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Luana Lopes Lara

All About Luana Lopes Lara Co-Founder of KalshiEX LLC

Luana Lopes Lara is your unconventional, award-winning entrepreneur. She went from being a professional ballerina to studying Computer Science and Maths at MIT. At just 25 years, she co-founded Kalshi with her MIT classmate Tarek Mansour, attracting over $36 million in seed money.

Kalshi (Arabic for “everything”) allows investors to hedge against all types of events. Luana and Tarek saw the need to enable individuals to bet on real-life events, just like what businesses do with catastrophe bonds and stocks. 

You may wonder how a ballerina went from dancing to running a company with a net worth of between $120 and $180 million.

In this article, we explore who Luana Lopes is, her biography, her career, and the success that got her listed on Forbes 30 under 30 in 2022.

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Who Is Luana Lopes Lara?

Luana Lopes Lara is the only Brazilian who’s made it to the Forbes list. She grew up in Rio, Brazil, and speaks fluent Portuguese.

Luana Lopes Lara was a religious person growing up, owing to her catholic upbringing. She would pray fervently before exams, and she still continues today in high-stress situations. 

Although she doesn’t go to church every Sunday as before, she holds firm to her faith.

Luana Lopes Lara attended the famous Bolshoi Theatre School in Brazil, which is a great accomplishment considering that getting into the school is highly competitive, with as many as 97 interviewees fighting for one spot.

The ballet school is an affiliate of the Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow and the only branch out of Moscow. It involves an intensive eight hours of dancing every weekday for eight years. 

This discipline and delayed gratification kept her going during the CFTC approval journey. 

Luana Lopes Lara later went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she studied and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Computer Science and Maths. She then stopped dancing professionally.

Luana Lopes Lara’s Career Life

She studied ballet and briefly worked as a professional ballet dancer in Austria. Then studied and worked as a researcher at MIT and as a quantitative trader before venturing into the financial exchange business.

Luana Lopes Lara’s focus was engineering from the very beginning. But then, along the way, she knew she would go into trading.

She worked as a researcher at MIT in various departments, such as the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab.

Before co-founding KalshiEX LLC, Luana Lopes Lara was a Citadel securities trader and worked with Bridgewater Associates and Five Rings Capital.

What Is Kalshi, and How Did It Achieve Its Success?

Kalshi is a predictive markets entity approved by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). 

The platform lets investors bet on the outcome of all types of future events. Examples of event contracts you can bet on include:

  • Will a recession happen this year?
  • Will the FED rates continue rising?
  • Who will win the Oscar for the best male actor?
  • Will humans land on the moon by 2025?

The online trading platform has “Yes” and “No” event contracts with cash collateral.

Kalshi had more than 4,000 users by August 31st, 2021, despite being a fledgling market, and hit $10 million in trades as of Dec 2021.

However, the journey to getting Kalshi up and running wasn’t an easy one. Up to 65 attorneys rejected the idea. 

The back and forth with the CFTC on regulation concerns took almost three years. So, the company started operating after approval in late 2020. 

Luana and Tarek’s relentlessness, coupled with the company’s regulation readiness, won them seed funding from investors like Charles Schwab.

Luana Lopes Lara’s Interests

She loves historical documentaries, modern Brazilian music, the Kardashians, and movies. 

Her favorite historical documentary is The Vietnam War by Geoffrey Ward. She notes that it helped her understand America’s history better.

Her second favorite is The Fog of War. Her weekly screen time is usually 3 hours, and she looks forward to watching a new documentary every weekend.  

Luana Lopes Lara also aims to stay on top of the latest news since it is also part of her job. She closely monitors and reads Bloomberg and CNBC.

She pays close attention to economic prediction markets on inflation, GDP, mortgage market dynamics, and interest rates. 

Luana Lopes Lara loves to exercise and will do a high-intensity interval training workout twice a week.

You’ll find her listening to indie or traditional rock and modern Brazilian music.

Social Media

Luana is on Twitter a lot. She tracks news on inflation and FED updates. 

Paul Graham and Elon Musk are on her list of influential people to follow.

Daily Routine

Every morning, she wakes up and steps out of bed with her right foot, believing that this can help her have a good day. She showers, changes, and plays with her dog before heading out.

Luana Lopes Lara listens to NPR NEWS as she prepares for work and reads Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, and CNBC summaries on the go.

For breakfast, she likes high protein bars or Chobani at work. Lunch will be Brazilian food from her favorite restaurants. She doesn’t take supper as she follows an intermittent fasting routine from Sunday to Thursday.

Luana Lopes Lara’s Net Worth

We couldn’t find her exact net worth. The seed capital of her start-up was $36 million. Her company’s net worth is $120-180 million as of February 2021. 

Here is Kalshi’s detailed timeline:

  • April 2019 – KalshiEX LLC receives $150,000 from fundraising
  • July 2019 – KalshiEX LLC receives $475,000 from fundraising
  • June 2021- A beta version of the Kalshi platform is released
  • Feb 2021 – KalshiEX LLC raises $30 million from billionaire Charles R. Schwab, Sequoia Capital, Henry Kravis, and Neo
  • September 2020 – CFTC approves of Kalshi cash collateralized derivatives

Luana Lopes Lara’s Trading Strategy

KalshiEX has three products – forecasting, hedging, and trading. You trade yes or no event contracts, which are user priced. The cash collateral is $1 per contract, meaning if you’re right, you’ll get $1; if you’re wrong, you get nothing.

Before the event outcome confirms the correct answer to a question, the price of a contract could be anywhere from $0 (if no one wants to pay for a “yes”) to $1.

You have the option of exiting a transaction anytime before an event materializes. 

If the plan is to exit early, you may invest 20 cents in a “yes” contract and resell it for 60 cents, making a profit. 

Takeaway: It takes Focus and Grit to be a Successful Entrepreneur

Luana could have let go of her dream company since it took two and a half years to get approved. Yet, the mission to open up a new opportunity for investors to make money in financial markets kept her going. And, thanks to her persistence, in the end, she succeeded.

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