crypto strategy

Meltem Demirors bet her career on crypto while in the doldrums. Today, she is one of the biggest investing stars in the industry.

Everyone in crypto has a “bitcoin origin story,” says Meltem Demirors.

His took him from the tried and tested path of working in corporate finance for the oil and gas industry to investing in things few people had heard of at the time. But more than a decade later, Demirors’ early-career gamble has made her one of the most prominent early-stage crypto investors, having backed companies such as Blockdaemon, the developer. $3.4 billion blockchain infrastructure, and crypto-data company Messari.

And it’s Demirors, the chief strategy officer at CoinShares, who made it onto Insider’s Seed 30 list of top female seed investors.

“I always like to joke that for the last decade of my life, I worked with a bunch of crazy people on the internet to create a global currency,” she told Insider. “It’s basically every internet kid’s dream.”

All joking aside, Demirors is convinced that crypto has the potential to transform markets – despite all the flaws that have come to light over the past year.

Her “bitcoin origin story” began in 2012, when she started researching cryptocurrency at the request of some people close to her. As she surfed the bitcoin forums and subreddits, the idea of ​​a decentralized, stateless currency that would allow her to send money to her extended family in rural Turkey appealed to her.

Three years later, while finishing her MBA at MIT, she decided to make crypto her full-time job, joining the new Digital Currency Group – the crypto-focused holding company created by Barry Silbert, which had previously founded SecondMarket – as an investor.

Demirors aimed to apply the financial analysis skills it honed in the energy sector to help source investments and refine the far-flung ideas of crypto founders into solid businesses. She also started investing in angel investments, making early bets on startups such as Messari and crypto prediction market Polymarket.

In 2018, she joined CoinShares, a publicly traded, crypto-focused European investment firm, where she focuses on markets and finance-related startups. Apart from Blockdaemon, the company’s portfolio includes crypto derivatives trading network Paradigm and blockchain Solana.

Early in his crypto career, Demirors spent much of his time winning over other venture capitalists, who largely viewed crypto with a skeptical eye, by hosting investor summits and doing the turn to build the reputation of his company. Over the past few years, several venture capital giants have entered the crypto fray, including Lightspeed Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital, and Bessemer Venture Partners.

The collapse of several crypto companies, including FTX, over the past year, however, has brought much of that skepticism back. In many cases, it’s justified, Demirors said.

“I think our industry has a credibility problem,” she told Insider. “And I think that’s sometimes exacerbated by some of the behaviors that we’re seeing, which unfortunately are often enabled by venture capitalists who are very focused on prioritizing short-term gains over long-term sustainability. “

But, she added, such challenges are not new. Crypto had an equally dubious reputation when it was just starting out in the industry in 2015, a year after the Mt. Gox exchange collapsed.

What sets her investment approach apart, she said, is her focus on markets and fintech and ensuring the companies she backs have a path to a sustainable model. Its narrowly focused approach to crypto investing is now becoming the norm as the technology expands into areas such as art, music, and games.

“One of the big challenges is that a lot of people in crypto have a very generalist approach to investing,” she said. “I think some of the companies that will be really well positioned going forward are the ones that really have expertise in the field.”

Read: Everything you need to know about the top early-stage investors named to the Seed 100 and Seed 30 lists

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