3 Things I Wish I Knew Before Launching a Crypto Startup
Crypto entrepreneurship doesn't end with generating hype for a project. Focus on transparency and credibility
Out of the countless entrepreneurship metaphors, perhaps the most common one is comparing the ups and downs of running a business to riding a roller coaster. Were we to apply this to crypto entrepreneurship, the ride would be steeper, and the trails would be built right in front of you as you go, saving you from falling down at the very last minute.
Does it take the fun away, though? Definitely not.
As a founder of a travel platform with crypto cashback as rewards, my journey has been exciting, but not without its stumbling blocks. Here are some lessons I learned along the way.
Set boundaries and don't move them an inch
Crypto is a fast-paced environment, and people often expect things to be up and running faster than humanly possible. You might not be dealing with your ordinary investors here—what you have is a brand new generation of investors that are high on the idea they could become overnight millionaires—and count on you to get them there.
I had people tell me, "You have three days to build the entire thing, or we are taking our money elsewhere."
There's simply a wildly different culture in crypto. One that celebrates futurism but also one that needs to recognize Rome wasn't built in a day. Educating our investors and the public that we would require time and patience to get our product off the ground was vital.
Because crypto is so early on, everyone wants to "be the first'. Yet, I have seen many projects crumble because they felt pressure to hasten their process or do things that weren't necessarily beneficial for their business. For example, many projects out there choose to spend massive amounts of their funds on marketing, not building. The result? They end up running out of cash before their product is even finished.
Don't let crypto marketers approach you and sell you castles in the sky. Instead, find your people yourself: It's likely that those that come to you won't deliver what you're looking for – and those that can are too busy to come looking for you by themselves.
Hold your ground, and don't get swayed away by those trying to push their interest or piggyback on your vision to make a quick buck. They don't care about the long-term goals of your project.
Be as agile as a cat
In my past experience as an entrepreneur, figuring things out was more or less the same – no matter the industry. I could always tap into a wealth of information, online and offline, to guide my decision-making. Yet, crypto is still relatively new and unexplored, meaning that sometimes, you may end up with no ground under your feet.
Navigating crypto laws and regulations is the perfect example. New rules are being issued as you're reading this article, and no one really knows what to do – both in the short and long run. What you learn today about new legislation could be changed tomorrow, so you have to get used to this pace without losing your breath.
Grit and agility are critical. Sometimes, being a solo founder is lonely, stressful, and – in crypto particularly – uncertain. You'll take blows and won't even be able to share it with the team not to make the spirit waver. But work through it: Like a cat, you might find yourself surviving some high falls. And while you may not have nine lives, you have as many tries as you choose to.
Survive by delegating. Initially, I had the need to control the outcome of everything we did – but that meant that any progress on the important task was slipping through my fingers. So, stay focused on where you can make the most impact and choose people you trust to elevate your project.
Put security above all else
The decentralization in crypto means that once a hack or scam occurs, it's as good as certain the money is lost – and there are no intermediaries to help out. For investors, this manifests in fear of getting involved with projects that have weak security structures.
As a crypto entrepreneur, you need to be working with this. Make security your priority and aim not only to satisfy – but exceed – the expectations of your audience.
Unfortunately, the endless crypto opportunities make the space ripe for scams and rug pulls (people running away with investors' money). In the early days, we had a colleague that wanted to remain undoxxed and demanded access to our funding. We grew suspicious and put safeguards in place – until one day, he accidentally revealed he wanted to take the money for his own use. Then, he tried to sabotage the project after we had to remove him from the team.
Crypto is all about transparency, but it was still tough to inform the public about the incident. We got a lot of heat from our investors; it brought fluctuations to our token and a slowdown of over a month. And we needed to work hard to rebuild trust within the team too. Fortunately, most of the investors and our team members are faithful to our long-term goal.
Crypto entrepreneurship doesn't end with generating hype for a project. Focus on transparency and credibility – also by striking partnerships with trusted stakeholders. And don't be afraid of doxxing, as it will help you show a clear commitment to what you're doing.