Fran Strajnar was born in what was a politically deteriorating Croatia in 1986, moved with his family to the refuge of Holland at age 4, settled in New Zealand at 7 when his father landed a job there, and has since traveled much of the world pursuing an array of business interests that by anyone’s measure is remarkable for someone a mere 28 years old. So when he says about the founding of his new cryptocurrency venture, BraveNewCoin, “This isn’t my first rodeo,” one catches but a glimpse of the international scope and experience that is reflected in the peculiarly American phrase.
Strajnar has started five companies by his count and has worked for a couple of others, including the international conglomerates Vodafone and IDG. But he suggests working for others is no longer an option for him.
“I struggled as an employee,” he acknowledges, “just as I struggled in school. It’s not that work and school were difficult, but I just wanted to do things rather than learn about doing. I’d rather have my own employees be the same way—I told my operations manager to start his own company and charge me a fee every month. I like to challenge people.”
BraveNewCoin has provided challenge aplenty for Strajnar and his independent- minded band of crypto-entrepreneurs under his corporate umbrella of Techemy Ltd. With BraveNewCoin, he has set out to do nothing less than become the go-to source for Bitcoin pricing worldwide, a service he was surprised didn’t exist when he dove seriously into the Bitcoin space following its price run-up late in 2013.
“A friend had introduced me to Bitcoin in 2011 and told me it was going to change the world,” he says. “So I did some mining and then up and forgot about it. Then the price went from $1 to $1,200 in 2013, and I suddenly had a pretty hefty sum sitting in my wallet that got my attention.
“I quickly realized this was an emerging market, and the most important thing about an emerging market is price discovery, which is a business term for, ‘What is it worth?’ I found no one could really agree—prices on the different exchanges varied quite a bit. I decided I could provide that service. So we went full speed ahead to develop a rigorous methodology that would determine a global average price that everyone can use as a benchmark— as when the world agrees on the price of oil.”
Strajnar freely admits he has yet to roll out plans to monetize his cryptocurrency pricing service, which is now available to all comers on his website. Easy-to-read charts show regularly updated prices for Bitcoin and some 200 competing alt-currencies. Not that he’s concerned about monetization.
“We have a monetization plan but it’s not critical now,” he says. “I’ve still got my mining operation and other businesses that are still profitable. We also just recently rolled out Bitcoin ATMs in New Zealand—an idea whose time has come. Then there’s New Zealand’s first ever Cryptocurrency Conference in November, which I’m putting together through one of my other companies—FAST Interactive. There’s always a lot going on, but I know how to get things done. And I have a great team with me. A great team with even an average idea will always beat a great idea with an average team. Not that BraveNewCoin is an average idea.”
Nor is it an average (or expected) name for a new currency venture, recalling as it does Aldous Huxley’s dark 1931 novel, Brave New World, which depicted a future of ruthless oppression and mind control. “The idea was to change the meme of totalitarianism that is evoked when thinking about a brave new world to a positive, freeing image,” Strajnar muses. (Memes are cultural ideas conveyed much like a virus from mind to mind.) “It was my own bit of linguistic alchemy.”
So there you have it: an alchemist, mixing practical tools of team effort and can-do business acumen with the magic of ancient alchemists who knew the secrets of turning common base metals into gold.
Sounds like just the kind of fellow who can wrestle a thousand different Bitcoin price quotes into a coherent whole.