Having become an entrepreneur at just 16 years old, Stelian Balta is a voracious reader and global investor. He founded HyperChain Capital, one of the earliest and most prestigious crypto funds in the world.
Hello Stelian, could you please tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? What’s your story?
At the age of 16, I started designing and creating online games. I’ve established my first company during the 1st year of college and dropped out of college soon afterward.
My journey in the blockchain industry began with creating trade engines for crypto exchanges and with the proceeds I bought Bitcoins. I participated in the first ICO in 2013, and since then, I helped several blockchain projects raise more than $250 million dollars and invested in more than 40 projects and companies.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur instead of choosing conventional corporate jobs?
I’ve always loved to experiment and build things and being an entrepreneur allowed me to do that. I started with nothing, the lack of support and lack of money can be very frustrating initially, but after you embrace failure and accept that it is part of how things work, starting a company is much easier.
When did you first start investing in blockchain, web 3.0 projects?
I got into the crypto ecosystem in 2013, after I made an exit from my previous mobile games company. We were one of the first participants in the first ICO in 2013 and since then we invested in more than 40 projects or companies worldwide.
Why did you sell your successful game company and invest in a blockchain company?
After 5 years in the games industry, I felt very close to the digital assets market, because we created games and monetized them through virtual goods.
Getting into the crypto market was a pragmatic and logical step to do, considering my work experience. Because of our experience in virtual goods, we were one of the first supporters and investors in Wax blockchain, the safest and most convenient way to create, buy, sell, and trade virtual items – to anyone, anywhere in the world.
What gave you the confidence to be doing business in a volatile industry? Did you ever consider it a risk?
Any startup or business has a huge level of risk. Our main strategy was to invest in people, to be there from the first discussions around the idea and plans and help them with strategy, funding and processes.
There are many unknowns, but being there in the field with the entrepreneurs I think is a good strategy to mitigate risks.
How do you feel about the global blockchain and digital currency industry’s future? Where’s it headed from here?
I’ve been close to this industry since 2013. We’ve been through very bad times and very good times. Currencies around the world are on the brink of negative rates and amidst unprecedented printing.
Getting an inflation hedge, such as Bitcoin, in your portfolio, can be a prudent thing to do to mitigate risk. It’s really hard to find something to invest in to not be correlated with anything.
Also, since halvening (where the issuance of bitcoin dropped from 12.5 coins to 6.25 coins every ten minutes), Bitcoin has decoupled from the stock market. In the past hundreds of years, the best inflation hedge was gold.
Now is Bitcoin’s era. Also, there are so many opportunities in the market now, because I believe we’re at the beginning of a bull market.
Proof of Stake projects like Tezos, Kyber Network, Wax or Fantom have appreciated a lot recently in terms of development or price and this is only the beginning.
I’m bullish on the crypto market long term, especially in DeFi and that’s the reason why we are continuing to invest, to improve and build in the crypto ecosystem.
Current capital deployment and institutional investors’ recent interest in Bitcoin, add lots of optimism in the market. I believe this trend captures the early stages of a new, decentralized global financial system.
Kyber Network sounds really interesting? Could you tell us more about the project?
Sure. It is indeed a project with great potential. Kyber Network is a liquidity protocol that aggregates on-chain liquidity and enables decentralized token trading in any application.
Using Kyber, developers can build innovative applications, including instant token swap services, decentralized payment flows, and financial DApps — helping to build a world where any token is usable anywhere.
The project is a leader in the DeFi space with more than $1bn in trades and 1 million on-chain transactions since its inception.
It is the most used and integrated liquidity provider in the DeFi space, with more than 100 DApps integrated with its open-source, permissionless protocol, including popular wallets Trust, Enjin, Argent, and the HTC Exodus smartphone, as well as DeFi platforms such as BeToken, DeFi Saver, Fulcrum, InstaDApp, Melon, Nuo, Token Sets, and many others.
You have been featured on Forbes and other prominent platforms multiple times for the kind of projects you’ve been building. How do you find the right projects?
I think everything starts with the entrepreneurs and their team. Anticipating an important need in a continuously evolving market is a high quality of a great entrepreneur along with a great execution. Also, timing is an important component of the mix.
What blockchain companies did you invest so far? Can you tell us more about the projects you are working with right now?
We are one of the initial equity investors in block.one, the company which raised $4 billion dollars in 2018, we are the first and one of the top 3 token holders in the Kyber Network project (KNC).
We are also the first and top 5 token holders in the world in WAX, along with billionaire Mike Novogratz, we are 1st and top 3 investor in Fantom. Foundation (FTM) where we invested more than $2 million dollars, and also we are one of the biggest holders of Tezos tokens in the world.
Since we started, I invested in more than 40 companies or blockchain projects. We also own Hyperblocks.pro, one of the first and one of the largest PoS staking companies in the world.
Being a veteran entrepreneur in the industry, what advice would you give to aspiring youngsters who wish to get into blockchain?
I think getting comfortable with failure is very important. You need to try and build many things. We’re currently witnessing the very early stage of a decentralized global financial system and there are so many things to build.
Basic stuff like reading a lot and working all day very hard gives you an important edge long term, even if you’re lucky or not. In 10 years, it is unbelievable how things change.
Do you find Defi, Blockchain games, etc. as promising services for the future? How do you find these attractive?
I believe DeFi space has a huge opportunity to grow and one of the leaders in DeFi space, Kyber Network just crossed $1 billion dollars in trading volume and project market cap is worth more than $300 million dollars, which I think is way undervalued.
Also, we think the best platforms for creating blockchain games are platforms using EOSIO inspired technologies, such as Wax.io. Recently Wax added Topps virtual goods and Topps is the most prestigious producer of trading cards and collectibles in the world for MLB, Star Wars, WWE and Garbage Pail Kids.
We are firm believers in the potential of DeFi ecosystem and blockchain games and the proof is our investments we did and we continue to do.
What is your team doing internally as a response to COVID 19?
Our philosophy was to always do good. In the past months, we helped hospitals in emergent countries and healthcare workers by donating protection equipment(masks, isolation gowns, etc), doing voluntary work and sourcing COVID-19 testing kits in areas where there is a huge need which cannot be fulfilled accordingly