was. Despite having extensive experience in investment banking as well as  wealth and asset management technology, they found a real dearth of reliable  information and high barriers to entry for aspiring crypto traders.

I remember my first crypto trade - a profitable BTC (Bitcoin) trade around  $1,200. When BTC tripled and then started to decline, I sold at a panic. When  I read the news, consulted YouTube and asked friends, everyone told me that due to new regulations, crypto was 'game over'. Much to my surprise crypto was not 'game over', and rebounded to $20,000 that year.

— HAYDEN HUGHES

After connecting via the Antler platform, the pair knew they wanted to build something to tear down these barriers and democratize crypto investing. Alpha Impact is a social media copy trading network built to give a crypto trader  with $25 the same tools as one with 25 BTC. Customers can find, follow, and learn from over 1,000 top crypto traders while leaving their funds safely in  their own exchange account. "They are a great team with complementary  backgrounds and have a good understanding of the space. In addition, they have an interesting business model and it seems like the right timing to do this," says Markus Bruderer, Associate Partner at Antler, and team coach.

Understanding the why behind the trade

At the very heart of their business is the power of social. Their platform gives everyone - traders and non-traders - the ability to not only find a crypto expert, but more importantly to understand why the crypto expert trades  the way they do.

In line with this social-first mission, they've recently launched the Alpha Impact Academy, the first tool for future crypto traders to be rewarded for completing educational tasks to learn crypto. They've successfully gamified the process, with simulation accounts that allow customers to practice copy  trading without risking any money and prizes for the best traders. We sat down with Hayden Hughes, CEO & co-founder of Alpha Impact to discuss his journey building in such a rapidly evolving space, their impressive traction so far and his advice for entrepreneurs looking to get into crypto.

Let's start at the beginning. Can you share your co-founding story? How did your diverse backgrounds benefit you in the ideation process for Alpha Impact?

Hayden: Austin and I met in 2019 socially, when he was honing his crypto investment skills after more than 10 years of successfully trading equities.  When I saw him in the Antler cohort in 2020, I wanted to hear his thesis for  several cryptocurrencies that had been in the news. After having done thousands of hours of research on a small basket of coins, Austin had  developed an ability to predict asset prices. Being much less inclined to do  research and more inclined to copy, I asked Austin if I could just give some  money to him to invest. We decided (with Antler's encouragement) to conduct a  survey of 100 people, asking simply: if you could copy a top crypto trader where you could see their real track record before investing, would you? The  responses were resoundingly positive, with 94 saying yes. Over 75 of those  respondents asked if they could begin right away and make a deposit. As we  moved from planning to execution, we identified the best way to operate would  be as a tech platform - not as an exchange. This means that users give us  limited permission to execute trades from their exchange account. We can never touch their funds, but we can execute trades for them. This combines the convenience of following an expert trader without ever asking customers to  trust us with their investment funds.

What sets you apart from other copy-trading platforms in the crypto space?

Hayden: Unlike EToro and other platforms, we are not a brokerage or exchange. We are a technology platform designed to connect directly to our customers' exchange accounts. This gives us two benefits. First, we don't ask customers to deposit investment funds with us. Second, we do not need to settle trades on the back end meaning that, unlike EToro and Robinhood, we will never need to disable buying of specific investments under volatile market conditions.

Tell us more about your impressive fundraising journey so far. What have been the biggest lessons you have learned when it comes to raising capital at this early stage?

Hayden: After our initial investment from Antler, we had the opportunity to  raise from VCs, but rejected the VCs who had offered a term sheet in favor of proceeding with a non-dilutive token fundraise*. Our $3.1M USD token fundraise  was the highest amount raised by an Antler portfolio company within three  months of inception.

According to a recent report, the number of blockchain companies in Singapore grew by 50% year on year to 234 in 2020. What advice do you have for entrepreneurs looking to build in such a rapidly evolving space?

Hayden: At this stage, blockchain adoption has not yet occurred. Banks and  MNCs run tiny test cases mainly for PR purposes, but the actual adoption of blockchain (for example in logistics, supply chain management, and other  verticals) is just getting started. For entrepreneurs looking to  'blockchain-ize' their businesses, it's important to distinguish between verticals within blockchain that are pre-adoption and those where adoption has  occurred, such as crypto trading, DeFi, and NFTs. For entrepreneurs wanting to 'get into crypto', the advice would be to solve a problem where you can get  funding (Trading, DeFi, NFTs), or don't try to use crypto in your business in  the first place.

What have been some of the milestones Alpha Impact has achieved since its inception? What's next on the horizon?

Hayden: The first milestone was financial, and we're fortunate to be supported by great investors. We've hired our first 11 team members and are growing rapidly.

We're very excited to be announcing our Beta which is launching in late August followed by our trading competition launching in September. With over $100K as prizes for the top crypto traders, we're very excited to be working with our  existing community of 20,000 crypto traders and identifying the best trades  across the four categories of Plankton, Shrimp, Lobster, and Whales. We're rolling out copy trading in the coming months, and are super excited for our  launch during Q3. After Antler Singapore's Demo Day, we were grateful to receive many expressions of interest from VCs who are now offering us the  ability to expand our runway so that we can grow more aggressively. Given that  no one has become a leader in the crypto-native copy trading space, and that  we're using social to get there, we see this as a winner takes all  opportunity. We're eager to expand our runway to go to market and become the  leader even faster, and our current equity capital raise is designed to help  us do just that.

Alpha Impact co-founder Hayden Hughes with other Alpha

This article was written by Maddie Gupta, Marketing Analyst at Antler  Southeast Asia. Antler enables exceptional people to create exceptional  companies. If you want to become a startup founder, find the perfect  co-founder and create impactful companies to shape the future, apply now and  begin your Antler journey.

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