Ep726: Mark Venables – Do Your Best to Secure Your Crypto

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Quick take

BIO: Mark Venables, originally from the UK, is a serial entrepreneur and, among other companies, owns thecryptomerchant.com, offering the largest selection of crypto self-custody devices on the planet.

STORY: Mark bought crypto in an exchange, but ironically, despite being surrounded by 1,000s of cold wallets, Mark didn’t take his crypto and put it in a cold wallet. The crypto company got into some financial difficulties and went down in a blaze. Mark’s crypto was frozen for about two years.

LEARNING: You don’t need hundreds of thousands in crypto to get a cold wallet. Whether a veteran or newbie crypto trader/investor, habitually put your crypto into a cold wallet.


“Do your best to secure your crypto. It’s so simple and inexpensive, and it could actually be fun with some of these devices.”

Mark Venables


Guest profile

Mark Venables, originally from the UK, is a serial entrepreneur and, among other companies, owns thecryptomerchant.com, offering the largest selection of crypto self-custody devices on the planet. He is determined to get the word out about cold wallets and crypto security while encouraging people new to crypto to get involved and be secure. Use code DRSTOTZ at checkout to get 10% off your entire order on The Crypto Merchant.

Worst investment ever

Several years ago, Mark was excited about this company called Block Phi. It had a cool-looking crypto credit card that gave you rewards in crypto. Mark applied for one of those credit cards and would use it frequently.

The company also had an exchange. Mark put money into crypto on that exchange. Ironically, despite being surrounded by thousands of cold wallets, Mark didn’t take his crypto and put it in a cold wallet. The crypto company got into some financial difficulties and went down in a blaze. Mark’s crypto was frozen for about two years because he didn’t protect it. He was finally able to withdraw his crypto a couple of days ago. But he was only allowed to withdraw what the crypto was worth back on the 21st of June 2020, not its current value.

Lessons learned

  • You don’t need hundreds of thousands in crypto to get a cold wallet.
  • Whether a veteran or newbie crypto trader/investor, habitually put your crypto into a cold wallet.

Actionable advice

Do your best to secure your crypto. It’s so simple and inexpensive, and it could be fun with some of these devices.

Mark’s recommendations

Go to thecryptomerchant.com, poke around, and see what you like. If you have questions, contact the tech support or email Mark for prompt assistance. If you find something you want, use the code DRSTOTZ at checkout to get 10% off your entire order.

No.1 goal for the next 12 months

Mark hopes we’ll soon come out of this cycle of the crypto winter. So his number one goal for the next 12 months is to get some education together so that when people start wanting to get on board, they’ll find all the resources they need to learn what they need to know.

Parting words


“Use common sense, stay secure, and hold on for dear life.”

Mark Venables


Read full transcript

Andrew Stotz 00:02
Hello fellow risk takers and welcome to my worst investment ever stories of loss to keep you winning. In our community. We know that to win an investing, you must take risk but to win big, you've got to reduce it. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm on a mission to help 1 million people reduce risk in their lives. Federal risk takers, this is your worst podcast hosts Andrew Stotz, from a Stotz Academy, and I'm here with featured guest, Mark Venables. Mark, are you ready to join the mission?

Mark Venables 00:34
Absolutely. I'm

Andrew Stotz 00:36
ready to go. Well, let me introduce you to the audience. Mark, originally from the UK is a serial entrepreneur and among other companies owns the crypto merchant.com offering the largest selection of crypto self custody devices on the planet. He's determined to get the word out about cold wallets and crypto security, while encouraging people new to crypto to get involved and be secure. And mom was my number one listener. Mark is going to talk to us about what is crypto self custody and all of those fancy words. Mark, tell us a bit about the unique value that you are bringing to this wonderful world.

Mark Venables 01:23
Well, thanks for having me on. And I've, as you say, hello from the UK. I've been over the US now 2020 odd years. And I've had a pretty diverse life and businesses from JB Western telecom shops when I was younger, to whoever the US real estate and of course, as you mentioned that the crypto merchant. So it's certainly been it's certainly been a journey, both in life and geographically.

Andrew Stotz 01:57
So tell us about the crypto merchant like, what, what, what are you doing there? How did he get started, and you know, what's hot on the site.

Mark Venables 02:06
So, sure, so, as you said, to self custody devices, so basically what that means is these are this is hardware. And it's to remove the risk that you have when your crypto remains on the exchanges. When they're online, they're in a wallet or hot wallet if you'd like. And so as the often referred to as hard wallets or cold wallets, and it's to remove your crypto, it's your crypto, so you should keep it offline. And it keeps it secure. And you know, these devices are like encrypted very, very secure, miniature hard drives if you like. There's a huge variety of them. And there's a lot of personal preference when it comes to choosing one. They're all very good, just different technologies in some of them. But the whole idea is to take your crypto offline. Because, as I'll tell you in a few moments, my, my my story, and how I came to kind of get involved, but it's so that's that's what they are in the simplest form.

Andrew Stotz 03:31
Let's talk about that for just a second. You know, when you deposit money, let's say at a bank, they put their money in theory, they're putting it in a vault, but in reality, it's in a ledger. But I'm assuming that it's in a ledger inside a bank that's not being attacked all the time by hackers trying to get to that ledger. Whereas the importance for the crypto wallet and the idea of getting it out of an exchange is that even exchange that does a lot of work to try to keep the crypto secure and they've got the hot wallet, they've got a cold wallet where they're trying to get that off of or disconnected from the internet. There's still risks. I mean, tell us a little bit more about why it's important to have such a device because I think many people don't have such a device.

Mark Venables 04:20
No, no quite. I mean I talk to people with eyewatering amount of money invested in crypto. Often they've not even heard of a cold wallet. We have you know and 200 million people with some type of crypto only 10% possessor a cold wallet and that you know for the sake of 35 bucks up to 500 bucks. It you know these things can hold unlimited coins often. So you have the the hacking of the exchanges is certainly In a risk, and you know, we've always since the beginning of the internet, and we've got hackers always trying to get into everything. But of course, you also have the danger of exchange going bankrupt, or the owners of the exchange doing something particularly bad and things getting frozen. So there's a, there's a whole array of reasons why an exchange may go down. And if you're unlucky, your crypto will be frozen. And if you're unlucky, it will disappear. And we've seen that there. There's, there's plenty of examples of this happening in recent years. And I think the, you know, the view of crypto being this sort of fairy dust, as some people call it, and there's still there's a big interview out there. When it does happen, it's well publicized are far more than a bank going bankrupt, for instance, might be, you know, so it sheds a negative light on this, and, you know, quite rightly, it's not right, but there is there's a sequence. You know, cold wallet common sense.

Andrew Stotz 06:19
And if we think about the banking system, you know, around the world, basically, the risks that a individual has is that the bank goes bust. And generally, you're not protected over a certain amount of deposits that you have, but for the typical person, that's probably already enough to cover their deposit. Yeah, sure, you are in $50,000, or whatever that number is. And in addition, what we see is that the regulator's will sometimes come and actually find out, figure out a way to get another bank to take over those deposits. And, you know, so really, there's good, relatively strong protection for banks out there. The second one is mutual funds, if you put your money with a mutual fund company, that fund that money is going to go into a separate entity that's separate from the mutual fund company and the mutual fund company is going to run that entity and charge in a fee. But if the mutual fund company goes bust, your assets are in a separate entity. So that commingled with that entity. And then if you open up a brokerage account, you buy stocks or bonds, again, you're going to be in, you're going to have ownership of those assets and not going to be commingled. Now, if the crypto exchanges were regulated, you know, completely, let's say in the US as an example, then there would be a lot more, you know, pressures on them for segregating assets and getting into cold wallets and stuff. But where things get messy is when it's in them mid rep mid ground where it's not being regulated. And then it's hard to know how protected Yeah, when you use a device like this, you're actually removing it from the exchange and saying, I have it in my own self possession, like taking cash, or a gold bar and putting it in a safe at home. Yeah,

Mark Venables 08:13
it is akin to that if you're, if you did take a gold bar that's probably born like taking the crypto and put it on a hard drive. If you took cash and put it in under your bed, or in a safe your cash would devalue over time. But of course, if you take Bitcoin and you have one Bitcoin, it still increases or decreases, you know, however, the ratio is. And so when you go to the sell it or exchange it or you know, to trade, whatever you're going to do, it's going to have the value, the current value of the market much like gold. However, it's it gets a little a little more complex, because when you take the crypto currency exchange on to the cold wallet, you're actually not really taking crypto from the exchange because the crypto is on the blockchain which, so what you're actually storing with a cold wallet or keys. And then in addition to that, you'll have a seed phrase of 12 or 24 word seed phrase, and you can buy from, you know, from us secure places secrecy phrase, but you know, you don't want to keep it on your computer, you might as well you know, keep it online, which is what we're trying to avoid. People write it on a piece of paper and that's not really secure. So, you know, arguably the seed phrase backup is more important than the Cold War itself. If you have a one of their steal, steal seed phrase backups. There's a way to To put that onto the backup, and it's DUSTRY, fireproof waterproof, that you can put in a safe, if your cold wallet gets stolen or lost, your house burns down, you can recover that seed phrase back up, and you can buy another one and recover your crypto. So this is this is, in the past in years past, you'll hear stories about people with millions of dollars of crypto on drives and at the current access. And so that's solved that problem to a degree. You know, as, as long as again, it's common sense and cold wallets is definitely the most secure. And I think it goes back to regulations. Things do need to be regulated in a positive way to give, you know, to give credence to the crypto space and to give confidence for the larger banks. funds to invest and to protect your retail investor, which is what another thing we're trying to do to educate to humanize to demystify the whole sort of crypto space, you don't, you don't need to know about internet 3.0 on a blockchain or anything else to invest. You can treat it as an investment vehicle. And it's relatively simple what I think people are scared off somewhat, you know, with a cold wallet, they don't know what it is, and they don't know how it works. And it's really not that it's certainly not, it's certainly not a reason that warrants not having one that's that's for sure. You know, there's so much information all over the place. We're always happy to educate,

Andrew Stotz 11:52
we're looking at your website, a call, while it looked for that, like a car key that you that you, you know,

Mark Venables 11:59
I mean, some of them do. I mean, they're all shapes and sizes and costs. And there's a lot of emerging technology from various countries, you have the two largest cold wallet manufacturers ledger and Trezor, that have always been around. But there's a lot of other manufacturers that are equally as secure. And arguably, sometimes more options, more function ability. So, you know, this, it does come down to personal preference, to a degree but they're all very secure and having one is infinitely better than not.

Andrew Stotz 12:44
And considering how much money people put into crypto, I mean, a couple 100 bucks for security makes a lot of sense. And now it's time to share your worst investment ever. And I'm looking forward to yours since So, go ahead, take it away.

Mark Venables 12:59
So, I mean, to be fair, over the years, I've invested in many things and and lost and won and as we all do, from real estate to stocks and shares and but the one that both that relates directly to this is several years ago, I was excited there was a company called Block phi and they had a credit card. And it was a cool looking credit card. It was black to block phi on it. And it was a crypto basically, crypto credit card, as in, you could do rewards you weren't were crypto. So it suited me. It just seemed very cool. And so I applied and got one of those credit cards and I would use it. Now block phi also had an exchange. And I put money into crypto on that exchange. And the problem is I didn't take my own advice and being surrounded by several 1000 Cold wallets. I didn't take that crypto and put it on a cold wallet. And block five got into some financial difficulties and it was FTX came to the rescue. But of course they went down in a blaze and my crypto was frozen probably two years ago because I didn't protect it. I didn't take it off. And ironically, I owed the credit card about $5,000 and it was similar to what I had. So it wasn't a huge amount of money but it's still you know significant. But of course the credit card was a third party so they continue to charge I had no access. So this group, this company were considered to be one managed to get out The 5000 I don't have a credit card, but kept the five cards that I had in crypto. I am happy to say that just in the last few days, I've managed to withdraw it, but it's taken two years. And the I was only allowed to withdraw the what it was worth back on the 21st of June 2020, or something like that. So I did, I had no benefit of that would have doubled by now, for instance, certainly would have trebled and then gone back down, and it would certainly be worth more. But, you know, it's just ironic that I sell these things. I preach the security, and that particular one, I just just didn't take my own advice. And so it was a lot of good, not a good investment. I either, like I said, I'm happy to say that I kind of got most of it back.

Andrew Stotz 15:59
But how would you summarize the lessons that you learned from it?

Mark Venables 16:04
Take my own advice. Because I'm gonna send some cold one, it's gonna, it's just, it really doesn't matter the amounts, you don't have to have 100,000 or million in crypto to warrant getting a cold wallet. And it's creating good habits. Just you, you can have 10 exchanges, you can buy 10 Cold wallets if you'd like. But it's, it's just creating a ritual or a habit that you put it onto the cold wallet. If whether you're in trade, or whether you're an investor or a hot low as a newbie, you know the wallets if you're traded as wallets that you can trade from. And there's wallets, there's a particular wallet, that you could just if you want to store Bitcoin long term, there's one that's absolutely perfect for that. And we offer more different types of wallet and manufacturer than anyone on the planet that I'm aware of. And someone can have a free wallet of their choice if they do find someone that offers a greater choice. So it was, it was a tough and slightly embarrassing lesson to learn.

Andrew Stotz 17:23
Let me ask you, if somebody puts their crypto on an exchange, and or they're using an exchange, and then they add a cold wallet to them. And then the exchange freezes up, as you describe how does having it on a cold wallet allow you to get around that.

Mark Venables 17:49
Because you could just open an account with another exchange, you open an account another exchange, you'd have your seed phrase, your keys, and you would just then transfer it from the cold wallet into that exchange. And it is as simple as that, like, so there's, there's also credit card type cold wallets, where, you know, you could put $50 of crypto on their Bitcoin and give it to your grandkids in that sort of way. So it's very diverse. But yeah, I mean, as long as you've got your seed for as long as you've got your keys, you're safe, as long and as long as there's still an exchange somewhere that exists. That you can do that.

Andrew Stotz 18:39
Okay, so based upon what you learned from this story, and what you've continued to learn, what's your one piece of advice?

Mark Venables 18:47
Just common sense, common sense of security, with any investment. Just do your best to secure your crypto, it's so simple, and inexpensive. And the app could actually be fun. You have some of these devices. So yeah, that's all that I want. I want to get out there and educate people on these not only the devices, but on how simple they are and just demystify things a bit.

Andrew Stotz 19:21
So let's talk about a resource. I know you've given some code for people that want to go to your site, maybe you can just share that.

Mark Venables 19:31
Absolutely, yeah. So if you go to the crypto merchant.com And check out if you apply the code Dr. Stoltz then you'll get 10% off the entire order. Whatever whatever you purchase. And so you know, go to the crypto merchant.com have a poke around, see what you like. Any questions we do have tech support which is fairly rare. on these sort of things, and you're welcome to email myself, or support for any questions, always, always delighted to help where I can.

Andrew Stotz 20:12
Great. And I have a link to that in the show notes. And it's Dr. Stotz, s t o t. Zed. So last question, what's your number one goal for the next 12 months.

Mark Venables 20:25
My number one goal would be if it were possible is to come out of this cycle of the crypto winter, it's just been 2322 and 23 has just not been good for, for the, for the crypto space. But I think anyone that really is involved, we're all expecting the last part of this year or certainly 2024, to come out of the cycle to be a really good couple of two or three years. So I'm prepping for that basically trying to try to get some education together to when people start wanting to get a boat onboard this, you know, the rocket ship as it takes off, they'll be able to find all the resources they need to learn what they need to know.

Andrew Stotz 21:18
Exciting. Well, it will, it will come back at some point. So listeners there you have it, another worry of loss to keep you winning. Remember, I'm on a mission to help 1 million people reduce risk in their lives. And I think today has been you know, very helpful for that mission. So as we conclude, Mark, I want to thank you again for joining our mission and on behalf of ACE dots Academy I hereby award you alumni status for turning your worst investment ever into your best teaching moment. Do you have any parting words for the audience?

Mark Venables 21:48
Yes, use common sense stay secure, hold on for dear life.

Andrew Stotz 21:55
And that's a wrap on another great story that was great grow and protect our wealth fellow risk takers. Let's celebrate that today. We added one more person on our mission to help 1 million people reduce risk in their lives. This is your worst podcast hose Andrew Stotz saying. I'll see you on the upside.


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About the show & host, Andrew Stotz

Welcome to My Worst Investment Ever podcast hosted by Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, where you will hear stories of loss to keep you winning. In our community, we know that to win in investing you must take the risk, but to win big, you’ve got to reduce it.

Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, Ph.D., CFA, is also the CEO of A. Stotz Investment Research and A. Stotz Academy, which helps people create, grow, measure, and protect their wealth.

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