At the age of 15, he was already convinced that he’d devote his life to CERN, and though during university his interests took a different direction, he did make an appearance at the European Organization for Nuclear…
You’d be hard-pressed to find a team at Rockaway Capital growing faster than the one behind the Rockaway Blockchain Fund (RBF). In this instalment of our Humans of Rockaway series, its investment manager, David Rakušan, shows us what it’s like to be part of an investment fund that’s changing the world and helping build the financial system of the future.
He’d attended dozens of similar meetings, but this was the one that changed his life. True, it took a bit of time, and David Rakušan had to be patient and stubborn in going after his goal, but after all, these are precisely the qualities that distinguish the successful from the unsuccessful. And David knew from the first moment that this was an opportunity he didn’t want to miss.
And yet, the meeting with Viktor Fischer and Dušan Kovačič at the start of last year originally had a completely different purpose. Back then, Viktor and Dušan were looking for their first investors for a new investment fund focused on blockchain technologies and DeFi (decentralized finance) projects, which back then were still very far from enjoying their current boom and enthusiasm. But David Rakušan already knew that this was precisely the area that fascinated him.
At the time, David was working with Czech investment company RSJ, where he was part of the analysis team responsible for investment into VC funds, biotech companies, and direct investment in the energy sector. “I definitely liked the work. But as time went on I wanted more and more to focus primarily on technologies and VC investments and to build expertise in this sector. I’d already been familiar with blockchain for quite some time, but back then there weren’t too many opportunities to work as a professional investor in the world of blockchain,” says David.
During the meeting with Viktor Fischer and David Kovačič, he quickly realized that what he wanted was to work for RBF. “It was immediately clear to me that something unique was being created here. I saw an opportunity to join something a new and in my view promising sector.” Although back then RBF wasn’t looking for anyone new for the team, David decided to follow his vision and convince Dušan and Viktor that he could be a useful addition. “Nine months passed before I joined the team. It took a half-year for the entire process to get to the phase where we said OK, let’s do it. I did everything I could to make it happen.”
David started in September 2020, shortly after the first closing, in which about EUR 6 million was raised. At the age of 27 he thus became the fifth member of the team, which currently numbers eleven experts from various areas. “In the beginning, a lot of it was about managing the portfolio. Now, in cooperation with Dušan and Marek, I am concentrating more and more on searching for, analyzing, and doing due diligence on new investment opportunities,” says David. The world of finance had already beguiled him during his studies at prestigious universities. Despite the great demands that such studies placed on him, he still found time to make progress in other areas too.
Keep moving forward
He obtained his bachelor’s degree from the University of Vienna – International Business Administration. For his master’s degree he was admitted to University of Birmingham, where he studied Financial Management, graduating with honours. “I’m someone who keeps on setting more ambitious goals for myself. When I started at the University of Birmingham, which I attended for a year to get my Master’s in Financial Management, I decided to enter the Ironman competition, which consists of almost 4 km of swimming, 180 km of bicycling, and a marathon. I trained 20-25 hours a week for the race. Swimming was toughest for me, because I was a complete beginner, plus it’s technically very demanding,” he recollects.
Combining that much training with his studies wasn’t simple. But David didn’t let that discourage him and proceeded in a systematic manner to achieve his dream of finishing in the Ironman race in Nice, France. “To be able to fit all my training in while studying, I learned to get up early in the morning. That’s stayed with me and to this day I get up at 5 a.m. So I’m among the first at the office.”
David currently doesn’t have as much time for sports as he’d been used to. “In recent months, for example, I applied to INSEAD – the Business School of the World, where I’d like to do an MBA. A week ago I received news that I’d been accepted. Before that, I spent my free time in the morning on studying for my CFA exams. But at the same time I believe that you have to sleep at least eight hours to be effective at work. It’s also just as important to be able to organize your time properly. For example, when I had free time between training sessions, I spent it in the library,” he says.
We’re building a parallel world
The world of blockchain is growing very dynamically and it’s not simple to predict where it will be going in a month, much less a half-year. Today it is already making its presence felt in many traditional financial as well as social systems, and is gradually moving into hitherto unexplored territories. In fact, one of the news items in the current edition of Hrana is about the fact that the Invia Group is now planning to accept payments in crypto-currencies for its vacation packages.
“The blockchain market is very dynamic. How RBF operated in the fall of last year can’t be compared at all to how it’s operating today. A year ago we obtained most deals through our partner funds. Given how much money there currently is in this sector, such a strategy is no longer optimal. We thus have to do battle using other means. This world is perhaps ten times as fast as anything else. But I find that extremely enjoyable.”
Adaptation of blockchain technology for the financial sector is termed decentralized finance (DeFi). How does David see this technology that’s transforming the current financial system? “Basically, a new parallel financial world is being built here. An alternative to the traditional one. Both worlds are becoming increasingly interconnected. I’m increasingly of the opinion that the DeFi world will be just as important as the traditional one, if not more. We’ll see in how long, but I think the trend is there.”
In David’s new this doesn’t merely involve changes in the traditional financial system, but in how society as such is organized. “There are already communities organizing themselves through so-called DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations), which can basically perform the function of internet society. Various systems of governance are being created, where token holders have the right to vote for changes in protocols and their further evolution. An alternative world is thus being created, one that is increasingly visible and that has its own rules written into the code,” he adds.