Why Did I Start A Crypto Trading Company?
Lessons from my 2017–2020 web3 investing journey
Today I’m going to share a story of how I ended up in crypto and why I decided to launch an asset management startup.
Now I’m the CEO of one of the most rapidly growing AI-driven asset management platforms, but my crypto investing journey started way back in 2017. And the beginning wasn’t as bright.
It is late 2017. I’m sitting at my home desk and scrolling through a tech magazine. I came across an article about Bitcoin. It said: “Bitcoin Is On The Rise! From $5,000 To $15,000 In Less Than A Month.”
I thought: “Didn’t that thing cost like a hundred bucks a few years ago?”
That got me interested. “Bitcoin just did 3x in a few days and 100x since the last time I heard about it? Perhaps, now is the time.”
Bitcoin was reaching escape velocity, and anyone who has seen the numbers would be interested in getting in. At least, that’s what I thought.
Initially, I wasn’t enthusiastic about blockchain technology; I knew little about it. What drew me to cryptocurrencies was the speculative nature of an asset and its volatility. After seeing all the recent price action, I thought of it as free money (it is just going up, right?), a golden ticket, if you must say.
So, I decided to be in. I wanted to be a part of this big crypto movement.
Back then, I had a car.
My dad gifted it to me on my 20th birthday some time ago. It wasn’t a new car — a used Lancer 2006, but still a decent one and worth something.
And in 2017, I didn’t really use it much since I mostly worked from home.
So… I had this car that I didn’t have much use for and this “get-rich-quick” crypto idea. Getting the connection?
I sold the car and bought Bitcoin.
It was December 2017, a cold but sunny winter day in Kyiv. The snow is covering the streets, and people are peacefully doing their business.
At a rapid pace, I’m walking into the local bank’s office with a pile of cash in hand and asking a manager to top up my account.
Next thing, I am rushing home, getting to my computer, making an account on a crypto exchange, and topping it up.
It felt exhilarating. The idea that now I will own Bitcoin gave me thrills and made me nervous at the same time.
I moved my mouse cursor to a big blue “BUY” button…
Two days passed, and I was checking my Bitcoin. It was up +10%!
“Jeez,” I thought, “This thing is working. Such a great decision.”
Then I looked at the price of another coin, also quite a popular one — Ethereum. And oh boy, ETH went up by more than 20% in 2 days.
“Man”, — I thought, — “Why did I put my money in Bitcoin when there is a thing that grows twice as faster?”
And, naturally, I put the rest of my cash and some extra savings into Ethereum.
One morning on December 22, 2017, I woke up to see Bitcoin at $11,000.
I was frightened. “My portfolio is down more than -20% overnight? How is that possible?”
I was holding my phone and refreshing quotes every 5 seconds or so, not knowing what to do. That feeling when you see your net worth diminishing and can’t affect the situation was paralyzing.
I spent the rest of my day glued to my phone, constantly checking charts and prices. By the end of the day, the Bitcoin price returned to a $14,000 level and, in the next few days, was above $16,000 again.
Next weeks, I followed the Bitcoin and Ethereum price action more closely. I tried to understand what rules supply and demand, what impacts the price, and what happens on the exchanges during the major moves.
The markets were going up and down 20% in a single day, and I thought: “How can one utilize such volatility?” But I didn’t have more cash available at my disposal anymore, so I couldn’t do anything much other than theorize.
And the value of my portfolio kept going lower and lower…
January through early February 2018 was the beginning of crypto winter, during which Bitcoin went down to $6,000. There was a lot of FUD in the news about the China and Korea bans, and exchange hacks. The state of the market was miserable.
Back then, I had a job as an IT project manager, but I couldn’t focus on my work anymore. All day long, I was glued to my monitor or phone, watching trading charts and order books. The charts were the first thing I saw in the morning and before sleep.
I was terrified to see my portfolio bleeding by -10%, -20% in a single day, and I thought: “What can I do about it?”
At some point, my assets were down by -50%. And that’s when I thought: “I can’t have this anymore.”
Before moving forward with the story, I’d like to point out a few important investment lessons learned from that initial Bitcoin experience.
Lesson #1: Don’t fall in love with your investment idea
You see, when you like a certain investment idea very much, you become very emotionally attached to it. Besides, you become influenced by the Confirmation Bias and start ignoring facts and opinions that stand against your idea.
In the end, if something goes wrong with your investment (and it does in 99% of cases), you will suffer not just financially, but also mentally and emotionally.
When you feel you are getting overly excited about something, take some time off. Keep your cool and assess the situation with a clear mind.
Lesson #2: Don’t invest more than you can afford to lose. Manage your bankroll
One of the biggest mistakes in my investment journey was that I invested too much into a single position.
In an ideal scenario, you don’t want to put more than 1–2% of your overall net worth into a single position. You can also use formulas like Kelly’s criterion to determine the optimal sizing.
But one thing is clear: selling your car and putting most of your savings into cryptocurrencies is not a good investment idea. It might have worked well a few years ago, but now crypto investing is very sensitive to timing. So you have to be careful.
If something goes wrong, the losses can be devastating, especially if you accumulated your savings for years and relied on them for retirement.
Manage your risks accordingly.
Moving on with the story.
When I saw my portfolio drop by -50%, I thought, “This can’t be right.”
Looking at my phone screen and seeing those red numbers, I couldn’t accept that I was losing so much so fast.
And instead of patiently sitting and watching it bleed, I decided to do something about it.
First thing, I started learning about technical analysis. In the next 1–3 weeks, I knew everything there is to chart analysis — moving averages, Bollinger bands, reverse head-and-shoulders patterns, Fibonacci retracements— you name it.
After watching a few tutorials and looking at hundreds of analyses from TradingView, I started day trading. For the next 3 months, I’d been spending 12–16 hours per day in front of my PC, just watching the charts and making trades. These were extreme times.
There were three monitors on my desk: one shows the charts of various markets and exchanges, the second with my exchange order book, and the third one shows YouTube tutorial videos.
I cut my losses in the initial Bitcoin and Ethereum positions and started buying and selling coins at different price levels according to technical analysis and discretionary judgment.
Those were quite intense times which were mentally and physically exhausting. I kept waking up and dozing off with the phone in my hand, focusing most of my daily attention on crypto prices, trades, and positions.
I managed to break even in 3 months. Yes, that’s right. After three months of day trading, I went from a -50% loss to a 0%, even scoring some profit.
That was a relief.
In the process, I got lucky a few times. Back then, I was trading at a local exchange, and sometimes the price quotes were lagging behind big exchanges like Binance, especially during high volatility (there were no API market-making bots at the time). So by being available at my PC almost 24/7 and making timely trades, I managed to place excellent entries and exits before anyone else at my exchange.
After getting back all my initial investment, I quit all positions and withdrew the money from the exchange — that moment was gratifying as hell.
Ever since I only traded with the profits I’ve made.
Although this break-even climb was a terrifying experience, it made me much more resilient and taught a few valuable lessons.
Lesson #3: Don’t give up
Develop a tolerance for a downside. In investing, this trait is especially important. Markets move up and down daily and may quickly cause you to lose spirit.
If I let my initial position ride or just quit, I probably wouldn’t be where I am right now.
If you truly believe you can produce a change or make an impact, keep pushing.
Lesson #4: Educate yourself
When I started trading, I knew very little. Because of that, I made a lot of bad investment decisions. But as I began immersing into this space, learning the basics, and watching successful people, I started to understand how things work there.
I can’t measure the exact impact of education on my investment returns, but those hundreds of hours watching the charts and YouTube tutorials weren’t in vain and ultimately led to better decisions.
Before you start putting your time and money into something, make sure you understand the ground rules and basic principles of the space you’re in.
After this 3-months journey to breaking even, I think I had never been so glad in my life to get back to where I started.
7. Rollercoaster (cont.)
After trading a spot market for a few more months, I discovered derivatives — leveraged futures.
Leveraged futures is basically when you trade with more money than you have. It is much riskier, but the potential reward is much higher.
I started trading on Bitmex and, eventually, Binance Futures.
To mention that sleepless nights became even more sleepless was not to mention anything at all. When you go to bed with an open leveraged position, there is always a chance it can get liquidated by the night’s end.
I used to wake up at 4 AM getting margin calls — and I had to decide quickly whether to top up my margin account and stick to the position or let it go. Those were crazy times.
There was a particularly interesting case when I decided to short Bitcoin.
I started building up my BTC short position in June — August 2019. I was confident that the market was expecting a pullback. My average entry was at $10.5k.
I was adding up to the short for 3 months straight, but at some point in September, I decided to change my position for some reason.
God knows what made me think that the markets were about to reverse, but I closed my short in September 2019 for a small profit at ±$10k and went long with high leverage.
Almost the next day, the price dropped to $8k overnight, getting me stopped out with a very high slippage and my long position almost fully liquidated.
There are a few important lessons derived from this:
Lesson #5: Stick to your thesis
Don’t have “paper hands”. Whenever you have a conviction in a certain investment strategy, follow it until a meaningful exit or until your assumptions get invalidated.
Don’t let random market movements change your beliefs about the current market structure. If you change your mind too quickly, the market will take advantage of you.
It doesn’t mean you should stick to your strategy no matter what. There can be a fundamental event that completely changes the dynamics of the market (e.g., COVID-19). Hence some of the strategies may not be effective in the new environment. Therefore, make sure to define your exit criteria, but have a solid opinion on where the overall market is headed.
Lesson #6: Manage your risk
They say, “The optimal amount of leverage is the one that allows you to sleep at night.”
I completely ignored this rule at the beginning of my investing journey and took enormous risks, sometimes putting my entire bankroll in danger.
Taking excessive risks is unnecessary. Every day, there are new entry opportunities in the market, all different in terms of their risk-to-reward ratio. You just have to wait for the right one.
My trading journey was not especially long, but it was colorful. In crypto, everything happens so fast compared to other markets because of its 24/7 trading nature and high volatility. So if you make a wrong move, the impact is magnified tenfold.
Such an environment can be highly stressful for a beginner investor, but it also opens many opportunities for growth. I learned a lot of lessons about risks, bankroll management, different trading strategies, as well as developed resilience and the right investment mindset.
Eventually, I quit trading. Even though I started making profits on a regular basis, this activity was still stressful and time-consuming. I realized that to spot the right trade opportunities, you must spend a lot of time in front of a PC and studying the markets. Because 99% of the time, nothing is happening. But in that 1%, you want to make sure you are there and taking advantage of the market.
But even after quitting trading, there were questions at the back of my mind: “Why do humans need to trade at all? Why do I have to spend all this time in front of the monitor and doing the trading? Why can’t I delegate all this work to a computer?”
In the end, computers have much higher capacity than humans, don’t need to sleep/eat, and can execute orders within milliseconds — so for sure, they could be much more effective traders than any human could be, right?
9. AI trading revolution
I always had this idea of developing an automated 24/7 trading system that just works. Imagine you only have to press one button, and the software will do all the trading and generate returns to fund your retirement. You will never have to work again.
With that vision in mind, in 2020, I ended up launching One Button Capital — a computer-driven wealth management product with an easy-to-use app.
Together with the team of data scientists and developers, we chose an unconventional method of cracking the markets — through Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technology.
We developed a trading AI based on self-learning neural networks that does complete end-to-end non-stop asset management to maximize ROI. On average, it outperforms buy-and-hold by +3.60% per month for the 20+ months track record.
Our goal is to create investment products that just work. And are simple to use.
We solved our own pain. And we hope to do the same for others.
AI Portfolio Management Technology
How we created a crypto trading AI that outperforms the market by 4% every month