Cryptocurrency is for millennials, believes Tyler Eilenberg.
“Millennials are the ones that want to fight back and go against The Man,” Eilenberg tells Poets&Quants. “And cryptocurrencies and blockchain, at its most fundamental level, is decentralization and not owned by a thing. And I think that millennial mindset is what sets us apart from others.”
The “us” is Viceroy Management, a blockchain investment and cryptocurrency trading fund run by Eilenberg and 14 other University of Michigan undergrads. Eilenberg, a senior majoring in economics at Michigan’s Ross School of Business, serves as the fund’s chief operating officer.
“The potential for blockchain to change the world is here,” Eilenberg says, the excitement in his voice evident over the phone. “It is such an untapped market that we see so many possibilities in the future.”
CRYPTOCURRENCIES GAINING TRACTION IN INDUSTRY, ACADEMIA
Indeed, blockchain, bitcoin, and other forms of digital currency continue to gain traction — though the market is still volatile. While the technology is only in its infancy, it is poised to gain greater legitimacy: Eilenberg says that even though fewer than 6% of Americans currently own bitcoin, some big players are already making serious investments in the space, including IBM. Just last week, Amazon announced a launch of AWS Blockchain Templates for developers to create projects.
Universities, too, are also putting resources into the emerging field. Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business launched a cryptoventure course a few years ago. Schools like New York University’s Stern School of Business, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, among others, have all recently launched cryptocurrency-related courses and initiatives. Last fall, Eilenberg says, he took the first class ever offered at the University of Michigan focused on fintech and cryptocurrency. Fintech Innovations, he says, included everything from the history of cryptography to how to find and evaluate the potential of cryptocurrencies.
Also happening at Michigan last fall: the launch of the Wolverine Crypto Trading Club, which was created by another team of undergrads, one of whom is Danny Sheridan, Eilenberg’s current roommate. But where the Wolverine Crypto Trading Club will remain a university entity and be passed down among students, the team at Viceroy Management plans to make their venture an actual revenue-generating machine they take with them beyond the classroom.
‘WE’RE IN THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL AGE OF CONNECTIVITY’
Earlier this year, Eilenberg met with Brian Cai and other students interested in launching some form of cryptocurrency fund. Cai, now serving as Viceroy Management’s CEO, says that in January the team decided to start raising capital for the fund with a goal of raising $500,000. Already, Cai says, the fund has letters of intent or verbal commitments from investors totaling between $200,000 and $250,000. Right now, he adds, the team is working on different products and proprietary evaluation rubrics to create a ranking and grading system for the different coins; one of the products will include in-depth technical analysis to examine “optimal entry and exit” times throughout the day.
Essentially, Cai explains, Viceroy will know when coins have the best opportunity to survive and persist when the market begins to consolidate into major players.
The fund’s team is currently made up of engineers, researchers, and business development members. To evaluate the different coins, the Viceroy team uses web scrapers to gather all relevant information, then puts the data through the proprietary evaluation process to “assess current valuations, industry relevance, and technical viability” and, finally, researches current media and press to identify macroeconomic trends and asset opportunities.
“We’re in the fourth industrial age of connectivity, and with that comes its own inherent risks,” Cai says after explaining the somewhat convoluted process. “We live in a world right now that is pretty chaotic,” Eilenberg chimes in.
TEAM HOPES TO RAISE $500,000 BY JUNE
Chaotic, but not completely unknown. And there are parallels in recent history.
“Similar to the Dotcom era, we’re all very excited about this and believe there is a serious future for it,” Cai says.
Eilenberg says the Viceroy team hopes to have the $500,000 fund raised and complete by the end of June. At that point, both he and Cai will have graduated from the University of Michigan, and Eilenberg says they’ll be ready to fully devote time and resources to the fund.
“We are so passionate about cryptocurrency that we want to pursue this past graduation,” he says. “We’re all just super excited to get started.”