Last summer Kingsley Advani said he sold his worldly possessions — namely his laptop and headphones — and emptied thousands of dollars from his bank account.
He said that after seeing the once-in-a-lifetime returns that bitcoin has brought, he wanted in. Advani said he invested $34,000 in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and startups working on related technologies, and he watched his net worth balloon to low seven figures in six months.
At an age when many people are trying to climb up the career ladder, Advani works as an adviser to cryptocurrency startups with a salary of zero. He said he travels between London, New York, and San Francisco, taking meetings and scouting startups working on what may be the next great blockchain technology.
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“I think at no point in human history have people in their 20s had such an opportunity to invest in such high-growth assets,” Advani told Business Insider.
Created in 2008, bitcoin is a payment system that allows people to buy things and send money without attaching their names to transactions. There are no banks or middlemen. Transactions are recorded on a digital ledger called a blockchain.
It was the blockchain that first excited Advani about cryptocurrencies, he said.
In 2012 a friend introduced Advani to bitcoin, which at the time was largely used for buying and selling illegal drugs online. Advani saw the full potential of the technology.
“It’s like a rebellion to traditional finance,” Advani said. He believes its creation in 2008 — at the height of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression — was no coincidence. “You don’t need centralized banks to send money — you have these great pieces of tech send money for you through cryptography. So unlike banks, it’s faster, cheaper, and more secure.”
Advani said he started reading white papers on cryptocurrencies and watching the market more closely last summer. He decided he would not miss a second chance to take part. He invested all his savings and part of his income from his job as a data scientist at a small software company.
“Every month I was waiting for that paycheck and I put it straight in,” Advani said.
According to Advani, most of his wealth comes from his early-stage investments in startups spun out of top universities, like Stanford, Cornell, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They are mostly working on high-speed blockchains, the technology at the heart of cryptocurrencies. At its peak, Advani’s net worth rose to low seven figures, though it fluctuates with the swing of the market, he said.
He said he quit his software job in October and now travels the world as an adviser and angel investor.
The 24-year-old said he is crashing on a bunk bed in a San Francisco hacker house for young cryptocurrency entrepreneurs and plans to move to the city full time.
Advani said he doesn’t drink or party; instead, he said he spends most of his free time meditating and reading cryptocurrency research online. During our interview, he whipped out his phone to share data from Headspace, a meditation app. He hasn’t missed a session in over 400 days, he added.
“I’ve decided to optimize time in front of the computer, because it’s so easy to get distracted. I order all my food online to the door. I don’t spend any time grocery shopping because I think it’s a waste of time,” Advani said. He added, “I try to live in a ‘bunker’ as much as possible.”
He said he believes the key to his success has been limiting the number of things he focuses on. He doesn’t read every news story on the value of bitcoin or pay close attention to its rise and fall.
Instead, Advani said he reads the latest research on the underlying technology and possibilities of cryptocurrencies and tries to map where they’re headed. He doesn’t recommend investing in cryptocurrencies for everyone — unless they’re willing to dig into the white papers like he has.
“Only put in what you can afford to lose,” Advani said.
Disclosure: The author owns small amounts of bitcoin and Ethereum.
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