View the transcription[¹] of the interview on clak.me
This week we had the pleasure of chatting with Vitaly Tennant, an entrepreneur and crypto-expert who talked us through his careers in consulting, investment, business and technology. With content reaching audiences of up to 1.8 million, his brand is established at the forefront of rapidly growing industries. In spearheading businesses of the future, he gives us a valuable insight into what innovations we can expect, and the impact they’ll make on an ever-changing world.
Vitaly is currently focused on his brand, VITALIZE, which provides cutting-edge products for health and self-improvement, and hosts a wealth of resources and tools for budding entrepreneurs via his personal website VitalyTennant.com. He’s excited by innovation, and hopes to see technologies of the future made more accessible, working as a positive force across the world.
So, Vitaly, you’re obviously an expert in Crypto and the online space. How did you first become interested in these types of business?
Well, I’d say I grew up with quite a technical background. When I was 3, maybe 4, I’d wander around using spare change to play arcade games – not long after I could walk, you know. And then when I moved to the US, aged 10, I went to technical summer schools. I spent a lot of my childhood putting things together and experimenting, and it seemed like the most natural thing (even aged 13) to make a website on Notepad. It was for e-commerce, and I was gradually figuring out how to make html skeletons and upload them onto the FTP, and then… boom – website uploaded! It was great.
Eventually I branched out as a phone technician too, working in blazing heat, anywhere between 800 and 1200-degrees Fahrenheit in your face, assembling these tiny, intricate main boards. After 5 years of that it was pretty obvious that I liked putting things together, and that I could do tech. So, putting together a business using tech? Pretty perfect!
As for crypto, I’ve been on Coinbase since 2012. It was something I’d heard of before, but that was my first contact with it – kicking off what’s now 10 years of experience. Since then, I’ve been able to see how the concept, currency, and reception to it have grown, and now that it’s big and Coinbase debit cards have been introduced it feels so established… Imagine having waited a decade for those debit cards!
Could you tell us a little about your philosophy when it comes to entrepreneurialism, and how you reached that philosophy?
Yeah, of course. The key to being an entrepreneur is to replace ‘can’t’ with ‘how?’ Always ‘how?’ It’s the most important word for any entrepreneur, and the centrepiece of my mindset.
When I made that first website at 13, it was pretty inconceivable to most people. This was in 1995, so my family didn’t really know what the internet was, and my teachers weren’t too switched onto it either. It was hard for them to encourage my passion when they didn’t understand it. Nobody told me, ‘Keep going, don’t give up!’ because they had no idea what I was even trying.
So, ‘school, good grades, good job’ became my trajectory. I ran with that so it could prop up my real passion, which I think felt foreign to everyone else for quite a long time.
Because of that lack of support, I got used to hearing a lot of ‘no’s’ from the beginning. I knew I’d be knocked down as an entrepreneur and would have to pick myself back up. I began to work selling things door to door, to test my skills, and found I was growing this real taste for business, and gaining a lot of independence and resilience.
Eventually I figured, ‘I’m knocking on people’s doors for this business, but we’re all sharing the same landscape on the internet – that’s the door to be using, right there!’ So, I lit that door up all nice and colourful, and made my first little business a lot more accessible than it had ever been before. I think it taught me to learn from what’s difficult, and to change what doesn’t work, and that however low things can seem, it just a matter of focusing on the ‘How.’ It might seem invisible, but it’s always there.
What do you find most exciting about the business you’re in?
Hmm – well…
Have you heard of the VMFA, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts? A little while back Richard Branson had hired it out as a venue for an afterparty, and me and another were running the event. We were there, surrounded by all this talk of space travel and progressive technology, (with Richard Branson wandering around somewhere!), and that really brought home the huge potential that entrepreneurship has for making change. It felt like these people were spearheading the businesses of the future.
I was already excited about my work, but yeah – that took it to a whole new level! And now, being in crypto, I see how tied in it is with exploration and decentralisation. It’s a real fun, interesting space to work in.
That being said, 50% of the global population isn’t even on the internet. It’s easy to forget that, and here we are talking about crypto and blockchains. 3 billion people don’t even have banks, and just because someone has a smartphone doesn’t mean they’re smarter, you know? People’s situations are incredibly different, and I think an understanding of new technologies comes with a responsibility to help, and to educate. Maybe one day that’ll make a difference to people’s lives in ways it hasn’t done before.
So how do you spend your time these days? What’s your focus when it comes to business?
I’m working on VITALIZE, a product-based company, in Georgia. We’re currently focused on health supplements, with a warehouse filled with creatine, glutamine, protein and energy drinks; all sorts of goods that contribute to personal improvement and health.
My interest in that market goes back a bit, to when I used to sell Ganoderma extract for its dermatological benefits. You know the skin is our biggest organ? Pretty cool. And from working in that environment, I realised how capable we are of helping ourselves. I’d say that’s where VITALIZE directs itself; at new, reliable, and exciting ways to maintain wellness. To look after yourself.
As for VitalyTennant.com, that’s more about the wellness of your business. It’s about looking after your product and your ideas.
I work on the basis that my 24 hours should be as valuable to me as possible, and since my work is my passion, that’s where my time goes. We all live with that same 24 hours as our currency, and it’s up to us how we spend them. For entrepreneurs though, who want to give that time as much personal worth as possible, it can be a real burnout. It can be hard to balance the hours, you know? Essentially, VitalyTennant.com is directed at those people; to offer tools and inspiration, to keep up motivation, to provide a platform where they can share their work and connect with people. It’s to take off the burden and remind people that their projects are worthwhile, which can sometimes be pretty easy to forget. A whole other section of the site is also dedicated to crypto, with crypto circles that offer access to various portals.
You have a pretty impressive following. How did you build up your audience?
First and foremost, it’s events. There was a point when I’d built up 400,000 hits by blog, and 60K followers on twitter – mostly through network marketing. I’d worked with companies, gone through various enterprises, and was ready expand my ventures, when – well, I got offered an award for work with well-established companies! Next thing I knew, I was heading to Mandalay Bay Arena to an event attended by 1000s of distributors… that obviously helped bolster my following, but the whole process taught me that relationships aren’t built in a day. They’re built daily. It’s something that you can’t stop working on, and something that grows with you – with every step you take.
I like the analogy that every person’s life is a book, and that we’re each writing our own chapters. There’ll be endless times when someone enters your story, with theirs being written adjacently. Every story will be written in a different way, with a different background, and might be at a different flow to yours, but that’s all the better to learn from; it’s always a story worth listening to. That’s key as well: conversation in any form will build connections.
It’s great to see that my following has grown, and it’s something I really proud of. I work a lot, but I don’t think I do it for money – I do it for acceptance. I want to know that my passion is worth sharing, and that someone will find the worth in it, and I guess a following is evidence of that. Obviously, it doesn’t come without its trials, though. I’ve had my passion bumped out of my hands a thousand times, again and again and again, but it all ties into the story. To be an entrepreneur is to invest in that story; to commit your time, to pick up your project, dust it off, and keep going. For me, acceptance is – after all of that – the point I wanted to reach. So yeah, I feel proud and grateful at the same time.
How do you go about supporting other entrepreneurs?
So, a lot of people reach out to me with business ideas, and then the service I offer comes in two forms. Firstly, to work through those ideas, to give advice and technique, and secondly, to link my clients with other contacts. For a conversation to happen – especially with the right person – can make all the difference.
I also invest, sometimes. Obviously, the market being how it is, everyone has had their ups and downs. But when I have an up, it really excites me to invest in something worthwhile. It’s great to do that and see a project sky-rocket. It’s a great thing to be involved in a story like that, because you’ve shared in someone else’s passion and seen it work out for them.
Could you give an example of how your service has impacted someone’s company?
Yeah! I don’t like to boast, so this story doesn’t come up a lot, but there was one individual who contacted me pretty out of the blue, a long while after we’d worked together.
It started out when I was doing a presentation for a company called Organo, who are pretty massive now – they’ve turned over $2 billion in the last 4 years! I had to head to this individual’s house, helping them work through and sample some organic goods, and we talked a lot – about business, opportunities, all that, you know? It was all pretty good – done deal, I headed home, and I didn’t hear from them for a while.
All of a sudden, after 3 years, they contacted me again. It was great to hear from them and to talk through their work, to hear they were happy, healthy, living in Vegas. Just that little time we spent working together must’ve helped something to click for them, because we were talking about collaborating on a project, when they said, ‘I have to say thank you. I’m a millionaire now, and that’s because of you.’
Like I said, money aside, that was a jaw-dropping moment for me. It really hit me, that I’d contributed to this person’s journey, and that they’d reached the point they wanted to reach. It was unbelievably powerful. It actually reminds me of another analogy… you know the phrase, ‘If you give someone a fish, you feed them for a day. If you teach them to fish, you feed them for a lifetime.’ That’s how I try to see my work. I just felt proud to have opened a door for someone, and to see them go through it and make something they were so content with.
Last question… Could you give a fun fact about you? What’s something you like to do outside of work?
Ooh, yeah – I love an active, athletic lifestyle! My friend took me water-skiing recently, and to be honest, I’m no pro. I’m more of a snow-skier (if you want to call it that!), so obviously I completely wiped-out. Huge, huge, huge wipe-out. I spent the whole day crashing into the water and came out battered, but I still had the best time. I just love a thrill, which athleticism gives. I wouldn’t have changed a second of it.
I also enjoy video games – something intense that keeps you on your toes. Give me an MMO, an FPS – Tom Clancy’s the Division – all sorts really, I couldn’t choose. I find it fun, but also interesting. It’s a great platform for exploring VR and augmented reality, which are obviously things I’m interested in, so it helps to gauge what we could be seeing in the future, and how technology can tie new experiences together. I find that really exciting! I always have. I just can’t wait to see what the future brings.
You can find Vitaly on his website here.