'The number of millionaires in Silicon Valley is simply amazing': how a Russian received $ 25 million in 32 seconds
Vasiliy Trofimchuk, co-founder of the BitClave blockchain project, which attracted $ 25 million in 32 seconds during ICO in November last year, explains how they managed to achieve this, and also tells how the company has an office in Silicon Valley.
How I launched two projects in Silicon Valley
Almost all my life has been connected with IT and programming. He first worked as a hired manager, but after finishing the MBA, he decided to move independently, opening several of his own projects. Some of them almost immediately failed, without errors and "stuffed cones" has not done.
So, in the Silicon Valley all my illusions about this “heavenly place” for the creators of new technologies have been dispelled. Everything there is very different from the usual conditions. The difference is that the prospects for the project are faster in the valley.
Since at the first stage the amount of expenses was so high, in order to cover them, it was necessary to work very well with monetization or growth. In Moscow, one can search for a long time for ways of development and continue to exist.
But before I realized this, I launched two projects in the valley. They did not survive, but the experience gained is bearing fruit in my business today. One of the projects was called Kidbee - a children's YouTube with integrated interactive micro lessons, instead of advertising. Although the project was promising, at some stage I realized that this is not a billion-dollar history. Choosing between the construction of a small company and the opportunity to implement a large-scale project, I chose the second path.
Then I took up one of the most difficult projects - a gaming studio with an 25 audience of millions of gamers. This business took a lot of effort, but gave great knowledge in working with a multimillion international audience.
I also had a favorite project - an Internet provider, which I managed for more than 12 years. I valued them so much that I did not want to sell it at the peak of the business, when we received lucrative offers. As a result, the transaction was in 3 times smaller than we could have previously expected. And it was a good experience, as it is not necessary to sell the company, albeit beloved.
How I met a partner
Over the past years, ideas around personal data have been circling in my head. I was worried about why my data is being sold by corporations and middlemen, in return for disproportionately cheap services. Imposed advertising through standard search engines and social networks left a residue. It has been claimed that corporations get into someone else's privacy and add huge profits for reselling my data.
I am not used to dwell only on ideas. And a few years ago, my first pilot project in this area was launched - an ad blocker. At the start, there were difficulties with restricting the App Store to blockers, the further path of the project promised to be thorny because of the total control of Apple applications, so I resold it to another company. But I did not want to leave this sphere.
Fortunately, I met my future co-founder Alex Bessonov. Alex was the head of cyber security at LG. This is an example where people with the same views and ideas can manage big things.
Together, we were looking for a way to connect customers and companies bypassing corporations and how to fairly reward users for using their data. We saw the problem wider than advertising. The difficulty was that corporations manage the process of connecting businesses with customers.
Gradually, we came to the conclusion that without the blockchain this would be just a story with the construction of another corporation. It has become the missing component that allows you to build systems that are independent of the creators themselves: transactions between potential customers and sellers can be made without advertising based on smart contracts. So our today's project was formed.
We have also chosen Silicon Valley as our headquarters. Despite past experience, they decided to stay here because they “groped” a billion-dollar history.
But in the end there were two offices - one in the valley, the second in Moscow. But the company is essentially decentralized. Most of the employees work remotely from different cities and countries.
What are the advantages of headquarters in Silicon Valley
The advantage of this location is that you can watch as thousands of startups develop. They are born and die - as in fast-forward. And there are billions of stories fired up in front of your eyes. It is highly motivating.
The number of millionaires here is amazing. Very quickly, you can gain experience, see which ideas work and which do not.
Here everyone quite openly share their knowledge. The main thing is to want and strive for communication, to go to meetings, to go to start-up accelerators.
Strange here it may seem that everyone lives very simply. There are no palaces and castles, even among millionaires and heads of companies. Everything is very rational. Compact houses, simple cars. Office buildings with minimal decoration. And schools often look like barracks.
We were looking for a team among friends and former colleagues.
Thinking about your business is the first step. Then you need to form a team and look for partners and investors. For me, a partner is a person whom I trust completely, who is also interested in a common cause, as I am. I have known Alex for many years, so there was no doubt about him. We have determined equal participation both in shares and in the management of the company. We both have the authority of a CEO, only in different areas of responsibility. I am responsible for products, marketing, team management, and Alex is responsible for the internal infrastructure of the platform, business development, and partners.
We began to search for specialists among friends and former colleagues. We were confident that the relations that had developed over the years have been a guarantee of the team’s stability in the future.
It was important for us that a person not only understood his area, but also was able to start all sorts of roles in a company at the start of a business in the absence of a large team. They attracted advisors who had expertise in the areas we needed.
It is worth admitting that it was difficult to find those people who went through the ICO and were ready to share their experiences and mistakes, which was even more important for us. We faced consultants-amateurs who would like to shine on our website and increase their value in the market. Now it is a real market disease.
We worked with those who believed in the idea and began to help regardless of the remuneration (which we, of course, still provided, but after the contract). As often happens, the first investors were ourselves and Alex. Later during the ICO, we sold part of the tokens, and these funds went to the development of the project.
Difficulties with BitClave, as it seems now, were not particularly, as there was a mood to win and any obstacles were converted into tasks. The market for blockchain projects is very dynamic, and it was necessary to have time to analyze events in several countries and in different languages at once.
The most unpredictable was the Chinese market due to external factors. Now our plans are to accelerate in terms of developing and attracting the best specialists. We already have representatives in Singapore, the USA, Russia, China, Japan and we plan to expand.
The secret of our good fees at ICO is in the experience of past mistakes when creating startups. This time we already knew how to work with investors, how to hold meetings, how to pitch. Involved all possible ways to access investors, and did not wait until someone came to us.
We tested the idea and enlisted the support of potential partners, even before the start of creating any product. They made their way to the press.
Especially helped by quickly closing start-up accelerators. This time we had a clear plan, and we followed it. The main problem was strict adherence to the rules. We were also not going to take a risky path, as many Russian ICOs do.
There is still one thing - not to commit illegal actions and to exclude them in advance. At first we turned to local lawyers, but they were often mistaken and failed to meet deadlines. As a result, we simultaneously hired three large international law firms to accompany. We trusted them because they knew about the experience of interacting with regulatory authorities in different countries. In my opinion, many projects do not even think about the amount of illegal actions they do during the ICO, and that this will soon turn against them.
Share your idea with more people.
What else I realized: you need to go out of your comfort zone and share your idea with as many people as possible. So immediately it will be possible to test its viability and its faith in it, as well as to find partners.
ICO has opened a new project economy. To create a successful and large-scale business, it is not necessary now to convince experienced investors, but rather to find ordinary people who believe in you and the idea.
But all the other laws of startups in the blockchain sphere still apply. For example, do not forget about high-quality marketing and positioning; without these components, the chances of a successful ICO are rapidly reduced.
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