Technology

This crypto start-up is playing in the big leagues

Founded in 2018, the young Brussels-based Keyrock already employs more than 50 people. She works with the world’s largest players in the cryptocurrency industry.

It is the start-up that is rising in the Belgian microcosm of cryptocurrencies. In three years of existence, it has experienced impressive growth in a sector still under construction. More than 50 employees today work at Keyrock. From its headquarters located on Avenue Louise in Brussels, its CEO Kevin de Patoul does not hide his satisfaction: “Each year, we multiply our turnover by four or five. And it will accelerate further in 2021”, indicates this former consultant who gave up his job at Roland Berger to launch his company.

It is the start-up that is rising in the Belgian microcosm of cryptocurrencies. In three years of existence, it has experienced impressive growth in a sector still under construction. More than 50 employees today work at Keyrock. From its headquarters located on Avenue Louise in Brussels, its CEO Kevin de Patoul does not hide his satisfaction: “Each year, we multiply our turnover by four or five. And it will accelerate further in 2021”, indicates this former consultant who gave up his job at Roland Berger to launch his company. In 2018, Kevin de Patoul joined forces with Juan David Mendieta, in charge of strategy, and Jeremy De Groodt, technical director, to create Keyrock. At the time, the price of bitcoin came out of a period of euphoria and plunged into limbo. The volatile cryptocurrency market is showing all its volatility. Some fear that bitcoin and other cryptos are just a flash in the pan. But on the side of Keyrock, we firmly believe in the future of this sector with its still sulphurous reputation: “Our idea has always been to create a solid company, with long-term activities. Our constant progress shows that we We were right to believe it. Today, the crypto market is much more mature than in 2017. And we play a crucial role, “says Kevin de Patoul. Keyrock is developing algorithms aimed at streamlining trade on the market. The technology of the Brussels start-up ensures that buyers and sellers of virtual currencies meet and carry out transactions quickly and efficiently. Keyrock therefore plays an intermediary role: the start-up deals with purchases and sales over very short periods of time. The idea is to make liquidity available to the market. It’s kind of a question of putting oil in the wheels: “If you want to buy or sell bitcoin, you need to find a seller or a buyer. But you might not find them right away. . On our side, we are always available, whether to buy or sell. In a way, we take care of filling this time gap by being always active and present in the market “, explains Kevin de Patoul. The start-up operates in a B to B environment. It sells its services to the biggest players in the cryptocurrency market: exchange platforms. These are the entry points most used by investors in virtual currencies. They offer their users online wallets through which novice or more experienced traders can buy and sell cryptocurrencies. You should know that alongside the famous bitcoin, more than 11,000 other cryptocurrencies are currently in circulation, according to the specialized site Coinmarketcap. Among the best known, let us quote the ethereum, the litecoin, the ripple, the dogecoin … “We work with the 80 largest platforms of exchange on a world level”, announces Kevin de Patoul. In the list, we find Binance, Bitstamp, Kraken, Bitpanda … For these key players, Keyrock covers 150 types of buy-sell transactions, either from traditional currency to crypto (euro-bitcoin, for example), or from crypto to crypto (bitcoin-ethereum, for example). The start-up also works for other types of clients: issuers of cryptocurrency or tokens, these digital tokens virtually representing an asset. These services ensuring the liquidity of exchanges are not an invention of Keyrock. The start-up has in fact transposed a system existing in traditional financial markets to cryptos. “It’s the same dynamic”, underlines Kevin de Patoul. Little-known companies like Virtu Financial (based in New York) or Flow Traders (Amsterdam) offer the same type of market making services for assets traded on the stock exchange. “These players are also starting to take an interest in the crypto market,” notes the CEO of Keyrock. New competition is on the horizon for the Brussels start-up. But Kevin de Patoul is not worried: “It’s not a threat. The crypto market weighs in the hundreds of billions of dollars. There is room. For us, competition is above all a motivator, that helps us question ourselves. ” Keyrock is paid on the spread, that is to say on the difference between the sale price and the purchase price of the crypto. Is this business suddenly subject to the incessant fluctuations of cryptocurrencies? A few months ago, the price of bitcoin experienced a spectacular surge and reached a new record (over $ 63,000 per unit) before entering a phase of decline. Bad news for Keyrock? “No. We are not dependent on the bitcoin price. The month of May was very bad on the market, but for our part, it was our best month!”, Underlines Kevin de Patoul. During the month in question, the young shoot managed to generate profits, but this is not yet the case for an entire accounting year. However, the signs are encouraging, underlines the co-founder and CEO. “Our next fundraising will be done on a profitable box. It will no longer be to ensure the sustainability of the company but to accelerate its growth,” says Kevin de Patoul. Since its inception, the Brussels start-up, which has benefited from the Start It @KBC incubation program, has already completed three rounds of funding, for a total amount of over 6 million euros. Its last fundraising was last October and was for 4.3 million euros. The start-up has solid investors: the Volta Ventures fund (Frank Maene), the Brussels-based VC (venture capital) Seeder Fund, the Swiss fund Six Fintech Venture, the Luxembourg fund MiddleGame Ventures, as well as the Luxembourg family office TNN Capital. These investors from different countries correspond well to the activity of Keyrock, resolutely turned towards the international one. The Brussels start-up, which continues to structure itself, also employs employees of around twenty nationalities, half of whom work entirely remotely. “We have colleagues in the United States, Spain, Singapore, Thailand …, explains the CEO. It is sometimes complicated to manage: I only know some employees through Teams. But it is also an asset. to have employees all over the world, because the crypto market never stops, it operates 24 hours a day. ”

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