Gardner grew up in Northampton in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. He attended the Boarding school Proctor Academy and he was an AP student. Upon graduating in 2010, Gardner went on to study political strategy at Bard College where he was apart of several student-activity committees as and was an avid Ultimate Frisbee player. In the fall of 2013, Gardner first read about Bitcoin in a Rolling Stone piece detailing the operations of the Silk Road. Curious, he bought some Bitcoin when it was at $200 and sold it when it was $1,000.
It was only when he transferred to the University of Michigan in 2014 and met Kinnard Hockenhull that he decided to delve into the world of cryptocurrency further. A motivating factor was being disillusioned with money in politics after working a summer campaigning for Massachusetts Attorney General candidate Maura Healey. Gardner joined the Michigan Bitcoin Club and would later found the College Cryptocurrency Network alongside Daniel Bloch.Later to be called the Blockchain Education Network, the non-profit organization aim is to educate students about cryptocurrency and student cub affiliates have sprang up worldwide.As of Septmeber 2016, Gardner still serves as Chairman of the Board.
With the University of Michigan refusing to recognize a substantial number of credits Gardner had earned previously, he dropped out of school in order to pursue the College Cryptocurrency Network full-time. To support himself financially, Gardner took up a job at a blockchain company that would later become Augur, a decentralized prediction platform. He would be listed as a co-founder and Director of Operations.
In August 2015, Gardner became the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Blockchain Capital, a postion he held for over two years. A year later, he founded a stealth blockchain startup out of Nashville focused on data securitization and auditing, SAAVHA as well as the Cryptocurrency publication The Distributed Ledger. He serves as an advisory board member of the publically traded company Bitcoin Shop Inc. as well as an advisory for the Mahindra Group. In late 2017 alongside Bá Minuzzi, they founded crypto venture fund Ausum.