It might seem you’ve missed the boat on blockchain technology. Bitcoin is over a decade old and spawned a cryptocurrency industry now worth hundreds of billions of dollars. It might seem you’re a few years late, because you weren’t there to scoop up ETH for less than $1 during its ICO in 2014, because you weren’t there during the crypto bull run in 2017, because you still weren’t there when Bitcoin regained some of its ground early 2019.
But nothing could be further from the truth. Blockchain technology is still in its infancy. There is still an abundance of opportunity to earn top dollar investing in credible blockchain projects, and it doesn’t necessarily require a huge amount of capital upfront. It’s risky, sure, but that’s why the returns are so high. The people who are making a living investing in cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) recognize the opportunity in this industry and take action on it.
Making a Living Online
Mateen Soudagar (Matty) is one such example. Matty is an investor in Decentraland. He has made over $60,000 flipping digital land and now owns a sizeable portfolio of land in Decentraland. He’s the creator of DCLBlogger.com, the biggest and best blog on investment opportunities in Decentraland, with a Youtube channel with over a hundred videos that explain the intricacies of investing in Decentraland and, more broadly, of investing in NFTs.
We sat down with Matty to talk about his journey to becoming one of the best-known investors in Decentraland. We went all the way back to almost a decade ago, when he graduated as an engineer in Australia. After a two-year graduate work program, he realized that the corporate world wasn’t his cup of tea. He quit cold turkey and did what millions of people do when they’re fed up with working for the man: he googled “how to make money online”. The year was 2012.
This is an important realization, because it shows that almost everyone starts at ground level. You’ll only be successful if you take action based on an educated guess. That’s what Matty did. He learned about online marketing, blogging, Facebook ads, Google Adwords, and how to drive traffic to his Shopify store. After a year of ups and downs, of late nights and coffee marathons, this started earning Matty enough money to live on.
For the following few years, this was Matty’s focus. It was the golden age of dropshipping and custom merchandising, and ridiculously cheap Facebook ads that could reach thousands of people.
“I was paying less than a cent a click in European countries and sometimes less than a couple of cents in Australia and even America. It was insane.”
This doesn’t mean it was easy. Matty had to test thousands of products and advertise it to many different audiences before a product would stick and become the one that would bring in the money for a few weeks. It required continuous product sourcing, continuous A/B testing, and continuous advertising to find the next golden goose.
Back to Employment?
Matty realized he couldn’t keep doing this forever. It wasn’t a stable source of income; he could have a month of $50,000 followed by three months of $0. The relentless nature of it all was starting to take its toll. Additionally, around the same time, he got married.
Suddenly, no longer would a risky decision impact only himself. He wanted to build a future with his partner and required more stability than he had at the time. For a year and a half, he worked a full-time job that produced a steady income.
But the urge for entrepreneurship quickly returned. If you’ve tasted what’s possible, a steady income will quickly make you feel limited, as if you’re a bird looking at the sky through the bars of its cage.
“You trade off the stability for the entrepreneur lifestyle of instability, but the opportunity is that the harder you work and the better you are, the more you’re going to make. Going to work after four, five years of being successful sometimes and obviously unsuccessful definitely didn’t make work sound like where I wanted to be. I ended up quitting again.”
First Steps into Crypto
Right when he started working full-time, Matty set up an account at one of the few cryptocurrency exchanges in Australia. The year was 2017. At first, cautiously, he diversified and put a few hundred dollars into all of the cryptocurrencies available on the exchange.
“All I saw were all these cool coins going up and down 10-15% a day and I thought ‘wow, this is a lot of fluctuation. I want to be a part of this.’”
At the time, NEO (still called Antshares then) was receiving plenty of hype on Reddit. Matty decided to consolidate a chunk of his investment so he could buy NEO, which he did when it was ranging between 5-10 dollars. His portfolio went to six figures during the wild December month of 2017, after which it all came crashing down in January 2018.
Only then did Decentraland catch his attention. Think about that. January 2018 isn’t that long ago. The blockchain industry moves so fast that even a few months can make plenty of difference when it comes to a great return on your investment. It’s another reason not to hesitate for too long before you take action.
Nowadays, Matty’s portfolio is quite diversified, despite his nature of going all-in on a single project or investment. This is because you can’t know what’s going to happen during what he calls “this premature stage of crypto.” Some coins might go to zero, while others might give you a triple-digit return on your investment that easily makes up for your losses. Additionally, he sticks to the coins that are top 10-20 in market cap and have a vibrant community around them.
Virtual Land? That Sounds Interesting
With his portfolio tumbling down in value, Matty was looking for ways to diversify, and Decentraland’s virtual land was the perfect asset class for it. It was a few weeks after Decentraland’s first land auction. People had bought parcels of land for almost no money. However, the same people had seen the crypto bear market and wanted to sell their land quickly for a good profit.
But the marketplace for selling virtual land on Decentraland hadn’t been built yet. Sellers had to manually transfer their land to a buyer and the buyer then had to manually transfer their currency to the seller. There was no mechanism in place yet. It was incredibly risky, and Matty smelled opportunity.
In the very early stages of any new technology, there will be many hurdles to jump, both technically and in terms of risk. Matty believes that these are indicators of great opportunities to make money. If you’re willing to go all the way, you open yourself up to an ocean of opportunity with very few competitors.
“Not many buyers were willing to sell over-the-counter, but sellers needed to cash out. Me and maybe a couple of others were the only form of liquidity.”
Through Discord, Telegram, and Reddit, Matty found sellers willing to sell their land for 2x / 3x the price they’d bought it for. Because no one knew the real value of digital land at the time, there was always room for negotiation too, particularly if the seller really wanted to sell.
Although he’d originally bought a few parcels of land with the intention to invest, Matty quickly realized he could make a sizeable profit buying and selling his parcels, rapidly increasing his amount of MANA (Decentraland’s cryptocurrency) and increasing his overall cryptocurrency portfolio. Ever since his entry into Decentraland a year and a half ago, he’s done over a hundred over-the-counter land deals. And he’s never been scammed once.
“You would think there’d be a scammer in the midst, but I honestly have not been scammed once.”
This is a testament to Matty’s due diligence on the buyers and sellers he’s dealt with and to the Decentraland community itself. The chances of scams are slim, particularly if you’re dealing with a well-known community member.
Opportunity in Decentraland
Nowadays, a piece of land in Decentraland will set you back thousands of dollars, if not tens of thousands. Buying land seems to have become something exclusively possible for someone who has at least a few thousand dollars to spare.
However, you’d be wrong to think there’s no more opportunity in Decentraland for smaller investors. It’s just that the opportunity has moved. Landowners like Matty, who often have hundreds of parcels of land, want to see the project succeed. And of course they would, because it would increase the value of their land.
As such, these landowners rent out their land either for free or for a very cheap rate, to people who can add value to their land. A developer or a designer who can create buildings or artwork on their land, for example. Once content starts becoming a focus for Decentraland (which should happen within the next few months) these opportunities will become increasingly prominent.
What such an opportunity will look like specifically is hard to say. It will depend on the terms you negotiate with the owner of the land. You might negotiate a 20% cut of the appreciation of their land if you build something on it. You might build a revenue-generating service on their land and give the owner a 20% cut. The only thing that’s known is that there’s profit to be made.
“Once development and content becomes a focus [...] there will be a different ecosystem. It’s not going to be about buying and selling, but about developing and hopefully monetizing your creations.”
Additionally, while Decentraland has marketed itself as a virtual reality platform, its founder Ari Meilich has been quoted as saying that virtual reality has been pushed further down the roadmap, because they want to make Decentraland as accessible as possible. Virtual reality just doesn’t have a large enough userbase yet to make it the only way to access Decentraland. Instead, it will be one way to access the game, but definitely not the only one.
His Biggest Mistake
Matty regrets missing out on opportunities when he was still working full-time. Additionally, when he first started out flipping land, he’d agree to a deal with his counterparty, but wait to execute on the deal because it was already late in Australia (sellers were often from Europe or the US). When he woke up the next day, the deal was gone.
But his biggest mistake, the one that still stings the most, happened when he made a typo and accidentally sold a parcel of land for 189 MANA instead of 189,000 MANA. Luckily, the guy who bought the parcel was nice enough to still send Matty 75,000 MANA (another testament to Decentraland’s wonderful community) but even 75K was a bargain for that parcel of land. To this day, it’s the cheapest parcel of land ever sold on Decentraland.
Overall, however, Matty considers his mistakes as learning experiences. Inevitably, in the beginning, you’ll do things imperfectly, and it might cost you some money. But you never act on perfect information. There will always be a learning process. Don’t look at your initial steps as mistakes, but as steps on a ladder toward the mastery of a process.
The Future is Exciting
The blockchain industry is notoriously volatile. Projects come as rapidly as they go. It’s nigh impossible to predict what’ll be the next big thing. Matty isn’t worried. The ability to track down sellers and buyers online, to negotiate for a better deal, to maybe have someone to translate between you and your counterparty, etc… are all skills that will come in handy wherever he goes.
“I’m excited for decentralized marketplaces in the NFT world [...]. It’s just learning the skills right now. Whatever skills you’ll learn, you’ll take them to the next opportunity.”
As we said at the beginning of this article, it’s early days. Blockchain technology is only just getting started. There are opportunities to build a digital portfolio everywhere you look. There’s money to be made. All it takes is action.
We will be be hosting a special AMA with Matty where you will get the opportunity to win a piece of LAND in Decentraland and a unique Decentraland Blockchain Cutie.
Please visit here for full details.