Barely a year has passed since cryptoinvestment company STAX first catapulted onto the market and now, things are only accelerating for the trailblazing organisation. CEO Kenny Lee admits that while it’s been a crazy and chaotic year for the business, he’s loved every minute. “It’s been like getting on a roller-coaster without being buckled in,” he laughs.
“You’re hanging on for dear life, but enjoying the whole ride – it’s exhilarating.” The first of its kind, STAX calls itself a “techpowered platform for growing companies and hungry investors”, as well as a trading exchange and growth consultancy business.
The groundbreaking idea first occurred to Kenny, a lawyer by trade who was working as a partner at Agile Legal Consulting, more than two years ago. “As a lawyer, I did a lot of advisory for clients in the crypto and blockchain space,” he tells The CEO Magazine.
“I was chatting with an overseas client one day and they asked me what I thought the next big thing would be in relation to blockchain. I said it would be a platform that people could use to trade and buy real-world assets using crypto. The deck has always been stacked in favour of big investment firms and venture capitalists. Using new technology, we could enable investors, wherever they were in the world, to have the same opportunities.”
Unsurprisingly, STAX hit the ground running and developed at a rapid rate – with an everexpanding portfolio of clients coming to recognise the vast benefits of crypto investments. “You’re not just limited to the Australian capital markets anymore, so it’s a much wider audience,” Kenny explains.
“What that means is you can receive money from people overseas who are interested in your project. We’re breaking down that barrier and opening the door for people to take part in an investment opportunity that they normally wouldn’t be able to. With this model, we can drive a lot of investment from overseas into Australia, and really help businesses here expand and leverage on international money to grow.”
A prime example of this is STAX helping to secure the first crypto-funded initial public offering in Australian history late last year. Kenny reveals that 89% of the total funds raised were in crypto and that regulatory approval for this kind of capital raise will now pave the way for more Australian companies to access a new investor and asset class.
While the first year has been an overwhelming success, Kenny credits the drive, determination and expertise of his team for getting STAX to where it now is.
He says he eschews an overly authoritative leadership approach, instead favouring an open-door policy, transparency and trust, and has worked hard to cultivate a company-wide culture that reflects the core values at the heart of the organisation.
“The product has never been done before,” he says. “So it’s kind of like building a car for the first time. I always knew that we could make it happen, so I wasn’t afraid. But if I think back to a few years ago, I couldn’t have imagined how big the beast would be now. It’s been an eye-opener of a journey – you don’t learn this in university! However, the chief wins are only as strong as the team that made it happen. It’s been building the team here that I’ve been most proud of. Everyone has good ideas and opinions, and we’re a family – so it’s important to listen.”
While he acknowledges his legal background as having contributed to his success, Kenny also has his father to thank for teaching him a thing or two about being an entrepreneur. “Growing up and seeing how my dad ran his business taught me a lot,” he recalls.
“He ran a hardware shop in Malaysia, and I followed him to work from when I was eight years old – I was there every weekend too. I learned a lot from that – about dealing with people, leading a team.” A problem-solver through and through, Kenny admits that a major part of his passion stems from “finding solutions for challenges”.
“That’s always been a massive driver for me,” he enthuses. “Doing something you’re passionate about automatically gives you energy; that way it’s not work anymore. At the same time, tenacity is vital. Nothing easy is worth doing.”
From here, the sky is truly the limit for STAX, as the world continues to realise the significance of this kind of technology and all that it can achieve on a hugely broad spectrum.
“Our story is just beginning,” Kenny smiles. “Every time I do something, I ask myself, ‘Is there a legacy to this? Are we doing something that makes a difference?’ I see STAX as something that can solve a number of inherent problems that have been around for many, many years now through the use of technology – that’s what I’m really excited about.”