I caught up with Asher Tan and Ryan Zhou at the Melbourne HQ of CoinJar. Asher and Ryan are the co-founders of CoinJar – a start-up that’s breaking open the doors to Australians trading, spending and receiving Bitcoin. Asher stuck around to answer a few questions about his personal journey, Bitcoin itself and his plans for CoinJar.
Most of us have heard of Bitcoin, but probably don’t know as much as we should, so what is Bitcoin exactly and how does it work?
Bitcoin is an ambitious movement to make transferring value secure and transparent over the internet. It is not owned or controlled by a bank or central body, but processed by a distributed worldwide network of software that verifies transactions multiple times using encryption to ensure that no fraudulent transactions occur.
For those not familiar with CoinJar, can you provide a brief background and overview of who you are and the services you offer?
CoinJar is Australia’s biggest Bitcoin company, with a comprehensive product offering and a global outlook. Our focus is on end to end solutions for consumers to manage and use their bitcoin. Using the CoinJar platform, our customers can move money into bitcoin, store bitcoin, and transfer it to anyone, or spend it anywhere.
You recently presented on the big stage at Finovate Europe, how did you prepare, what did it mean for you personally and your business?
Finovate is Europe’s best fintech innovation conference where companies from all around the world show off their latest technology in a 7 minute live demo.
Even though Ryan and I were onstage for just 7 minutes, our entire team from Engineering to Customer Support were behind the scenes making sure everything went smoothly. We prepared by rehearsing and having a clear plan that everyone was across. Practice makes permanent, and our demo became routine and second nature for us.
We took home a ‘Best of Show’ award from a pool of over 70 international banks and financial services, a nice signal that the global financial community thinks we’re on the right track.
What has been the biggest personal learning experience in starting your own business?
I’ve had some really good bits of advice and some not so great bits of advice as well. You’ll have to consciously distil them at your own discretion because well-meaning people can sometimes inadvertently provide the latter. So take everything your read in this Q&A with a healthy dose of scepticism!
You’ve recently decided to move the head office of CoinJar to London, why did you make this call? …and how would you describe the impact on yourself and your business?
It’s always been our intention to be a global company. In most cases, software and internet based businesses can reach the world no matter where you operate. However as some aspects of the financial stack don’t scale globally, we’ve had to set up a physical presence in a financial hub (London) to enable our product to reach a larger audience. We’re really excited about expanding our service to the European community.
You’re now two years in to your start-up journey, what advice do you have for entrepreneurs starting out?
Be relentlessly resourceful. YCombinator’s Paul Graham is endlessly quotable and I’ve echoed his statement numerous times to be ‘relentlessly resourceful’. Overcoming obstacles is a two-fold constant of thinking creatively to solve problems, while having the drive to engage and interact with people to address them. When I was starting out, I made many valuable business relationships by simply reaching out in a cold email and presenting my problem.
What suggestions do you have to offer large organisations wanting to support start-up business?
There is a wealth of resources, network of contacts, and sector experience that large organisations can share with startups. Large organisations can contribute to the startup ecosystem by being actively involved with promoting entrepreneurship – especially at an early stage. However, unless the whole large organisation is totally aligned with a startup’s mission from top down, ‘active’ support can be the opposite of helpful in the long run.
What are you focusing on? What’s the next big milestone or goal for CoinJar? where do you plan to be in five years?
We’re building a near-instant remittance pipeline for anyone on the internet. Our products and services uses the efficiency of Bitcoin technology, but also forms infrastructure that works with the existing and traditional payment systems. We’re interested in making finance digital.
How can someone interested in Bitcoin and CoinJar learn more?
I think its essential that everyone does a bit of their own research and read up on Bitcoin and its uses from a variety of trustworthy sources. Investigate the best bitcoin service for you. CoinJar offers end to end solutions, simple user interface, fast turnarounds and in-house support. The best way to learn is to open a CoinJar and see how it works. If you have specific questions, reach out to our Support team.
Fast five with Asher Tan, CoinJar co-founder and CEO
- Choice at the cafe: Soy flat white
- My smartphone is: LG G3
- The App I love the most: Livescore – need to follow Liverpool FC
- I’m always visiting: Reddit
- When I’m not working you’ll find me: Still in front of a screen