Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi! I’m Jordhy Ledesma, founder, and CEO of Bitfari. We are creating the largest advertising network in the world and have bootstrapped the business to a 70M fully diluted market cap valuation in less than six months using the latest technologies, crowdfunding, and cryptocurrencies.
We produce a blockchain called Bitfari, which is like Bitcoin but for ads. This means that you can buy and sell ad space using the free platform that we have created. For this, a new cryptocurrency was created called the Fari Token and many applications have been developed to make it all work seamlessly.
Our customers are advertisers, billboard operators, and mall shoppers. We provide something of value for each. In most cases, this is saving and for this purpose, we cut out multiple middlemen and keep no commissions on most transactions.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I’m an immigrant, and I have moved a lot in my time. Always feeling like a stranger and spending months and months just to feel like I fit in. While living in Virginia I had this idea: how fun would it be if billboards were tailored to my wishes and needs? I became obsessed with that idea and started hacking a mobile app to personalize the city to my needs.
The world is not an equation you can solve, but a heart you can move.
Particularly I wanted to know which places had something to do with things in my to-do list, which stores carried products from my hometown, even which bars had any sort of Latino drinks. I just felt so left out!
After showing the prototype to a bunch of my friends this seemed like something people needed. So I applied to my business school incubator, got some funding, and launched a beta of the application (at that time it was called Tellfari). Getting funding at this stage is hard, but the key is to find people familiar with your space and market.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Creating Bitfari was super hard! The prototypes took months. I coded many iterations before realizing what people wanted. I followed a design thinking process and, with the help of some professors and friends, eventually created something usable. At this point, the app had something like 15 users or so.
Eventually, we demonstrated the product at an innovation fair of the Darden School of Business and got way too many undeserved compliments.
I got admitted to the school’s incubator, got some funding, and spent the summer creating something bigger, hacking a better prototype, and expanding my vision. I read every entrepreneurship book I could get my hand into including this out of print gem about Bill Gates early business practices:
The book Hard Drive changed my life. It gave me insights into bolder, bigger thinking, global-scale business practices, and the startup culture of Silicon Valley. Then we got our first office:
A small study group room at the school! This was so much fun! I had a blast prototyping, creating, and making something out of nothing.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Then an angel investor offered me 28K to take the business to the next level. I didn’t take it. My student visa expired and I went back to my home country (Dominican Republic). Three years later I got my green card. Five years after that I became a US Citizen.
By 2016 I knew that crypto was the missing piece the project needed. Some hard incentive to get people to join and keep using the network. But things were very messy back then and also very unclear. So I waited and waited.
In March 2021 I restarted the project as Bitfari (Bitcoin Goes on a Safari). Deciding to create a global supercomputer with screens distributed everywhere on the planet showing people offers and products of things that matter to them.
You cannot engineer feelings, but you can discover human feelings that make you a better engineer.
I created a logo, website, videos, whitepapers, ads, the whole nine yards. Working at a pace that can only be described as frenetic.
I just put all my savings into Bitfari. I financed the servers, development, design, video production, legal costs, about a cool 70K and counting. Then started doing token crowd sales so my pocket is suffering less nowadays. At this point, the token is selling for 75 cents but we haven’t been admitted to any “legit” crypto exchange - only smaller ones. Hence, the trading volume on the token is usually between 10-20K daily, Which is not bad at all.
However, we are working on listing the coin at a $2.25 initial price and we expect to make between 2-5M on the ICO to keep development moving forward. Yes, this is the crazy new world of crypto. So we are a 100M dollar company with very little liquidity, thousands of desperate fans waiting for us to launch and over 50K connected billboards and screens ready to change the world. And, like with my green card, we are waiting on a piece of paper, whether that’s an audit or a legal opinion or a government license, just waiting for that piece of paper to move along.
But I didn’t wait, I played hardball like Gates and made things happen. Making progress wherever we could. Sourcing global talent wherever we could find it and pooling resources from a myriad of places, and eventually people started seeing the potential of Bitfari’s vision. That’s how we got our first 20 followers.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Getting and keeping customers is hard. I started cold emailing agencies and networks. Mind you, we have to get agencies to join the program, get billboard owners to buy in and then, only then chase customers! Partnerships seemed like the best approach to reach critical mass sooner. So I started negotiating.
In three months I signed 2K billboards, 1K agencies and joined 10 organizations. In the following month, I hit Canada. Concurrently I was building the sites, apps, learning more about crypto, and filing a never-ending stream of paperwork.
As I moved forward and started facing obstacles I went back, cleaned up the website, learned to better manage objections, and got people to buy into the vision. In two months we did a 50X on Twitter and went from 20 to 1000 followers. In the same timespan, my account reached nearly 5000 followers. As more and more people started mentioning us, our site went from 15 to 15,000 page views per day. This felt like heaven.
But I needed something else, something that would make our message spread: enters memes!!
“Success Kid” became “Baby Fari” and we struck marketing gold. People were moved by the notion that we can make this happen despite the odds, that we can have fun doing it and that community matters more than technology.
We set up a Discord server where we have daily chats, weekly AMAs, and every day, we are becoming more like a family, a Fari Family! Community is the key to trust, growth, retention, and finding meaning behind the technical complexities of moving society forward.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
This is the most exciting business that I have started or run in my lifetime. From here, it looks like Bitfari will not only hit a billion dollars in market cap pretty soon but also become one of the top ten cryptocurrencies. The stuff that we are building will change your life and bring us closer together more than anything has in our lifetime. We are building tools that translate physical ads to voice, so the blind can hear the city.
We are creating auto translators to bring immigrants and tourists closer to living like truly integrated locals. We are already selling billboards nationally and internationally at a steep discount to make them accessible to small businesses and solo entrepreneurs, and the list just goes on and on.
Every day, I get at least three calls or emails from people wanting to put a million or two into the business. This must be how rockstars feel!!
We have plans to expand globally, launch in a big crypto exchange (Binance, Poloniex, KuCoin, etc), and connect the software to billions of screens (we run on smartphones too). For us, the sky is not the limit, the moon is not the end.
It’s not how hard you hit the ball, it’s how well you place the bat.
We want to change lives, make a meaningful impact and improve the city-living experience of millions. We are not about speculation but progress. Hard-driven quantifiable progress, like that sought by the guy that wanted a computer on every desk.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
People beat computers every day. The world is not an equation you can solve, but a heart you can move. Crypto is not about numbers, it is about the emotions those numbers can bring to people when they no longer have to fight inflation, when they finally understand the nature of money and when they are free to trade value without a central party being involved.
I learned that people should always come first and that numbers just follow them. You cannot engineer feelings, but you can discover human feelings that make you a better engineer. This is key.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
It’s not how hard you hit the ball, it’s how well you place the bat. Swings are not effective because of their strength but because of their positioning. Be strategic, be timely, be smart.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are always hiring! Please email [email protected] and tell me why I should hire you!
Where can we go to learn more?
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