Thought Leader Interview: Brad Hart, NFT Expert & Crypto Community Founder

Tell Us About Your Background And What It Is You Do

My career started in finance back in NY in 2008… right when the crash was happening. I decided that cold calling on Wall Street during the financial crisis wasn’t for me, so I transitioned to Real Estate, where I grew a lot in a short time at a company called BOND NY. The founders took me under their wing and within 2 years I got 5 promotions and was leading a team of 6 people.

Then my dad passed away, so I decided to take some time off (big mistake) and started trading for a living (less of a mistake) – I spent time traveling and finding myself (25 countries and 43 states) but realized what everyone does at some point– wherever you go, there you are.

I had a few failed startup projects and relationships. Trading was going well and I made a lot of great connections during this time through mastermind groups.

A well timed article in Forbes that turned out to be really on the money led to some friends asking if they could stake me to start a hedge fund. We ended up launching at the end of 2012 and returned 106% in a single year in trading options and equities in 2013. But I was burned out and not enjoying staring at computer screens all day, so I eventually shut it down. I got into personal development and started a marketing brand called Make More Marbles which has had sustainable success for the past 8 years now.

How did you get started in the crypto space?

In 2008, when the app store first got started, you could basically write a long essay on a subject and pay a developer a few hundred dollars to code it into an app, making sales all over the world. By late 2009, this little side venture was generating a few thousand dollars a month, so I asked the developer I hired what he wanted to build– he said he wanted to build a Bitcoin trading app.

“WTF is Bitcoin?” I asked… and ended up going down the rabbit hole, giving him $5k to work on his app, but it went nowhere. Next, a friend paid me in Bitcoin for his half of a Thai dinner in NYC. I promptly lost the keys to that wallet. That 0.27 Bitcoin is now worth 5 figures. The most expensive Thai dinner in history, perhaps? I got serious about crypto when Coinbase launched, and bought a fair bit of BTC under $1000 and ETH at $8, as well as some LTC and other coins which I have been holding for a long time now and worked out really well.

I invested in a lot of ICO’s in 2017 that went nowhere, I got scammed more times than I wish to count… and even tried to get a crypto game off the ground around that time. Then in 2018, the market crashed, and our investor pulled out. We would have been WAY early to crypto gaming in retrospect… but the money just wasn’t there.

Since 2018 I was basically dollar cost averaging into the main coins but not really paying much attention to the space. 95% of people stop talking about crypto during the winter… but that seems to be shifting now.

In 2020, all of a sudden it caught fire again and my portfolio was up 700%… unwittingly crypto had become a too significant portion of my overall portfolio. So I divested a bit into real estate. Then, I started messing with NFT’s, defi and gaming this past summer. We’re seeing unprecedented fiat money devaluation right now, so I’m doing my best to keep all my cash working within reasonable limits of safety until this game of musical chairs stops and it all comes crashing down.

You have been very successful in the NFT space, what is your core strategy? How can an individual leverage the NFT space right now?

Starting with the disclaimer that this is not financial advice but simply my own opinions and experience: I only really got serious about NFT’s in August of 2021, and mostly lost money on them, except for one where I invested about $100k and it quickly turned into $450k.

So, I definitely see the potential… I think most people are just doing cash grabs right now and it’s going to take a few years to establish the norms and best practices and assuage the risks of NFT’s… for now it’s the Wild West.

My basic strategy is I want to be in the flow of information… the best communities attract the best minds so I’m happy to overpay a bit to be in said communities, though it pays to wait and time your entries since the market is so volatile and most projects are going to zero.

I believe the projects that will win are the ones that already provide a ton of value, have a huge influencer who is doxxed (identified), has economic incentives aligned with the community, and doesn’t have an overweight position in the NFT themselves (so they can’t rug pull.)

These are few and far between but the ones I have seen win the most tend to have these characteristics. I think if you’re going to have an NFT project, first you need to make sure that whatever you are selling would be valuable if it did NOT have an NFT attached, and the NFT is just a proof of ownership, and allows for people to transact in and out of the community freely as they see fit with a minimum of fuss.

You’re buying access. Plain and simple. Make sure the access is worth the money, and the market will respond. If not, the project is quickly going to zero. There are no fundamentals and it’s hard to track technicals… sentiment can turn on a dime, news as well can sow FOMO or FUD in record time. You’re not trading NFT’s you’re trading people’s opinions on NFT’s. In traditional markets you don’t have access to communicate with all market participants like you do now with tools like Twitter and Discord. This is a double edged sword.

What are gas fees and why do people complain about them?

Gas fees specifically refer to transaction costs on the blockchain. Ethereum is the most widely used, scalable and decentralized blockchain, but also has the highest fees.

You can have scalability, decentralization, and security, or centralization, cheaper fees, and a single honey pot that can be hacked/invalidated by spammers. You really don’t get both.

Though one solution that many are pivoting toward are layer 2 solutions like Polygon, Binance, and even ZK rollup solutions and cheaper more scalable layer one solutions like Elrond and Loopring.

They either have been built with more scalability in mind or process transactions off chain so they can be reported in aggregate to the ETH chain once a day, saving a ton in fees.

Fees are a write off (according to my accountants, check with your own) and a cost of doing business. I’m happy to pay more to execute my transactions faster, because my time is valuable. If you’re complaining about gas fees, it’s likely you’re playing too small to make trading ETH worthwhile. Unfortunately, that’s where all the real money is for the time being too. The decentralized nature and security attracts the biggest players… but that won’t be true forever.

As an NFT holder what have you considered your most prized investment?

I do my best not to get emotional about investments, it leads to poor judgment. I had to relearn this lesson again recently when I bought into a project too high and rode it all the way down for a massive $80k loss. In retrospect, I broke all my rules and had to update a few in the light of new information.

Most people go on and on about their favorite NFT’s or ‘blue chip projects’ they’re invested in. Everyone is a genius in a bull market. Very few have the financial background to understand and articulate what they’re actually doing, or the risk/reward equation to back up their decisions. Most people make emotional decisions then back them up with logic, and crypto investing is no different.

A lot of times, they brag about their wins, then when they’ve bought too high and they’re now bag holding at a 50-90% loss… well. They get real quiet when that happens.

Nobody is immune to this… myself included. But I do my best to check hyperbole at the door. I am cutting my losses aggressively now, taking profits when they’re there (selling the hype) and if I can’t get into a project early or on a dip, I probably won’t touch it at all.

I generally get into something for 2-3 units (because they’re so limited supply and illiquid) and look to get out of one for my initial investment ASAP so my risk is zero. That’s the plan anyway, sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. I’ll keep updating my rules in the light of new information, and experience as it happens.

How can an investor make money by staking?

Staking means locking up your tokens as liquidity for others and can be a way to earn rewards for participation in a microeconomy, such as a defi platform, yield farm, or play to earn game.

Essentially, it’s like investing in a startup bank that prints its own money. They might have deflationary money (think BTC, ETH or EGLD) that they use as a store of value, and inflationary money that they print at will.

The inflationary money is usually given out as rewards for staking liquidity in the deflationary money, the inflationary money or both. Or you can earn transaction fees.

All of the money is represented by tokens, either ERC 20 or some other standard which they create.

In doing this, they create an environment where people ‘earn returns’ but it’s highly subject to speculation on the value of the underlying tokens, so results will vary. You’re essentially taking the risk that you will put your money to work now to get a bunch of free tokens, hoping that those tokens will be worth enough to make it worthwhile in the future.

However, anything can happen, anyone can create a token and new ecosystem, and they’re only valuable if people use them and believe they are valuable enough to buy them in the first place… if that shifts in a negative direction, or a black swan, hack or rug pull happens, you’ll see your entire investment go up in smoke overnight.

People also take out loans to take out more crypto to invest and ‘loop’ their positions to make more, but that’s bordering on insanity, I’ve already seen people lose millions of dollars during flash crashes messing around like this.

So staking and defi carries inherent risk. Custody risk. Security risk. Currency risk. Time value of money risk (which they do their best to assuage with rewards) and several other risks that may not be clearly known or defined yet, since the space is so new.

Some of the more stable platforms take in deposits in multiple currencies, and loan against them (like Aave and Celsius) creating a spread. This is a more proven, stable model, and offers better economics than holding your money in a bank, but doesn’t provide the crazy paper gains that most people who are in this space are chasing, affectionately referring to themselves as ‘degens’.

What are your predictions for the crypto space in 2022?

I think crypto gaming will be the space to watch. Think defi, plus NFT’s, game theory, and economics. Incredibly difficult to pull off, but potentially massive upside for those that do, and the entire space is in the tens of billions of dollars in market cap, which is tiny. So if it really comes into its own and becomes its own segment, there are very attractive opportunities ahead. People love to earn money and they love to play games… so it makes sense.

Otherwise, I’m sticking to my rules, trading my plan and planning my trades. This space has forced me to get more ruthless and tight in my strategy, but that’s a good thing. Most of my biggest theoretical losses have come from not holding my biggest winners (all my bitcoins, TSLA, etc) and my biggest wins have come from holding the right things forever (after derisking my position by taking out my principal.)

However, with the volatility and all or nothing nature of NFT’s, Defi, and gaming, you really have to play offense and defense. It’s definitely not a set it and forget it game.

Where can readers find out more about you?

If you want to learn about this space we have a free FB group with hours of video content to get you started learning about crypto, gaming, defi, yield farming Axie, whatever your interest.

Join here:

Again, a disclaimer: This stuff is really only suitable for those with risk capital they are willing to lose. I don’t want people who are betting their rent money like a lottery ticket trying to get rich quick. This is just an invitation to learn. These types of asset classes are probably going to stick around in the future, so it’s important to understand what they are and how to operate safely within the crypto ecosystem.

The bottom line is there are some people making insane money… which is going to attract a lot of people into the space, and I do my best to educate them on the risks/rewards in a comprehensive way. The way I see it, I can’t help people wanting to play with dynamite… but if I can help you avoid making stupid mistakes (not blowing yourself up) along the way, I feel as though I’ve done my part.

I hope this helps, see you in the group:

Editor-In-Chief of Bizpreneur Middle East