One of the questions I’m always asked in my professional life is “How did you first get started with Bitcoin?”
I usually leave out most of the major hurdles, long sleepless nights, and boring details from my answer. Why do I do this? Because it seems many people are only interested in discussing what has happened the past year or two in the industry; the series of events that has changed their perception of Bitcoin from a joke or a scam in their mind to a legitimate investment. From the crazy price run up of $1,000 to nearly $20,000 in 2017, exponentially increasing ICO funding, and ability to trade Bitcoin futures at one of the the world`s largest options exchanges, I figure the truth about the beginning of my career in the space wouldn’t interest them.
Since I’ve now invested so much money and sacrificed half of a decade of my life working with this technology, I figure it’s time to share the truth…
5 years ago today, I bought my first Bitcoin after I heard of a friend of a friend making a lot of money in it. I called this acquaintance up and he came over to my apartment a few days later in early November 2013. It turned out he bought in at $10 per Bitcoin. The price was now $350ish at the time, so I immediately became intrigued at how this sophomore in college made 35 times his money in 1 year. It was astonishing how he just let his money sit there in Bitcoin and the value of Bitcoin increased more than any investment I had ever heard of in my life in such a short period of time.
Immediately after he left, I attempted to buy Bitcoin on the largest U.S. Bitcoin exchange called Coinbase. After verifying my identity, connecting my bank account, and waiting 4 business days for my bank transfer to process, Coinbase cancelled my order due to “high risk”. Two weeks later a customer support rep finally responded to let me know this was a mistake. I now wasted a week of time and was unhappy about missing some potential profit on the price of Bitcoin increasing.
I began moving on to the next recommended option to buy Bitcoin, which was a website called cashintocoins.com; It was a strange looking text only website that looked like it was developed in 30 minutes while on someone’s lunch break, but I gave it a shot (see attached photos). This website did not require me to upload a bunch of documents or connect my bank account. All I had to do was place an order on the site, deposit cash at Wells Fargo, and the bitcoin would be sent directly to my bitcoin wallet after my deposit was verified. The total time from making the deposit to getting my bitcoin was less than an hour. MY MIND WAS BLOWN! I realized I just wasted over a week waiting to buy on an exchange when there was an easier quicker option. It felt like I just discovered a gold mine. At this point, I knew I had to get involved in this somehow, some way, and the original concept behind Bitcoin Depot was born.
A couple of weeks later, I decided I was going to start my own Bitcoin company. I was so excited about it that I spent many months researching 12+ hours per day, which caused me to skip classes, cancel plans with friends, forget to eat/sleep, etc. This was all happening when barely anyone knew what Bitcoin was, and the only people I was in contact with in the space were on online forums. Lets just say the belief that Bitcoin was a physical coin was common at the time. Ultimately, I was laughed at and made fun of when I told people about my plan to create this Bitcoin startup. I was told bitcoin was a scam that was only used for illicit activities. What did I do after hearing this constantly? I ignored every one of those people because I knew they were FLAT OUT WRONG! I was now even more driven to make my plan a reality because I truly believed that this technology was the future.
Bitcoin, the other cryptocurrencies, and the blockchain technologies that came along with it are already disrupting industries and revolutionizing the world economy as we know it. The reason why I started Bitcoin Depot was to help others with the same problem I first experienced when I wanted to get involved in this new digital ecosystem. The problem was and still is ease of use and access!
The same issue occurred during the last major wave of technological disruption: the internet in the 90’s. Only very technical people could understand the new technology enough to learn how to access it and only the wealthy could afford a computer to use it. After some time, more resources existed to help the average consumer comprehend and use the technology. Prices of computers also declined over time and became affordable for most people to own a personal computer (PC) for everyday use. This eventually sparked mainstream adoption, and now we don’t even remember what life was like without 24/7 unlimited internet access.
Today, the crypto exchanges require even greater verification due to the high risk of fraud and stolen financial accounts. The process is still just as complex. This persistent issue is what prompted me to start what is now one of the largest crypto ATM companies in the world known as Bitcoin Depot. Bitcoin Depot helps provide crypto to the masses by making access to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies extremely quick and simple. This service allows anyone to convert cash to Bitcoin at a physical ATM in a matter of a couple of minutes without strenuous verification requirements, complicated procedures, or long wait times.
What i’m trying to tell you is that crypto is still in this late 90’s internet phase and it’s only a matter of time before this industry is about to absolutely skyrocket! It may seem like this has already happened but its still only the beginning. We are still lacking greater ease of use and access. Once there is a solidified understanding of this technology as well as access to crypto for the majority of the population there’s no telling how huge this “largest socio-economic experiment in the history of the world” will get. If you regret not investing in companies like Amazon, Google, or Netflix here is your 2nd chance….