As part of my series about the “How to Navigate and Succeed in the Modern World of Finance”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dan Da Rosa.
Dan Da Rosa BSc (Hons), PG Dip, LLM is the CEO and Co-Founder of ETHAX, a new cryptocurrency business that is fully licensed and regulated to provide key services in the crypto space, which include converting money to crypto currency and vice versa as well as managing clients’ digital private wallets. Dan Da Rosa holds a Masters in Law and has 20+ years of senior and director level experience across digital asset investments, bespoke software developments, telecommunications and advanced transportation technologies.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I am degree educated and have a Masters in Law with over 20 years of experience in senior and director level positions in various private and public sector businesses covering a variety of sectors including construction law, advanced transit and communications systems. In 2015, a client and friend who was an avid crypto trader, introduced me to the cryptocurrency sector, which was still very much in its infancy at that time. The industry fascinated and intrigued me so much that by 2017 I had started to build my first cryptocurrency investment business, turning it into a multi-million dollar digital asset investment fund within two years. It was when I met a creative marketing and entrepreneur genius, Gary Morris, that I found a new business partner and an expert team to develop ETHAX. The aim was to create a licensed decentralised finance and technology business that stood out from the competition.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
One of my funniest mistakes when I began trading in crypto, was that I sent three Ethereum to an incorrect wallet address and of course lost them! But one day, when I logged into one of my own CEX accounts, there to my surprise were my three Ethereum! The biggest takeaway was that I learnt to triple check cryptocurrency transactions before executing them for, once a transaction is done, there is no turning back! That’s why at ETHAX, all transactions have to be verified by three team members to ensure that our investors don’t make the same mistake that I did, although luck was on my side! Another added lesson was to focus on what you’re doing, no matter how busy you are.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We are currently working on our core product: the ETHAX Trader. This is a non-custodial, machine learning cryptocurrency trading software built by a combination of successful cryptocurrency traders, data scientists and advanced software developers. The ETHAX Trader will assist both new and advanced cryptocurrency traders in managing their digital asset portfolio. Our software is designed for simplicity and it is truly exciting to be at the forefront of opening the crypto market up to everyone. For example, we have implemented fully automated trading for beginners, but have also included more advanced functions, like bespoke algorithm settings for the advanced traders. The ETHAX message of ‘crypto for all’ works cohesively with our ETHAX Trader, thereby ensuring that our technology is suitable for anyone to invest or trade crypto.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started what was its WHY, its purpose?
My partners and myself have only ever been involved in purpose driven businesses. We all want to create a legacy in having solved a problem. ETHAX’s purpose is exactly the same from when we started, as it is today.
Firstly: Problem solving in making crypto accessible to all.
Secondly: Be the figurehead of licensed businesses in cryptocurrency and reflect the power, potential and value of crypto being a tangible and legal tender.
Thirdly: Provide tools for all aspects of trading cryptocurrency, so that clients only have to use one trusted brand.
Finally: Add colour and flair to the industry.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
At ETHAX, integrity is our number one principle. Integrity must be shown within any business, however our ETHAX team feels that it is especially important within the cryptocurrency industry and in our personal drive. It helps all aspects of our business, particularly with my focus on clients. As the ETHAX mission states, we are crypto for all, therefore everything we share with our clients must be 100% honest at all times. You have to be transparent within this industry, just like ETHAX is with its licensing and regulation. That is how you build brand loyalty.
If a fellow business leader would ask you for advice about whether to bootstrap or to look for VC capital, how would you help them weigh the pros and cons of that decision?
As a rule, bootstrap! Even if you want a VC. No one likes waste. Bootstrapping shows you are efficient and lean. VCs like that — they have significant criteria that you would have to meet too, so bootstrapping is always advised as a first option. Understanding what a business leader is trying to ultimately achieve would be a key factor in the decision making. If you are building to a proof of concept, then bootstrap all the way. But if you have a proven concept and you wish to scale fast to a proven market, then a VC can be more valuable.
What measure do you use to determine the value of a company? What advice would you give to other leaders about how to get an optimal evaluation of their business?
Company valuations are complex — simply look at today’s unicorns. The oldest adage in the book is that a company is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. But always bear in mind how eager the owner is to sell or if they resist selling. Personally, I determine a business value based on a number of factors including but not limited to: market share, client numbers, existing revenue channels, potential revenue channels, ability to sweat the assets, brand value and future market potential. Valuations are generally derived for either loans, equity sale, or sale. This will vary the value and alter the mindset of the outside influences valuing you. The advice I would give other leaders about how to get the optimal valuation for their business is not to value it themselves. Certainly they can chart each section of their company that they believe drives value, such as revenue, products or intrinsic value. But ultimately, company value should be determined through an independent third-party expert. Remember, you could choose any figure as your company value, however others have to believe it.
What would you advise to a founder who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
The lesson on businesses coming to a standstill, is that everything must move forward and adapt, especially your future visions for your business. Never get complacent! You’d be surprised how many people do; sometimes all of their energy is spent building the foundations leaving no energy left to build further. It is then that the errors start creeping in and visions are neglected Break-down your vision into nuggets, then start looking deep into the company to understand what is or isn’t driving that vision forward. Everything must align to the vision including: brand, message, social media, products, admin, scale, geographies, behaviours etc. When a founder sees that changes are not insurmountable then this can restart their engine It is important to note that the visions that worked well for a Facebook generation need to be rethought for a TikTok generation. In order to see growth, change must occur at some stage within your business. Innovation is not a desecration of tradition, but rather giving a company a new lease of life to build on their traditions and values.
What are the most common finance mistakes you have seen other businesses make? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?
A big finance mistake that I have seen others make is predicting unrealistic forecasts, which inevitably leads them down a rabbit hole and diverts their attention away from their business. Another mistake I have seen when others predict forecasts, is when the business applies a lack of contingency or risk allowance in the forecasting finances. My advice on financial forecasts would be to produce three sets of financials. Set one is what you expect to happen; set two is for if your business takes off and you need to scale or build faster than anticipated; set three is if you earn no revenue and are also not able to raise further monies. Build the business on set one, run it on set three and only revert to set two when it is relevant!
Main question of the discussion: Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to succeed in the modern finance industry? Please share a story or an example for each.
KNOW YOUR MARKET You need to identify gaps in the market. Identify the trends. And get there early! Understanding your market is vital. Figure out the pros and cons of your market’s perception. Spotting trends or demands early, can result in good financial returns. A trend can be either an upcycle or downcycle — both are equally as important to read. Recently, ETHAX conducted a YouGov survey which proved that unregulated crypto was a barrier to entry for 75% of UK adults. That statistic didn’t surprise us at all, as we are one of only 0.01% of businesses that is licensed and regulated in the crypto sector. This strengthens the ETHAX view of how important regulation is for the growth of the crypto industry.
KNOW YOUR CLIENT Understanding your client and their needs is of paramount importance. ETHAX is building products and services for a broad range of clients to reflect its current base and requirements. Clients ultimately want to make money but they also want security, integrity, diligence, realism and engagement. Listen to your clients; discern between the noise and smart feedback. I deal with clients daily, two of them have even had ETHAX Token images tattooed on their arms! Now that is customer loyalty and that is what we thrive on. Clients are individuals, as well as part of a community and the development of an engaged and valued brand community is integral to the ETHAX mission. It’s not just sports teams who have fans — think of brands like Apple, Nike and Dyson — they have legions of supporters. They know their clients and at ETHAX we strive for that engagement.
KNOW YOUR PRODUCTS & SERVICES All of ETHAX’s products and services go through a robust process from concept to testing to public release. Key ‘Go / No Go’ decisions are made throughout this process and understanding the financial implications at each of these stages is important to the overall success of a business or project. We applied this process to a very recent service that ETHAX was considering deploying. This resulted in a ‘No Go’ decision, which directly affected the financial forecast of the business but ultimately allowed us to zone in on services that will benefit our community and in the long-term, our business.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED Understanding business and project risks, and quantifying these risks is also of huge importance. ETHAX undertakes periodic risk reviews across our portfolio of projects, as well as quarterly business-wide risk reviews. This results in a comprehensive risk allowance that feeds into all of our financial reviews. Working in finance and technology is all about determining unexpected possibilities such as market slumps. Here at ETHAX we mitigate this by having a diverse digital asset portfolio — Part of which trades on a mid to long-term basis, thereby reducing the impact of short-term dips.
BE UNIQUE Offer something different to the competition and all the better if it is a barrier to entry for others. ETHAX is the only licensed and regulated crypto business that offers a unique but complimentary suite of products and services under one banner. This includes the ETHAX Trader, ETHAX Wallet, ETHAX NFT Marketplace, ETHAX Swap DEX and the ETHAX Token with more products and services in the pipeline throughout 2023 . ETHAX is led by a passionate and stellar management team. This was recently recognised by TechRound, which ranked ETHAX as 21st on its FinTech Top 50 list, as well as also being the highest listed licensed and regulated cryptocurrency business out of all the competition’s entrants. ETHAX has grown its social media followers to over 50,000 since the launch of the ETHAX Token in May 2022. It is still early days for us but when a business is created for the long-term, the foundations must be rooted in values.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Routine is essential. Although it is very difficult, particularly when you are a leader of a business, you should always have some form of routine that includes ‘time out’ away from the job, whether it be exercise, family meals, hobbies, etc. If you have built a business that requires your attention 24/7 then you have not built it correctly. Your team should be experts at what they do so you can share the burden by delegation. Learn to turn your phone off as long as others are manning the stations. Building a business is a marathon not a sprint, therefore you must pace yourself. People are not productive when burning out; I’ve seen founders get desperate and this desperation drives insurmountable hours behind the wheel. If that is how you start, then you will never finish. Also — accept that you cannot enjoy all aspects of work. Don’t disregard the elements that you don’t like; in fact deal with all aspects as if your business depended on them — because it does.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Kindness. If everyone were kind, then we would all enjoy life more. Oligarchs would use their money for philanthropy. The homeless would be housed. Rhinos wouldn’t be maimed for their tusks. Women could walk home alone at night without fear. Police would respect everyone. Gun lobbies would lay down their arms and put their efforts into medicine. All medicine would be run as ‘not for profit’ and minds would come together to defeat cancer. There would be no cruelty to animals. No starvation. No bullying, shootings, stabbings. People would be kind enough to drive at the right speed, on the correct side of the road. People could love whom they want. Simply because we would all be kind.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
All of our updates are published via our website and social media channels which can be found at ETHAX.com.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!