Interview with Adrian Slany, Bitfold investor, involved in international industry and trade since 2003. Co-owner of technology, trade, IT, and real estate development companies. Since 2019 a user and accidental investor in the blockchain industry. Constantly looking for new interests and challenges that drive him to action.
AGNIESZKA KOŻAŃSKA, BITFOLD: Does investing excite? Or maybe there is a more appropriate word to describe your personal approach to venture capital management, equal to maneuvering between certainty and unpredictability?
ADRIAN SLANY, BITFOLD INVESTOR: I would rather say that investing motivates me to take action. This is related to my nature and character, as I don’t like to stand still. I believe that the most important thing in business is to broaden our horizons and increase our knowledge and skills so that we become more aware of what is happening around us. Only then we are able to make more thoughtful choices and decisions, and at the same time, we become a tougher opponent in negotiations.
A conscious approach to investment, i.e., understanding what I invest in as well as how much is being invested helps to reduce risk. To some extent, this allows me to manage venture capital wisely and helps to maintain mental peace.
Do you believe that investing is all about a particular mindset?
That’s true. I can tell from my own experience and observation that there are five main factors here, four of which are solely related to the character, personality, and upbringing of a particular person. I mean the propensity to take risks, commitment, determination, and analytical skills. These traits shape the way a person thinks.
Then there is also just pure luck, which we help ourselves by taking our own actions. A good example here will be our meeting in 2019 with Jakub Żurawiński, whom I met by chance while working with the law firm he represented then. During our conversations, we noticed that we were both interested in blockchain and the cryptocurrency market, which I discovered by chance as well. But that’s another story.
I remember preparing Bitfold for the previous funding round and us fiercely discussing what in fact attracts our future investors. How to engage them and, on the other hand, what discourages from putting their money into the further development of our product. What was on your own checklist before entering in?
Before entering the Bitfold project, we took into account several aspects, namely the market for hardware and software wallets and, consequently, the technology itself. This refers to the strengths and weaknesses of a given product as well as the market share of a given technological solution and directions of development in the coming years.
I recall the following on the list: people whom we invest in, i.e. how the team looks, the experience and skills of individuals plus the division of tasks and roles in the project. Next, attention paid to the security and protection of the developed technology manifested in patents. And finally, some obvious factors such as business scalability, margin, and investment return.
Being an entrepreneur in the technology industry, you are to know the realities and market data perfectly well. You have probably encountered many business- and people-related difficulties on your way. As an angel funder, what convinces you more in emerging enterprises: people behind the core concept, or just numbers?
I can be brief: of course, the numbers are essential. But business is people and, in my case, the businesses I’m involved in were created right through shared contacts and interests. What we do and whom we do it with should give us satisfaction and motivation in life.
Let’s take a peek behind the veil. Will you tell us what set of rules you follow when making investment decisions? A kind of private decalogue in this regard?
First of all, I’m not looking for investments just for the sake of it. Much is said about intuition or gut feeling in business, which is a “no-go” for some business mentors, but for me, it is an essential aspect when making business and life decisions. So, if there is an idea or product that catches my attention, I start to get interested in it and verify it while expanding my knowledge on the subject.
If I had to list a few rules depending on our life situation and the world’s economic circumstances, as well as the commercial aspects of the investment, these would be:
- Don’t try to be someone you’re not.
- Invest only as much as you can afford to lose without significantly impacting your life.
- Take the time to understand what you are investing in.
- Get to know the people you are investing in.
- Remember where you started and where you come from.
- Minimize risk.
- Don’t be afraid to make changes and tough decisions.
What made you consider investing in innovative businesses like ours?
When it comes to innovations, Bitfold is the first venture that caught my attention and interest. I have worked in the engineering industry, trading, and real estate branches. Due to my interest in blockchain, the crypto world, and all the challenges there, I decided to support this highly innovative product. The main argument in favour was that it addresses major security issues in transactions and storage of digital currencies and other assets.
Your investment portfolio includes other blockchain projects. When and why did you start researching the industry? What particularly inspired you about this technology?
There are several promising projects in this industry that I’m interested in. I support them because they provide people with a certain degree of independence compared to the well-established traditional world of finance. This opportunity to stay independent, to be the master of your own fate, and at the same time your own bank resulted in the fact that since 2019 I have been devoting more and more time to projects in this field.
Of course, the industry itself empowers us with even more possibilities, such as digital NFT files used to personalize products, which we can record, store, and trade. First-hand example – artworks transformed into digital files. We also have the gaming industry, which is highly involved in this area, as well as recently admired AI projects. Therefore, I’m sure that our future will be inseparably linked with blockchain.
Having placed such hope there, you are surely wondering how the future will unfold. What opportunities do you see ahead, and what kind of threats?
I have already addressed this in terms of possibilities. Still to be referenced is the decision-making independence – to be achieved at the expense of greater risk, due to making middlemen redundant as an example.
Generally, I’m pretty sure the industry should completely transform the financial world as we know it. Compare it to the early internet in the 90s – as the blockchain industry is blooming these days, as was the internet back then. The market is still non-sufficiently regulated, which naturally attracts many people and companies bent on easy loot. That is why harmful scams continue to appear, undermining the credibility of the entire industry.
This could effect in a convenient excuse for the institutions to centralize the market. From one point of view, regulation may trigger a stream of funds flowing from the existing financial world, and consequently, increase the scalability of many projects needed to grow the industry. But on the other hand, following this path we are quickly moving away from what blockchain and bitcoin were created for.
We all notice almost every day how tough times the business operates right now. Once a pandemic, then a war, and now the specter of a global recession that keeps appearing. Is this clearly inappropriate or rather quite a favorable time to invest?
I think opportunities always arise and it doesn’t matter what times we are in. It all depends on what we want to buy and for how much, what is the actual state of the asset, and how we calculate the return rate. Certainly, in times of recession, it is better to have more cash for purchases, as there are more opportunities to acquire lucrative assets, but still, we always must calculate the risk. Historically speaking, money is more expensive at harder times, and then the investment rate of return decreases consequently.
Thank you for sharing your experience. All successful investments!