Justin Hartzman, Co-Founder and CEO of CoinSmart tells us about Digital Currency Exchange.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Justin Hartzman: We’re making the best of it. Everyone wants to have a little time away and get out of their space, so it’s hard when everyone is jammed under one roof. But it’s what you make of the opportunity. I’m fortunate to have a supportive family and well-behaved children during this all, and their safety is what’s most important to me.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded CoinSmart.
Justin Hartzman: The two other co-founders and I have been friends since childhood, from a summer camp, actually! We’ve had successful business ventures together in the past, and in 2017-2018 we were trying to get into the crypto market and realized that the options we found were frustrating and disappointing and oftentimes presented more obstacles than solutions! In response, we began developing CoinSmart, and here we are today.
How does CoinSmart innovate?
Justin Hartzman: Three words: making cryptocurrency accessible. We keep that in mind because it’s all about what our users need, so we always look to them to listen for guidance. If there are features that give their experience a better “flow” or something new they’ve been asking for they don’t see in the market, then we consider those a priority—as long as they fall within the Canadian regulatory framework and European markets of course.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Justin Hartzman: We’ve been fortunate since we’re a business that can be run from anywhere, but our team was already quite international, so the shift wasn’t a net new for us.
Looking at the markets during the lockdown, people saw massive amounts of money being spent, and it has brought inflationary times. Yet cryptocurrency is something that is anti-inflationary. We’re providing what everyone wants out there, a safe haven for their dollars.
I think this pandemic, the market, and politics have driven cryptocurrency to the forefront—and it’s here to stay into the future.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Justin Hartzman: We are very fortunate the only human resource decisions we had to worry about were growth-related. We had to build larger teams and bring in new people to manage them while working online. To offer jobs to people during these times, especially ones where people can grow their careers and develop aspirations, means we have been very lucky.
With the momentum of the market, it’s been a great test for us in management. But we were rugged through it and were able to raise needed capital to allocate people-power to the spaces necessary so we could absorb the new growth.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Justin Hartzman: Well, I think like everybody, Zoom has been, maybe not a game-changer, but I’d say a life changer in that we can really have meetings together when needed on-demand around the world. While it has blurred lines in regards to work-life balance, it has made things more accessible for our teams. That’s a really big piece of what we’ve done.
Past that, we’ve increased our use of collaboration tools and software we use to bring things together in the workplace—whether it’s for security or to help us show off new work. Really it’s the communication that’s key. We have our entire team in at once. That never happened before.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Justin Hartzman: We’ve been in a good position and haven’t had to do so.
Your final thoughts?
Justin Hartzman: For us, Covid-19 hasn’t had many negative impacts on our industry as a whole. The negative impacts have been in the loss of that human-to-human interaction. The daily collisions of people in an office where ideas are born and grow don’t happen organically anymore.
We’ve worked hard to maintain our position, and we’ve worked hard to continue building our company and growing it. I would say that the pandemic has maybe staggered us a little in that we’re missing that natural development of camaraderie in the office that helps ideas develop in a quicker fashion.
Do You think it would be fair to say that the pandemic forcing people online and inside has been a positive influence on the industry?
Justin Hartzman: Absolutely, and not just for cryptocurrency. If you look at the growth of other companies like Wealthismple and Robinhood, it’s been in leaps and bounds. People are looking for other things they can do at home. The financial markets are talked about all the time.
It does really help that millennials are getting into the market and learning to understand it. I think it’s a great thing for everyone in the financial industry.
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