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Strategy for Bitcoin Entrepreneurship

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Bitcoin entrepreneurs have yet to appreciate fully collaborative nature of the Bitcoin economy and its implications for entrepreneurial strategy. Every successful entrepreneurial act improves the Bitcoin economy and attracts more people in, thus raising the value of the coins. Each new service benefits everyone else who is already invested. Consequently, Bitcoin businesses do not necessarily need to see themselves as competitors to one another. Even if they have the same business model, they both have more to gain from the influx of new users from outside than by taking customers from one another.

Furthermore, the growth of any Bitcoin business is limited ultimately by the growth of Bitcoin itself. Since the number of coins is strictly capped, the currency must grow with its price. This means that few businesses, if any, can be expected to earn a much better return than the coin itself over time. Entrepreneurs should therefore invest in coins, not businesses, because coins are where the profit is. In addition, if Bitcoin fails, then the Bitcoin businesses fail—so Bitcoin is less risky than any Bitcoin business too. Thus, Bitcoin entrepreneurs should be less interested in making money than in making bitcoins into money. An entrepreneur who follows that precept should generally be expected to be more successful than otherwise because the potential for Bitcoin itself is so much greater than any Bitcoin business he could invest in.

Of course, Bitcoin cannot succeed without businesses, or at least some sort of entrepreneurship. What is the best way to fund ventures in an environment in which they are relatively poor investments? The trick, I propose, is to think of these ventures more as donations to the Bitcoin economy than as profit-seeking ventures. Any useful Bitcoin service will tend to make the Bitcoin price increase because it adds value to the network. It may, therefore, be perfectly rational for a Bitcoin investor to contribute the service to the economy for free. Furthermore, the success of such a business being desired by everyone who holds coins, such a business can be run more like a non-profit or open-source project than an business. Thus, a new venture may attract investment even if it is not profitable as long as it provides a service the Bitcoin world needs.

In mid 2013 Armory, an open-source Bitcoin wallet project, received $600k in seed funding without even though nobody knows how it will eventually be monetized. These people have the right idea, but they shouldn’t try to monetize it at all—it is obviously making all the coins more valuable.

Don’t be a venture capitalist—be a speculative philanthropist.

Labor Is Scarcer than Ideas

The task ahead of us is monumental—the construction of a new financial economy to replace the one built around the national currencies. This will take a lot of work. Unfortunately, a lot of work is being wasted right now. The venture capitalists are looking to invest in a sharp team with a cool idea but the group of people that matters most is the entire network of Bitcoin users, and the idea that matters most is Bitcoin itself. Big new ideas get hyped up almost every week around here, and the Bitcoin economy will work a lot better if people would try harder to ignore them.

There are lots of business ideas floating around and limited time to create them. Only ideas that have a very high probably of being an important part of the future Bitcoin economy should be implemented because that is all we have time for and those are the only ideas worth risking Bitcoins on.

The proof that ideas aren’t scarce is that anybody can make his own altcoin at any time. Already there are hundreds, and every one of them a bad idea from people who don’t understand the cumulative benefits of cooperation. Since entrepreneurs don’t understand Bitcoin very well yet, it is easy to dazzle them with technobabble and funnel investment into flawed projects like Protoshares, Mastercoin, and Ethereum that have a very low probability of furthering Bitcoin adoption to any significant degree.

There is no real reason to keep secrets because the more that everyone knows about what everyone else is doing, the more easily they can decide what the Bitcoin economy most needs of them. Everything about a business can be done openly for the benefit of the entire industry. Product development, future plans, market research, finances; everything except private customer data, which shouldn’t be collected anyway, and, in the case of illegal Tor businesses, the real identities and locations of the owners. We need open business and open businesses.

Entrepreneurship as a Collaborative Scientific Enterprise

In an open-business world, less experimentation is necessary to produce a workable system than among other businesses because there is no reason to keep secrets from one another. All trial-and-error should immediately benefit all the other Bitcoin entrepreneurs so that everyone can more easily figure out the most effective way to work. Open business as a generally accepted best practice would have eliminated terrible businesses like MtGox and Butterfly Labs early on. But even that would have been too late. Everything possible should be done to try to eliminate ideas before they can turn into failed businesses. That means sharing all ideas with the community, and investing in nothing that does not already have widespread community support.

Much of the Bitcoin world already works very openly. Lots of terrible ideas get shot down all the time in the Bitcointalk.com forums. All the software is open source. However, more is required: Bitcoin entrepreneurship should be run more like scientific research than a gold rush or an Internet bubble. There should be open research into the future Bitcoin economy, complete with peer review and consensus over which ideas are the most useful and important. Investment should focus on ideas that already have been vetted by the community. It should be considered reprehensible for startups to invent their own cryptographic algorithms.

It is too much of a waste of resources to test ideas in experiments with real businesses. All business models ought to be carefully critiqued beforehand and only the most necessary ones that we have time for should be created. This is not central planning; it is consensus-based entrepreneurship. No one shall be forced to follow any idea at all; it is simply in everyone’s best interest to cooperate. If I am right, then soon investors will learn to back only heavily vetted ideas and entrepreneurs will it as well.

In the early Renaissance, mathematics was practiced in secret and mathematicians carefully guarded their own discoveries because a mathematicians’ career depended on being able to show patrons that he could solve problems other mathematicians could not. However, in 1545, Gerolamo Cardano sparked a new trend with Ars Magna, the first published work to include the general solutions of the cubic and quartic equations. He even included secret work (with citation) by Niccolò Fontana Tartaglia, which whom Cardano had promised not to reveal. Gradually, mathematics transformed into a tradition characterized by publication rather than secrets. Open-access publishing is now demanded. Entrepreneurship is in its Renaissance still.

Conclusion

In a low-growth economy, one grows rich by carefully leveraging one’s skills and assets so as to negotiate the most profitable trades. In other words, wealth comes from performing better than everyone else. It makes sense to guard closely any edge that one might have. Whereas in a high-growth economy, wealth comes from doing as well as everyone else. It is more difficult to improve one’s state relative to everyone else than to enjoy the overall growth that improves everybody’s state.

The Bitcoin world understands this instinctively, but needs to take it to its logical conclusion. The entire Bitcoin economy needs to be open-sourced. This is how to make Bitcoin succeed most quickly and with the least effort, which is the best outcome for everyone.

Let’s get to work.

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About the Author

This article was written by Daniel Krawisz of the Satoshi Nakamoto Institute. see more. 

Callum Connects

Agnes Yee, Legal & Compliance Recruiter of Space Executive

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Agnes Yee started Space Executive in Singapore, which is a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

What’s your story?
After graduation, I joined a design media company as a Business Development Executive, during the era when ‘reading a magazine online’ was unheard of. I believe that laid the foundation for being unfazed by rejections.

I fell into recruitment pre-GFC and rode the highs and lows in the early years. A decade later, I decided to set up my own recruitment company, partly because I could. I’m acutely aware of the face that being an Asian female in Singapore is sometimes a privilege, and that many women in the world are living a very different existence.
Thereafter, we joined Space Executive as part of a merger. I am currently the Partner of Space Executive, a recruitment company focused specialist disciplines, including Legal, Finance, Digital, Sales and Marketing and Change. We also run Space Ventures, a venture capital business, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
On a daily basis, we’re influencing how one spends a third of their day. It is interesting how the Internet has transformed the industry, and I’m excited to see how we can harness technology to bring us to the next phase of this business.

The VC is an extension of applying our skills and experience in reading people. We very much invest in the people as much as the idea. Being a native Singaporean, it’s been exhilarating watching Southeast Asia becoming a hotbed of ideas; and young entrepreneurs simply daring to dream.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m a born and bred Singaporean. I love that I speak both English and Mandarin, grew up playing with Indian friends and eating Malay food.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore for the low barriers of entry to set up a business, but has to be China (and Hong Kong) for their hunger and constant innovation.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
青春不要留白 which translates to ‘Don’t waste your youth.’

Who inspires you?
Anyone who has gone against the grain.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It wasn’t recent but reading the article on https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/12/the-tail-end.html never fails to blow my mind how little time we have left. Charting our lives in weeks, and realising I only have enough time left to enjoy 60 Christmas turkeys, read 300 books (all if I’m lucky); and mostly, I’m left with the last 5% of the time that I spend in-person with my parents.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’m cognisant that every decision I made in life has brought me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t change one thing. But I’d really like to have had more time to travel.

How do you unwind?
Exercise and wine.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Trekking any mountain in Asia. It brings us back to the most basic. To overcome elements of nature and our own mind.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Start with Why, Simon Sinek

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive started in Singapore, a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies. We assist organisations in accessing a targeted and specialised, and often times transient talent pool.

Out of Singapore, we have recruited across 14 countries; and have embarked on our global expansion plans with offices in Hong Kong and London this year, and US, Japan and Europe in the following years.

Space Ventures provides funding, management and financial guidance to young businesses with original ideas. We have invested in peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring, social media education, and other start-ups spanning diverse industries. We are always interested in hearing more about new ideas.

How can people connect with you?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/agnesyee/

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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Chrystie Dao-Szabo, Founder of iPayMy

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Chrystie Dao-Szabo founded iPaymy for Business – a secure and easy to use
platform enabling SMEs to pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today.

What’s your story?
I’m Chrystie Dao-Szabo, and I’ve worked as an international banker for over 22 years. During that time, I travelled through Asia, Australia and Europe, and everywhere I saw how my clients struggled with managing their finances and keeping cash around.

I wanted to use my experience to help them, but I also knew the solution they needed didn’t exist yet. This pushed me to give up on my secure career, and instead look into the innovative world of FinTech for an answer.

This is how I founded iPaymy – at its launch, a platform to help consumers pay their monthly expenses using their credit cards. We’ve grown a lot since, and today, iPaymy for Business is a platform that allows business owners to use their credit cards to pay for rent, salaries, invoices and taxes, freeing up their cash for business-critical operations.

What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me most about FinTech is it’s culture of constant disruption, thanks to cool and innovative products and services coming out every day.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Vietnam, grew up in Australia and worked in Asia, Europe and Australia. Being raised by traditional Vietnamese parents meant that deep down I was still an Asian at heart, so I have a strong connection with the region.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore of course. It’s easy to do business, English is the main language, and the infrastructures like public transportation are great. Also, the government supports local innovation in multiple ways, like giving grants for SMEs and FinTechs.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Keep giving, and one day you will receive.

Who inspires you?
My parents. My father had a successful business in Vietnam just before the fall of Saigon in 1975. After the war, my father was sent to a re-education camp for three years, which meant my mum had to bring up two young kids – a 3-year-old, me and my 4-year old brother on her own.

In 1980, we all fled Vietnam on a boat and arrived in Sydney, Australia via refugee camps in Indonesia and Singapore. There, my parents had to start over with nothing to their names and only AUD 50 given to them by the Australian government.
They went on to build several businesses in Australia!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The number of young and smart people who have carved out successful careers by founding their own startups (or joining really cool ones). When I was starting out my career, doing any of these was not a viable option; it was either working for an accounting firm, an insurance company or a bank.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
If I were starting out my career now, I would choose the path of joining a startup as you get to learn so much about running a business and how to assemble a winning team.

How do you unwind?
I like travelling to a beach or a resort destination and just relaxing by the pool or beach. I also like to unwind after work with a glass of champagne or wine, and a bowl of truffle fries.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand. I love the people and the spicy Thai food.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The E-Myth. It’s a book series that dismantles common myths about entrepreneurship in different industries.

Shameless plug for your business:
With iPaymy for Business, SMEs can pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today. SMEs love iPaymy because it works like a credit card, but pays like cash.

iPaymy’s secure and easy to use platform reliably delivers payments to vendors while freeing up cash and providing access to interest free credit. Forget the delays and aggravations that come with traditional SME financing options. Schedule recurring payments, manage invoices, set payment reminders, and monitor payment status all from one dashboard.

It’s never been easier for SMEs to meet monthly payment obligations while keeping cash available to fuel growth, bridge receivable gaps, and make immediate investment in the supplies, services, and expertise needed to drive a growing business forward.

How can people connect with you?
You can find me on LinkedIn or contact me by email.
My LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrystiedaoszabo/
My email: [email protected]

Twitter handle?
https://twitter.com/ceedeees

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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