Getting Started in Crypto

Brian Zwerner
3 min readDec 31, 2021

If you’re here reading this, then you are interested in learning about the crazy world of crypto. That’s a great first step. Welcome!

Let’s start with a little bit about me. I’m Brian Zwerner, a 25+ year capital markets and investment executive. I worked the first 15 years of my career trading fixed income securities and derivatives at what became the three biggest banks in the country — Bank of America, J.P. Morgan, and Wells Fargo. I traded simple stuff like U.S. Treasuries and futures contracts, and I also traded some of the most complex, unnecessary stuff ever created like Synthetic Corporate CDOs and Power Reverse Dual Currency Swaps (don’t ask, for real). I did the math once, and I am confident I have traded more than $1 Trillion worth of securities over the course of my capital markets career.

When the world blew up with the 2007 credit crisis, I opted for a simpler life outside the trading floors. Spent a few years doing consulting stuff and working with regional banks, and then I found the amazing world of startups. I ran a FinTech-enabled lending startup for a few years. After a partial exit there, I decided to do something more fun and started Sportal — a media and tech company in the high school sports area. It was fun but super hard to make any money. Sportal didn’t work out, but I met a bunch of fun NFL players that helped me out with our work in high school football.

And that takes me to my present role, as the Founder of Beyond The Game Network. We are a group of former pro athletes and biz execs that invest in startups in sports, media, gaming, and fitness. We’ve invested in Seed to Series B rounds of some amazing companies over the last three years.

Since the start of 2021, my big area of focus has been on the crypto sector. We made our first investment in a crypto-native company called SportsIcon in Summer 2021, and since then five of our portfolio companies in the gaming space have pivoted to include crypto elements. I‘ve bought a few different coins for my personal investment portfolio, and I own a bunch of silly digital art known as NFTs. I attended the biggest crypto conference in NYC in November and spend most of my time talking to people neck-deep in the sector.

However, a strange thing happened when I started talking to my banking and capital markets friends. Most of them knew very little about the sector. A bunch still hold to the “crypto is for criminals” mindset. Only a handful have brokerage accounts that let them hold crypto, and even fewer have bought Bitcoin or anything else. I tried crusading for the sector in small group gatherings, but wow did I have a hard time convincing people.

It became clear to me that the press coverage of crypto did not speak to finance executives. Mainstream press typically portrays the sector as a scary place full of scammers. It gets worse if you get into the crypto media space, that is loaded with jargon and hype.

So, I decided to launch the Crypto Executive Guide. You can read these posts here on Medium, or you can subscribe to my newsletter to get these posts straight to your Inbox. I will breakdown the sector in what I hope will be a clear and concise way. I am going to assume the readers work in the finance industry and will make comparisons to traditional capital markets throughout. If you got this far and you’re not a banking type person, this probably isn’t for you. But if you understand finance and want to learn more about this important sector, subscribe today and come on this journey with me.