Blockchain, Fintech, ICO

Meet the Boss – Exclusive Interview with NapoleonX CEO Stéphane Ifrah

Stéphane Ifrah Interview

NaPoleonX (NPX) is a revolutionary asset management project that provides investors with very scalable and performing investment solutions.

Unlike other firms, NaPoleonX is unique as it uses trading bots with advanced algorithms to help manage the assets and make profitable investments. It also trades both crypto and real assets.

These trading bots are powered by Decentralized Autonomous Funds (DAFs) which are essentially smart contracts (contracts written in code and deployed on the blockchain) that make decisions automatically based on data.

Joining us today is the CEO of NapoleonX himself, Stephane Ifrah.

Hi Stephane. Thanks for joining us today. Can you tell us more about yourself and NaPoleonX?

stephane ifrah chipin interviewHello, my name is Stéphane, I am 46 years old. I have a long-standing financial career, exclusively in front office positions. I have been an asset manager for more than 12 years. I started developing quantitative models while I was still managing several billion for BNP Paribas. I graduated from the Ecole Polytechnique, the French MIT, and I have been raised with math and models.

Because I was trading on a discretionary basis, I felt the need to develop tools to give me an edge. So I started to develop models and it worked very fine. I decided early on to use them for my own investments and since then, I manage to regularly upstream some dividends from my trading account.

I was wondering to build something bigger from this library of performing trading bots. I met Arnaud, at the Ecole Polytechnique, at an executive Data Science program that we both attended. We began to brainstorm together and we included Jean-Charles very soon to the project. We then decided to launch Napoleon Capital to sell these trading bots to institutional investors.

And NaPoleonX was born!

From the beginning, we worked on the blockchain and were looking at use cases that could be useful for us. While doing so, we came up with the idea to tokenize our trading bots so that crypto-investors may also access the best quantitative techniques. To be perfectly honest, this idea came from some of our customers that regularly asked us how they may invest in cryptocurrencies.

They were looking for some investment strategies on the crypto-universe similar to what we were doing in the fiat world. Since there was not, we decided to develop them. And NaPoleonX was born!

Are prototypes of the trading bots already working in the market right now? If so, what were your motives to launch a platform like this instead of keeping the project to yourself?

Yes, I have developed these trading bots while managing 4 billion € of assets at BNP Paribas several years ago. I have also used them for my own benefit for the past 10 years.

Why launching a platform? For economic reasons! You simply have to do the math! Imagine that you have a 50% return trading bot. If you trade, let say 1 million € for your own account, you will earn 500 k€ on year 1, 750 k€ on year 2, and 1,125 million Euros in year 3. But if you trade 100m € for investors with a 25% performance fees as we offer: then, on year 1 only, you will earn 25% of 50 million €, meaning 12,5 m Euros I think it is pretty clear!

What do you think is a gap in the industry that NaPoleonX will fill?

As of today, the demand for investment solutions is increasing exponentially. ICOs only have raised more than 2 billion €. But, the supply of investment solutions is very limited. Indeed, if you are a crypto-investors, you only have two main options: either invest in ICOs or ICO funds (which correspond to venture capital and a specific return/risk pair) or invest in altcoins or in a crypto-fund doing altcoins allocations.

While theoretically interesting, this second option is also very limited due to the lack of liquidity on such altcoins. The bitcoin is the only current coin with more than 3 billion € daily volume.

NaPoleonX will provide scalable and performing investment solutions. Scalable because we will tokenize quantitative strategies in very liquid real asset indices, making it possible to invest more than 1 b€ on each of them, with the same KPIs (return and volatility for instance). And performing, because we will provide a “quanto” perf, i.e. the performance generated in the real world will be added to the performance of the underlying (ETH or BTC) through hedging techniques.

Editors Pick: Upcoming ICO

Tell me more about the technology of NPX’s trading bots; do you have interesting technologies in place to make them more effective like machine learning, IoT, artificial intelligence, etc.?

Performance is the best technology! Our current trading bots have strongly performed over the years. They have been designed taken into consideration strong specificities of the financial markets and the behavior of large investors (like pension funds) on these markets.

Arnaud and I attended a specific formation on data science at the Ecole Polytechnique and are fully qualified to design AI algorithms. But, there are some strong limitations as of today, notably concerning the availability of relevant data sets.

For instance, if you want to design an AI algorithm including data coming from Twitter, you have a major issue. Indeed, Twitter has not been around for a long time and massive amount of twits even less. Even if you had stored past twits, you won’t be able to back-test your algorithm for more than 10 years.

napoleonx team ecole polytechnique

It is too short and a second issue is that the financial markets (equity) were mostly up during this period of time. So basically, you are training your algo on an incomplete investment cycle, leading to a great risk of overfitting.
However, we intend to develop such algorithm in the future. We will surely begin with allocation bots and then to bots able to generate performance through market timing.

How are you moving ahead in terms of building a community around NPX?

One of the main benefits (for investors) of launching an ICO instead of the traditional way is that investors who are just regular individuals get full transparency on how the funds will be used, how much to be raised, and other sensitive details.

Analysis and advice from real professionals

What is the business’ plan to move ahead communication-wise so investors can connect with one another as well as connect with the team?

Part of the funds raised during the ICO will be used to communicate with the community. Besides, the NPX token holders will have access to a platform where they will be able to discuss several DAFs and trading bots that will be regularly offered and analyzed by the team.

It will be a great place to learn “in real” about quantitative management and have analysis and advice from real professionals.

What has surprised you or took you back while growing NapoleonX? What happened along the way that you absolutely did not expect?

As ex multi-billions asset managers, we know how to manage money and a huge amount of them is a real and hard job, even with trading bots. When you have to convince a billionaire to invest in one of your solutions, there are lots of parameters to take into account, like his risk appetite, his liquidity needs, this investment within his global investment strategy, etc.

We know that this kind of people is and will stay very far from investing in solutions developed by developers having designed trading bots or solutions for the past 5 to 10 years (when most markets and crypto-markets, in particular, were bullish) for a personal use.

So it is very frustrating when some people in the community do not understand this major difference and ask us about other projects that may seem similar but are very far from what we have to offer. We offer several investment solutions that are performing, scalable and managed by a team of asset managers able to get an asset management license.

How did you get involved in the blockchain scene and how did you feel when you first discovered it?

I discovered it by a friend. At the beginning, it was hard to fully understand the potential and there was (at that time) still this ‘drug’ reputation. With a scientific background, I had to also fully understand the consensus mechanism and its strength against crypto-attack.

Besides, Ethereum didn’t exist at that time. When Ethereum arrived, it was huge! I immediately saw the enormous potential and I was determined to find something to do with this technology.

Can you tell me about why you chose to work with Arnaud (Dartois) and Jean-Charles (Dudek)? What strengths do you see in them that makes them a perfect fit to lead the NapoleonX project?

A perfect fit, that is the term I think. They are both tremendous professionals and we have complementary skills. Jean-Charles is both a great structure and regulatory expert together with an extraordinary salesman towards Very High Net Worth people and family offices managers.

napoleonx team paris

The NapoleonX Team in their offices in Paris

Like myself, Arnaud comes from Ecole Polytechnique (the French MIT where all the best French quantitative traders come from) and he even holds a Ph.D. in Theoretical Computer Science (algorithm and algebraic combinatorics) by Ecole Polytechnique. He has strong research skills but also financial ones since he was also a family office manager. He’s the perfect guy to supervise the development of our products.

The demand for investment solutions is increasing exponentially

And most of all, we all three get along very well. I worked and know Jean-Charles for more than 10 years now. And with Arnaud, it is more recent, but as Polytechnique Alumni, we have the same drive for excellence as required by such an ambitious project.
Last but not least, we are lucky to be surrounded and supported by a very talented pool of true devs that I have met in my previous jobs and that

I have managed to convince to join us on this great adventure. One of them is a founding member of the Ethereum France association (Asseth).

Realistically, what is the biggest weakness or incapability of NapoleonX right now that you and your team are trying to fix soon?

Our biggest weakness is the fact that none of the Founders is a developer. Our challenge is to make the community understand what we have to bring to it and why blockchain and the crypto-ecosystem are much wider than the initial core community.

We try to evangelize the community about our vision and our knowledge, which is not always easy, but it is a great challenge that brings everyone up. That’s why we are thrilled to answer your interview!

Let’s say a completely new investor to the cryptocurrency scene wants to use NapoleonX to manage his investments. How will the process be like from his perspective?

NapoleonX logo

He will need to go to our platform (we have a beta at demo.napoleonx.ai) and will be able to get the indices of each of our investment solutions so that he can decide on which he wants to invest.

To invest in them, he will need to participate in the dedicated ICOs and SCOs (available on the site) or buy the tokens of the selected DAFs on the secondary market. He will need an ETH or BTC wallet to participate.

Where do you expect to see NapoleonX in 5 years from now?

Within 5 years, NaPoleonX will be the leader at offering investment solutions for the crypto-investors. The Black Rock of the crypto world if you want.

Moving on to more personal stuff, what does a typical day in your life look like?

Wake up at 7 am and read night news and answer some posts on our Telegram and Slack. I have then a 1h transportation to come to our office at Station F, the biggest startup incubators opened this summer.

I usually take the time to answer and send emails.

Once at the office we have a usual morning coffee with Arnaud and Jean-Charles to share the latest developments and the to-do list for the day. A great way to bond and work at the same time. And then the day really starts with between 3-5 meetings. During those, I am still connected to our Telegram and Slack to check out what’s going on.

Reactivity is very important to me. When I have time, I also design twits to continue communicating. And at the end of the day, I usually try to answer post on BitCoinTalk where people are very acute.

Then off for the day direction home at around 6-7pm to produce material like presentation, developments of bots or reading of contracts until midnight or so. I just take an hour to have a proper dinner as I am some kind of a gourmet and want to enjoy a decent meal during the day. And I am never very far away from Telegram, Slack, and Twitter. Sometimes I even wake up at night to answer.

Can you express one personal opinion of yours about the blockchain? It doesn’t matter if it’s negative or positive, we just want to hear your thoughts on it.

You know, the internet was not here when I was born. I saw its development as many of us, from the passenger seat. In my opinion, the blockchain has the same disruptive potential and this time, I jump onto the driver seat!

Finally, what are your personal goals outside of NapoleonX and your career? Are there any personal milestones you want to achieve anytime soon?

The first goal is to enjoy my professional life in which I want to unite a number of people I have met in my career to develop a family project. I do not want to go in alone and I truly believe in teamwork in a cooperative way.
Professional life would be meaningless if I did not take care of my personal life.

I have 3 kids to raise and I want to show them that in life motivation, a little bit of luck and hard work can lead you wherever you want. At last, I also want to take care of my health as this is my biggest asset in life. That means taking care of my body and my soul.

More Interviews to come

That wraps up our exclusive interview with Stephane Ifrah, CEO of NapoleonX. To find out more about their upcoming ICO, have a look at our recent article here.
We’ll be scheduling even more exclusive interviews like this in the coming weeks to delve into the minds of what makes a blockchain startup tick as well asking the questions you want to know the most.

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