Tatiana Koffman can’t just work on one major project at a time.
Leading the digital securities efforts at FullCycle, she’s also invested in and advising a number of companies around the world, publishing viral blog posts, preparing for speaking opportunities, managing Security Tokens R US—an online community of blockchain founders and regulators—and building Crypto for Girls, a media platform aimed at making this new financial system more accessible to young women. “I’ve always been very type A,” she said, putting it mildly.
The Ukraine-born entrepreneur moved to Toronto at the age of 10, but found the North American education system less than challenging. After breezing through her homework, Koffman says she’d spend her abundant spare time working out advanced calculus puzzles and teaching herself how to code.
“I was a weird kid,” she jokes. “I had a phase where I’d wear leather pants and listen to Linkin Park and do math
problems on a Saturday night.” Today Koffman dedicates her time to a wide range of projects, though most are in some way related to venture capital, blockchain, crypto, inclusion and impact investing.
After graduating with an MBA and law degree in 2012, Koffman found herself working on the derivatives desk of one of the largest financial institutions in the world. It was considered a dream job by her parents and her peers, with a paycheck to match, but pretty soon Koffman recalls struggling to find passion for her work.
“It just didn’t feel authentic to who I was, and it didn’t feel truly impactful,” she said. “I wanted to do something different; I didn’t know what that was, but I was ready to start the exploration of what my next step would be, and I knew in order to do that I needed to switch environments.”
In 2014 Koffman took a two-month sabbatical from her ‘real job’ to meet new people and consider new opportunities in Los Angeles. That ‘sabbatical’ is now about to enter its fifth year, and counting.
“I got invited to a jazz event at the Hammer Museum one night, and I met someone that worked for the band Linkin Park. They were looking for someone with a strategy and finance background to lead some of the new business and investing activities,” she said.
Only a few months after moving to the city of angles, Koffman found herself evaluating investment and partnership opportunities for one of the bands she grew up idolizing.
“I didn’t know anything about entertainment, I didn’t know anything about consumer technology, but I had my traditional skillsets to lean on, and I was determined to stay here and try something different,” she said.
After catching the VC bug from her new role, Koffman was hooked, spending more and more of her time investing and advising other startups, before launching two projects of her own: MARBL Media Inc., a recently acquired millennial social discovery platform; and Winston House, a media platform for musicians and influencers.
Everything changed for Koffman as both a venture capitalist and entrepreneur, however, after she learned about blockchain, cryptocurrencies and digital securities.
“It seemed like crypto was trying to solve a lot of the problems that drove me away from finance in the first
place,” she said, citing fraud, inefficiency and lack of social responsibility as her top concerns with the traditional financial system. “With crypto, I saw people who are actually trying to solve for the wealth divide, and fund technologies that couldn’t get funding in the traditional market.” With her background in law and derivatives, and a passion for solving major social problems, Koffman says the digital securities niche was a natural fit. “Here we have an opportunity to create a global funding mechanism that is much more equitable and direct it towards projects that matter,” she said.
Within months Koffman had secured an array of advisory roles in the digital security space. She even published a Medium blog post titled Your Official Guide to the Security Token Ecosystem, which has now been read over 37,000 times.
Though she didn’t know it at the time, all of these efforts, projects and career moves were leading her towards the opportunity of a lifetime; one that combined all of her passions, skillsets and experiences. The kicker: that opportunity was presented by one of the world’s most renowned impact investors, Ibrahim AlHusseini.
“We came up with this dream of creating a vehicle to finance climate change technologies around the world,” she said. “It’s clear that we have a real problem in pollution, the growing waste crisis and water quality, so we are sourcing solutions that positively solve for the earth’s greatest problems while producing a lucrative return to investors. We’re working towards funding these technologies with digital bonds that will have predictable cash flows, and will eventually be open to a global pool of investors.”
Looking back on her journey, Koffman says she’s grateful that she had to uproot her life on multiple occasions, grateful for the lack of passion she felt in her earliest career roles, grateful that she took a huge pay cut when she left the finance industry, and grateful for all the struggles she’s had to face as a female entrepreneur and investor in a male-dominated industry. That is because each of those setbacks landed her where she is today.
“I was always looking to find a spot in life where I felt I was being truly challenged while also having a truly positive impact,” she said. “I think with everything I’m doing now I finally found that mix of things I care about, am good at, and know are good for the world.”