Cyrus Fazel: My family was ‘nouveau poor’ – and I wanted to be wealthy
Cyrus Fazel, founder and CEO of SwissBorg, comes from a ‘nouveau poor’ family. He laughs when he uses this term as he knows it’s not a common expression, maybe not even a proper one.
He explains that his family – of both Persian and Swiss heritage – were once rich and now they are poor. This negative shift in family fortunes has coloured his view on money.
“I wanted to understand how money works. I wanted to understand how wealth works. And I wanted to be wealthy.”
In order to understand the wealth game – whether in land, gold or commodities – Fazel knew he had to work in wealth management. After college he joined a hedge fund where everyone wanted to become a millionaire. A decade of working for different hedge funds taught him the real definition of a millionaire.
“A millionaire is someone who can help a million people. I know I wanted to democratise wealth management for everyone. That has been my dream since 2013 and the basis for the formation of Swissborg.”
Fazel researched many different areas including fintechs, crowdfunding, copy trading but every time he hit the wall of scaling – that was until 2016 when he discovered the world of crypto. Crypto addressed the issue of reaching people without the banks; a parallel route and a fairer one. By the time Cyrus discovered Ethereum it was game on.
A successful ICO saw in excess of 24,000 people participating in a staggering rise of $52 million.
“It was a significant amount of money and with it came a huge responsibility. We had to build a product so we put our heads down and spent the next two years building the app. We needed to have it ready in the next bull run to bring mass adoption to the market.”
From the start SwissBorg was built with decentralisation in mind. Fazel disagreed with his co founder Anthony Lesoismier about whether they should develop an app or browser based platform first. They put it to the vote and the community voted for an app with Lesoismier.
“Some 15,000 people voted and the mobile app won. We are working on browser version for next year but it was good to get the community to decide on priorities.”
Education is core to the SwissBorg philosophy. Accordingly they brought out a community app first in 2019 which involved gamification. People were asked to forecast the price of tokens and to go on different quests.
“It was all aimed at allowing people to play with tokens and crypto in a safe environment before we launched the main app in March 2020.
“Basically, our mission at SwissBorg is to democratise wealth management by making it fun, fair and community centric. The fun part was the community app. The fair component is to make the application as simple as possible. It’s possible to buy a basket of currencies that are automatically balanced so no one needs to be an expert to make good investing decisions.”
Fazel compares crypto trading to being an athlete. To be an athlete you need to train every day but for most people that is not possible. Same with trading – he’d argue that 99% of rest of the planet should not trade.
“To be fair, trading is not so much about making lots of money so much as never losing a lot of money. That’s wealth management.”
In the light of recent crypto collapses Fazel is keen to point out SwissBorg is fully regulated, the assets are clearly segregated and there is a strong risk management policy in place.
“I also communicate every week with the community where they can ask questions. Wealth management is very different from trading. We don’t have access to anyone’s funds. Even if we went bankrupt in the morning, people could just withdraw their funds as normal.”
SwissBorg offers DeFi to its users using third party protocols and advises usage based on an individual’s risk profile. The returns are also correlated to the longevity of the staking, increasing as time goes on.
ESG is also a key factor with SwissBorg rating tokens based on their commitment to ESG principles. Fazel sees people investing for three reasons. Firstly, for profit, secondly when they understand the product and finally for believing in the philosophy.
“If you get the three Ps together then you are on the right track,” says Fazel.
While a fan of Bitcoin, Fazel is an even bigger fan of Ethereum, and is very happy the Merge moved the blockchain to proof-of-stake consensus.
“We really want a world that is clean and decentralised. The more centralised the world the more corruption exists. It’s human nature. By decentralising our world we can make it better.
“I’m a man of nature. Our planet does not belong to us and I don’t want to move to Mars. What we do here matters.”
The community has grown significantly in the past year with more than 700,000 users on board. Fazel and his team are active on social media, ensuing news and updates are shared, as well as feedback. They draw heavily from the democracy operated in Switzerland which is touted by Fazel as the most fair format.
This is reflected in their current fund raise. They are doing a Series A but are looking to receive investment from the community rather than VCs. So that the community invests and benefits from the future success.
If successful, Fazel intends extending this launchpad concept for other projects. It will be called a multi asset launchpad and Fazel is in active talks with two very large projects, one of which has 200 million users.
“It’s a good alignment for users becoming investors. It’s the most beautiful thing about crypto. If you are convinced about the three Ps then it’s just as Warren Buffet says – he only buys what he loves and it’s as easy as that. If you buy your convictions then your chances of success are way better and moreover if you are invested in the project not just the return then everyone can win.”
Again and again in our conversation, Fazel reverts to his vision of mass adaption. He agrees that the underlying technology such as blockchain does not excite everyone but sees gaming or social media as the hook.
“The killer apps are often social media apps or video games.”
To find out more and to join the SwissBorg train, Fazel advises interested people to download the app and to follow the company on Twitter and YouTube.