Feb. 5, 2021

122: Fast Lane | Yoann Turpin and Wintermute

122: Fast Lane | Yoann Turpin and Wintermute

Yoann Turpin, co-founder and Head of Business Development at Wintermute, joins the show to talk about the parallels between competitive swimming, derivatives trading and crypto, creating liquid markets for digital asset trading platforms, cross-pollination of business opportunities across the digital assets universe…and visiting less countries than languages he can speak!


MoneyNeverSleeps is sponsored by PAT Fintech, the training partner that demystifies fintech and digital finance for financial services professionals.

Pete Townsend and Yoann Turpin from Wintermute connected in late 2020 after an intro from the intro-king himself, Graham Rodford with some expected involvement in the intro from Ivailo Jordanov from 7Percent Ventures as well. As Yoda would say, “Small universe the digital asset space is.”

HIGHLIGHTS:

On parallels between life experiences: “With both competitive swimming and trading, there is a binary outcome with marginal wins.  When you hit the wall, even if you’re fast, you might just be a few milliseconds behind whoever finished first.  I saw that in business school, in getting my first job, and again when I started trading FX.”

On the earlier days of crypto: “I came across crypto in 2013 when my business partner thought we should be market-making bitcoin, but I thought that taking 3 weeks to get 30,000 out of Mt. Gox was too long.”

On applying a VC mindset to assessing crypto projects: “Figuring out if a crypto project is interesting is about asking if the problem they’re solving is big enough, and are they solving it the right way?  If they’re not solving it the right way, are they the right team to pivot and solve it a different way?  These things tend to hold true in the VC world, and also very much in the crypto space.”

On the early days of Wintermute: “The portfolio career (investing in and advising startups) proved to be extremely helpful in building Wintermute, as it complimented my co-founder Evgeny [Gaevoy’s] skillset.”

On what Wintermute looks like today: “We’re about 20 people, with about 1.5 million trades in $2-3 billion of cryptos per day, so it’s become a decent business.  We’re still very heavy in spot trading, as it’s 80% spot and 20% Delta-1 derivatives, so essentially futures and perpetuals.  We’re mostly on centralised exchanges and do as much as we can on DeFi, but we’re pushing to do more in DeFi, with more collaboration with projects including those beyond Ethereum.  The short-to-medium term will be about covering more direct-to-counterparty [volumes] as we’re building our own API.”

On building trust in the crypto space: “I have a view of sharing best practices and sharing long term opportunities but staying as far away from anybody doing anything that would be forbidden in traditional markets like pump-and-dump or wash trading.  Essentially, anything that would imply fake pricing might imply that the team behind the price is fake, and this doesn’t help build any form of trust.” 

On choosing your investors wisely: “When we launched Wintermute in 2017, it wasn’t too farfetched for us to do an ICO, but we made a very conscious decision to only take equity investors to have the long-term alignment.”

On why patient fundraising was an option: “Having that portfolio career behind me meant we had a buffer to make sure we had many opportunities with investors to make sure we had the right fit.   It also gave us a long-term focus so we could invest in things like DeFi projects before they were popular.”

On how to pitch your startup: “You just really simplify, you do not explain how you do what you do, you just sell the vision in about 5 minutes.  Don’t get lost in the detail, because people start to think they understand what you’re doing, and then they don’t, which means they might not trust you.  But if they buy into the vision and think you’re the best team to solve that problem, then you end up with an investor.”

Episode title inspired by Fast Lane by Bad Meets Evil (Eminem & Royce Da 5’9”)

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Yoann Turpin

Co-founder and Head of Business Development, Wintermute