IM Academy: The euphoria for cryptocurrencies takes over the Badalona Olympic | Economy

Thousands of young people leave the Palau Olímpic in Badalona (Barcelona) with a feeling of euphoria. They have not attended a concert or come out of a big party. They have just seen and heard live their idols, the leaders of IM Academy, an organization that offers online courses on trading (speculative investment) and cryptocurrencies and that, for its followers, it is the highway to “financial freedom”. In Spain, the activities of IM Academy are under suspicion by the Police, who accuse some of its members of committing a pyramid scheme and recruiting young people with methods similar to those of a sect.

But here, at the foot of the pavilion where Joventut plays, no one feels like a victim. On the contrary. The thousands of young people who have come from all over Europe —especially from France, Germany and Italy— believe that they have taken the helm of their lives, that thanks to what they learned at the academy they will earn enough money to have all the time in the world to travel and do what they please.

Valentina is 21 years old and has come from Switzerland just for the event, celebrated with controversy – the City Council asked Joventut, unsuccessfully, to cancel the rental of the space – and which lasts three days, from Friday to Sunday. The staging is very American, with motivational conferences that unite everyone under the same banner. Valentina says that she earns about 2,000 dollars a month (just over 1,800 euros) thanks to IM Academy with the “team” of people in charge of her. Because, beware, most of the interviewees do not earn money for their brilliant investments in cryptocurrencies, but for the commission they receive from the academy in exchange for others signing up for their online courses, which cost about 150 euros per month.

Oriol Naudó, who comes from Vic (Barcelona) and is 30 years old, earns about 1,000 euros a month for recruiting students. “It is still not enough to live, but the ceiling here is high. And it is a meritocratic system. You win based on your skill and your dedication.” He had previously set up a business selling sun creams with his father that, with the pandemic, did not prosper. “I’ve been here a year and a half and it has changed my life. I was always a bad student. Now I read books, I play sports…”. Naudó has read the recent news about the investigations around IM Academy. He does not deny that there may be some member who “takes advantage” of others or “promises things that cannot be fulfilled”, but he assures that he knows the system and that it is not a pyramid scheme at all.

“Do you think that if it were a hoax we would all be here?” asks José, 20, who drinks an energy drink. He has come with his friend Luna, 22, from Malaga. He says that he earns money by investing in cryptocurrencies, but admits that no, that for now he does not give him a living. Neither does she, although he trusts that he will be able to stop working and will have “more time to live”, because having money in the bank means “losing it little by little”. She follows the training online (she pays 150 euros a month) and assures that she is happy, but that coming to an event like this is important. “You know people, chairman [presidentes] they explain their personal history, how they have achieved success”.

“Here they give us the energy we need to make our dreams come true,” says a German wearing a bow tie with a dollar pattern. He, like everyone else, wants more, and he will return this Saturday. Among the international references of these young people is Robert Kiyosaki, author of business school. Spaniards are fans of others cracks of personal motivation like Borja Vilaseca or Víctor Küppers.

He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.


Leaning against a railing as they wait for the taxi they’ve just ordered, Jada and Andrea, from Brescia, Italy, leave the event smiling. “We thirst for freedom. I have quit my job. Now I have money and time”, says Andrea. He does not clarify how.

Dressed as if for a wedding — suits, dresses, high heels, a tie — most attendees speak freely about their experience. The exception is a group of French people, the only trace of sectarian behavior that has also been attributed to the IM Academy’s persuasive techniques. “The leaders have told us that we cannot talk. If you want, look for them, they’re in there, they’re wearing a blue suit”. It will not be possible to speak with the men in blue because the triple layer of security does not allow it, while the exit from the Penya pavilion continues to vomit thousands of young people satisfied with themselves and happy before a future of freedom and prosperity that, they say, there will be no end.

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