Entrepreneurs interested in starting a fintech or digital currency business or looking for related funding resources, would be well advised to get to know Vancouver’s Michael Patryn.
Since 2015, Michael Patryn’s expertise in finance, compliance and strategic growth initiatives has helped a range of companies successfully position themselves to go public on the CSE and TSX-V.
Michael Patryn’s other focus has been on the burgeoning digital currency field. One of the companies he founded, QuadrigaCX, has been the top Canadian Bitcoin exchange for several years. It’s currently classified as a unicorn, given its $1.3 billion valuation. It was the first bitcoin player licensed by FinTRAC, Canada’s financial intelligence unit. QuadrigaCX was also the first cryptocurrency exchange with full insurance of all coins held, underwritten by Lloyd’s of London.
Patryn’s ultimate goal is to build an environment where digital currencies thrive, private wealth is protected and innovation is welcome.
It’s all part of his platform as Portfolio Manager of Fintech Ventures Group (FVG), a Vancouver-based, venture capital company that works with Internet startups and other tech businesses. FVG is the first – and leading – Canadian Blockchain incubator and fintech-focused hedge fund; through it, he has actively invested in and supported over 20 startups in the digital currency space. FVG has over $50 MM under management.
Patryn’s expertise has made him a go-to spokesperson on fintech generally, and digital currency in particular. He’s been published in the Financial Times and is a popular presenter at industry conferences, such as Euro Money 20/20.
He has also given back to the wider community by serving as an advisor to such nonprofit organizations as the Lifeboat Foundation, World Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation, Vancouver Bitcoin Co-Operative, and the Bitcoin Foundation of Canada.
Fintech wasn’t his first love, though he has accumulated over 20 years of experience with financial regulators, banks and digital assets – all of which has served him well.
Mike Patryn actually started out going in an entirely different direction, earning a Master’s Degree in Behavioral Psychology from the University of California in Santa Barbara.
And he has other interests that have kept him well rounded. He did a stint as a professional MMA fighter, notching up an impressive 7-1 record. And then there’s poker. He’s also walked away with over $2 million in winnings from various poker tournaments.
What makes you take a second look at a fintech startup and think that maybe it’s worth investing in?
Michael Patryn: If a company shows initiative and creativity, I’m interested in finding out more about their plans. Those companies that can see the future potential of a technology and who back up their product with solid statistics – and more importantly, a well thought-out base and plan for growth – are companies that have the best chance of success in the fintech industry.
What do you think young entrepreneurs should know about the worlds of angel investors and venture funds to position themselves successfully for capital to drive their growth?
Michael Patryn: I think the difference between angel investors and venture funding is misunderstood far too often. For startups that are just getting off the ground, the best bet is to find angel investors, who are really individuals willing to invest a certain amount, usually fairly small, in the company. When I say a small amount, keep in mind that angel investors don’t usually put forward more than $100,000 in exchange for seed funding.
For companies that are in a more advanced stage of growth, venture capital can be key. Venture capitalists can bring in large amounts of funding to organizations in addition to access to their network of partners with aligned interest and potential synergies. Entrepreneurs with VC funding gain more than funding, they gain a team of partners.
All to say, entrepreneurs need to decide what type of funding they really need to make their startup successful and, following this, both parties – angel investors/VCs and the organization – must be crystal clear with regard to expectations going forward.
Digital currency has been one of the big stories of 2018. What about it do you think needs to become better understood? How would you suggest young entrepreneurs get into the market?
Michael Patryn: Digital currencies are certainly becoming more mainstream, but people are still confused about the basics. Right now there are over 700 digital currencies on the market, and in many ways, that amount of choice and the sheer number of platforms, makes it overwhelming for people new to fintech. The exciting thing is that in 2017, the market grew from $20 billion to $600 billion. Also, many banks and financial organizations have started investing in the industry and venture capitalists have committed over $2 billion USD into startups within the space.
Generally, I would recommend entrepreneurs read up on the space. Gain an understanding of the developments in digital currencies, and in the fintech space more broadly, and perhaps why others are opting in. Being versed in digital currencies is a first and most important step to participating in the area. As they say, “knowledge is power”.
It’s not just digital currency that’s hot these days – blockchain is causing quite a buzz, too, just on its own. What do you consider the biggest opportunities for blockchain and the biggest roadblocks?
Michael Patryn: I think the biggest opportunity for blockchain technology is its application to industries completely outside of digital currency. Its impact in other industries is just beginning to be felt, and we’re just at the early stages of its multi-varied uses. With that said, blockchain does have to work through some issues, for example, I look forward to the technology reducing its energy consumption. In addition, I look forward to platforms that improve in ease of use and user experience (UX) design. Blockchain is very exciting, but it’s not a static technology – and that’s also why it’s exciting. There’s lots of very smart people working to improve the technology, and there is plenty to look forward to.