GiveCrypto Work Trial — A New Financial System; A New Opportunity

I am very happy to announce that I am the new Executive Director at GiveCrypto.org.

As I settle into this dream role, I wanted to take a minute and share the story of the final stage of my interview process — which was atypical, to say the least.

The process started with standard phone interviews with Brian Armstrong and a few people who are helping to pull the project together. These conversations opened my eyes to the massive implications of GiveCrypto’s mission to financially empower people by distributing cryptocurrency globally. I started to get excited about working on something that could be truly meaningful.

Coinbase did work trials in the early days of the company, in which candidates worked on-site before receiving an offer. Coinbase and the candidate both benefit by better understanding how they work together.

Brian asked me to do the same and, after a few initial meetings, I was told that $1,000 in ETH had been deposited into my Coinbase account. I had four days to distribute the money to people in need.

I wish I could say that I immediately sprung into action, but my first response was hazy confusion. Who was most in need and deserving of this money? What kind of impact could $1,000 really have? I pondered these things and eventually realized that there was only one thing to do — regardless of whether I had found the “perfect” place to start —I had to just start.

I decided to anchor my donations around the idea that cryptocurrency is most useful to people in places where governance is failing; that is to say — victims of war, famine, refugees, and inflation. Due to the short nature of the work trial, I decided to focus on the refugee and inflation scenarios. I ended up conducting four experiments, whose names (below) correspond to their distribution mechanism. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

Ambassador v1 — Refugee Camps

The first experiment involved sending crypto to people on the ground within refugee camps. These “ambassadors” would have full discretion to determine who receives the proceeds and in what form (i.e. cash, food or supplies). Based on their Twitter profiles, I identified people who appeared to spend time in refuge camps. I found and messaged twenty people, six of whom responded. Five of the six were unwilling to help due to the complexity of receiving/converting crypto or the danger of providing help to the camp’s residents. One person was willing to convert $100 into food and bring it into the Mahama refugee camp in Rwanda. On September 8th, he will deliver three kilos of corn, rice and beans to ten different families in the camp.

Direct Transfer — Venezuela

Next, I attempted to make direct crypto transfers to people in Venezuela, which is currently experiencing the world’s most severe inflation. I posted in the largest Venezuelan sub-reddit explaining that I was a concerned US citizen that wanted to help. I sent $10 to recipients using the following process:

  1. They complete a Google form that asks for an ETH wallet address, a description of what they were going to buy and a photo of their national ID card
  2. I send them $5
  3. They purchase the goods and send me photos of the receipt and what was purchased
  4. I send them another $5

1,300 people saw the Reddit post, 50 completed the first form (in nine hours, then I took it offline), and (as of September 7th) 31 people have sent photos of receipts and purchased items. I was able to identify two cases of attempted fraud which involved the same person submitting the form multiple times.

Crypto Restaurants — Venezuela

Motivated by my modest success with direct transfers, I next tried to find restaurants that accept crypto as a payment option. My idea was to ask them to convert $100 into food and distribute it to people in need. I called ten restaurants listed on coinmap.org. The first two that answered the phone liked the idea and agreed to participate.

  1. El Portal

El Portal is an upscale restaurant in Guyana City. The owner was very eager to help and agreed to make and deliver 300 meals to people in need within 48 hours of our initial conversation.

300 meals being purchased, cooked, packaged, crated and loaded
Distributing the 300 meals

2. El Garage Birra Jardin

I next spoke with a microbrewery in Caracas. Victor, the owner, told me a heartbreaking story about finding a man going through his trash. He was eating the by-product (grains/barley/hops) from the brewing process. Although the by-product is quite nutritious, it is generally thrown away or used as animal feed.

Brewing by-product

Seeing this inspired Victor to create snack bars from the by-product and distribute them to children at local schools, many of whom are likely going to bed hungry. He has since been running a promotion where he creates a snack bar for each pint of beer sold. However, he was still throwing away the vast majority of the by-product. I asked him how much it would cost to convert all of the by-product into snack bars. For $200 a month, he could make 10,000 bars, providing daily snacks to approximately 600 children. I quickly sent him $200.

School snacks created from brewing by-product

Ambassador v2 — Venezuela

While speaking with Victor, I realized that his clients could also help. His restaurant is frequented by some of the few people who actually make purchases with cryptocurrency. I wondered if they would be willing to donate crypto on our behalf to people less fortunate than themselves. I asked the owner if he was comfortable using his clients as ambassadors (i.e. I send them crypto and they give it to other people). He loved the idea and began testing it out later that evening. Each client who bought beer using crypto would be asked if they would like to receive $10 (in crypto). The only catch was they had to donate what they received to less fortunate people; ideally giving $5 to two different people.

The experiment went well. Twenty one people expressed interest, 17 of them sent us a wallet address and received crypto. Of those, 12 have already distributed the crypto.

What I Learned

After compiling the data, I created a presentation outlining my efforts. On Monday afternoon I shared my story with Brian and team. I got a job offer 48 hours later. I was elated.

* aid is still being delivered

One of the primary lessons I learned from this experience is that generosity is truly contagious. Here’s a key example: One of the bar patrons in the ambassador v2 program grew skeptical after I sent him the instructions. He first asked me why he should donate the $10; what was in it for him. He proposed receiving $15; he would keep $5 and donate $10. I agreed and transferred $15. His attitude instantly changed. He apologized about asking for an extra $5 and told me that he would donate the whole amount. What’s more, he informed me that he was an out-of-work graphic designer and was willing to provide a few hours of pro-bono design service, to thank me for helping Venezuela. This random act of giving completely disarmed him, allowing his generosity to shine through. This is a powerful phenomenon and I cannot wait to see what’s in store for GiveCrypto.org as we continue this cycle.

While this exercise was a good way for Brian to get a sense of how I work, it was also a powerful way for me to see Givecrypto’s potential impact. Talking to Brian and the team got me excited about the opportunity; completing the work trial convinced me this was the perfect role for me, both professionally and personally. I don’t want to seem hyperbolic, but this experience changed my life.