Reserve Update: end of Q1 2021

Nevin Freeman
Apr 13 · 6 min read

Highlights

  • In the last week of March, Reserve was the #1 most downloaded finance app in Venezuela, and surpassed 100,000 total downloads.
  • We’re also seeing increased app usage in Argentina and Colombia, and we have plans in the works to improve our service and growth rates in each of those countries in the near future.
  • There are now 1,102 merchants officially accepting Reserve with more doing so informally, and we’ve hired a new BD manager who is fully dedicated to onboarding more every day.
  • The Spanish-speaking Reserve community is growing faster than the English-speaking community at this point. We’re at 29k on Twitter and 76k on TikTok.
  • We’re continuing to recruit great software engineers. We hired three in Q1.
  • Our full-time team has expanded to 61 people, with the most growth in app operations and customer support.

Lowlights

We want to be clear about anything that’s not going according to expectations, so we avoid negative surprises.

  • At the end of March, we had to implement a new program to slow our app user growth rate. While we would like to grow as fast as people want to join, we still need to moderate growth as we add operational capacity. We are back to accumulating 1-star reviews in the Play Store from upset people who don’t want to wait to join the app.
  • We still don’t have a specific launch timeframe for the full Reserve protocol (“mainnet launch”), since we have been investing heavily in app scalability. We’re still aiming to do it this year.
  • We’re still not publicly sharing our app transaction volume stats. We plan to do this soon, but there are a few things we want to take care of before we draw much more attention to the project, which we think may happen by sharing those stats.

Recruiting

As we mentioned at the start of Q1, we’ve been investing heavily in recruiting software engineers. We are very picky, and we evaluated hundreds of applicants in Q1. I’m happy to share that we have brought on three great engineers, and we’re getting better and better at finding and quickly identifying the type we are looking for.

In case you are new to Reserve, here’s a video we’ve been sharing with software engineers that don’t know a lot about what we are doing yet:

We’ve grown the team overall to 61 people, many of whom work to directly support our users as they transact in the Reserve app. The team now spans several countries across North and South America, and we have two team members in Europe now as well.

User Growth

During the first two weeks of March, we invited everyone who was on our waitlist to join the Reserve app in our target countries (Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela) to create a full Reserve app user account and start using the service.

During the second half of March, we allowed anyone in those countries to download the app and join directly.

We were the #1 downloaded finance app in Venezuela for that time, saw many downloads from Argentina and Colombia as well, and have surpassed 100,000 total downloads.

It’s worth mentioning that this was all without buying advertisements. You might wonder why we mention whether ads were involved or not — on some level, who cares if someone joined from seeing an ad or not? I mention it because to me it’s more meaningful if people are telling their friends and families about it and growth is happening that way, since that means people are excited enough about what we are offering that they think others should know about it.

(Keep in mind that with any app, there will be a bunch of people who download it and don’t ever even try the service — so we don’t have 100,000 active customers yet.)

This growth put a lot of strain on our engineering, product, and especially our operations team. Our operations team is badass. They work intense, long days to keep our service running and help customers with issues that come up! Sometimes we get overloaded and can’t serve all of our customers at the time they need help, which we really don’t like. Obviously we’re working to fix that with more hiring and systems improvements.

At the start of April, we transitioned to a new system for joining the app, where users need to get an invite from another user to get in. We can set the number of invites each user has available to give out, so that we can control the overall growth rate. When we have lots of capacity, we can issue lots of invites and grow quickly, and if we become overloaded for a time, we can slow growth by issuing fewer invites.

Just a few days after we put this new system in place, our waitlist was already longer than it had ever reached over the past several months. 😳

So, we are continuing to hustle to support everyone who wants to use the app.

Here’s one user explaining to others how to accept Reserve as a method of payment:

Other Stuff

Behind the scenes at Reserve, there’s a bunch of… “other stuff.” What is this other stuff? Things like:

  • Making sure our AML compliance program is up to snuff. (We got the top score on our independent audit!)
  • Setting up new banking relationships.
  • Working with potential partners to see if we can do big things together or not.
  • Working with lawyers in the US and abroad to make sure we handle regulations that might apply to us.
  • Updating our branding and design process and templates.
  • Continuing to talk to our current and prospective users, and to our own internal team members, and then carefully planning the changes and additions to our app and the surrounding service.
  • Refactoring our codebase in order to prepare for heavier app usage and be able to add more features faster in the future.

…and a whole lot more.

These pieces often aren’t very exciting to put in an update post. But I want to acknowledge that there’s a ton of other work that happens to enable what we are doing. I’m proud of the progress the team has made in Q1 on all of this “behind the scenes” work, and I’m very thankful for everyone’s efforts!

Looking Forward

We are continuing to speed up processes in our app, like making it so that you can more easily convert RSV in and out of other cryptocurrencies, Colombian Pesos, and USD in the traditional banking system. We’re also working hard to shorten our response time to customer support inquiries, and provide users more information so that they can solve more problems without needing to contact us.

During Q1 we spent some time working on some details of our mainnet protocol implementation, but we were mostly occupied with all of the user activity in the app. As a result, we still don’t have a specific timeframe set for our mainnet protocol launch. I’m not happy about that, as I personally want to get to that launch as soon as possible. (We’re still aiming to do it this year.) But I take responsibility for where we’re at, since it was my decision to point the team toward supporting app growth in Q1 at the expense of speed to mainnet launch. We’re working hard and hiring fast in order to be able to maintain app growth momentum and launch mainnet quickly, but exactly what “quickly” means remains to be fully specified.

We’re in the vetting process with a candidate that may end up taking the leadership position for Argentina. We’re still looking for a Lebanese country lead, but the search is passive since we are so busy with everything else. We’ve been getting a lot of in-bound interest from Lebanese people about starting service there, which we would like to do, but without the right country lead we aren’t ready yet.

Interest in our target countries shows no signs of slowing down, so we anticipate continued significant growth throughout the rest of 2021.

Reserve

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