5 Minutes with Alena Vranova
Alena Vranova is impressive for many reasons. A polyglot who speaks seven languages and a serial entrepreneur, Alena’s track recording includes several successful startups in finance and technology.
I had the pleasure of catching up with Alena to talk about her latest ventures and some very real use cases for the blockchain.
Hi Alena. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today. For those who don’t know you, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
I am an advisor to numerous startups and established companies, helping them to embrace the blockchain technology and deliver meaningful products. Previously, I also cofounded SatoshiLabs, a Bitcoin and Blockcahi innovation company, that created the first Bitcoin map (CoinMap.org), mining pool (SlushPool.com) and TREZOR, the original and leading Bitcoin hardware wallet.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
Every day is different and I like that. I’ve never been one for routine, but I do try to do my morning workout each day. I’m definitely not an office person and prefer to do my business on the go, which means I spend a lot of my time on the phone, meeting new people and travelling too. Right now, I’m actually in Puerto Rico for a conference.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently working on several projects. I’ve always liked to develop new projects and help people who have an idea, but don’t know how to make it happen. It’s really fun to work out all the details, structure, partnerships, and make sure than an idea makes sense for all the participants in the business.
I was fortunate enough to be in the crypto space really early on, and now am able to give back to the community. I am doing a lot of advisory (pro-bono), but I also help larger companies that want to embrace crypto but don’t know how to structure it.
You recently created a new foundation too. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
I recently established a foundation called Khodam et Bloom. Khodam means “angelic helper” or “servant” in Malaysian and Bloom, “to flourish”. The foundation will be both a charitable and commercial entity, and has four main pillars. On the charitable side, I would like to finance research and development in the crypto space, as well as encourage education in the field and support women in fintech, and create a think tank. The other part will be commercial. Instead of companies paying me for my advisory, the will be able to give anything between 0–20% of their equity to the foundation.
This sounds like a great initiative. Can you explain what you mean by creating a “Think Tank”?
I’d like to create a think tank of the savviest people that I know in the space to share their ideas with the wider community. These are people that I’ve known for years, can trust and whose values are aligned with me.
As part of the think tank, I’d like to introduce “Ideas worth implementing.” It’s similar to the TedX concept of “Ideas worth spreading”. I like to dream about how we can make ourselves freer, more confident, less reliable on the system and I think this could be a great platform for fostering this.
You’ve been involved in the crypto space now for quite some time. What initially attracted you to it?
In 2010, I went back to university to study diplomacy and & international economic relations. In my research, I found out about Bitcoin and my mind was blow. I had no idea how it worked, or what the blockchain was, but I understood the philosophy behind it. I was fortunate enough to be living in Prague in 2011 when the first Bitcoin conference happened in 2011 and met my two future cofounders. Two years later in 2013, I decided to leave my job as head of sales at an insurance company and joined Satoshi Labs. I think this was still one of the best decisions of my life.
Do you think we are in a “Bitcoin bubble” at the moment?
Bitcoin is an incredibly secure leger and the technology has a lot of possibilities. Of course there are some issues, with scalability for example, but these are being worked out. We need to spend time on research, but there are a lot of possibilities with all the new cryptocurrencies and protocols.
Do you have any advice for people who are just starting out or considering investing in the crypto space?
There’s a lot of fear of missing out at the moment — people feel like they are too late. That’s causing a lot of people to be caught up in scams because they jump in too quickly without doing the research. My advice is to get rid of the ‘FOMO’ — you’re not too late (in fact you’re still very early in the game) and only invest what you can afford to lose. I would also recommend reading the Internet of Money by Andreas Andopolos. This is great introduction into the topic without being too technical. He also has a lot of great Youtube videos.
Finally, what can people catch you talking about at #C3Conference?
I want to present a new idea that I think is worth implementing and hopefully get some feedback from the community.
Get to know Alena Vranova here and catch her speaking at #C3Conference 5–6 April in Berlin.