With an increasing public interest in digital currencies, an expert knowledge gap is forming. Newcomers to the cryptocurrency scene are turning to YouTube and other online communities to learn how to invest their hard-earned cash, because going to the bank just does not cut it for those who want to retire.
This is the new pursuit of the American dream: The cryptocurrency “side hustle.”
Brandon Fiadino and Steve Schultheis both know what the side hustle is all about. Fiadino and Schultheis are co-founders of Nebulous Consulting (Asbury Park), a cryptocurrency and digital asset investment consultancy. Both co-founders have day jobs in addition to their portfolio management and instruction sessions at Nebulous.
Fiadino is a pharmaceutical drug salesman during the day and writer, entrepreneur and Ledger Nano S (a type of crypto hardware wallet) expert by night. Schultheis works 50 hours a week as a sales and service manager at an auto repair shop in Freehold and devotes a majority of his free time to researching cryptocurrency.
“We want to put the power back in the individuals’ hand. We think everyone is entitled to this information.’ Schultheis said. ‘So we didn’t want to charge a lot [for the course] because that’s cutting out the people who actually want and need it. What about the person out there that are really grinding and working 50-60 hours a week? We wanted to reach those people and empower them to make the right decisions.’
Nebulous charges $150 for these one-on-one sessions and $50 per hour for portfolio management and long-term strategy sessions. Fiadino and Schultheis wanted to make the course affordable to people like them – those who work 9-5 and could really benefit from investing their money somewhere that gains more return on investment than .08% interest in a bank.
A typical class from Nebulous takes from four to five hours. ‘No one believes us at first, but we’re thorough and make sure everyone understands everything we cover. I always give clients the option of breaking up the curriculum into multiple sessions, too,’ Schultheis said. ‘I tell them you’re going to need a notepad, pen, laptop if you prefer and 2 to 3 Advil because this is going to be intense.’
Finding a Core in Curriculum
Fiadino and Schultheis both see cryptocurrency as a viable way to get short and long-term return on investment and love teaching anyone who is hungry to learn.
The crypto gurus taught their first course in November 2017 and now have regularly scheduled of sessions and consistently update their curriculum to make it more relevant with the shifting market.
In early 2018, Fiadino and Schultheis received full approval from Brookdale Community College (Lincroft) to teach their curriculum in the classroom, but an actual course offering hasn’t been scheduled yet. Currently, Nebulous Consulting conducts about three private sessions a week and launched its new website Nebulousconsulting.space.
“Having one-on-one interaction is the best way to dig deep into the subject. We want clients to get the most out of the experience,” Fiadino said.
In an ever-changing technological landscape that yields new blockchain innovations and investment options daily, clear and thorough definitions can get lost in translation. The amount of cryptocurrency exchanges, wallets, and currencies are all intimidating because not only do they change often, it’s easy to get lost in the jargon.
Fiadino and Schultheis hope to cut through the clutter. Offering in depth instruction on the basics of blockchain technology, how to purchase digital assets, how to navigate cryptocurrency exchanges, and how to store and safely secure your investments. The curriculum focuses on three main topics, the technology itself, exchanges, and wallets.
“The number one hang-up for people is navigation of the exchanges. There’s nothing scarier than praying that you’ve just sent your funds to the right place and can recover them properly,” Fiadino said.
“The first time our clients purchase cryptocurrency is right there in front of us, to ensure that everything is setup the right way and all that worry goes out the window,” Schultheis explained.
Where Does the Public Interest Lie?
Schultheis’ main clientele are Baby Boomers and Fiadino’s clientele are mostly Millennials. Each client has their own reasons for wanting to learn more about crypto, but the Nebulous consultants have noticed a trend.
Millennials see cryptocurrency as a better way to make the small amount of money they do have work for them, more so than a bank. Baby Boomers on the other hand, see crypto as a way to protect what they already have.
“There are a lot of Baby Boomers out there that remember the gold backed U.S. dollar in 1971 and before that time the government didn’t just print money and call it stimulus – there was actual value to the money you held.” Schultheis said.
“My grandmother asked me about bitcoin and when I mentioned ‘imagine money without banks or government’ she immediately got her checkbook out.” For that generation, there is a huge draw to cryptocurrency because they remember a time of decentralized banking and still the value in that.
Interest from Millennial investors differ from Baby Boomers, in that the younger generation does not have much money, barely scrapes by paying student loan payments.
“For the average person, you won’t be able to earn that retirement fund like your parents had,” Fiadino said. “I understand the going from paycheck to paycheck lifestyle, it took a lot for me to get the job I’m at now and it was back breaking work. The average person needs a little more bang for their buck when it comes to investment.”
Fiadino believes that we will see a huge transfer in wealth from the younger generation in the next few years into digital currencies.
Power to the People
Decentralized networks find power in communities and genuine human connection. The Jersey Shore Tech Meetup and Jersey Shore Blockchain Meetup are the main local communities where Fiadino and Schultheis learn and can talk openly with like-minded individuals. There are a few online communities that the crypto consultants tap into for expertise and news as well, Reddit, Telegram, and certain Facebook Groups to name a few.
Unfortunately, with the boom of crypto in recent months, the number of scams have increased proportionally. “It makes what Brandon and I are trying to do look very tainted. The guys that go on YouTube and spout empty platitudes to people are a waste of time,” Schultheis said. “Through extensive research and genuine human connection we’ve built relationships with other experts in the field and our clients.”
Shultheis also recommends a book called ‘The Spider and The Starfish’ by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom if you’re looking for some light summer reading. The book is about different benefits of decentralized networks and really opened his mind to some of the concepts discussed in the Nebulous curriculum.
“The quickest way for you to find out whether someone is blowing smoke or not is if they don’t have a decent explanation behind why someone should invest,” Fiadino said. “I always ask them to elevator pitch it to me. I’m in sales and can see through a lot of the fake inquiries.”