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Trader Story: Crypto Investor, Trader, who started with Crypto at 19 – Pranav Bastawade

Crypto Investor and accomplished trader, 23-year old Pranav Bastawade started crypto trading fairly early in his life. Pranav is now a full time trader and boasts both heavy profits, and a long term vision for crypto that’s sure to help the community at large.

In our Trader Story segment we cover lives of people who got into crypto early, tasted huge profits, survived the bear markets and are still working towards strengthening the Crypto ecosystem. Cryptoassets are one of the most volatile, high risk – huge return type of investment and no one should invest without doing adequate research. This post is not meant to be financial advice or encouragement to invest in Crypto assets.

Pranav Bastawade


Interview With Pranav Bastawade

We caught up with Pranav for a brief chat and were an eager audience to the narration of his crypto journey, advice for traders, and insights on the future of the cryptocurrency industry. The following answers by Pranav are paraphrased for editorial quality.

Hi Pranav, thank you for joining us. Please tell us about your crypto trading journey so far, how did you begin? 

I started in late 2016 as a 19 year old. I found an article about cryptocurrencies in the Economic Times. There weren’t many exchanges in India around that time – only Zepay, if I recall correctly. So I used a foreign exchange to buy BTC via my debit card. It was about Rs 13000-14000, so about 200 USD that I started with. And now I’m nearly four years into it. This was my first investment. Then I started investment with the intention to trade regularly and book profits.

So tell us about your first few trades? How did they unfold? 

My first trade was Ethereum, which was trading around 8-10 USD. It was the second biggest coin after Bitcoin, so all of my capital went into it. In the next couple of months, it went to 90 USD. Around Mar 2017, it seemed like it was almost doubling every few days. I sold and then bought into Ripple (XRP) at around 0.004 cents with all my capital. By May 2017, XRP was at 40 cents, so I had a gain of 100x. I then sold XRP in Dec 2017 when it touched 3 USD, making a return of about 36,000%. Since 2018 when the bear market started, I was introduced to Bitmex where I’ve engaged in margin trading and shorting. Since the end of 2017, I’ve been a full time crypto trader.

Many folks blindly follow crypto influencer accounts on social media. At the end of the day, if something goes wrong – no one is responsible except for you yourself.

Any reason you didn’t pick Bitcoin in 2016? 

I did extensive research into Ethereum before I dove into the market. This involved everything from the team behind it, to its purpose and its future potential. It took nearly a month. Once I was sure, I also saw that Microsoft was getting involved in the Ethereum alliance, which was encouraging. So I took the risk with Ethereum, knowing it could do better than Bitcoin. Bitcoin had its share of issues – with the Lightning Network controversies, Blockstream’s involvement etc. Ethereum was promoted by Vitalik Buterin and a committed team and that was encouraging.

What’s your advice to others who’d like to start off like you did?

Do your research. What I have seen is that many folks blindly follow crypto influencer accounts on social media. At the end of the day, if something goes wrong – no one is responsible for it except you. There are many in the industry who are helpful, and it’s important to discern those from the rest of the crowd.

Anyone in particular who you’d recommend following?

There’s Naimish (founder, Coin Crunch), of course, who I follow. Then there’s WazirX’s Nischal Shetty. In India, I trust only these two at the moment. Outside India, I follow Vitalik Buterin, and Justin Sun primarily for his marketing prowess. I also follow Adam Back – I personally think he is Satoshi, actually. But then there’s Nick Szabo too. 

Crypto enthusiasts would have much to learn from these folks. But what about those who are skeptical about cryptocurrencies as a concept?

For those who are skeptical, I’d recommend talking with known folks in your circle, if there are any. Look at the outlook, and what they have to say. Plus there’s always the internet, where you can learn quite a lot. Get help from those already existing in the market. People need to first understand concepts like the blockchain, and once you understand the basics of it, you can make a decision on your own. 

Pranav Bastawade

We need tools that allow you to trade for fun. There are no exchanges in India that offer simulated trading experiences. We need this, so people can learn with practice before trading with real money. 

What would you call the biggest factors of your success?

The number one factor, by far has been research. No doubt. The second has been charting, for my trades. Now Bitcoin can be difficult to chart because of its volatility, and the nature of its 24×7 market. This market is very unforgiving, and if you enter without research, you will lose a lot of money, no doubt about that.

Doesn’t that discourage people from joining the crypto market?

Yes, which is why we need tools and websites that allow you to trade for fun. There are no exchanges in India that offer simulated trading experiences. We need this, so people can learn with practice before trading with real money. 

Now, your research would’ve helped you pick your coins – Ethereum and Ripple, and others. But did you do any research that suggested you should hold your coins? Because when people make ridiculously high returns in such a short time, many are naturally tempted to sell and book profits. What kept you in the game?

I did make that mistake. When I bought Ethereum at $8, I sold it at $16 after it got there in a week, feeling quite happy with myself for making 100% in a week, which isn’t possible in other markets. But Ethereum continued to have good press coverage, with lots of institutional interest. And I re-entered at $14, and held. Even with XRP, which was solving a crucial problem in the banking sector – I decided to hold.

How do you measure a successful trade? 

I maintain a strict 2% stop loss on an intra-day trade. If it’s triggered, I certainly exit and don’t trade for the rest of the day, even if the market recovers. Typically, my daily profit hovers around 6-7%. With margin trading, I trade 10x of my Bitmex capital. Of course, this is risky though, since there’s the risk of liquidation there. It’s all these measures that have helped. 

“I sleep at 6AM, because the majority of trading happens at night time”

And all of this was self-taught?

Yes, all of it was on-the-go. I went by tutorials. There are plenty on YouTube and Google for everyone. Soon I dropped out of college and got into crypto full time. It was risky, but I’m very transparent with myself. It’s important to own up to bad decisions, and even bad trades and move on.

Speaking about bad trades, what about your unsuccessful moments? How frequent are your bad trades?

Typically, I get 8 out of 10 trades right, where I target 6%. And these take 1-2 days to close. And I stick to Bitcoin and Ethereum because of their volumes. No other coins.

What’s your broader trading routine like?

I sleep at 6AM, because the majority of trading happens at night time in my time zone. Since China banned crypto, there’s not a lot of movement from there, so this is dominated by the West now, and most movement occurs late at night. It’s been a routine now for almost 3 years, where I use my iPad for all of my trading.

With your experience and research, you wouldn’t have fallen for a ponzi scheme, right?

So a couple of folks approached me with Bitconnect. To be honest though, it was obvious I should avoid them, because they promised 10% returns per month. But I know a lot of people in India, including my friends, who are now facing significant losses in such schemes.

There was another ponzi scheme in Pune that involved Bitcoin mining. That too, lasted a few months before the person exit scammed.

The market hasn’t matured, these schemes still happen?

So older folks in the market are wise to such pitches. But as new people join the market, they often fall for such schemes and greed takes over. Again, like I said, it’s important to research thoroughly before any decision. 

It’s all about the research at the end of the day..

Correct. If you read up on the project, know the team, and what they’re working on, you’re in a much better position and are unlikely to make mistakes.

Pranav Bastawade with his car purchased from Crypto Profits

Do you think we’ll see the growth and volatility of the pre-2018 era again? Or has the market evolved and matured and will now move much slower?

I feel it all comes down to the launch of CME Futures. People were very excited in 2017, when they realised that Wall Street money was coming in. What many missed was that now Bitcoin could also be shorted by the broader market. When Bitcoin CME futures opened, Bitcoin shot to $20,000, but quickly fell as the bears got in. I would say we are still a few years away from speedy price movements, if at all.

No crypto interview is complete without some price predictions. Which ones would you like to make?

In a few years, Bitcoin should be at around $45,000. And I’d say Ethereum should be back at $1000 soon after the 2.0 launch goes well. In fact, it’d likely cross its previous all time high, which is around $1300 if I recall correctly.

Looking back, what would you say are your happiest trading moments, and the moments that you regret? 

I regret missing out on many coins, which I thought would not perform, but they did. My best moment would be my profits from XRP at 36,000%. That was very satisfying.

And what are your future plans? Is it full-time trading for the long haul? Or do you have some other interests you’d also like to pursue?

At the moment, it’s crypto trading for sure. But moving forward, I’d eventually want to help shape good regulatory frameworks for India, since it’s a large country with a lot of talented folks and potential for this technology if we give them the right infrastructure. I’m already looking for startups to invest in, which promote blockchain and which promote cryptocurrencies.

Thank you for taking the time for this Pranav. Fascinating journey, this.

Thank you for having me. It was a pleasure.

Although hailing from India, Pranav now resides in Hong-Kong and only travels to India when necessary.

Update note: The earlier title was changed on guest’s request.

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