Meet 'The Wolf of Crypto Street,' an Ohio teenager who used his entire savings to become a cryptocurrency millionaire
- Eddy Zillan invested his entire savings into cryptocurrencies when he was 15 years old and made over a million dollars in profits.
- Zillan has spent the past three years studying cryptocurrencies and now offers his services as a cryptocurrency consultant.
When Eddy Zillan first started trading in cryptocurrencies, he was too young to open an account on the trading platform, Coinbase, which requires its users to be at least 18 years old. But at age 15, Zillan glossed over the site's terms of agreement and opened an account on Coinbase and another trading platform called Kraken, cautiously purchasing $100 worth of the cryptocurrency ethereum.
Zillan says he was initially skeptical of putting his money on the fledgling cryptocurrency market, which he'd first heard about in reference to the now-defunct drug trading website, the Silk Road. When Zillan began investing in 2015, there were few credible resources available offering advice on how to invest in cryptocurrencies.
"At the time I invested, there were no YouTubers, there were no investors, there was no one I could learn from," Zillan said in an interview with Business Insider. "There were no books or mentors, and it was really hard to teach myself a formal education in that field."
When Zillan checked his accounts a few hours after investing his first $100, he found that he'd already made $10. Ten dollars may not sound like much, but Zillan admits he was floored.
"I thought, 'Wow, I just made a 10% return in a day. That's crazy,'" he said.
The next day, Zillan put in more cash. This time, it was $1,000.
A week later, he added an additional $5,000, and the week after that, another $6,000.
Before long, Zillan had invested a total of just over $12,000, the entirety of his savings from teaching tennis lessons along with the tidy nest egg he'd received from gifts and his Bar Mitzvah a few years earlier.
"I risked everything," he said.
At first, Zillan's parents had mixed feelings about their son's interest in digital currencies. While his mother approved, his father cautioned against what he considered to be an extremely risky venture. But Zillan's own skepticism was evaporating by the day.
Within the first few months, his returns had begun to skyrocket. As his gains inched higher, Zillan began to read about cryptocurrencies obsessively, sometimes spending hours a day on cryptocurrency forums or chatting with other investors online. Soon, he was dabbling in alternate cryptocurrencies - also known as altcoins - and day trading.
In just one short year, Zillan's initial investment had snowballed. He claims his entire cryptocurrency portfolio had tallied a staggering $350,000.
Zillan continued educating himself on cryptocurrencies with the few resources available online. Mostly, Zillan says that his knowledge of the market stems from the conversations he's had with other investors and the people who have created the cryptocurrencies themselves.
Like many people who invested in cryptocurrencies early on, Zillan knows that his profits are partially owed to a case of opportune timing. But Zillan says that making smart investments in cryptocurrencies requires more skill than simply opening an account on Coinbase. Zillan doesn't underestimate his good timing, but he ultimately credits his business acumen and understanding of digital currencies for his enormous returns.
Today, Zillan says his portfolio sits comfortably at over a million dollars, and he's turning his eye to another venture in the cryptocurrency field: advising.
The high school student, who turned 18 in August, has spent the past year broadening his business interest in cryptocurrencies. His company, Cryptocurrency Financial, offers cryptocurrency investing advice to businesses and novice investors. This week, he plans to launch the program's consumer-focused app, coinalert.ly, which will be a mix of resources geared at cryptocurrency investors, along with insider trading tips, guides, explainers, and news.
Zillan says the app fills a void in the cryptocurrency market. Despite the growing influence of cryptocurrencies, there's still not a great deal of resources available when it comes to investing advice.
So far, cryptocurrency communities have relied largely on sites like Reddit to discuss the often volatile market, the strength of a given currency, and what seem to be pump-and-dump schemes. Zillan, who offers private cryptocurrency investing services for $250 an hour, says his goal isn't necessarily to make money off of the company.
"My goal is to make the crypto community bigger," he said. "I want to see cryptocurrencies as the future."
Zillan is by no means the first to offer his skills as a cryptocurrency investment guru. Amid the palpable fervor of the digital gold rush, a slew of self-proclaimed "crypto geniuses" and "crypto experts" have emerged online, espousing promises of effortless wealth in an attempt to capitalize on their investing know-how.
Zillan says his expertise sets him apart from other cryptocurrency advisors on the market. While other advisors might resort to tricks or manipulation to profit off of unsuspecting clients, Zillan says his only motivation is to educate people.
"I'm not some guy off of Wall Street," he said. "There's no motive or reason for me to try to trick people."
But Zillan's rhetoric is slightly at odds with the image he's cultivated for himself online. Both his website and Instagram page capitalize on the "get rich quick" zeitgeist encapsulated by the cryptocurrency community. On his website, he describes himself as the "Crypto Millionaire," and he's often pictured in a tropical location or beside a flashy sports car (Zillan owns three luxury vehicles, which he says were purchased with a mixture of profits he made from cryptocurrencies, early-stage investments, and money from his parents who are both millionaires).
In one photo, Zillan smiles broadly beside a painting of himself in which he's depicted as the infamous Wall Street mogul Jordan Belfort in a scene from the movie "The Wolf of Wall Street."
"The Wolf of Crypto Street," the caption reads.
When asked why he's comparing himself to one of the most notoriously debauched Wall Street traders in recent memory, Zillan describes the images as "a marketing type of deal" that shouldn't be confused with the efficacy of his company.
"Sure, it's very flashy. Wolf of Wall Street was shitty penny stocks, but what we do is completely different," he said. "I just use that for marketing. What's going to catch your eye? Some words, or a picture of that?"
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