The Big Interview

Cryptohopper’s Ruud Feltkamp: From soap star to blockchain boss

Coin Rivet meets Ruud Feltkamp, a former Dutch soap opera actor (Goede Tijden, Slichte Tijden). He gave that up to focus on Cryptohopper, which has been named the fastest growing crypto startup in The Netherlands and is part of the Prince's Startup Delta incubator. The venture currently has 80,000 users worldwide and plans to expand into Asia and Africa

Coin Rivet: Tell us about Cryptohopper.

RF: I started this company with my brother, Pim Feltkamp. Pim is the brain behind Cryptohopper and the platform. He began learning how to code when he was only 10 years old by reading books about web development. At 12 years old he started his first online business and has since sold multiple websites, apps and web tools and built a lot more before starting Cryptohopper in 2017.

When I began cryptocurrency trading, I spent a lot of time trading in my dressing room of a Dutch TV series that’s broadcasted daily, which I starred in. My brother recognised how much time this consumed and he outsmarted me with the idea to build a bot that would trade automatically, with the pure intention of saving time. Little did we know that the business would be so successful.

In little over a year, and with only €2,000 of bootstrapped funding, Cryptohopper went from humble beginnings as a private use bot on a Raspberry Pi to a cloud trading platform filled with hundreds of innovative features never seen before and over 80,000 users.

You can either follow the buy/sell signals of experienced traders, or buy their strategies and implement them to your Hopper. This makes Cryptohopper one of the only social trading platforms where a strategy can be bought and implemented automatically on exchanges.

Finally, from the very start, we’ve been very community focused. Take for example the marketplace we introduced. It has now created a lively community of traders. Many of the sellers who were previously just traders, have become unexpectedly entrepreneurial, selling their knowledge and developing their own brand, name and social media handles through our platform (you can view them here).

“There are so many things that hint to the fact that cryptocurrencies can be a long-term solution and financial fix to  problems we face on a daily basis. For example, we have some clients in Venezuela that have invested in and trade cryptocurrencies because their own national currency is so volatile, even more than Bitcoin”

Coin Rivet: What have been the highlights thus far?

RF: It’s hard to say, we’ve had so many amazing moments in the past one and a half years. I remember that we had to cancel all our marketing activities in December 2017, because we grew too rapidly.

That was the first time I realised we had created something that people really wanted and started getting serious with marketing the project. Then, about half a year later we hit another highlight when we hired our tenth employee, and then moved to a bigger office. More recently, we were ecstatic to have launched the marketplace, where applications from professional traders started flooding asking us to allow them to sell their strategies on our platform.

It’s easy to say that another highlight is always going to tech conferences like The Next Web and CES 2019, because it gives us a chance to see our project in the bigger picture, meet inspiring entrepreneurs and realise the value of Cryptohopper directly rather than just online.

Coin Rivet: How did a Dutch actor get involved in the crypto space?

RF: Working for 20 years, since the age of nine, in film, TV and media production has taught me a lot in terms of personal branding and how media works. I know that, in 2019, a tech company is also a media company. You need to create conversations, not just take part in them, which is what we strive to do via our communities that we’ve built on Telegram and Discord.

Through video we communicate with our users, considering 82% of online media consumption will happen through video by 2021. It’s imperative to be your most authentic self with your brand and your personality and that is highlighted and enhanced with video. You build a community online so that people help eachother and branding helps you communicate your message. So, being an actor has really helped on that side of things. The lessons I’ve learned about self-branding have helped me brand Cryptohopper to a global audience.

But, besides my TV career, I have always had a natural interest in business and technology. I’ve studied a lot about the latest innovations, business models and marketing techniques. So naturally, when I learned about digital currencies I was hooked.

Coin Rivet: 2018 was a rollercoaster ride for cryptocurrencies. What are your key takeaways from the past 12 months?

RF: 2018 is often characterised as being a bearish year. Indeed, lots of mainstream media predicted that Bitcoin would drop to zero, and cryptocurrencies would disappear altogether by the end of 2018. This is far from reality.

Leaving aside the bearish conditions, I believe that 2018 was actually a good year for cryptocurrencies. It was a reality check for a lot of people in the industry to look beyond the hype and rather start looking at the ultimate value behind projects. This maturity is a good thing. As we move closer to a decentralised future, we’ll be seeing many established players in the industry changing their tone from using crypto for its intended purposes, rather than only using it as means to make fiat money. This will bring with it more institutional investment, more use cases and edge us closer to real mainstream adoption.

Coin Rivet: Do you believe that widespread crypto adoption is coming or will it remain a niche thing for the foreseeable future?

RF: There are so many things that hint to the fact that cryptocurrencies can be a long-term solution and financial fix to worldly problems we face on a daily basis. For example, we have some clients in Venezuela that have invested in and trade cryptocurrencies because their own national currency is so volatile, even more so than Bitcoin.

With the birth of cryptocurrency credit cards and online cryptocurrency payment systems they use digital assets to buy groceries and daily sustenance. The biggest struggle is balancing the volatility of cryptocurrencies and the hyperinflation of some national currencies, which can be difficult when you want to use digital assets for daily use. Most wonder, how can you expect to buy something from a grocery store when the value of your Bitcoin is going up and down every hour and the value of the mainstream currency is massively inflating too?

I believe that the continued creation and adoption of stablecoins will be the driving force to make this happen most efficiently. Sending tethered digital assets through to family and friends and paying in commerce can be made simple, easy, efficient and non-volatile when you’re able to convert the digital assets you trade with or own stablecoins.

Scalability is, of course, the biggest issue with Bitcoin right now. The Lightning Network implementation could be a valid solution for this. Other coins are actually much faster and can handle more transactions. Where Bitcoin can handle only around seven transactions per second, Ziliqa can handle 1.200 and it’s said that EOS can even handle 50.000.

“I believe that 2018 was actually a good year for cryptocurrencies. It was a reality check for a lot of people in the industry to look beyond the hype and rather start looking at the ultimate value behind projects. This maturity is a good thing”

Coin Rivet: There are many high profile crypto critics who argue Bitcoin is a busted flush, a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist etc. How do you respond to them?

RF: I disagree, it was created in the wake of the financial crisis in 2008 on the premise of trying to eliminate the suffering caused by huge financial institutions – a catastrophic event that has been predicted again for this year. Millions of dollars gone, hundreds of thousands lost their homes and and their life savings.

The invention of Bitcoin and other forms of decentralised digital currency were therefore a crucial, albeit first step to provide the world with an alternative option. It’s naive to think that Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general will disappear all together.

Coin Rivet: What’s your take on regulation in this space?

RF: I see regulation as a good thing. In many ways, it’s a lack of regulation that drives mainstream audiences away. Cryptocurrencies should not be seen as a sort of anti-institutional, “us-vs-them” system. Rather, a cryptocurrency should be seen as a viable alternative to state-issued currencies. In cases when the state issued currency fails, as we can see is currently the case in Venezuela, people have the right to turn to another form of currency.

At the same time, governments are well within their rights to curb malicious behaviour spurred through the qualities of some cryptocurrencies. In this way, we can see both cryptocurrencies as a new, first form of checks and balances towards the state monopoly of currencies.

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