Interview with Alex Wang from Ember Fund
Today we’re interviewing Alex Wang from Ember Fund, a platform that lets you invest like a cryptocurrency hedge fund. In today’s interview, we will be talking to Alex about Ember Fund, their current crowdfunding round on Republic, and their partnerships with various hedge funds. Let’s dive in!
Hey, Alex. Such a great pleasure to chat with you today, and I’m super interested in getting to know Ember Fund and what it’s all about, but before we do so, can you introduce yourself and your background leading up to this moment?
Thanks for having me Emil, it’s an absolute pleasure. In a nutshell, previously I was a product manager at an AI company. I’ve also scaled and sold a consumer product company before that.
Around 2016, I joined a computer vision company that was on the cutting edge of AI. This is where I met all of my technical co-founders. As I took a serious look at what we were doing for the world, I realized the products we were building in the AI space were ultimately centralizing power. Only select few large companies (and nations) would end up harnessing the power of AI. It was an arms race and normal everyday people will end up paying for it. We all know that AI is already and will continue displacing millions of jobs within just the next few years. This is about the time I invested in Bitcoin and learned about everything it could do. It was fascinating. It was a technological revolution, it was activism, and the purest form of the decentralization of power. The antithesis of what I was doing at the time and absolutely what I wanted to dedicate my career to. This is about the time I decided to make the leap, along with 4 other lead engineers from the AI company. It was pure luck that everything aligned for us to work together. We were all friends, loved crypto and had perfectly complementary skillsets: UX/UI, Data Engineering, DevOps, Backend engineering and product, we had everything covered.
On August 15, 2018, after getting a notice that I was getting promoted, I put in my letter of resignation and left the company.
So Ember Fund lets people invest like cryptocurrency hedge funds, I believe that’s a first in this industry. Can you expand a little on that, and generally just introduce us to Ember Fund? Which currencies are supported?
Sure. Our mission is really to take the investment strategies that institutional investors use and make it available to the world. We believe crypto is the best “rails” to deliver that and we’ve built a beautiful mobile app to do just that. Anyone from around the world can invest as little as $100 and have access to trading strategies that top fund managers, quants, and even cryptocurrency hedge funds use.
Let’s dive into the features of the Ember app — why should people get started and what benefits does the Ember app give over other solutions?
There are a couple of important things to note. We are completely non-custodial. What this means is that we don’t store or hold any sensitive information like private keys. This is really important to us because, for security reasons, we don’t believe cryptocurrencies were meant to be stored in a central location. There are also enormous benefits on the regulatory, scalability, and transparency side of things. It is the entire point of crypto, to truly own your own money. As Andreas would say; money that is secure, censorship-resistant, permissionless, borderless, and inherently global. As your audience probably knows, you only get most of these benefits when you own your own private keys.
We’re also the only mobile app in the world that I know of that is taking trading strategies that institutional investors use and making it available in the way that we do. There might be some in the works but none that are as far along as we are.
The last piece is that we are unlike the Coinbases of the world, complete exchange agnostic. This means we can tap into the liquidity of multiple exchanges to source the best price for our users. We’ve found that we’re saving our users over 2% on trades by scouring up to 8 exchanges.
How’s the security on the app? This is often a big concern for the users, so fill us in!
Top-notch. This is obviously extremely important to us. What’s powerful about what we’ve built is that you don’t really need to trust us because we don’t store your private keys. On the encryption side of things, we’ve partnered with a company called Edge, who have been leaders on the client-side encryption tech since 2013. Everything is open-source and audited by trusted 3rd parties.
So I heard some rumors that Ember Fund is fundraising on the Republic platform. Can you run through the details of the raise?
Sure. I believe we are one of the few cryptocurrency companies in the world that have run an SEC-registered Reg CF offering. What this means is that anyone can invest as little as $100 (up to $100,000) and own a piece of Ember Fund. The investment is through what is called a “SAFE” note which converts to shares at a trigger event (significant funding, acquisition, etc)
I’ll give you an easy example. We are raising at a $5 million cap. If someone were to invest $10,000 that means if we were to sell the company for $50 million in a few years that $10,000 would become $100,000. This is oversimplifying it a bit but is generally how it works.
Does the fundraiser have a video we can see?
Here is our Republic campaign video.
Why Republic over other methods?
Raising from traditional investors is a pain in the ass. The “industry standard” is to send a few thousand emails, have 100 in person meetings for 1 term sheet. This takes 3–8 months (almost full time) and really didn’t sit well with me. In addition, it comes with a ton of strings attached (liquidation preference, board seats, meetings, more meetings, updates, meetings.) I’m definitely not opposed to it given the right investor, it’s just too much for us at this early stage, especially with the revenue and early traction.
Republic, an equity crowdfunding platform, on the other hand seemed amazing. You get thousands of investors to evangelize your product, secure funding and do it all on great terms. You don’t get the “strategic” value but we were ok with that for now.
The downside is that you have to be completely transparent with your numbers and strategy. We’re proud of the progress we’ve made and didn’t have a problem with being 100% transparent so this wasn’t a problem for us but for many it is.
I see you’ve raised 25% of the maximum raise already with still more than two months to go. That’s pretty impressive. What will the raised funds be used for, and what benefits does the investors get?
It’s actually pretty simple. We’re going to spend as much of it as we possibly can acquire users profitably and building an even better product. We’re laser-focused on being super lean and scaling as profitably as we can.
You can go to our Republic Page to see the benefits and perks.
So since you let people invest like cryptocurrency hedge funds, do you actually work with hedge funds? If so, who are they, and if not, how would such partnership work?
Glad you asked! We’ve actually just announced a partnership with one of the leading cryptocurrency hedge funds, Blockforce Capital.
Blockforce Capital is a multi-strategy fund for institutional investors that optimizes return and risk through modern portfolio theory, active risk management, and quantitative finance. Ember Fund will be working with its team of data scientists, machine learning engineers, computational astrophysicists, and Wall Street veterans to launch an algorithmic Bitcoin portfolio. Stay tuned!
Lastly, for people who want to get started with the Ember app or to participate in the crowdfunding on Republic, what are the processes for doing so?
Thank you for your time, Alex, do you have anything to add before we finish?
I just want to fully acknowledge and credit my co-founders Guillaume and Mario. Guillaume Torche is our CTO and we definitely wouldn’t have the product we have today without his hard work, dedication, and passion. Mario is our CIO and was also absolutely instrumental in building the app and bringing his crypto trading experience to the team. Super grateful for the rest of the team as well, check out the team section to see who’s helping build Ember Fund.