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Interview with Translunar One Founder, Justin Schmidt

What did you want to be when you grew up? 

Justin: I wish I could go back to elementary school and read what everyone wrote down when asked this question ☺ So many different career paths crossed my mind over the years but I always knew I wanted to run my own business, much like my father who grew up literally on a farm in Nebraska, he started a business that was acquired and then started another business that went IPO a number of years ago. At a very young age I was always trying to come up with a new product idea and my favorite class was always business/economics. 

Where did the idea for the name Translunar One come from?

On one of my visits to Necker Island I was really captivated by Sir RB’s chat about space travel, the obstacles overcome, and a room filled with all of us in Halloween costumes…… the middle of the Summer……I was in a shark outfit and gazing at the stars off the open air living room I kept thinking about a shuttle launching towards the stars…….it must have been a clear sky evening and the name Translunar seemed to encapsulate the ideas in my head…..aiming for the moon. The official meaning for translunar = relating to or denoting the trajectory of a spacecraft traveling between the earth and the moon.

We are in the early days of crypto and the name seemed to stick. 

Do you have a light bulb moment that has brought you to be where you are today? 

My entrance to the start-up world was quite an interesting journey, after college at the University of Texas, I worked for a few years at Dell Computer in a typical cubicle sales job. It was the standard phone sales gig where you literally sat in front of a screen all day and churned and burned. It was Christmas 2005 and while on vacation in the Cayman Islands I was returning home to my dreaded sales job and sat next to a chatty couple on the airplane. We got to talking about cayman vacation rental houses, hotels and the man mentioned “You sure know a lot about vacation rentals”, I had been traveling to Cayman since I was 6 years old so indeed it was an area I loved/enjoyed very much. He went on to say his wife was the controller of a large VC firm that had invested in a new vacation rental company and I should go interview. Thinking “yea right this will go nowhere” I scribbled my name, number down on a piece of paper. Sure enough a week later I interviewed and was hired at a small start-up with a large fresh $50m in the bank. That start-up called WVR Group (worldwide vacation rentals) evolved into HomeAway, and after raising hundreds of millions in VC capital went IPO and then was acquired by Expedia for $3.9B. Little did I know that start-up experience of hyper growth would wet my appetite and I continued to work over the next 15 years at various start-ups, 4 of which went IPO. My light bulb moment was on that flight realizing that you can always find another opportunity where you can be happy and I have set that life objective in motion. Start-ups will fail and succeed but there is always another path/opportunity just around the corner. 

What does the day in the life of a crypto investor look like? 

I spend the early morning catching up on the news/updates from the overseas markets, crypto is 24/7 and most of the investment actually takes place outside the USA. After catching up on any newsworthy items I like to get some exercise so either a walk to Barton Springs if I am in Ausin or a swim or paddleboard if I am in Cayman. Early afternoon-later afternoon is a mix of calls, telegram chats, in person meetings and lots and lots and lots of reading whitepapers. The day ends late for me and I’ve truly never worked so hard in my life. Travel has been a constant, from USA, Canada, Cayman, UK and Europe just to name a few.

What city or country have you visited that you felt has acknowledged crypto currency the most? 

I would have to say Hong Kong, Singapore, Zug and Cayman seem to be the most well received crypto nations. I am excited to visit Malta later this year to see what is going on over there, it is fastly becoming a mecca for cryptoas well. 

What are your top tips for people who want to jump into the crypto currency market? 

My best advice is to take things slow and really do a deep dive before jumping in. It is at best a 2-3 month learning curve and super technical to enter the market. If you are considering ICO/STO’s I still truly believe investing in a Fund makes a lot of sense. Regardless of fee’s unless you have 24/7 to dedicate to this space trust in the right professionals, do your due diligence, but there are lots of great options to enter the crypto space. As with any investment broad exposure is the best approach and never invest any amount you aren’t willing to lose. Some analysts have come out and said your should have 1-2% of your net worth invested in crypto/blockchain, I’m not suggesting that is the right/wrong pursuit but I can say I am all in on this asset class. 

What is your favourite effect of crypto currency on financial markets? 

I love to be early and I love to disrupt antiquated businesses. I was early in the homesharing space…….many many years before Airbnb even existed. I also helped launch the first rideshare company when Uber was just a black car service and Lyft didn’t exist. So when I see crypto disrupting traditional banking and flipping Venture Capital on its head…..I get very excited. VC’s or ‘Vulture Capitalists’ as they are referred remind me of the taxi industry just a few years ago when rideshare wasn’t yet a verb. Raising capital via a token offering really does take the power away from the VC, is more Founder friendly and also investor friendly providing liquidity in a much shorter timeframe, that is going to be very powerful as this market grows. In 2018 alone there have already been Billion raised via token sales and I think in a few short years traditional VC’s will be like the taxi industry, old antiquated and left behind in the dust. From a banking perspective the process of walking into a retail bank, explaining in depth why you want to send a wire transfer, let alone the fee’s, time, pain and effort will be gone very very soon. The ability to decentralize and own your own info/money and be able to transact instantly across borders is very powerful. I’m excited for banks to slowly go away and be more efficient means of transacting. 

How do you see crypto currency in your life 5 or 10 year from now? 

The tokenization of everything will be very impactful. I agree with Tim Draper’s recent sentiments that in a few years walking into a Starbucks and handing over a $20 bill you will get laughed at. The blockchain has the ability to make nearly every industry/sector more efficient. 

How have you seen Blockchain technology break the rules of industries as we know them? 

Translunar has 16 portfolio companies and I truly believe each and every one is a rule breaker. We have some very ambitious projects, everything from taking loyalty/rewards into one platform on the blockchain, a sharing economy rating system, to a cannabis disruptor, leading gaming disuptors and every industry in between. has some really cool solutions to help with world hunger while raising billions for those in need. 

If you had a super power, what would it be? 

I have a huge affinity for the ocean and water, having grown up swimming competitively I would want the super power of being able to breathe underwater. 

As Translunar One ‘shoots for the moon’ what flag do you hope to leave behind? 

The main goal I have for T1 is to help build teams, products, ideas and help founders carry out their visions. Making money for our LPs is always important but I think we can do that while also growing/scaling companies while creating jobs, and leaving the planet in a better place than how we found it. 

You have a love of Turtles, how have you built that into your life and business?

What are you currently reading? 

Deep down I am a turtle ☺ From the earliest age I can remember I have been fascinated with turtles, starting with the hatchery on Grand Cayman, seeing the turtle hatch on our beach, to tracking the 100 year old mama turtle that travels back and forth thousands of miles in the ocean to return to the same spot each year. They amaze me and are really cool animals. It pains me that our oceans are in desperate need of help so they, amongst other sea creatures, can thrive. 

What does success mean to you? 

Success to me is impacting, changing, and helping others in life, that can have various forms but I truly believe it you set out to have a positive impact then everything works out for the best.

Thank you to Justin Schmidt for sharing with us, the personal and the professional. 

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