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Dr. Adam Trexler of Valaurum: “The slingshot theory of procrastination”

My dad also taught me “the slingshot theory of procrastination”. When you don’t want to do something, avoid it with something else that’s actually useful. Sometimes you can avoid something and get something even more important done! I’ve worked on major inventions for the company, because I just didn’t feel like answering emails! As part […]

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My dad also taught me “the slingshot theory of procrastination”. When you don’t want to do something, avoid it with something else that’s actually useful. Sometimes you can avoid something and get something even more important done! I’ve worked on major inventions for the company, because I just didn’t feel like answering emails!


As part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Adam Trexler.

Adam Trexler, Ph.D. is the founder of Valaurum, Inc. In the first years of the Company, he drove innovations in producing the Aurum and added numerous security features, changed the architecture of the bill, and developed the printing methods used today. Subsequently, he grew the business, doubling sales in each of the last three years. Valaurum has become a recognized technology leader in minting in that time, with extensive distribution channels throughout North America, Europe and increasingly, Asia. Valaurum has an extensive and differentiated product line, with sales channels in television, national mint distributors, brick and mortar stores, catalogs, and outbound sales channels. Under Dr. Trexler’s leadership, Aurum® grew from a nearly unproduceable invention to a new chapter in the history of physical money, with Valaurum producing government issues by five countries and legal tender issues by two.

Organizationally, Dr. Trexler originally structured Valaurm on a lean capital strategy. He successfully and judiciously raised all capital for the start-up, protecting early inventors from excessive dilution while building the technology and market for the Aurum. Dr. Trexler also led the acquisition of two other early-stage companies to augment Valaurum’s IP portfolio. He built a world-class team of directors and advisors who drove the Company forward, while maintaining a lean staff. Dr. Trexler also sold hundreds of thousands of Aurum with no investment in direct advertising, leveraging new partnerships to build the brand. Dr. Trexler has now begun to build a larger team, in line with its exponential revenue growth, and the Company projects it will have twenty employees at the end of 2021.

Dr. Trexler is a thought leader and recognized innovator in physical currency. He has been invited to be a keynote speaker and panel moderator at numerous currency, precious metal, printing, and liberty conferences. Dr. Trexler also continues to lead research and development efforts at Valaurum. He is the primary inventor and first patent author of the KeyBill, the most secure form of physical cryptocurrency. He is also an inventor of numerous precious metal bill security features, with a patent issued in 2020 and several more in development.

Before founding Valaurum, Dr. Trexler had dual backgrounds in academic research and venture capital. From 2008–2012, he was a professor and researcher at the University of Exeter and Queen Mary University of London, with numerous refereed publications relating to the history of culture and science, particularly with regard to credit, the gold standard, money and labor. His academic monograph, on the subject of climate change and culture, Anthropocene Fictions, was published by the University of Virginia Press in 2015. Before his academic career, Trexler worked at Corporate Finance, Inc., structuring early stage companies to raise equity capital.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

When I was a kid, my parents gave me some paper Italian Lira and I was fascinated by how they had so many zeros, how the currency had been devalued. As a graduate student in England, I had some five pound sterling notes that were spendable one day, and on the next, no store would take them. The experience that money could be the thing motivating every economic activity, but suddenly devalued or worthless led me to academic research about how cultures relate to money, and how much those shifts have been driven by politics, ideology, and armed conflict. The next step was to try to propose better ways for all people to store value.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Up until 20 years ago, people could buy gold and benefit from an international market price, no matter where they were in the globe. With a single ounce coin costing over $2,000, gold has become too expensive. Coins are a 2,200-year-old method of storing value, but we are updating that technology with nanotech and bringing it into the 21st century, in a package that can cost as little as $3, which we call the Aurum. We think everyone in the world deserves the right to build security and protect their savings.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When we first started, we were so excited to deliver gold cheaply that we thought we could have Aurum that had advertising, so people could buy gold without a premium. It turned out to be impossible to get advertisers and people didn’t want one of their most prized possessions treated as a billboard. Now we have a significant design budget and use some of the most respected numismatic artists in the world to create beautiful products.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

My PhD advisor at Queen Mary University of London, Morag Shiach, encouraged me to follow my curiosity in my research, wherever it led. The results of that curiosity led me to study why monetary systems were adopted and how that shaped people, by examining early 20th century economic arguments, textbooks from the period, poetry and painting. It was an unusual focus and made for an atypical thesis. No one could have anticipated it would be the perfect preparation for a career focused on transforming money.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Taking a long view, monetary systems have often been “disrupted” by governments in extremis, to allow them to spend beyond their means. The short-term emergency is often addressed, but it always comes at the cost of people’s long-term stability. Disruption enables the transformation of a system, but it is only positive when it also addresses people’s needs and rights.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

My father taught me to be patient in conflict. When things get heated, and they will in business, it’s easy for everyone to want to find an immediate fix. If one side can take the longer view and let tempers cool, it almost always leads to better, kinder, and more equitable solutions.

Lee Minshull, a great coin trader and an investor in Valaurum, taught me to always make the accurate trade. Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity, or the perfect margin. If you have a losing product, take the loss immediately, rather than hiding the loss and tying up your capital. If you have a big opportunity, it’s OK to just break even to scale up. If you have a valuable trade, make it and keep making it. And no matter what, be honest with the person you’re negotiating with — you’ll have the same trading partners your entire career.

My dad also taught me “the slingshot theory of procrastination”. When you don’t want to do something, avoid it with something else that’s actually useful. Sometimes you can avoid something and get something even more important done! I’ve worked on major inventions for the company, because I just didn’t feel like answering emails!

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

I’m going to keep looking for the best inventions in history — like using gold for money, which has historically helped people accumulate a stable store of value — and making them relevant for the 21st century world.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“First things first”. It sounds simple, but it always retunes me to my actual values, and to what can be done by me, in this moment. With modern media and endless consumer choices, it’s so easy to waste energy on negativity, anxiety and frivolousness. “First things first” teaches me to do today’s work today, take care of the people I care about, build security, and extend kindness.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I’m less interested in being an influence, and more interested in individuals having more agency for themselves. My hope is that Valaurum allows many more people to save meaningfully, and that those savings allow people to have more security, a greater sense of ownership over their work, and finally, that they experience more freedom.

How can our readers follow you online?

Twitter: @Valaurum

www.valaurum.com/news

https://www.linkedin.com/company/valaurum-inc-/
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