How can I create a successful track record to eventually start a hedge fund?
You can setup a fund that only you own (often called an incubator fund), that has no investors except you. Paperwork is typically ~$2,000–3,000 USD with an SEC attorney.
Build a real track record there for a few years, not a backtest / hypothetical record — a REAL TRACK RECORD. That will allow you to go to new investors after a few years — with real performance numbers.
NOTE: Of course, if the incubator fund performance is less than stellar, it will be a tough-sell to new investors, if not impossible. Nowadays, investors want to only pay for performance above a certain benchmark, like beating $SPY (S&P 500 etf). Why should they pay you to try to beat it? I can tell you from experience, it may seem fairly easy to do, but it’s a lot more difficult than it looks to beat it consistently year after year, while maintaining reasonable performance fees, while maintaining a team big enough to sustain the fund, while trying to remain profitable.