Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
We are Mark Sgambelluri and Aatash Amir and we co-founded a digital asset, xBTC. This cryptocurrency tracks the progress of all digital assets vs. Bitcoin. It is a product for those who want to get into digital assets and speculate on all of them at once instead of having to pick and choose and keep individual cryptocurrencies organized and secure.
Our token grew to 8 million dollars in market cap and continues to be around 1 million in market cap.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Mark has been into digital assets since 2011 as a fan and user. Drawn to the larger vision of changing the world financial system and decentralizing the control of money. In looking at many of the digital assets (holding over 100 different ones, personally) it is a highly complicated space with a lot of technological and security skills needed (to do it on your own, you can simplify it by just using an exchange). So he wanted to create a digital asset that brought together many digital assets into one token.
And Aatash has been into digital assets since 2013 when started his first PoW coin. Having driven the communication and marketing strategy for major projects in market capitalization that have grown to above $60 million collectively. He also acts as a key member of Statera, growing the project from 1000 to 4000 holders under his direction. With a strong network in the crypto-sphere, hopes to watch xBTC play a major role in the revolution and public adoption of decentralized assets.
If other cryptocurrencies do better than Bitcoin our token can benefit through positive supply changes. That idea of buying one token and getting access to the price action of every single digital asset vs. Bitcoin was a big “aha” moment. It highly simplified the space and created a whole new asset class: a synthetic token that tracked multiple tokens.
On the other side, it can be a way to hedge a big bet on Bitcoin, so if you hold a lot of Bitcoin (and it is the leading currency with people holding over 400 billion dollars of Bitcoin) you can hedge against its dominance falling.
Once we had the idea it was a lot of networking and showing our worth to many people. This space is highly innovative and decentralized, it feels like Silicon Valley in the 90s, anyone can have an idea and start it up in months.
We really got involved with multiple projects, helping with supporting their community and doing free work for them. As we proved ourselves we made a lot of relationships and had a network that could help us launch our own idea. We created our pitch deck and launch plan and leveraged our network to validate the idea and perfect it.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
First and foremost you have to understand the space. Become a fan and community member first. Get active on subreddits, telegrams, and discord rooms for different cryptocurrencies. Find ones that interest you and get active in their community, do free work for them, connect with the team, help them to build. Build a network and try to see how others do it right.
Once you understand the basics of how to launch, manage a community, and how the tech works then you can start building. At that point, it’s really like any other industry you find a product/market fit. Think of pain points you personally have or problems people are trying to solve. We were our first fans because we found it highly cumbersome to diversify into a lot of tokens on our own and we’re looking for a simpler way to access the price action of more tokens.
At that point leverage your network to vet the idea. Pitch it to people, take in feedback, incorporate it, iterate, pitch again. Constantly look to improve after each person’s feedback and pitch it as many times as possible. Once the idea is fleshed out focus on the quality of the product and launching right. Very early on we formed a partnership with a security firm to ensure our code was audited and secured before we launched.
Describe the process of launching the business.
As we referenced above it’s really about your network and coordination of that network. Leverage the people you trust and those that trust you, similar to Kevin Kelly’s famous 1,000 fans you really need that core center of mass to understand the concept and champion it. You need to build that community and be highly communicative with them.
In digital assets you are very closely connected to the community, almost every project has a chat room on Telegram where the team is interacting with the community daily. Community building is a 24/7 job and the main focus of launching successfully.
You also want to ensure that you plan out and line up events, spreading them out enough so they don’t get lost in each other’s noise while keeping them close enough that there isn’t too long of a lull. Also always know where the next step is in your road map and keep building/moving forward.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
There are a lot of community engagement tools in digital assets, chiefly: Twitter, Discord, and Telegram.
It is really an amazing time to be a part of the digital asset space. People are quickly and aggressively building things every day. It really is a time where people are looking for other great people to build things with and you can instantly connect around the world.
Telegram is the most popular one so make sure you use it a lot and understand how to use it. Spend a lot of time on other projects, Telegrams and learn from others. Hosting “Ask me Anything” (AMAs) is also an important tool for engaging the community. In these forums, you go through a Q and A with the community and interact with your fans directly.
SEO and marketing are a bit complicated in the Digital Asset space as it exists in a bit of a grey area so things like Youtube or Facebook Ads are difficult to implement. Space is a much more viral and guerilla marketing sector. There are a lot of YouTube, Twitter, and Telegram influencers you can connect with and we made a point of connecting with 3-5 to spread our marketing.
I think some more mainstream channels can be powerful too, getting featured on podcasts, publications (like Forbes, CNBC, etc.), and other more traditional mediums is a successful marketing tool in digital assets.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
It’s all about continuing to build. In digital assets, you need to keep building the ecosystem and moving the product forward. The space is fast-paced and constantly looking for growth. We are focused on building out our product line and diversifying our ecosystem. This means finding different exchanges to work with, different tokens to partner with, and trying to innovate the core product. With how software-driven and technology-heavy space is, anything is possible and you can innovate into a dozen different verticals if you want to.
On a day today, we are taking meetings with other projects and talking through partnerships or integrations. We also reach to and meet with exchanges to discuss listings and the logistics for that work.
Lastly, we are constantly engaging the community: answering questions, putting out content, and being present in chat rooms.
In the long term we really want to spread globally, right now our audience is mostly in the western world, however, we really would like to reach out to Korean and Chinese marketplaces where digital assets are much bigger and more widely accepted.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
We really can’t stress enough how important networking and relationships are. The space is really open to connecting and you can quite easily be talking to the CEO of a billion-dollar company in this space. You need to have your ducks in a row and always be ready to engage anyone at any moment. Also, you need to have a high level of generosity, when people reach out for support or you see a place where you can help, be generous with your time and pitch in. This is really the best way to network in this space, whatever skill you have, find a project that needs it and start pitching in!
It is a burgeoning time in digital assets and space is starving for skills: project management, community management, product design, graphic design, marketing, etc. If you want to put in the work, are driven, and ready to learn some new lingo you can quickly find a space for yourself in digital assets. With that network, you can start building your own idea and continue the innovation of the space!
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
A big part of the space is getting organized digitally with remote teams across the world. The best suite of products for this is Google docs, this is where we organize most of our workflow and outcomes (as a remote team). Other than that a lot of the work is done on social and community building, in crypto, in order of importance this goes: Telegram, Twitter, Discord, 4chan, and Reddit. Though that ranking is constantly changing. A lot of the business side such as marketing, talent acquisition, etc can be done on LinkedIn.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
These are mostly speaking to getting into crypto and understanding the space. First off join Twitter and follow Robert Breedlove, Anthony Pomliano, and then just follow who they follow. There are a lot of great podcasts: Pomp Podcast, What Bitcoin Did, Tales from the Crypt, and Epicenter.
Looking at books the Bitcoin Standard is a great read to get the basics of digital assets.
Lastly, YouTube is where you can find a lot of info on smaller tokens and token start-ups, there is a lot of paid advertising but if you just watch them understand the landscape and what is being created, you’re good to go.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Again, just looking at the digital asset space as a whole it is really an amazing time to be a part of it. People are quickly and aggressively building things every day. It really is a time in the space where people are looking for other great people to build things with and you can instantly connect around the world. First, start reading and exploring all the different communities (chiefly: Twitter, YouTube, and Telegram). Find a project you like, start following them, and start helping out.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are still trying to optimize our marketing and social media presence. We would love to find someone with a lot of skill and experience in this realm. It would be ideal if that person knew something about crypto and had experience in the space but not 100% necessary. The main task would be organizing and streamlining our social presence and viral marketing in the digital asset space.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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