Empowering Commerce Through Cryptocurrencies

Andrew talks with Justin Seidl of Sequoir (formerly Vertbase), about starting, scaling, and launching a crypto-startup. Justin gives a look behind his streamlined process for transferring digital assets.

Presented by
Andrew Verboncouer
Partner & CEO
Justin Seidl
CEO of Sequoir

Andrew Verboncouer:   You're listening to the Seaworthy Podcast, episode 17, Empowering Commerce through Cryptocurrencies. Seaworthy is a podcast about building successful software. Today we're talking about the story of starting, launching, and scaling a crypto startup with Justin Seidl of Sequoir.  Welcome to Seaworthy Justin, thanks for coming. 

Justin Seidl:   Yeah. Thanks, Andrew. Thanks for having me.

Andrew Verboncouer:   How have you been?

Justin Seidl:   Pretty good. Just get through the holidays and, and moving on a little bit and getting getting back into the grind.

Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, do anything fun over the holidays?

Justin Seidl:   We have a little one. So a lot of it was meeting up with family celebrating his first Christmas and just kind of doing that whole spiel.

Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, first Christmas. That's exciting. Setting No. no trees tip this year, but next year, all bets are off.

Justin Seidl:   He's starting to walk. So actually the first foot and a half of our Christmas tree didn't have any ornaments. Oh, wow.

Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, the worst story I heard was actually my, my brother has a son, ej and he tore down the whole tree this year. And he's 18, 19 months. Hopefully not on on top of themselves, no, not on top of himself. But all bunch of ornaments broke and, you know, drain the water and that sort of thing. So - I may have to fix the tree next year ceiling or something. Before we jump in, can you tell us a little bit more about your background? how you got into companies into startups and kind of a loaded question, but maybe start in high school? What your path was today?

Justin Seidl:   Yeah, I'm some I'm locally from the Green Bay Area. I went to high school just outside of Green Bay, and then went to the University of Wisconsin Green Bay for college. One of the things that always really interest me when I was younger was was building drawing, designing, really just kind of putting something together starting from playing with Legos in the basement to high school, a lot of drafting classes. And then once I got to college really just kind of digging into computer science and graphic design and then kind of making a mix of the two. And that ultimately led me to wanting a career in web design and development. And through the last 10 years of my career, just being able to experience a lot of different product teams, going from large corporations to very small startups where I was the first employee just really helped me kind of get a lot of experience and grow into realizing that I can go out and build a lot of projects myself.

Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, so I think I think one of the times we first met was in probably early 2000s. I guess it's 2020 now, so it's farther away than it than it actually feels. Maybe at a startup weekend or I think something similar to that in the sort of community here. I think then you were working on blink bank was one of the ideas. Yeah, I think with Chris Schmitz and a couple other people. So kind of got back into, into the FinTech space and not just with verb base, but shift savings and some other things that you've done. It's kind of interesting to see playing in that space. What, before we jump into design and startups and things like that? What types of things keep you busy outside of work?

Justin Seidl:   Right now, I think the biggest thing is my son being so young and he's starting to move around and, and be mobile. My wife and I are just spending as much time as we can with him and just give him as much attention that we can possibly give him and help him grow as a young human being. But other than that, I'm pretty active doing a lot of sports. You know, baseball, softball, volleyball. Doing something to stay active. Yeah. And just keep myself kind of in a more physical mindset than always just being at a computer desk,

Andrew Verboncouer:   For sure. So, you talked about working for some larger corporations was that locally was that InDesign was that in engineering or computer science? You kind of, I guess, unicorn is what they would call it, you can do design, you can do some front end, some, you know, back end development, that sort of thing. How did you get started in the practice of design or development or the not the practice, but what was your first position?

Justin Seidl:   I think it goes all the way back to when I was at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay. I was I wasn't really happy with their computer science program and what they provided it wasn't exactly what I was expecting at the time, I wanted to go out and build websites. And that was more of Let's learn Java or ASP to build a program that didn't really catch my interest. And so I gravitated more towards their design arts program, and even then, they Didn't really focus on design, website design. And that kind of just left me unfulfilled. I worked at the Student Union over the web. And they actually allowed me to build out websites for a lot of different organizations, student orgs programs throughout the, throughout my four years working for them, and that allowed me to actually grow and learn HTML, CSS and basic JavaScript on my own, that I then kind of turned into its own independent study. Yeah. And assuming that you learned a lot through that process, you know, not only design, but understanding the constraints of what is doable in a reasonable amount of time. I think, you know, there's a there's a big discussion and, you know, designed Twitter of should designers code and should they learn and I think understanding that can help you go faster, you know, down the line. Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, there's there's pros and cons to both. 

Andrew Verboncouer:   Yep - So then going from that to, you know, something like, you know, I think you moved, you're now back in Green Bay, but part of that you move to Chicago for new coast ventures. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience?

Justin Seidl:   Yeah. I so I had been with a couple startups prior to that. And the startup that was that I was in prior to moving to Chicago had just been acquired. And we were kind of at the crossroads of the acquiring company was in Vancouver, and they were that was MOBA phi. Yep. Yeah. Or it was don't a acquired by mobile five. Yeah, that's right. And it really, really great company. A lot of great experience even from that a little bit bigger company to learn process from, but they were based in Vancouver and it was kind of set up that if you wanted to progress in your career, you'd have to be located in Vancouver. So I kind of did some searching. Matt, one of the past cohorts at the boundary program that that startup had gone through. And his name was Nick Midas. And he actually welcomed me into nucleus ventures and the projects that they were working on. A new course is really just a small venture firm agency kind of set up where they are looking to invest in startups. And really just kind of get them from idea to that first round of funding, build them out, help them succeed and get that MVP together. They actually spun out their own product, Hunt Club, which is then something I really focused on as well.

Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah. So you kind of went from working more with a range of startups to focusing a little bit more on on club. How was that experience kind of working on, you know, with multiple teams to kind of now transitioning more back to a more startup focused?

Justin Seidl:   Yeah, it was a it. There's a lot of positives and a lot that I gained from starting that new coast, and really working with a wide range of ideas and being able to kind of test what works and what doesn't work when starting out a product and what to look for and find to make a product successful, using a lot of feedback from the users, and the clients that are using that app, or that platform that they're trying to build, ultimately led us to really provide a better product for Hunt Club, because a lot of everything we did was just testing and bringing in data first, that ultimately led to the decisions that we made to build out that platform.

Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah. So with one club, where did that Where did you leave off with that? Did you end up going from punk club to a different venture with new coast or I guess where it's hung club today?

Justin Seidl:   Yeah, hunk club is doing really well. So when I left, I was head of product for that team. We had just raised our last round of funding. It was a bridge seed round for our series A. The team has been growing. I think I was the eighth employee. They're now pushing close to 100 employees smile, so they're doing very well. The team is as amazing as They're doing a great job. I think the focus that is different from a traditional recruiting platform is you can automate to a certain extent, and you can be hands on to a certain extent. But finding that middle ground to provide not only a more efficient process, but also something with white glove service that we like to call where you really give each person each client a, your full attention.

Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, if I remember correctly about one club, it was matching you with or maybe using your network to, maybe you can describe a little bit more about, you know, the nuts and bolts of the software but scan your network on LinkedIn and search for opportunities.

Justin Seidl:   Yeah, I think introduction one of the one of the key metrics that we identified is that the candidates that are most successful in in the industry that you're in, or the candidates that you are really looking forward to make a difference on your team are primarily passive candidates. They're in a job they're not looking they're They're content with where they are. And so you really need to go find them and provide a better opportunity for them. One way that we successfully navigated that was by having influencers connect their networks on home club. And then we'd go find these people that fit the criteria of the job that we're looking for. And then instead of reaching out directly to the candidate, we would reach out, say to you and say, you know, Andrew, john smith is a great candidate for this role. Here's why. If you just recommend them, or give us the referral to them, you're eligible to receive $100 if they get an interview, and if they get hired anywhere from 2000 to $3,000. Well, and it was a simple yes or no email. We never crossed the line. If you said no, we respected your wishes, there was nothing more important than your own social capital. So we never crossed that line. And most people just simply click yes on the email, and then our response rates from the actual candidate were much better than A cold LinkedIn type outreach, right? Because we attached and said, Hey, john, we have Andrew here, he said, you'd be a great fit for this position at this company. I'd love to talk to you more about it, let us know if you're interested. And that response rate was much, much higher.

Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, it's almost like you know, you're taking the dynamics and the behavior of you recommending a friend to work for a job, you're at that you might get a referral or something, you know -  

Justin Seidl:   Exactly. 

Andrew Verboncouer:   And kind of using your network and making it more, I guess, accessible and more broad. 

Justin Seidl:   Right. And in a lot of people are like, well, I don't want to just make money off my network. If you feel ever feel that at some point, you don't need to refer somebody. Yep. We encourage that you actually are referring people that they're there, your close family and friends, you really think it's a better opportunity for them to progress your career. And one way we focus on that was making sure you know if you're a VP of Marketing That's a great way for us to go get a passive candidate and level them up to a CMO or a position like that. So it we always made sure that we're providing substantial value to the candidates that we're going after. And a lot of times it was a better role, higher salary, better location or an opportunity that they can really progress.

Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah. Yeah, that's awesome. So so you kind of step back from that role and what's been your journey kind of between then and and founding vertbase?

Justin Seidl:   Yeah, I learned a lot from just being with new coasts and Hong Kong club and the opportunities that were presented in front of me and how to just really let the data that is the data and the feedback that's coming back to me dictate how I I develop a product. That's something I learned the hard way from past startups where I would jump in with an idea that I thought was cool or, or trendy, but really didn't focus on why it was useful while if it was needed. And Hong club taught me that and nucleus taught me that So night, I was digging into the crypto space, I really loved what crypto was doing. I and with my background, I knew I had to be a part of it somehow had to do something in that space. And it all kind of just came together. I was able to reach out to a community and ask him if I built this, would you be interested? With the first week I got 7000 people on my waitlist. And that ultimately led me to Okay, I want to jump in and do this.

Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, that's exciting way to test if somebody is interested, right. If Can you measure their intent? I think the next best thing is will they actually buy or use something in your case with crypto, you can't do that until you exchange assets? Yep. But they, you know, assuming folks understood that if I were to join this exchange, there's a there's a fee to that they're used to, you know, what that means on other platforms and that it's not something that's just free. So that's good.  So have you always been into cryptocurrencies like since I guess always would be I don't know when? 

Justin Seidl:   11 years ago 

Andrew Verboncouer:   yeah 11 years ago 2009 - Have you been interested in kind of keeping up with it since it launched and since bitcoins been available and the other was Bitcoin the first one? 

Justin Seidl:   Yeah, yep. 11 years ago I think Bitcoin just so celebrated its birthday on the first. I definitely was not interested in Bitcoin or more specifically blockchain technology at that time. I, I didn't, you know, I didn't realize the importance of it. I didn't really give it a second thought until probably like three or four years ago. The market was going pretty crazy, that skyrocketing and I was like, okay, there's there is something here and when I really kind of dug in and tried to understand the technology behind it, I just kind of had this feeling that there is something more to this, it may not be a form of payment. But blockchain technology itself is incredibly important for the event the advancement of technology in our daily lives.

Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, I mean, I think If you can talk a little bit more about, like what the blockchain is, and how maybe it's used in some other scenarios to release funds or confirm transactions, or authorize or things like that.

Justin Seidl:   Yeah, I think I think one of the most important things that blockchain can do is provide decentralized and distributed ledger of data. And that becomes really important when you want to talk about what I think is one of the most important things for the next 10 years is the protection of your own data, and the control of your own data on the internet. A lot of what we're seeing right now is Google, Amazon, Facebook. Their value comes from the fact that they control a vast majority or a vast amount of data on you and individual user yourself. So they know you know, if you think Google, they know everything you search, might know everything that you browse everything that you shop for, and then when you're going home, interacting within your home, they know that as well. And that can be very hard. helpful for daily tasks. But that can also be incredibly dangerous when you talk about the power that they hold over individuals that far exceeds even some government bodies in the world today. So I think I think what blockchain can do is you can put your data on this blockchain, and it's encrypted and it can't be accessed unless you grant permission. So the same with, you know, as a form of currency, file storage, even, you know, there's some projects out there that are trying to save, like whole websites on the blockchain and you access it through the blockchain host little bits of each one of those things. Yeah, correct. And so I think what I'm, what I'm pulling from it from my observation is that there's a good way to really just kind of put data in a secure place that's not in a centralized database, and is not controlled by one or two entities as a whole. So AWS, Amazon, Google their their servers are powering and hosting most of the internet today. And I think they do a lot to make sure that those servers stay up. I don't think there's one of these like, it'll go down and then the internet's forever ruined, but they control it. And that's a very scary thing if they want to, at any one point become a bad actor instead of remaining a neutral or good actor Hmm.

Andrew Verboncouer:   Or introduce backdoors to governments or other potential things that have happened in the amount before...

Justin Seidl:   Yep, or if they're even privy to attack. You know, there's, if you look at North Korea, or some of these other nation states that are sanctioned against the US some of their most profitable ways of funding their country and the resources that they need are through hacking and other means to take control people's data or money through online platforms,

Andrew Verboncouer:   Right and that's just one angle. You know, Amazon's warehouses and platforms obviously, they have redundancy. And, you know, there's certain things that help, you know, preserve uptime and things like that. But when you're talking about like a pure network of hundreds of thousands of processors, it changes things a little bit.

Justin Seidl:   And they, I don't know the exact day, I think it was like two or three years ago, somebody was performing just some routine maintenance on Amazon's s3 service. And I believe they just like fat fingered a command. And it actually shut down the s3 service and all of the north or the sorry, the eastern corridor for AWS servers. And they didn't understand quite what they did. So for three, I think it was like three hours, it was completely down. And what was funny about is that Amazon's status page is actually hosted by the eastern region in the United States on s3. So it actually couldn't update and show that the status of that of that s3 bucket was down for that entire network because of a simple typing, err, you know, and that's the dangers that we we provide to these big organizations when they control and they're the central figure for all this data.

Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, it's really interesting when you think about hosting, because I don't remember specifically where I was, but I remember like, slack was down. Twitter was down a bunch of these things that are hosted on AWS. Were down if you're being served by those. 

Justin Seidl:   Yep, absolutely.

Andrew Verboncouer:   So, so you go from hunk club, into vertbase, co founding you tell us a little bit about the story of, hey, you had 7000 people sign up on, you know, saying they were interested giving you their intent. What was the next steps you took from there? 

Justin Seidl:   Yeah, I think it was a y verb base kind of came about and the idea behind it. I was getting more and more into crypto. And then as I was kind of digging into all the different digital assets that were available, I wanted to purchase some of them because I liked what they were, what they kind of their project was about some of the things that they were trying to do. And if you were in the US specifically, really one of three options you had was either going to Coinbase Gemini, and there may have been one or two others but those are really the two strongest that you had a lot of trust in, you could kind of work directly by connecting your bank and having a Fiat on ramp to buy bitcoin. At the time Coinbase had three pairs, you could buy bitcoin, or aetherium or Litecoin. And, you know, I got I had bought Bitcoin and Litecoin back in those those days, but really want to expand more.  And the biggest issue for me was I would have to take Bitcoin and then go send it over to an exchange that was over in Korea or somewhere overseas. A lot of times they they weren't translated to English, so I'd have to use Google Translate. So I'm sending funds through this wallet address and then to another one wallet address, placing a trade hopefully the wallet address, and then yeah, and then it was a, you know, multiple steps of transferring assets. And it just was very tedious. There's a lot of friction points, my design and developer background, it was confusing for me. So I'm like, it's got to be confusing for others. And so that's where I'm like, Okay, let's do what Coinbase is doing. Make it simple. It's literally my bank accounts connected. I want this much of a digital asset. I want a digital assets that's not supported by Coinbase. And then click boom, got it? Yep. So that was our whole goal. Let's build something for that. And that's where people really were interested. And we've got we got a lot of people to come on board. And really after seeing that, we're like, okay, let's, let's dig into this. The next step was just the regulations behind working in the United States. And being a money services business and tackling that, which took us roughly eight months to get all the licensing in place. Make sure that were approved by the federal government operating the proper way, setting up anti money laundering and know your customer compliance. And what took the longest was actually acquiring a bank account that would would allow us to work in that space and do what we wanted to do.

Andrew Verboncouer:   And so by bank account, you mean, basically, was it an escrow account or account that would hold the activity? Like deposits and things like that, or how? 

Justin Seidl:   yeah, really, honestly, it was it's just a bank account to just act as our bank account so we can pay for services. Yeah. And have a business checking account of sorts. The problem with what we're trying to do, we're registered with fincen. And there's, I think there's anywhere between 17 and 19,000 banks in the us right now. Where our money services business so that immediately brings us down to around 1000 banks that will or has the capabilities of supporting us and working with us because of that. extra security and compliance that we have to go through. At the time when I was applying for this service, three known banks in the US that would even talk with companies dealing in crypto, well, I was lucky enough to get in with one continue to push, basically put together a plan of like, what do I need to do to get a bank account? And just working on those things? I got those things had an agreement in place. And ultimately, that allowed us to launch and open the doors at first base to the public, which was September of 2018.

Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, so just just, I guess recently, right, so that was just a year and a? 

Justin Seidl:   Yeah, a year and a couple months.  

Andrew Verboncouer:   I'm still thinking it's 2019. A year and a couple months. Do you know if that that's changed? I mean, obviously that's a big barrier to entry for anyone, any startup trying to, to launch something similar or in the same vein, do you know if, if that's changed? 

Justin Seidl:   The banks are still pretty tight on it. But there are others handful more of banks that are realizing there's an industry here, two or three of them. I've really kind of grabbed the bull by the horns and said okay, not only are we going to just provide you a bank account, we can provide all these services with virtual wallets API's, making this a much more forward thinking, cutting edge type opportunity in the US. And those banks are seeing a massive amount of increase in these businesses, these types of businesses coming on board, and they're really leading the charge in bridging that gap between banks and the crypto blockchain space.

Sponsorship:   This episode is sponsored by Headway. Headway helps startups and corporations bring entrepreneurial ideas to market and keep them there. Whether you want to bring a new idea to life or improve the one you already have, Headway can help through product strategy, design and development. For more information, you can head to our website at headway.io. Through this podcast Headway is excited to give back to the community -  because we all know a rising tide lifts all ships, so go forth and make waves.

Andrew Verboncouer:   So what? flash forward about a year and a half, just about, since you're able to open the doors, how has reception Ben user's volume through the platform? That sort of thing. You'd speak a little bit about the metrics just off the top of your head.

Justin Seidl:   Yeah, I mean, we started with one asset and when I say asset, I mean one crypto. That was vert coin, we had it paired just with the US dollar. From that time over that span, we've really kind of grown into. We're in like 112 countries now. I believe six of them we can do the Fiat option where we can exchange of US dollars, the British pound or the Euro directly with a digital asset. The other countries are just digital asset, digital asset swaps. So we've grown there, we've grown our volume steadily, month over month, a little bit of a setback the last couple months, I think it's just been a very harsh market. And we've weathered through this kind of bear market that we've seen for the last year and a half. But there's signs of it coming back to life. And that's kind of growth there. And just making sure that we're really catering to the communities that we support, where we got 13 digital assets that we support right now. We work directly with them, we give a portion of our proceeds back to them, and take a lot of feedback on what they need 

Andrew Verboncouer:   To the assets? 

Justin Seidl:   Correct. 

Andrew Verboncouer:   Okay. 

Justin Seidl:   Correct. And maybe I should explain that a little bit more. We work with, we try to stay away from some of these early digital assets that were created, are considered Icos. They had a pre minor airdrop and they all kind of cross this line of being a potential security. And in the United States, if you're a security you need to you can only be purchased by an accredited investor unless you go Proper broker. So we've stuck with a lot of assets that will not be classified as securities because they stay away from what's considered the howey test in the in the market and they don't hit four tiers that would consider them a security. And the primary thing is that they're not controlled by an organization that created them and has even for sale over everything that happens. We go after these truly decentralized communities that really are out to just work on a project do good. They don't have financial interest in it, most of the time. A lot of them are actually volunteers, volunteer developers, marketers, and to really kind of keep those projects going. And a lot of the ideals that they instill in the market in the in the industry. We found that it you know, instead of charging them to list and try instead of like, kind of holding them to this crazy fee to get them onto our platform, let's let them on our platform. And then kind of give back to them to really help with their development, their marketing and, and foster their growth as a community. And that, you know, we were one of the first ones to do that we kind of pioneered that approach. And it's really created a strong user base for us that is very, very loyal, almost fanboy. Ask where they'll go to bat for us and really do a lot of the organic growth for us.

Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, that's good to hear. I mean, that's kind of related to, you know, just development like open source. So you have these decentralized currencies that are really focused on the benefit of a group of people that are trying to do a specific thing. It's not really somebody out to get rich, quick or anything that might be associated with cryptocurrencies, when people first think about it.

Justin Seidl:   Right. Absolutely. No, and a lot of them are very intelligent, passionate individuals that have ideas to make whatever they're working on better and with out that mindset, you really don't kind of get outside the box of what traditional financial models business models are established. And so if you support a lot of this open source, idea based development, marketing, you really kind of open the door to new things that we haven't thought of. And a lot of things, a lot of what I view the blockchain space as, and I kind of use this metaphor is back when the internet was first kind of coming into its own. We knew of the, you know, of email, webpages, a lot of it was like, Okay, what can we do in the real world and put it on the internet, as best as we can do a lot of stores ecommerce. But something that, you know, at that time when the internet was created that you'd never think about is a service like Facebook, you know, you wouldn't think of let me just go on there and make a virtual profile and live my life through this app, or Twitter 140 characters and just write out little sentences and blurbs that I shoot out on the internet for people to view. So that type of technology was fostered by the foundation of the internet. So we I think, you know, we're setting up this foundation of blockchain technology on a lot of things that are currently existing right now. And we haven't even reached some of the ideas that we can't even comprehend in our head right now, because they just don't exist.

Andrew Verboncouer:   So kind of flash forward to today from when you launched. You talked a little bit about, you know, some of the new the new currencies are supporting how you're building the community. How is vert base as a company different now than when you started? I think you had one co founder, if I remembering correctly, how is the team changed over time?

Justin Seidl:   Yeah, so I have my, my co founder, Stu, who heads up our operations. He's got a lot of background in the legalities security compliance. nature of our business. We've really kind of grown it, we've brought in some additional dev resources. We've also got somebody in the Netherlands that's working on our marketing and kind of the overall community aspect of our team. And then just recently, we brought in a chief chief legal adviser, who is he's a lawyer in New York. He's, you know, very prominent partner of his firm. But what we really like about what he's doing is he's heavily invested into crypto and what kind of progressing that technology forward from a legal standpoint, and he's actually teaching crypto law at George Washington University. So he's an incredible asset to our team. That's one of the hardest things for us to do is kind of navigate the legal landscape from, you know, not only from region to region when you're talking country, but in the United States, specifically, you have to navigate different laws within the states. So he's, you know, really happy helping us with that making sure we don't kind of get ourselves in trouble with the securities side of things. So he's been an incredible addition to our to our team.

Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah. And I imagine that's not a one and done thing. Things continue to evolve.

Justin Seidl:   Absolutely. Every every week, every month, it's it's constantly changing. Yeah.

Andrew Verboncouer:   That's great. What's, what's one of the biggest problems you're facing at vertbase today, whether that be legal securities, the product requests, that sort of thing.

Justin Seidl:   I think one of the things that we've identified is, you know, we started with this core product that really goes after retail investors. And the problem that we faced in the last couple of months to year is that the crypto industry as a whole has kind of gone into what they're calling a bear market, where not a lot of trading is happening people are holding because price has been plummeting and dropping. And, and that's the problem is the price is volatile. It's going up and down. It's constantly changing. We see a lot more interaction and trade Volume when the price is moving up and down, but when there's periods of stagnant markets, especially when it's lower, people don't want to don't want to transact, they want to hold to see what the future holds for them. So we're thinking of ways how do we get around relying on this trade volume when the trade volume starts to drop. One of the things that, you know, we also want to keep in mind is that, in order to bring mass adoption, you have to give individuals another way to kind of utilize their their crypto their digital assets in a way other than just holding them and spending them on a service. 

Andrew Verboncouer:   Right. 

Justin Seidl:   So some of the things that we're really working on doing some enterprise settlement for larger companies that accept crypto but need to immediately exchange it for cash. And then something that we're we're really interested in and that we, it's kind of part of our core value of giving back. We started a service called Ghibli and Ghibli will be a free tool for anybody to use. It's a crypto donation based platform where you can really just set up a profile content creators, streamers, not for profit organizations, charities really can just come on set up a page, they can even set up a custom page that has their brand and a bunch of content on a geared towards delivering their message. And we then allow them to accept digital assets for free on that platform. And then they can in turn, take those digital assets, send them to their own wallets, exchange them all Fiat, or for for non for profits and charities. One of the big things with them, is they can't take on the risk of holding digital assets. They can't go through capital gains, they can't lose value for their donors. So they really want to just immediately settle it out for a fiat currency such as the US dollar. So the big service there for us. That helps kind of promote our trade volume, but at the same time, we're we're another avenue for these organizations and nonprofits to receive donations, we can undercut you know, credit card processing anywhere from 2.75 to 2.9 for non for profits, and we can get it down to 2%. So we can immediately give them more return on their donations, offer another avenue and do it for free for them. Really just to kind of help bolster the use of, of crypto on a larger scale.

Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, so almost like, Is it like a Patreon for like influencers? Like -  

Justin Seidl:   Yeah. 

Andrew Verboncouer:   Obviously the nonprofit's a little bit different, but you could potentially, I don't know if subscriptions are part of Givably, but - 

Justin Seidl:   Yeah, very, very similar. I mean, like, you know, for instance, see where they could have a giveaway profile page. You could talk about, see where they have any custom images that you want up in the branding that you want up. And it would just list the different assets that you're willing to accept. And when the user wants to donate, they can give to that address will track it for that for donation purposes. It all depends if you're a nonprofit or a charity, there's any tax breaks that come with it. But then that organization, individual business, whatever they want to do with those donations they can do basically, you know, just keep the crypto send it to their own wallets, exchange it out, swap it for Bitcoin or even just settle it for a Fiat doubt, you know, a fiat currency such as the US dollar.

Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah. No, that's really cool. Um, so is that out now and available?

Justin Seidl:   We ran out, we actually ran. So we've been running an MVP for the last couple months. We have three organizations that we're working with the there's a political party in New Zealand called the top or the opportunist party that's utilizing it. We have the unstoppable Foundation, which is charity based in the United States. And then what's really interesting is we were connected with Andrew Yang is a presidential candidate for the Democratic Party. He's a big proponent of blockchain universal basic income and Just promoting financial freedom for for the United States. So we actually are working directly with this super PAC humanity forward and accepting all crypto donations for humanity forward through Ghibli as of right now. Yeah, that's exciting. And we should I think, publicly, we should have giveaway by the end of the week, it should be open to all to set up their own profile pages. Perfect. And where do you find that just by going to vert base sign up for base account. And then once you get into first base, you'll see that there's a little section for Ghibli that you can kind of navigate through.

Andrew Verboncouer:   Awesome. So I was gonna ask what's next for base, but that that kind of answers that coming up later this week and other things that that you're working on? What advice would you give, just kind of thinking back at your advice with other startups, ones that you were designers on? Once obviously, that you're the co founder of? What advice would you give to startup founders and folks working on new products.

Justin Seidl:   I think it I'll reiterate what I said before. I learned this the hard way. And I know a lot of people are going to continue to make the same mistake and learn it the hard way as well. Oftentimes, you have this idea and you think it's the best idea. Maybe it's Twitter, but it's Twitter with a spin or, or maybe it's a new approach to do something a lot of times, they're very good ideas. But the problem is, you might not have enough people that want to use them, or enough people that think they're of enough value to go ahead and use them over the other. So it always comes down to, you know, before you kick off a project before you really dig in and spend your time which is more valuable than anything else. I think you gotta go reach out to your demographic, your users, your potential clients that would use the product that you're trying to build, and really get their feedback because you may be thinking one thing and they are interested in something that you're doing but they may guide you down a slightly different path that can ultimately lead to the success of your product or your business. 

Andrew Verboncouer:   Perfect. So where where else can people find you and follow and learn more about vertbase or more about Justin?

Justin Seidl:   Yeah, I think the best way to go learn more about vertbase is going to vertbase.com. That's v-e-r-t-b-a-s-e.com. And then you can find me on LinkedIn just search Justin Seidel I think I'm one of maybe two or three Justin titles in the in the continental US so shouldn't be too hard to find me. Yeah, because I can I can share my contact info as well.

Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, sounds good. Any - active on Twitter, Instagram, any of the?

Justin Seidl:   Not personally but with vertbase. We're pretty active on Twitter. That's one of our our best social media channels. Personally, I try to kind of pull myself back once once the daily grind is over with a try to get off the off the interweb as much as possible. 

Andrew Verboncouer:   Disconnect from the machine. 

Justin Seidl:   Yep.

Andrew Verboncouer:   Perfect. Well, thanks for coming on. I appreciate it Justin. It's been great. 

Justin Seidl:   Yeah. Thank you. I appreciate it as well. 

Andrew Verboncouer:   Thanks for listening to Seaworthy. Connect with us and ask questions on Twitter @seaworthyfm. Make sure you subscribe and if you enjoyed it, leave a review on iTunes. Sail forth, and make waves

show notes
  • Starting, Scaling, and Launching a Crypto-Startup
  • Streamlined Process for Transferring Digital Assets