I fell out of love with crypto in 2018. How did I find my way back?
Into the Cryptoverse is a weekly Breach series that documents the stories of everyday people as they navigate the cryptoverse.
Although Jennifer Ovat is convinced that crypto is here to stay, her journey has been a mix of different emotions — trust, disappointment, doubt, and trust again.
Read this story to learn more about why she took a break from crypto in 2018 and the events that led to her eventual return.
When was your first point of contact with crypto?
It was October 2016, and I was in the penultimate year of university. I randomly stumbled upon a multi-level marketing scheme that transacted with BTC. Here’s how it worked: you brought two people into the scheme, and each person would pay you 0.1 BTC. I was wary of these things, so I was like “nah, this isn’t for me.”
Later that week, an uncle reached out to me to discuss an opportunity. He had bought into another version of a multi-level marketing scheme and wanted me to be under his wing. Like the scheme I found earlier that week, this group also transacted with BTC. Now, I was curious about this wave of Bitcoin adoption.
What did you do next?
I agreed to come under his wing if he agreed to two things: he would find me the capital and also worry about looking for more people to join the group. He agreed and bought me 0.1 BTC, which was about ₦30k ($52).
Two things happened at the end of the month.
I noticed that the value of my BTC had grown by more than ₦10k ($18). I remember thinking, “what kind of elastic money is this?”
I didn’t want to lose the money, so I withdrew from the multi-level marketing group and transferred my BTC to another wallet. I was sure the whole scheme would crash at some point, and it did.
Of course, it did.
Subsequently, I entered a rabbit hole of crypto content — I read articles and watched many YouTube videos on the subject.
Do you remember what the learning experience was like?
It was a bit of a struggle because the content that was available wasn’t relatable. But I really wanted to understand the nitty-gritty of crypto, so I committed to it. It became easier when I found a cryptocurrency trading blog owned by a Nigerian.
Tell me about that.
It was a game-changer, really. The owner of the blog wrote a lot of detailed content on crypto, and I gravitated towards the blog more than anything else I was consuming during that period.
In one of his blog posts, the owner announced that he was looking for new members to join a crypto community he was building. That was what I needed — I applied to be a member of the community, and I got in. This was probably one of the best decisions I made in 2016.
Why do you think so?
It’s a solid community, and I could tell that the members knew what they were doing. Everyone’s ears were on the ground for the next big crypto project we could invest in, and this rubbed off on me.
And you started investing in crypto assets?
Not as much as I would have liked. I was still a student and didn’t have much disposable income to play with.
Slowly, I realized that crypto was more than speculative trading, and I could bet on its future. Before this time, the plan was for me to use my Accounting degree to get a job in traditional finance. But now, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to explore a career in the crypto industry.
Did you follow up on that?
I did. I graduated from university in 2017, and my first job post-uni was as a professional trader, leading research efforts at a crypto startup in Nigeria.
The first few months on the job were great. As a result, I had a lot more skin in the game. For starters, I had more disposable income to invest in projects, and I experimented as much as I could.
What were some of the earliest projects you invested in?
I see. How did it work out?
It went both ways — some of the experiments paid off and others didn’t. However, I grew the value of my portfolio from scratch to about $4500 in a few months. I thought I had figured out the basics of investing and trading crypto.
Nothing prepared me for what happened after.
What was that?
By February 2018, the bear market — which is when the price of crypto assets fall for an extended period — started. The year was a nightmare for me on multiple fronts. There was the day job that required me to trade, deliver profits for investors and meet multiple targets. This was almost impossible to do because the crypto market was terrible. We made some profits but we also made huge losses.
And your personal portfolio?
I took a big hit there as well, and I lost about 98% of my portfolio before the year was over.
Oof. How does one even navigate this?
To be fair, some of it was my fault. I held positions in too many projects. If I had most of my money in solid projects like Bitcoin and Ethereum, I wouldn’t have dealt with that kind of loss.
However, I was upset by how much I lost, and the pressure at my 9–5. Ultimately, I become a little disillusioned with crypto. You could even say that I fell out of love with it because I started to doubt its longevity.
At the end of the day, I had two choices: take a break from crypto or quit altogether.
Let me guess, you decided to take a break.
Yes. My plan B was to return to school for my Master’s Degree. For context, I was eligible for a government-sponsored scholarship, which sadly didn’t work out. With that out of the way, I moved on to my backup plan — I quit my job at the crypto startup and transitioned into a role in a fintech startup.
About a year later, I realized that I couldn’t take a complete break from crypto.
This was now 2019, and the market had started to recover. This came with the launch of new projects and due diligence became more important than ever. Remember that crypto community I joined in 2016? I volunteered to coordinate crypto research efforts for the community. My task here was to look into projects, analyze my findings and rank them based on specific criteria that the community agreed upon. The objective was to separate potentially-rewarding projects from the scams. I did it for free, but I loved it so much. It was the safest way to dip my toes back in.
How did you balance this responsibility with your day job?
I spent my days at the job and spent my nights on crypto research, looking into new projects and doing due diligence on them. Fast forward to the lockdown in 2020, I returned to investing in crypto assets, and I haven’t looked back.
The best part of this is that the thought of finding another full-time job in the crypto industry didn’t seem like a crazy idea anymore.
Great. Did you follow through with it?
I didn’t act on it until 2021. Messari, a crypto research company put out a call for community analysts for a crypto research writing programme in May 2021. I gave it a shot, and I got in. But that wasn’t all.
A few weeks into the programme, a Linkedin connection, who is also an analyst on their research and due diligence department reached out to me to confirm if I was interested in a full-time role as a research analyst on their team.
I know the answer to this one.
Haha. Of course, I was interested. I interviewed for the role, and before the month ended, I got an offer from the company.
Lit. Could you tell me more about your role?
I work on a team that provides in-depth insight on crypto-assets for our clients, usually institutions that are looking to list or invest in a crypto asset. The objective here is to provide sufficient coverage on these assets using research tools at our disposal to help them minimize risks and make informed decisions.
I wonder if your job has impacted your personal crypto investments.
My role is research-intensive, so I get exposed to a lot of projects. I believe that because of this, I have a better understanding of how to sift through the noise and decide on what projects to go for. For starters, I don’t invest in too many projects anymore. The focus here is to bet on projects that will work for the good of the ecosystem. This must be a good way to think about it because the value of my portfolio has never been this good.
Growth. How would you say your relationship with crypto has evolved over the years?
At first, my trust in the ecosystem was fuelled by emotions. Then I went through a couple of cycles — disappointment, doubt and maybe even anger. Now, I’m at a place where I am convinced that the ecosystem is indeed here to stay due to the quality and depth of innovations within the space.
This has been a rollercoaster. Before you go, do you have some crypto regrets?
I was an early investor in a couple of projects in 2017, and I didn’t hold on to them for long enough. For example, I participated in $LINK’s initial Coin Offering and bought about 15,000 units of the token for about $1650. Unfortunately, I sold everything during the bear market because I didn’t think it would recover. However, the project survived the bear market and thrived, reaching an all-time high of $52.88 in May 2021. There have been a couple of other misses.
That said, I’m happy with where I am right now. I’m surrounded by amazing people who know how to navigate the space, so the odds of repeating the same mistakes are low. All of this is a learning experience, after all.
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