Tasmanian high school dropout’s Collective Shift crypto business idea makes $2m in a year
Despite leaving high school, the 22-year-old is making more money than most university graduates. Here’s how he did it.
A Tasmanian who dropped out of high school is now making $2 million a year in revenue from a lucrative business idea sparked by his interest in cryptocurrency.
Ben Simpson, now 22, grew up in the tiny country town of Smithton with a population of 3000 — which he joked has “more cattle than people”.
“School wasn’t really for me. I wasn’t the overly academic smart kid at school,” he told news.com.au. “I’ve learnt so much more from the hands-on side.”
When Mr Simpson was 17 he convinced his parents to let him quit school to pursue a sports apparel business.
He’d started the clothes line in 2015, after being handed $3000 by his local sporting team to source uniforms.
Sharing a room with his younger brother until the age of 18, he ran the sporting e-commerce store from his bunk bed and also an iPhone repair business.
But frustrated by the large sums of money he had to keep sending to overseas factories while having to pay hefty exchange rates and processing fees, he discovered cryptocurrency, where the transaction can happen instantly at no additional cost.
And so Mr Simpson started Collective Shift — a global news platform providing real time research analysis and market updates on cryptocurrency.
He now has more than 3500 members signed up as well as 25 full-time and part-time staff members working for him, despite the business being less than a year old.
Although it launched in October last year, Collective Shift has already turned over more than $2 million in revenue.
“The sportswear business introduced me to the world of bitcoin,” Mr Simpson recalled.
“We had these factories in China and Pakistan that we had to send tens of thousands of dollars (to) every week.
“Usually you go through a bank; they charge a fee of two to five per cent, they also charge an exchange rate and it also takes multiple days to arrive.
“I thought ‘surely this isn’t the best way to transact money’. That’s where I basically discovered bitcoin.
“Without the need for third party, you don’t need PayPal or a bank, (bitcoin) arrives instantly with no fees.”
Laughing, he added that he “tried to convince the factories to accept bitcoin” — but with no luck.
But now Mr Simpson’s curiosity was piqued so he knuckled down and looked into bitcoin as well as cryptocurrency more generally.
Mr Simpson’s relatively humble upbringing also fuelled his interest in cryptocurrency because of its potential for making big bucks.
With his mother going back to university to study and his dad working as a gardener, the family of five got by on “minimum wage” for most of Mr Simpson’s young life.
“I learnt the value of money. That’s why I guess bitcoin and crypto now resonated with me … The opportunity for investors to generate wealth is unbelievable.”
After looking into the crypto space for six months and going down many “rabbit holes” while he was at it, Mr Simpson eventually forked out 90 per cent of his savings and sunk it into bitcoin.
“I’m a bit of an all or nothing kind of guy,” he said.
“For the next kind of couple of years, any money I earned through the (clothing) businesses, I put into bitcoin.”
A few thousand dollars turned into a few hundred thousand thanks to “a few good investments”, according to the entrepreneur.
He was then able to use that cash to bootstrap Collective Shift.
Setting up the head office in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick, he found himself flying between Tasmania and Victoria a lot, prompting his decision to move to the Garden State for good at the beginning of last year.
He was then hit with the original March lockdown, followed by Melbourne’s subsequent 112-day lockdown following a second wave of Covid-19.
“Basically I loved building Collective Shift, there was nothing else to do, I did that for seven days a week. In a way Covid was kind of like the thing that really honed my focus,” he said.
In October last year, when the four-month lockdown ended, Mr Simpson launched “a scrappy product” that “barely worked” which kicked off Collective Shift.
But after ironing out the creases, the platform took off.
Collective Shift has more than 3500 active users across 40+ countries predominantly in Australia, the US, UK and New Zealand.
The company is profitable on a subscription business model, with a fee of $99 a month or a higher tier of $199 a month for its services which include a member community and live market analysis.
People can sign up to a monthly, quarterly or yearly plan.
He also has a free knowledge centre which has how-to guides, step by step tips and “the basics” for someone looking to invest in cryptocurrency. To date, 100,000 unique visitors have used these free resources.
“I wanted to build a platform to decode crypto, simplify it as much as possible for the everyday person to understand,” Mr Simpson explained.
“That was the core thesis. Unless you don’t have a job, it’s next to impossible for an individual to do it themselves.”
Mr Simpson has hired 10 full-time researchers who are “scattered around the world” including in Melbourne, Sydney, California and London.
“Crypto trade is not like the stock market, it’s 24/7,” Mr Simpson said as an explanation for why he has a focus on international hires for his workforce.
He also has 15 part-timers and contractors who are either crypto researchers or work on the development side.
“I want to try to educate more people, drive other people to learn the opportunities in crypto. If I can do it from little old Tassie, anyone can do it,” he said.
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