First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Daniel Vogel: Thanks for asking. My family and I are doing well, though wishing we can go back to “normality” soon. I’ve missed seeing friends, family, co-workers, business partners, etc.…
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Bitso
Daniel Vogel: My entrepreneurial interests started at an early age. I started building websites and selling digital goods in middle school. That led me to study Computer Systems Engineering and Economics at Stanford University. I then joined a machine-learning AdTech company known as Quantcast in San Francisco. While I was living in San Francisco, I learned about Bitcoin and fell into its deep and beautiful rabbit hole – spendings nights and weekends devouring anything I could find on Bitcoin. I pursued an MBA at Harvard Business School, founded the Bitcoin Club, and met Ben and Pablo, my co-founders, along the way. I was incredibly excited about the technology and its potential in a place like LatAm. It’s been an amazing journey so far!
How does Bitso innovate?
Daniel Vogel: We’re best known for building the largest and most trusted crypto operation in LatAm, with over a million customers in Mexico and Argentina. Today Bitso provides the easiest and most secure way for buying and selling crypto in the region – what we’re building is a holistic financial services group, powered by crypto.
Examples of financial services that we’re already offering include a powerful mechanism to move money across borders, which is faster, cheaper, and way more transparent (both to our users and regulators) than anything the traditional financial services industry has built. We’re also providing our customers with better access and control of their money and funds – in recent months, with the increased uncertainty derived from the COVID19 pandemic and the looming economic crisis, we have seen an increased demand for stablecoins, which are cryptocurrencies that are pegged to the US Dollar.
Our mission is to make crypto useful through simple, digital, and transparent processes, interfaces, and services that work in seconds, operate 24/7, and cost only a fraction of what our customers were previously used to.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Daniel Vogel: If anything, we have seen a huge increase in demand for our products and services. It helps that we were already a fully digital operation where both internally and externally, it was easy to cope with the demands of the sanitary measures imposed to us by the pandemic.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Daniel Vogel: We were initially cautious with the pandemic, but we have seen our business’s resilience and are back on full-growth mode.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Bitso in the future?
Daniel Vogel: I started by focusing the stress and anxiety into making sure that Bitso had a proper plan in place to battle the pandemic. I feel a considerable amount of responsibility for everyone that has decided to make Bitso part of their journey. Some concrete things we did:
- Cut down on initiatives and hyper-focus on those that were the most strategically important ones
- Revise the company budget
- Weekly meetings with the finance team to look over expenses, revenue, and runway
- Set clear goals and expectations from the product delivery teams that we track on a weekly basis
- Be open and vulnerable with the team with respect to the situation we’re in. This is a global phenomenon that few of us were prepared to undertake
- Make resources available to the team to help them through this unprecedented time
Every morning, take a deep breath and remember that we’re challenging ourselves to change the world. This won’t be easy, and it’ll require determination, obsession, and hard work. That’s our commitment to the world. That makes us wake up and tick day in and day out.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Daniel Vogel: We see competition both from the traditional fintech space and from the emerging crypto space. We plan on competing exactly at this intersection, where we see very few players. We believe we’re uniquely positioned to win at this intersection, but our ability to win will depend on our ability to execute. We’re all in.
Your final thoughts
Daniel Vogel: The crypto rabbit hole is deep, but it’s beautiful. We aim to make it more digestible and useful to everyone. Our focus is on LatAm.