Interview With CryptoCurrency Influencer — Nejc Kodric of Bitstamp
I had the pleasure of speaking with Nejc Kodric, the CEO of Bitstamp. Bitstamp is the oldest and largest cryptocurrency exchange in the EU. I was delighted to pick his brain about the future of crypocurrencies.
Gene: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. Please give us a brief overview of your background and how you got started in this industry.
My co-founding partner, Damijan Merlak, and I launched Bitstamp in 2011. Starting out in our garage with an initial capital of just a thousand euros, two laptops and a server, the last thing on our minds was making any money. Instead, our motivation was the idea itself. It was complicated enough to attract us, but still simple enough for us to understand, and we were sure that others would feel the same way. We had no assurances that we would be successful, but that didn’t matter back then. We were just happy to pursue our love of technology and try to make our vision a reality.
Gene: Can you please tell us more about what your company does? I love learning about advancements in the crypto space, so please feel free to geek out with me on this.
Sure, of course. Founded in 2011, Bitstamp is the oldest global digital currency exchange and the EU’s largest in volume terms. Currently offering trading between BTC, ETH, XRP, LTC, BCH, USD and EUR, our exchange provides individual and institutional clients with an intuitive and engaging environment for trading and custodial services. And with our focus on prudence and oversight, we are uniquely positioned to serve as a stepping stone between the traditional financial and cryptocurrency worlds.
Gene: Who are your competitors in this space? What makes your company stand out?
Well, we are the longest established cryptocurrency exchange, and the best placed to serve as a bridge between the traditional financial and crypto worlds. Our focus has always been on our long-term strategy and we refuse to jump on bandwagons as they roll past. Nevertheless, we are always experimenting with new technologies and, if they stand up to our rigorous testing processes, we implement them. Since our industry is still in its formative stages, there are several pitfalls to avoid. Even surviving in this environment is a real success in itself.
Gene: What sort of traction have you guys gotten so far? Are you a well-known brand? Still in the startup stage? Or somewhere in the middle.
I’d say we are still in a transitional phase, but quite mature now as a company we have always been in profit since we started and, apart from the USD 10 million invested by Pantera in 2014, we have never needed any growth capital and knew what kind of product we wanted right from the start. Serving over 3 million customers globally, our brand is well-known now and our growth has actually been organic. We like to think we are the most trusted exchange out there.
Gene: What is the most innovative project that you have ever worked on?
Bitstamp is a project in itself, and the most exciting and innovative of its kind in the financial world. We have been at the forefront of the cryptocurrency industry since the outset, and there is no manual or instructions about how to run a cryptocurrency exchange, so I truly believe this is the most innovative project around.
Gene: What are some up and coming coins that we should keep on our radar?
I have a personal rule about not giving investment advice. Even talking about which coins we should look out for could be construed as such, so it is probably better if I do not comment.
Gene: What is your opinion on bitcoin? Is it still a good investment?
In terms of an investment, again I cannot comment. What I can tell you, however, is that bitcoin was the trailblazer, ground breaker and pioneer. It changed our perception of what was possible, and that we really could have a decentralized monetary system. No other digital currency has brought as much innovation as bitcoin. It is the ultimate proof of concept and is changing the world.
Gene: What sort of regulations do you think we can expect to see in 2018? How will it impact the industry?
This year will be crucial for regulation in our industry. Demand has increased more in the last year than ever before, which means that there are more customers than ever who need to be protected. After all, the purpose of all the policies to be followed once you’re regulated is to protect customers. I believe that regulators will start looking at all the exchanges and seeing how they operate and whether they adopt best practices. Those exchanges that do not follow these rules and are unable to comply or take regulation seriously will be those that pose systematic risk. There is a chance that this may result in restrictions being imposed and some of those exchanges might be shut down.
Gene: Who is your hero (In your business or personal life)? How have they inspired you to become the person you are today.
I really don’t have a hero in that sense. I just think it is always better to back yourself. When I was growing up, there were people that inspired me, of course, but I have never blindly idealized any particular person. If anyone, I would say that core developers are my heroes. They have devoted their time and developed the Bitcoin network to what it is today.
Gene: If you could jump into a time machine, go back in time, and change one aspect of your past, what would it be, and why?
Haha, good question. Right, so I have a time machine available? Well, if that’s the case, then I would rather take a trip 15 years into the future and see how life will be then. That would appeal to me more than going back to fix something from years ago.
Gene: How will the work your team is doing impact humanity in the future? For example, bringing people closer together, creating more jobs, create killer robots that will destroy all of humanity (joking), etc.
Well we are definitely creating more jobs. For example, our team has quadrupled in size in the last year and we’re still hiring daily. I like to believe that we’re building talents, teaching and inspiring everyone that joins the team and that we give them space for their personal growth. Moreover, we offer a safe and good service, giving people all over the world access to digital currencies. We’d like to think that we do our part by providing this access, and it is down to everyone what they choose to do with it.
Gene: Throughout our careers, we have all run into a few roadblocks. Can you please tell us about a time that you failed? How did you motivate yourself to keep going?
I like to compare entrepreneurship to sport. When running a marathon, there is always a temptation to quit. When you hit “the wall”, it is easy to consider giving up. But a good sportsman is persistent and doesn’t let up. I feel the same way about business. Just like in sport, you must be prepared for challenges, face them and overcome them. In my view, this is the philosophy that will help you become successful, no matter what you do.
Gene: What are your 5 tips that you would give to an inexperienced investor? Why?
Well, since I don’t give investment advice, I would first ask about the investor’s reasons for investing in crypto and whether he or she had ever invested in anything else before. You see, all investments involve a learning curve. For example, if you buy stocks, you monitor the company’s performance and yearly reports, and make your decisions based on that. It’s no different in crypto, you need your finger on the pulse all the time. You must be well informed and aware of the market dynamics you are engaging with. And, before doing anything, you must have clear expectations. It’s easy to buy, but a lot harder to sell.