Introduction about yourself and your company?
I’m a cofounder at BloomX, a startup that’s bringing cryptocurrency trading and modern money services to the developing world. I’ve written two books about Bitcoin — The Little Bitcoin Book (2019) and Reinventing Remittances with Bitcoin (2017) — and I’m the creator of Cryptopop, an art initiative that’s making crypto more accessible to the mainstream.
How are you and your business in this time of crisis?
BloomX has always been remote-centric, with more than half of the team working from home or various cafes, on any given day. The lockdown has forced us to make some changes, for sure, but not to the same extent as with a lot of bigger, more traditional companies. In that sense, we’re really fortunate that we’re small and flexible, and generally our customers have always interacted with us remotely.
What do you think will happen after all quarantine period will be lifted?
The resulting economic recession is going to have many longer-lasting effects than the virus itself. Consider the fact that it was the events of the 2008 mortgage crisis that triggered, amongst many, many other things, the creation of the entire Bitcoin and blockchain industry. We would not be talking to each other right now — neither BloomX nor Block Tides would exist — if that crisis hadn’t happened.
Now try to imagine the effects of the current crisis, which is probably 5-10x more pervasive than 2008 one. The next 10 years are going to be absolutely crazy, and simply impossible to predict.
What are the things you’re doing this lockdown period?
On a personal level, I’ve become a lot more focused on food and fitness. Without traffic or physical meetings to think about, I’m suddenly in full control over my entire 24-hour schedule. Not being able to socialize with friends at restaurants means that everything I eat can now be carefully considered. The result is that I’m exercising 1.5 hours daily and have managed to reduce carbohydrates to less than 5% of my total caloric intake.
On a business level, we’ve expanded our services to more retail users. The main goals are to (1) enable customer savings and (2) empower our more enterprising customers to generate their own revenue from the safety of their homes. We’re the only licensed crypto trading desk in the country that charges 1% or less on its Bitcoin trades AND is operational 16 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What are some lessons you’ve learned during this pandemic?
There’s this saying that necessity is the mother of invention, and I’ve been reminded of that over and over again during this lockdown as I see everyone scrambling to learn new skills, upgrade their current skills, and overall just do things differently from before. Never underestimate the creativity of humans who have too much time on their hands, I suppose.
What are the things you’re grateful for?
Health is probably the most important thing right now, and I’m certainly grateful that all of the people I’m close to having managed to stay healthy throughout this lockdown.
Can you give some advice to other people and businesses out there during this pandemic?
The best way to build a young business is to listen to what your customers are saying and then adjust your product accordingly. Oftentimes this becomes confusing for the entrepreneur because different customers have different needs, and you never know which ones to prioritize. The interesting thing about the lockdown is that it *narrows* down both your customers’ priorities and your own abilities to deliver on those priorities.
Quick example: before the lockdown, a young restaurant owner would receive customer feedback about everything from the ambiance of their location to the quality of their food to the politeness of their staff. They would have to balance how they address that feedback because they’re all valid, but with limited resources, you can’t afford to manage them all at once. Nowadays, much of that feedback is irrelevant since you can’t have physical patrons in your restaurant anyway, so instead you can focus fully on just the food quality.
This lockdown makes it a lot more straightforward to create something useful because you don’t have the same plethora of options that you used to, and far fewer decision points. My advice is to get out there, start listening, and don’t give up. In entrepreneurship, you only lose when you stop trying.
Do you agree that Blockchain can help sustain the economy?
If you mean Bitcoin, then I believe it will help sustain a corner of the economy, for sure. I also think that over the next year we will see a really healthy grassroots community of brokers, resellers, and amateur traders, as more people start to realize that Bitcoin trading is a very viable additional revenue stream.
Where can we follow you and your business?
I’m @helloluis and my company is @BloomXorg, and you can find us using those usernames on both Facebook and Twitter.