Startup Blueprint: Janine Grainger, CEO and Co-Founder of Easy Crypto

Michaela Egbers

The Startup Blueprint series shares insights from the founders and operators building companies & ideas defining what the world could become. Hear about their journeys, learn from their insights, and maybe leave with a dose of inspiration. 

Hear from CEO and Co-Founder of Easy Crypto, Janine Grainger. Janine shares actionable tips on how to build a remote-first, high-performing team, how they are educating their audience in an asset class known for high risk and volatility, co-founder relationships, and her advice for minorities breaking into tech.

Startup Blueprint 3


Janine Grainger has a unique and inspiring story, from high school dropout to co-founder and CEO of a platform that has transacted over $3 billion in sales.

That platform is Easy Crypto, the world’s favourite way to buy and sell Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Easy Crypto was founded on the belief that cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology should be accessible to everyone. Taking that same ethos of inclusion and accessibility, Janine is a champion and voice for women and minority groups entering and owning spaces that weren’t traditionally built with them in mind.

While she was the recipient of the 2023 NZ Hi-Tech Inspiring Individual Award, she says her biggest achievement is the workplace culture she’s built at Easy Crypto—one that is tight-knit, high-performing, highly engaged, and completely remote.

In this interview, Janine delves into:

  • Her journey from dropping out of school at 15 to co-founding Easy Crypto
  • Building a remote first workplace that is known for its healthy, happy, high-performing culture
  • Founding Easy-Crypto with her brother Alan and how they’ve navigated the perfect partnership
  • Educating an audience in an asset class that is known for its high risk and volatility
  • Advice for women and minorities wanting to break into or found their own company in the tech space


Kia ora Janine,

Firstly, could you tell us a bit about how you went from leaving school at age 15 to co-founding and scaling Aotearoa’s leading cryptocurrency platform that has transacted $3 billion in sales?

JG: My career has been largely unplanned, which as it turns out is a fantastic foundation for the role of CEO in a tech startup where agility is key. I left school at 15 as it just wasn’t for me - I was ambitious and impatient to learn more than the lessons a traditional schoolroom provides.

I landed a job working at House of Travel, at first in reception but soon moved on to an accounting role; paying for my part-time studies and finishing Uni with a double major in economics and finance. Majoring in economics changed my perspective on the world, and how economics shapes the world we live in.

Later on, I worked in strategy roles at Auckland Regional Council and in Major Events at ATEED. I was part of the team that helped bring the Cricket World Cup to New Zealand - that taught me that you can become an overnight expert in anything if the subject is small enough! From there I moved into a consulting role at PwC which was one of my career highlights - the growth curve there was huge.

I first came across cryptocurrencies in 2014, when I found out about bitcoin. The concept made a lot of sense to me - we had a global village with the internet and using this ‘digital money’, we could build a global payments system that everyone could access.

While I continued to learn more about this space and the tech behind it, it continued to be mostly ignored by the world at large. This changed in 2017 when the crypto ‘bull run’ meant that bitcoin and blockchain entered the public consciousness and people started asking me how they could get involved.

In late 2017, Easy Crypto was born with the goal of making crypto assets accessible and understandable for all, so everyone can benefit. My co-founder and brother built our first website while lying in a hammock in Bali; while I was back in Auckland working on the strategy and business plan as a side hustle.

The business really took off during lockdown. We may have been ‘locked down’; but we were not ‘locked out’ of innovating and we soon had thousands of people investing through our exchange. We’ve since transacted $3 billion in total sales - quite incredible when you step back and look at it.


Easy Crypto is a remote-first workforce - one that is hero-ed for being high-performing and highly engaged. At a time when a lot of businesses are shifting back toward less flexible ways of working, how is remote work a superpower for Easy Crypto, and how have you fostered a successful and empowering culture in a remote-first environment?

JG: People will tell you that there are a lot of ‘barriers’ to building a great culture remotely but I think the ‘where’ people work from is the wrong focus. The right one is always: What does a healthy, happy and high-performing culture look like? And how do you use the tools available to you to build that culture.

We were remote from day one (my co-founder and I were in different countries when we started Easy Crypto) so we’ve always had to find tools to make that work, and then as the company grew, find tools to support a great culture.

Today our team is based across New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Africa and Malta. We work across different time zones and cultures and we all work remotely. We consistently have employee engagement in the 90s with our latest survey showing 95% of staff are proud to work for us and enjoy what they do - and that has been consistent throughout both big growth and pull back in workforce numbers.

Some of the focuses I think are really important include:

  • Genuinely caring about your team

Great culture starts with great leadership; and great leadership is one thing: showing people you trust and value them. It’s not about you…it’s about them. We hire people we believe in; and then we empower them to do great work! Taking action on caring for them is key. As an example, we have unlimited wellbeing leave - take a day off, anytime, for any reason (and it doesn't get abused)

  • Listening to your team and then taking action

For any leader, the value of active listening (to understand; not to respond) can not be underestimated. It's the most important tool in your tool box. As a CEO, I deliberately ask open-ended questions and I take our quarterly engagement survey seriously. It’s not HR’s job to understand the themes and know what our employees are asking for - it’s mine! I drive my work programme from our quarterly survey and I always play this back to the team as "You said X; so we are going to do Y". They know that giving feedback is valued and results in change.

  • A focus on building culture

People want and need connection and belonging. If you’ve only focused on building your team ‘formally’, chances are your culture is suffering. As a remote business, this is critical and something we are intentional about. We build this across many different channels (Slacks, all team meetings, standups, policies, memes etc.) with a strong focus on always living out of our values.

I always tell people that a great culture is by far my greatest achievement.




You’ve known your co-founder for most of your life, having co-founded Easy Crypto with your brother, Alan Grainger. You’ve been in business together for the last six years and have spoken about how complementary your skills are. For those who haven’t had quite as long to get to know a business partner, what advice do you have when it comes to what to look for in a co-founder?

JG: Working with Alan has been one of the biggest personal wins to come from founding Easy Crypto. It’s a partnership that has not only strengthened our bond as siblings but boosted our professional journey to benefit the company.

We’re super lucky because each of us has distinct skill sets and clearly defined responsibilities. Where I excel, he faces challenges; and he’s great at the things that simply aren't my strength.

This is key when choosing a business partner - they need to complement what you do well; and what you don’t.

My advice is to establish clear roles upfront and decide who will be the ultimate decision maker in what areas, and agree what must be by consensus. We have clearly defined focus areas and this has not only minimised friction; but maximised productivity. 

"..establish clear roles upfront and decide who will be the ultimate decision maker in what areas, and agree what must be by consensus. We have clearly defined focus areas and this has not only minimised friction; but maximised productivity."


Cryptocurrency is an asset class that is known for its high risk and volatility, and one that many people are investing in for the first time. While the industry might differ, most if not all startups are operating in new territory and can relate to needing to educate their audience for them to realise/see the most value in their offering. How have you gone about engaging and educating your audience? And do you have an example of how that education has led to a more empowered investing experience?

JG: We’re on a mission to give people the tools to make better financial decisions and re-educate people about crypto’s potential. As such, ‘easy’ lies at the heart of everything Easy Crypto does – it’s in our DNA. In particular, with more and more people starting to take responsibility for their own financial freedom, we’re passionate about empowering everyone to become an investor easily (within minutes) in alternative assets.

Along with ease, we really want to enable confidence – we’ve made sure we provide education and information at every step for those who use our platform. We have a comprehensive section dedicated to ‘getting started’ on our website; and for more advanced users our newsletter provides weekly market commentary. We also have an online community on Facebook where users can discuss crypto in a safe, moderated environment.

We recently launched a suite of products that make the on-ramp to digital currency even easier. This includes two new products that address two of the biggest barriers to crypto adoption – volatility and complexity. Our NZ dollar backed stablecoin called NZDD offers a stable entry into the digital marketplace, marrying the trustworthiness of the New Zealand Dollar with all the benefits of blockchain. And to store the asset – a brand-new crypto wallet offering one easy wallet for all your cryptocurrencies.

Downloads of the wallet have exceeded our expectations; and the popularity of NZDD has shown that it meets a very clear need. Crypto really is entering the mainstream – including institutional investors – and our mission is to leave no one behind.

Easy Crypto was founded on the belief that cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology should be accessible for everyone, so it makes total sense that you’re also personally passionate about being a champion for all voices, particularly for women in tech. What advice would you give to women and other minority groups wanting to break into tech or found their first company?

JG: We need to get comfortable with being the ‘only one’ if we want to see change. Even if (and possibly especially if!) it scares us. Early in my founding journey I found myself constantly seeing all male line ups for entire conferences in the blockchain space. I realised if I wanted this to change I had to be willing to ‘be the change’ so I started putting myself forward to event organisers, even though I was terrified of doing so.

By definition, leaders go first by embracing what feels uncomfortable, and then others follow. I would encourage anyone who has ‘impossible’ ambitions to embrace the philosophy that breaking barriers should become a way of being. You might have to face down overt discrimination within the industry; but move past it, and you will build a better future for those coming behind you.


🔥 Quick-fire questions 

 Your favourite resource you’d recommend to read/listen/watch?

I love learning off others in person - going to events, meeting people doing interesting things and understanding more about the industries they operate in.

A word or phrase that reflects how you approach life at the moment?

‘Balance’. It’s something I’m striving for; and haven’t quite achieved but it’s such an important focus.

It’s the year 2044, what’s one thing that you hope has materially changed for the better as a result of the work you’re involved with?

Everyone feels confident and empowered to invest in and transact in crypto and it’s improved the way we do finance, and made it a more level playing field.



Meet Janine, here.


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Tags: Startups, Founders, CEO

Michaela Egbers

Written by Michaela Egbers

Head of Marketing at Icehouse Ventures