Meetup – Bitcoin Startups, #1
Date: 23 April 2013
Location: The Hatchery, Times Square
Organizer: Andrew Chang via the Bitcoin Startups Meetup group.
Format: First half was a series of presentations each with their own Q&A followed by individuals announcing any new projects and then general networking.
Attendee Count: ~70
Snacks: Sandwiches, sodas, PBR
– Opening remarks
– R.C. Hall – BitInstant
– Jaron Lukasiewicz – CEO and Co-Founder of Coinsetter
– Jason Melo – CTO of a stealth Bitcoin startup
– Group introductions and requests
On Tuesday, April 23rd, several dozen members of the Bitcoin Startups Meetup group crowded into a large meeting area at The Hatchery, a midtown VC firm, to kick off their first meeting. The first presenter was R.C. Hall of BitInstant, who spoke about his history of Bitcoin both from his perspective as a early miner and looking at Bitcoins tumultous past, including the MtGox theft and the Pirate Ponzi scheme. Then he spoke at length about Bitcoin itself and made mention that BitInstant will be upgrading their site fairly soon and that the company is always on the lookout for talented people interested in working in the cryptocurrency space.
“Bitcoin is about math – it’s about trusting math.” – R.C. Hall, BitInstant
The next guest speaker was Jaron Lukasiewicz of Coinsetter who gave much needed advice about delivering convincing presentations to VC/Angel audiences. His advice about trying to make one’s deck awesome through telling a story ought to be helpful to the fledgling Bitcoin entrepreneur who has never operated at that level before. In his case, he emphasized the need to be very well versed in strict security to quell the concerns of the relatively conservative investors as well as presenting a reasonable assessment of risk. Jaron advised us all to prepare and account for an inevitable influx of banking and financial market regulation to start appearing shortly and recommended that any good business plan will account for this. He was also a strong proponent for any startup to have an account on the AngelList service for startups as in his case, it helped connect him to his investors.
“[Bitcoin] is like driving a car. You can know that it works without knowing exactly how it works.” – unnamed participant on being asked if the complex cryptographic aspect of Bitcoin might keep many users away from the platform.
Finally, Jason Melo, CTO of an undisclosed Bitcoin-based startup, spoke primarily about establishing security in the Bitcoin space both as a user and a startup. He started off speaking about the DDoS attacks which have plagued several exchanges and how it impacts Bitcoin trading reliability. For those who would have any sort of trading or exchange with Bitcoins, he strongly recommended 2-factor authentication protocols be established. Also, he gave warnings to the audience of entrepreneurs about basic “social engineering” tricks such as email malware, cold callers attempting to gain any nuggets of valuable information, and even people posing as delivery personnel from Fedex or other services attempting to gain physical access to the typically open offices of startups which are often free of established security protocols and barriers. At the conclusion of Jason’s talk, a lively QandA session was entered into with topics including regulation, bank rules, the difficulties in getting major retailer acceptance in Bitcoin-compatiable POS hardware, and many other challenges that currently lie in the path of widespread Bitcoin adoption by consumers.
Following concluding remarks from Andrew, the meeting was turned into a networking session where all participants were free to mingle and ask direct follow-up questions of the presenters or of each other.