Today we are talking to Simon Dixon who is the CEO and Co-Founder of BnkToTheFuture.
- BnkToTheFuture is a global online investment platform that allows qualifying investors to invest in financial innovation including FinTech (Financial Technology) companies, funds and other new alternative financial products.
We’d like to kick things off by asking you a couple of questions regarding your formative years.
1) Firstly, can you tell us the things which interested you the most throughout your childhood and teenage years, and what brought you the most happiness?
My father brought me up to believe that money was one of the most important things in the world, so I remember originally rebelling against that a lot, but when you are brought up with a certain mindset, it tends to catch up with you.
So at the age of 12 I started my first business which was doing a car washing service, and secondly, I got into distributing wrestling videos in Bristol. This would all go on to shape the rest of my life, and I would then start to get deep into the geeky side of money as opposed to trying to make money, and maybe that was because my father was so focused on money and I could see what could happen when money and the process of making it dominates your life. So this brought me to geeking out about money for the rest of my life.
2) Who were your biggest influences growing up, and why did they have such a profound effect on you?
So obviously my father had a really big effect on me, and later in life when I had started to do a little bit of soul searching (when you grow up you tend to develop your own character as you are initially a subset of your own environment), someone who was very influential in my life was an American guy called Tony Robbins. I know many people may not be into that kind of stuff, but he was my first experience that made me question my assumptions and the makeup of who I am, and he put me on a path towards understanding some of the psychology of achievement and the psychology of figuring out who you are and what you want bring to the world. So he was very influential to me and I ended up proposing to my wife on his stage in front of 12,000 people.
3) Teenage years are often a turbulent time for many, so on this note, can you name a time which was tough for you, and how you managed to overcome it?
I’d say that one of the toughest periods was my time at school. I really wasn’t that happy at school, and I'm not sure why because I went to quite a good school. But happiness for me began when I left my privileged school and went to public school, and people may think that I’m ungrateful for the fact that I went to a very privileged school, but it was for some reason the most unhappy time of my life. But when I went to a school that had students that weren’t so privileged and who didn’t come from money, I actually started to relate to people more and develop who I was. I think my life changed for the better when I moved to this more down to earth school. Once again, I’m not sure why.
4) If there was some advice you could give young aspiring individuals, advice which you would really have liked to have heard yourself as a young person, what would it be?
I remember that I was brought up with a belief from my Dad that came from a phrase that he used to say to me, which was ‘Simon you could do anything you want, you are a Dixon’. So I lived with the belief that being a Dixon meant that I could achieve anything, and that I had some kind of superpower, and it was this mindset that would ultimately lead me to actually do the things I envisioned. Half of this came down to understanding that people from every walk of life and every background have achieved incredible things, and the other half was that there are many other people like you that have achieved certain things, and they tend to come from a belief that it was possible, and have taken the actions to make it happen. And that's the battle, because once you take the actions consistently and are willing to fail time and time again, eventually you will achieve whatever you want.
We are now going to ask you some questions which will hopefully give our readers something to go on regarding you as a person.
5) Firstly, what are the particular strengths that you feel have made you successful in your field (don’t hold back)?
I’d say two things.
Firstly, it has always been important to me to try to see things from the other side, and I often get very congruent in my beliefs, but I’ve always been willing to question my beliefs and try to empathize and jump into the other side of the argument. So anytime I am really certain of an argument, I use the certainty to drive action, but at the same time I always wish to remain open to other arguments. Translating this into crypto, I find that many people in the crypto community are not willing to open up to other possibilities, so for me I was always curious as to what hard forks are coming up and what other tokens we are seeing, and I found that not growing too attached to a certain belief has served me as an investor. So even if what you discover reinforces your original belief, at least you came at it from a different perspective, and anytime you are too certain about something, I encourage people to recognise the possibility that there is value in what others are saying, even if that might be contradictory to the original belief.
The other thing I’d say is that I learnt very early that failure is a function of success. So when I was young and failed at something, I used to take that as a feedback that I wasn’t good at something, but what I discovered was that the more you are willing to fail, the more likely you are to succeed, because if you adjust every time you fail, then there is no such thing as failure, it is just simply feedback. So as long as you are willing to take in that feedback and adjust your approach, it’s only a question of time before you succeed. I think a willingness to continually fail and adjust until succeeding is something I try to include in everything I do.
6) What would you say is your most controversial opinion as regards to blockchain or the crypto space?
I’d say my most controversial opinion is that the more I think I’m right, the less money I’ve made in crypto. Some of my best investments were things that I never thought would actually succeed, starting with Bitcoin.
I first got involved with Bitcoin at the first Bitcoin conference in Prague, and this was when I was looking for a solution to a problem which was how to build a non-fractional reserve bank. This drove me to Bitcoin when the community was literally less than a hundred people strong, and at the time I didn’t really believe that it would succeed, but I carried on anyway and it ended up succeeding in a really big way. So throughout my whole time in crypto, some of my most successful investments have actually been things that I thought would never have turned out to be successful, and the ones where I applied the most amount of logic tended not to be the ones that succeeded the most.
7) In the course of your day you can become under the most ridiculous pressures and stresses, what is your particular way of dealing with this?
I’ve always used contrast as a way of helping me in times of real pressure. So whenever I am in a situation which I think is stress beyond stress, I’ve always taken a little bit of time out to contrast my situation with somebody that is in a much worse position, and I think this helps to minimise the problem. So once you minimise it, it is easier to come up with solutions knowing that everything is okay, and that what seems like the most stressful thing is actually not the end of the world. So contrasting your stress with other people's stress can be a calming effect that then gives you the state of mind needed to break down and overcome problems.
8) Outside of crypto/blockchain, what is your favorite thing to do?
So my favourite hobby is mountain biking and cycling around the island that I live on, but at the moment I can’t do much of that due to the current lockdown we are in. But in general, I love doing mountain biking.
We are now going to ask you some creative and humorous questions, and we are sure people will love to see you what you can come up with.
9) What is the most humorous thing you have seen or experienced during your time in the crypto/blockchain space?
I do think that the situation whereby the Bitcoin Cash community was putting out a lot of messages that Bitcoin Cash is really Satoshi's vision, only for the main people behind Bitcoin Cash to then separate and result in some of them saying that Bitcoin Cash had now deviated from Satoshi’s vision, is quite humorous. So off the back of these different iterations, you now have this completely centralised coin being promoted by someone that claims to be Satoshi, a community that is going nowhere, and only one or two people mining it.
I think this was a very interesting and ironic set of events.
10) If you somehow managed to meet Satoshi Nakamoto (that is he is a male person in this scenario) on his deathbed, but only had time to ask him one question, what would it be? Bear in mind that you don’t have much time at all, so make it a good one.
I would ask him why he created Bitcoin because I am deeply interested in the true motivation.
11) Can you give three policies you'd enact if you became the president of a country tomorrow?
1. I would give people the ability to pay their taxes with Bitcoin; not that anyone would do it as I can’t think of anything worse than paying my taxes with Bitcoin, it’s like a double whammy.
2. I would change the national currency from being a debt backed currency to being a digital currency issued by the country’s central bank or government. I would then allocate some of the countries electricity to mining Bitcoin and hold it as a reserve asset at that central bank.
3. I would make marijuana legal to the that countries war on drugs and regulate it.
Communities are often an important backbone for many crypto/blockchain projects, so we’d now like to get some personal thoughts on the community side of things.
12) Personal project aside, what are some ‘communities’ in the space that you admire and why (this is not an endorsement)?
There are two communities that I mainly focus my energies and attention on, and the first one is the Bitcoin community. I still think that the most important thing that comes from the cryptocurrency industry is Bitcoin, and I also think it can have the biggest impact on society as a whole.
Secondly, I really admire the efforts from the developer community of Ethereum. I think it's amazing in terms of the size and scale of it, and I admire the focus on adoption and being really really focused on driving people to use cryptocurrency.
13) What social-media platform do you like most and why, and are there any improvements which you feel can be made to these platforms for an even better community user-experience?
I use Twitter around 99% of the time as well as publish content on my YouTube channel regularly, and I would like to see an uncensored version of Twitter. But at the same time, that’s a pretty scary concept as well.
14) With the endgame being mainstream adoption, do you think crypto/blockchain communities will still have an important role to play in a post-adoption environment?
Yes I believe so because it depends on different people's definition of adoption. Some people might believe that adoption means crypto will be used by everyone in the world for every transaction. For others, adoption might be crypto allowing people to have an exit from traditional finance. So the community will always be working for others in pursuit of a completely decentralized mechanism of governance for the world, and whatever your version of mainstream adoption, there will always be people raising the bar and working hard to push it to another level. So I think community will always be important.
In our penultimate section we are going to ask you a question regarding BnkToTheFuture.
15) What do you feel sets BnkToTheFuture apart from your competitors (that is if you have any)?
So BnkToTheFuture is a way of allowing people to invest in equity in crypto and fintech companies, and I think we’ve given our investors access to deals that they would never have had, or deals which no other platform will have enabled. We pretty much have got all of the major companies in crypto, and have either done an equity offering or created a secondary market where people can buy and sell shares in. From over 100 deals, 8 of them have become unicorns, and we got more people into Bitcoin and Ethereum in their early days which is something which I don’t think any other online investment platform has achieved, and moreover, in a way which is compliance-led with global securities laws around the world. So we haven’t been shut down or encountered too much resistance from regulators thus far.
Well that just about does it, but before we end this interview we’d like to ask you for something which we believe will say a lot about your belief in the industry, and which may inspire those who are reading.
16) Can you come up with a short argument for our readers on why you feel cryptocurrency and blockchain (or just one) has a bright future?
I’ll start with Bitcoin.
I believe Bitcoin has a bright future because at the moment there is no other way of owning your own money where you control it, no other way of spending your own money whereby you can send it globally to whoever you want to receive it, and thirdly, because it has a fixed money supply which is a counterforce to excessive money printing. I believe that the world will want to have more ownership over their financial affairs, and have the ability to send it more freely and to counter the force of excessive government money printing, so to me it’s just inevitable that more and more people will discover Bitcoin. I also believe that every single financial product in the world is going to become more decentralised, and have a decentralised and centralised version in the future, and I think as more people start to own their own money they are also going to want to engage in other financial products that have the same properties. Therefore blockchain is a mechanism for not just achieving sound money, but disrupting every single financial product one step at a time, and giving more choice to users.
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