In the summer of 2017, 24-year-old Kingsley Advani sold his worldly possessions — a laptop and headphones — and emptied thousands of dollars from his bank account.
After seeing the once-in-a-lifetime returns that bitcoin has brought, he wanted in. Advani invested $34,000 in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and startups working on related technologies, and he watched his net worth balloon to low seven figures in six months.
At an age when many people are trying to climb up the career ladder, Advani works as an advisor to cryptocurrency startups with a $0 salary. He travels between London, New York, and San Francisco, taking meetings and scouting startups working on what may be the next great blockchain technology.
“I think at no point in human history have people in their twenties had such an opportunity to invest in such high-growth assets,” Advani told Business Insider.
Created in 2008, bitcoin is a payment system that allows people to buy things and send money with anonymity. There are no banks or middlemen. Transactions are recorded on a digital ledger called a blockchain, which stores the information with full transparency.
It was the blockchain that first excited Advani about cryptocurrencies.
In 2012, a friend introduced Advani to bitcoin, which at the time was largely used for buying and selling illegal drugs online. Advani saw the full potential of the technology.
“It’s like a rebellion to traditional finance,” Advani said. He believes its creation in 2008 — at the height of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression — was no coincidence. “You don’t need centralized banks to send money, you have these great pieces of tech send money for you through cryptography. So unlike banks, it’s faster, cheaper, and more secure,” he said.
Advani started reading white papers on cryptocurrencies and watching the market more closely last summer. He decided he would not miss a second chance to take part. He invested all of his savings and part of his income from his job as a data scientist at a small software company.
“Every month I was waiting for that paycheck and I put it straight in,” Advani said.
So far, his gamble has paid off. When Advani invested in bitcoin, it was worth about $4,000 per coin. As of February 1, the cryptocurrency has doubled in value. At its peak, Advani’s investment had grown to low seven figures, though it fluctuates with the swing of the market.
He quit his software gig in October and now travels the world as an advisor and angel investor. Advani invests mostly in startups spun out of top universities, like Stanford, Cornell, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, that are working on high-speed blockchain technology.
The 24-year-old is currently crashing on a bunk bed in a San Francisco hacker house for young cryptocurrency entrepreneurs and plans to move to the city full-time.
Advani said he doesn’t drink or party; instead, he spends most of his free time meditating and reading cryptocurrency research online. During our interview, he whipped out his phone to share data from Headspace, a meditation app. He hasn’t missed a session in over 400 days.
“I’ve decided to optimize time in front of the computer, because it’s so easy to get distracted. I order all my food online to the door. I don’t spend any time grocery shopping because I think it’s a waste of time,” Advani said. He added, “I try to live in a ‘bunker’ as much as possible.”
He believes the key to his success has been limiting the number of things he focuses on. He doesn’t read every news story on the value of bitcoin or pay close attention to its rise and fall.
Instead, Advani reads the latest research on the underlying technology and possibilities of cryptocurrencies, and tries to map where they’re headed. He doesn’t recommend investing in cryptocurrencies for everyone, unless they’re willing to dig into the white papers like he has.
“Only put in what you can afford to lose,” Advani said.
Disclosure: The author owns small amounts of bitcoin and Ethereum.