Antonio Juliano has already raised tens of millions of dollars for his tech startup that is forging the future of finance.
On the Dealmakers Podcast Juliano talked about the pros and cons of working for a startup before launching your own, the importance and difference timing makes, fundraising, crypto and finance, and how what you’re motivated by makes a massive difference.
Listen to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here.
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The Pros & Cons Of Working For Other Startups Before Launching Your Own
Antonio Juliano grew up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, as the oldest of four siblings. After going through private school for K through 12, he headed off to Princeton University in NJ.
From an early age he loved computers and video games. Ninth grade brought real computer science classes, before majoring in computer science in college.
His father had been an entrepreneur. Which for Antonio set a high bar for achievements. That inspired him to start a company of his own. At least at the time, Princeton didn’t have a big culture of entrepreneurship. His classmates were going off to work at big companies like Goldman Sachs.
So, he saw the best path forward as moving out to San Fran and going to work inside another startup to see how it is done.
He applied to 20 or so companies, and was really struck with how Coinbase did things in the recruiting process. They offered a week work trial right off the bat. So, he skipped school and flew out to try it out. There he found the company full of amazing people.
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Working At Coinbase
At the time, Coinbase was still relatively small. Just around 100 people, verses more than 4,000 today.
Antonio credits a lot of their success to the efforts they made in building the company culture and team. They would have lots of team events. Have offsites, go up to the lake, and just spend time getting to know each other for the week.
That included getting to know the founders very well. Which in turn meant they were first in line to help fund his own venture when he eventually went out on his own.
They also gave him a lot of autonomy while he was there. Which meant he had a lot of freedom to run with the ball on all kinds of things. From product management to launching in new countries, and working on bank integrations. All great ways to learn from others, so you don’t have to figure it all out yourself when you launch your own startup.
However, there can also be cons you should be aware of when going to work for other startups on the path to becoming an entrepreneur. One big one being that young startups often don’t pay much of a salary. With most of the compensation being in equity, which takes time to mature, vest, and be cashed in.
Stint At Uber
Juliano says he set the goal of having enough money to be able to run with an idea of his own for a year.
So next he joined a larger startup. Which was Uber, which had around 1,000 people at the time he joined them. However, he quickly found he wasn’t a fan of that bigger corporate environment. He didn’t like being managed, or just being a cog in a machine.
One day on the bike ride into work he just decided it was the day to quit. He gave his two weeks notice when he arrived at the office. Then struck out to find an idea of his own.
Getting The Timing Right
Timing can really work for you or against you as an entrepreneur. It is probably most responsible for what people often refer to as ‘luck’. Being too early or too late can make things more challenging. While riding waves at the right time can create massive successes.
Antonio knew that he wanted to do something in tech. He looked at crypto, options to build on top of ethereum, and what value could be created around this space.
Five years ago the whole crypto and blockchain space was still very new to most people. He began building. First a search engine for decentralized apps. There just weren’t enough of them. It didn’t take off. After five months he decided it was time to move onto something else. Which still gave him a good six months according to his plan.
Next he began talking to the experts he knew. Including in the finance space. What he realized was that while there were a few emerging crypto exchanges, most of the transactions being done in finance in general were around derivatives.
Decentralizing The Derivatives Market
That’s when Antonio saw the opportunity to bring together what was being made possible in decentralized finance, with the massive derivatives market.
His startup is already facilitating a billion dollars in these transactions per day, and he says they are barely beginning to see the tip of the iceberg. Consider that decentralized exchanges make up about 5 to 10 percent of the market right now. Just a small part of the derivatives market.
Looking forward, his startup, dYdX aims to become the largest decentralized exchange in this space. In a world where Defi is the norm.
Storytelling is everything which is something that Antonio Juliano was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here), where the most critical slides are highlighted.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- Thinking long term when building your startup
- How your motivation impacts how you build your company
- The size of the derivatives, crypto, and decentralized finance market
- How he raised $87M for his startup