Alexander Westin is the CEO of CoinPanel, which connects to multiple centralized crypto exchanges, allowing you to trade on all your exchanges on its proprietary single sleek user interface. More importantly, CoinPanel wants to bring the power of freedom through cryptocurrency into the hands of everyone around the world. An entrepreneur almost by default, Westin was a part of CoinPanel’s initial development by aligning himself with his core values and family traditions – finding an opportunity to make lives easier for others and learning more about the world.
We sat down with the Stockholm-based entrepreneur to discuss how his family and background shaped his entrepreneurial journey, how CoinPanel’s services and work culture have evolved since launching in 2020, and the future opportunities in Fintech on a global scale.
What was the first business you started?
Entrepreneurism is, quite literally, in my blood. I grew up in an entrepreneurial family where business life was always a natural part of reality. My parents were entrepreneurs their whole life, from shipping and wholesale car parts to diamonds and real estate. As a child, I was always encouraged to find ways of providing good service to people rather than only focusing on the money-making aspect of a business. At age 8, I started selling coffee, tea, and homemade cookies to people waiting for the car ferry in the archipelago next to our house. In the summers, there was a continuous line of 50-100 cars waiting for the ferry.
From there, as I’m sure most aspiring like-minded young people would say, I was always thinking and trying different ways of providing service and earning a buck. The concept became clear early on: if you answer someone’s needs, you can create a viable, burgeoning business.
What is your background, and did it help you get where you are today?
In addition to my entrepreneurial lineage, another strong family tradition is to travel. When I was younger, we often traveled as a family, and I attended University in London. I grew up understanding the importance of travel for both education and work.
Getting out there and experiencing different cultures and lifestyles, having these unique experiences, and meeting so many interesting people from all over the world while studying and working in the UK, India, and Hong Kong has shaped and impacted me the most in driving my business ambitions. These experiences allow me to apply the understanding of different people, cultures, and communities to everyday decisions in business.
The most important skill I garnered throughout my education, internships, and travel, was a greater understanding of people. Because CoinPanel is everywhere — we’re global — I employ this knowledge to navigate the different countries, cultures, and communities in which we operate.
How did the idea for your current business come about?
All the experiences I mentioned above contributed to CoinPanel. CoinPanel was birthed through a connection made between like-minded individuals in different parts of the world.
My family was looking to invest in some international property for a vacation home in the sun, which is typical for Swedish families as we do not get the warmest weather here. During this search, we ended up in Bodrum, a popular summer destination on the southern Turkish coast. It was there we met Aran Hawker, a British businessman, around ten years ago and purchased a fantastic villa from him — one that we still own today.
Aran remains a close family friend, and his family regularly holidays with ours. As you can see, these meetings and friendships form our business relationships. We started discussing the idea of launching CoinPanel in 2019, during the most disruptive time in a global society.
We decided to develop our advanced automated crypto trading platform in Sweden because of its extraordinary history of companies in the tech space boasting such household names as Spotify and Skype. In 2021, we moved operations to Estonia and acquired Europe’s most respected Virtual Currency License since such a license is not available in Sweden.
What was your key driving force in becoming an entrepreneur?
That’s a straightforward one-word answer: Freedom. Freedom to make your own choices. Freedom to follow your dreams, do what you want, and make an impact.
Also, going into the world of digital assets is about providing financial freedom and not having to use banks if you can’t or do not want to. Crypto provides this in many ways, especially to the millions worldwide who do not have access to essential banking services.
There are many disparities with the current infrastructure. Being unbanked does not necessarily mean being unbankable. With the advent of blockchain technology and the increasing popularity of crypto, it is only a matter of time before more people are unbanked by choice. Blockchain technology is decentralized, which means that any one person or group does not govern it. It is governed by all the people who use it. And because of that, it offers a level of privacy and security that traditional banks do not provide.
Even in the United States, there are many communities where people do not have access to financial institutions. People who live in rural areas often must drive far distances to get to the closest bank branch, if they even have one in their town. Digital assets are accessible to anyone with an internet connection. There are no daily withdrawal limits on cryptos, and many exchange platforms allow you to buy as much or as little as you want. Unlike banks, you do not have to go through extensive verification processes or have specific criteria to meet in order to invest in cryptocurrencies. Anyone and everyone can get involved.
This goes back to the good service idea. If we can create an opportunity that helps people on a global scale, an opportunity that creates equal opportunity, then we are operating in good service.
What kind of culture exists in your organization, and how did you establish it?
We are an agile team that quickly adapts to different situations as and when they arise. Our team is fully remote, which can often be challenging. However, at our core, we have always focused on freedom and responsibility.
Forming our core team of developers during the lockdowns of 2020 meant that none of us had the chance to meet physically until June 2022, when we had our first company meet-up. We must have been doing something right during these two years, as it was like a group of long-lost friends were meeting after a long time apart. The team spirit was off the charts, and this physical meet only solidified that feeling. Our agile environment, with such a high level of constant communication between team members, generates this incredible feeling of togetherness.
We are constantly in touch with one another, discussing our work, the challenges we face, and the solutions we are experimenting with. It is not just the developers who are in constant communication. The entire company has adopted an agile environment. From product managers to designers to support staff, we work closely together, with frequent meetings, demos, and constant feedback.
Can you describe/outline your typical day?
My day typically starts with waking up early to take the dogs for a walk or run before going to the gym. I then try to eat breakfast with my wife and child before driving to the office around 7-8 a.m., but breakfast, admittedly, usually occurs in the car.
Running a start-up, as many would know, is hectic and stressful, so it is vital to structure my day in a way that makes me most productive. I tend not to take any meetings before lunch, which is when I get most work done.
I’ve learned over the years about the importance of balance. Family is vital to me, and I tend to reserve the evenings for family time with a newborn at home. But of course, working in an industry that is on 24/7 and a start-up business that spans all continents, it is impossible to be completely off every evening. The work culture we promote at CoinPanel, and the opportunity to work with other like-minded people allow space for balance.
How do you generate new ideas?
I’m constantly coming up with new ideas, in the car, in the forest, in the gym, or when I’m walking the dogs – I know it all sounds very cliché, but on the move and doing menial things is when my brain works best. Of course, the important thing is what you do with these ideas. I’ll always write them down in a message and send them to a relevant team member day or night as they come into my mind. Next is the follow-up, where we will brainstorm with the team until we find a fit.
It’s important to remember the value of diversity of thought and collaboration. Ideas are only as transformational as the ones you share with others, and this is how I look at the founders and everyone involved in CoinPanel – we are on a collective mission to provide a unique service to the world. These ideas are nothing without the team driving them toward execution.
How do you define success?
Another cliché, perhaps, but I genuinely believe success starts with you doing what you want and love doing. For me, that is offering products or services people need and want, making their life easier.
Starting any business is successful from an entrepreneurial perspective, as many people dream about having their own business but never dare to try. What’s the worst thing that can happen?
CoinPanel took a tremendous amount of determination and persistence from everyone involved. The amount of work and research needed before first registering CoinPanel in Sweden in 2020 was ridiculous. We are a fintech company in an industry that, for many, seems to be volatile and unstable. This meant we were going to face some obstacles.
Applying for a European virtual asset license, which we achieved in Estonia, was our first battle. Now, we are a fully licensed and regulated financial company. But the journey to get here was not easy as the legal and financial setup for CoinPanel was intense. I would say getting to the stage of opening our company was a huge success, especially considering what it took.
Do you believe a pattern or formula exists for becoming a successful entrepreneur?
No, I do not, as there has always got to be an element of fortune on your side to create success. You could have the best idea and plan in the world but be in the wrong place at the wrong time or not have the proper execution. How many businesses fail due to natural or worse, man-made disasters? Sometimes there are things outside of your control.
I think the most critical aspect to focus on is execution. There are probably 1000 other people thinking about your idea, but only one will come out on top – and that is the one executing the concept best. The rest comes down to relentless effort and never giving up, being versatile, always looking for a solution to any issues (not problems), and always moving forward.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
One of my proudest moments in business was completing our first year of the CoinPanel platform. The first year of any business can feel turbulent – no matter how prepared you may be. It is an opportunity to learn, grow, and see how the world responds to what you offer. We worked through the bumps as a team, brought together by a common purpose.
I remember looking back at that year and seeing this fantastic, cohesive team working towards a common goal, having had 130,000+ people use our platform and achieving EUR 1,5 million in revenues. It was a great feeling looking at how much we have achieved together in such little time. The success we accomplished in our first year set the trajectory to continue to grow and expand. It sets the tone for the future as well.
How did you handle adversity and doubt?
With all things crypto, adversity is like bread and butter; for years, governments have been trying to shut the industry down, the banks, tirades on social media, and even the payment systems refusing their services to us. This industry has been about adapting and finding solutions to daily problems if you want to survive. The constant threat of not being able to operate your business tomorrow is a lot to handle, but when it is part of your everyday life, you get used to it and carry on.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel! We are going through the worst times now as the industry has regulations from both the US and EU, and traditional institutions are flying into the market. We are finally seeing a demand for the adaptation of crypto into our society.
Are there any books you suggest other entrepreneurs add to their “must-read” list?
Factfulness by the late Swedish professor and statistician Hans Rosling. Although it is not a typical “how to be an entrepreneur” book, Factfulness helps you look at the more positive things in the world. It dives into how to look at the world with a more factful and positive perspective. In a time where people seem to think the world is just getting worse and worse, it is getting better and better on so many levels, specifically regarding poverty and health across the globe.
There is great transformation occurring all around us. Unfortunately, these transformations are often lost in conversations. I think the world could use much more fact-based dialogue and overall positivity compared with the ever-present global negativity in the media.
What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
I’ll never tire of saying it but have a long-term plan to do something you are passionate about and love doing. There is a Swedish saying that directly translates to “Hurry slowly,” which I love. Essentially it means to take your time when you build something. You need to work hard and do whatever you can to get there. Whether you must work multiple jobs or sacrifice holidays and time off to get there, do it because until that time comes, you are selling your time for money. When you finally start doing the business you love, it will not feel like work; if you have planned well, you will earn money when you don’t work while spending your time doing what you love.
It seems as if young people today focus on getting super rich in two years, only looking at the money and making fast exits. There is a delusion that being 25 with 100 million dollars and not working will make you happy. I don’t think a greedy mindset will get you anywhere. It is all about the process of what you do every day and understanding what makes you happy.
What is next? Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years?
CoinPanel has focused on retail traders since the launch of our live trading platform in May 2021. We have already had more than 130K global retail traders use our platform, and the CoinPanel brand continues to spread far and wide.
The next move for us is into the institutional space. In the next ten years (preferably within five years), we will be the one-stop-shop solution for crypto trading and investments for retail and institutional clients. In the coming years, we will deliver state-of-the-art solutions never seen before within crypto trading and investments, AI, web3, and blockchain. Our long-term goal is to create a platform that allows crypto to be not only accepted – but engrained – in our everyday lives.
As for myself, I hope that I will still be doing what I love to do and creating opportunities to make life easier for others. As long as I am hurrying slowly and appreciating the journey, the long days and nights are worth the greater impact it will have on the world.
For more information, visit the website: CoinPanel.com