Building a 20k/Year Cryptocurrency Simulation Game: The Story of Altcoin Fantasy with Founder Tom Chan

Hello from Vancouver BC, Canada! Tom here from Altcoin Fantasy (ACF) — we are a cryptocurrency simulation trading platform that helps people learn more about cryptocurrency trading without losing their life savings. We are currently on a run rate of 20k/year. We came out of closed beta on Jan 2, 2018. We are located in Vancouver BC and we are currently a team of 4.

During the launch phase, did you maintain a full-time job? (or even currently)

I’ve been a developer for about nine years. I started my career working for smaller startups and eventually made my way towards bigger companies such as Dell and Electronic Arts (EA), but I’ve always wanted to have my own business.

I was consulting for a few different companies while the product was still in private beta but after seeing some initial traction with the beta, I decided to go into this full time.

How did you acquire customers/subscribers/users?

Unlike most products, we didn’t have an official launch — it was very much a work in progress and I wanted to get the initial prototype out before investing a lot of time into it. We started the year with about 300 users and by the end of April, we had about 7500 users in the system.

As part of our initial growth strategy, we researched Bitcoin games on the app stores. Naturally, I wanted to target Bitcoin game players since our initial product was a game revolving around crypto coins.

We use a variety of strategies to get users. In the beginning, when we had only a prototype, we ran ads that were giving us really good conversion rates. However, when we started bringing on partners, we were leveraging their network and user base to get us, users. Lately, we’ve been focusing on our content/media to get people to write about us. We’ve also put in a referral program that allows users who refer their friends to get points for doing so, and we’re seeing some initial success from doing so.

What software/platforms/tools have you utilized since launch?

We use Trello to keep track of tasks in a prioritized manner. For team communications, we use Slack. For a central CRM, we use for deals as well as customer reach out.

How did you fund your startup and how do you make money/revenue?

A few years ago, I attended a bunch of hackathons with a team of four and we won a $20k USD grand prize. Since it was “free” money I decided to buy a bunch of video cards and started assembling mining rigs, just as a hobby really. Luckily for us, we’ve seen gains of 100x over what we were mining, so we were able to pay out the contests with the earnings we’ve accumulated.

To date, what have been your biggest challenges as a company? What have you done to overcome them?

The biggest challenge is to overcome the media. As you might have heard, the big media companies have a blanket ban on all cryptocurrency related information. That makes it hard for us to get our name out there.

Another challenge we face is trying to derive answers from a sea of unknowns. I think that in order to find product-market fit, one needs to have a framework in place that enables them to quickly find answers to questions as they arise. That means you need to keep a pulse on relevant data and make sure you understand what’s truly valuable in driving things forward, and not waste time on things that ultimately add no value to your users or to your business.

We’ve addressed this by talking more and more with our users and getting their opinions and feedbacks as well as feature suggestions that will ultimately improve the game and make it more valuable to them.

And I think the last challenge to date that we’ve faced is learning to make the mental switch between different aspects of the business that need to be handled day-to-day. I’m an engineer first and having to switch contexts from product development to marketing, for example, requires a bit of mental gymnastics that can leave me feeling like I’m not operating at full capacity. I try to tackle the hard engineer problems during the first part of the day and then work on business development later on, usually right after lunch since it provides a good mental break.

If you had to do it all over again, would you? What would you do differently?

I would definitely do it again and yes, there are some things that I might do differently this time. As a startup, It’s important to have a support network and people to bounce ideas off of. Equally as important is talking to your users. I think we didn’t talk to our users early enough.

They are the ones who are driving the features that we build. We thought we had a grasp on the demographics of our users (young, background in business), but when we dug in we found users of all ages, backgrounds, and professions that had heard of Bitcoin from their friends and families. And these diverse group of users wanted features from the product that we didn’t even think about. So my advice here — always talk to your users, especially early on. We were lucky enough to talk to one of our early winners and she was so passionate about our product that she quit her full-time job to join us and spread the word about Altcoin Fantasy!

Lastly, if anyone reading this wants to know more about your company… where do we send them?

Want to learn more about cryptocurrency and maybe even try your hand at winning free crypto? You can learn more at

If you have friends and family who are interested in getting into crypto, tell them to try Altcoin Fantasy before they risk losing all their hard earned money! Or if you think your company can benefit from having a little friendly contest in the office, let us know and we can set it up for you!