Feature Story

September 25, 2019 | By Cole Hatcher

OWU student-entrepreneurs Connor King (left) and Jackson Markley present information about Yorkshyre Capital Management, the crypto-asset investing and trading business they formed as sophomores. They are speaking at a ‘Delaware Does’ information session held at the Delaware Entrepreneurial Center at Ohio Wesleyan University. (Photo by Megan Ellis)

‘Grit and Passion’

Ohio Wesleyan Student-Entrepreneurs Create Cryptocurrency Investment Company

By the time Connor King and Jackson Markley graduate in May, the Ohio Wesleyan University seniors hope to launch a $5-million hedge fund. The goal is part of their plan to establish their company, Yorkshyre Capital Management, as a “dominant player” in the cryptocurrency market.

The friends launched Yorkshyre Capital in fall 2017 and moved into an office at OWU’s on-campus business accelerator – the Delaware Entrepreneurial Center at Ohio Wesleyan University – in March.

“I personally believe inventing a job is far more fascinating than finding a job,” says King, a senior finance economics major from Delaware, Ohio. “It has been a goal of mine from a very young age to start and run my own company. In 2017, I saw an opportunity to give investors an opportunity to get exposure to the crypto markets by creating a fund.”

Markley, a senior economics major from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, agrees: “I have had the chance to network with some of the wealthiest and smartest people in the Midwest area. Without starting a company and putting myself out there, none of that would have been possible.”

‘A Large Opportunity for Us’

As for their company, Markley says: “Connor and I decided to launch Yorkshyre when we noticed an inefficiency in the market. It was, and still is, extremely hard for people to invest in cryptocurrency and track their portfolios.”

A cryptocurrency is defined as “a digital or virtual currency designed to work as a medium of exchange.” The most well-known example is Bitcoin. Transactions are completed through software called wallets and recorded on a blockchain – a public digital ledger.

King describes Yorkshyre as “an asset management company that specializes in crypto-asset investing and trading.”

“We plan on staying in Ohio/Midwest because we have been able to establish ourselves as an asset management firm that specializes solely in crypto and blockchain,” King says. “Most of the crypto-asset companies are either in New York City or San Francisco, so there is a large opportunity for us to be a dominant player in the Midwest. …

“We are in the process of developing our first hedge fund that is a multi-strategy systematic hedge fund,” King explains. Long-term, “we plan to be a full-service asset management company offering different investment vehicles and products for various types of investors and their investment styles.”

‘Determine the Future’

Now that he’s banked two years of entrepreneurial experience, what advice does King have for other students who want to start their own companies?

“There is no defined path by any means, so it is all on you to determine the future,” says King, who named the company after Yorkshire – the street he grew up on. “There are times where you have to make sacrifices to make your goals happen, but that is all a part of the process. …

“For anyone looking to start their own company, go for it!” King says. “You only have one life, and when you truly realize that, your whole attitude toward life changes. … [I]t comes down to your grit and passion. You’ve got to really want it, and you have to block out those who don’t believe in you or simply use that as motivation.”

Anything else for would-be business moguls to remember?

“Get used to hearing ‘no’ – a lot,” King says. “This is something that you have to be accustomed to. You are going to hear ‘no’ a heck of a lot more than you will hear ‘yes.’ So, use ‘no’ as a way to improve your business model so that you can get to ‘yes.’ ”

Markley agrees that hard work and preparation are key to achieving success.

“If you want to be an entrepreneur, everyone will tell you to hop right in, which is partially correct,” Markley says, “but make sure you do your research beforehand and you will have a successful start.”

Making Connections

As for their Ohio Wesleyan experiences, both appreciate the opportunities and connections they’ve found as Bishops.

King says, “The OWU experience challenged me to go outside my comfort zone and try new things that I would not have even thought of. ... From Day 1, I networked heavily with other students, professors, faculty members, and alumni. Being well-connected is something my father instilled in me from a young age.”

King says those connections include Megan Ellis, OWU Class of 2005, who oversees the on-campus entrepreneurial center, and who “has been a huge help for us. She gave us the opportunity to secure an office in the Delaware Entrepreneurial Center. She has made numerous introductions and is such a great support provider. Her attitude is extremely inspiring.”

Another valuable connection, King says, is alumnus and successful businessman Evan Corns, OWU Class of 1959, who “helped a lot with general corporate strategy and concepts that we needed to tackle early on.”

Markley adds, “Just being around like-minded people and having access to a wider network is extremely beneficial. … We recently formed a relationship with Randy Myers who has been in the industry for a few years.”

An Exciting Journey

The two Ohio Wesleyan seniors also have made one more important connection: fellow student Cyril Hicks who joined Yorkshyre earlier this year as a qualitative analyst.

A senior from Pasadena, California, Hicks is experienced in systems engineering, algorithms, and creative design. A history major, he began working in the information technology field as an eighth-grader while attending Polytechnic School, a prestigious college-preparatory school.

Looking over all he, Markley, and Hicks have achieved, King says they are proud of their work and ready for whatever is next.

“The undefined journey to success is exciting,” King says. “One day you feel unstoppable, but the next day you’re at an all-time low contemplating why you even started the company. Entrepreneurship is an emotional rollercoaster.”